Philippians 3:7-9 says, “But what things WERE GAIN to me, these I HAVE COUNTED LOSS for Christ. Yet indeed I ALSO COUNT ALL THINGS LOSS for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I HAVE SUFFERED THE LOSS OF ALL THINGS, and COUNT THEM AS RUBBISH, that I may GAIN CHRIST and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (NKJV).

As you can see from the words that I have capitalized, the apostle Paul took an inventory of his life to see what his “losses” and “gains” were. In verse 7 Paul looked back on his life as a pious Jew who was seeking to establish a righteous standing before God based on HIS ATTAINMENTS. We have a list of seven things that he trusted in in verses 5-6: 1) Circumcised the eighth day; 2) of the stock of Israel; 3) of the tribe of Benjamin; 4) a Hebrew of Hebrews; 5) concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6) concerning zeal, persecuting the church; and 7) concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Paul prided himself in all of these things UNTIL he met Christ on the Damascus road and was converted to Him (see Acts 9:1-18). He came to see that those 7 things which he had considered “gain to him” were now “counted loss for Christ.” What does this mean? It means that Paul realized that those things were WORTHLESS. Everything he had attained in the Jewish religion failed to give him a righteous standing before God, for he saw the truth of Isaiah 64:6, “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” On the plus side he came to see that through Christ’s atoning death he was now JUSTIFIED (i.e. declared RIGHTEOUS) by God (see Romans 3:20-26).   He wrote of this truth to his Jewish brethren in Romans 10:1-4, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES.” Paul wrote these words from his own experience, for as we have seen he too was “trying to establish his own righteousness” but on the Damascus road he came to see, by faith, that “Christ was his righteousness.” In a split second everything he had trusted in was “counted loss for Christ.” Christ was now his Savior and he was now righteous in God’s sight!

In verses 8-9 Paul goes on to speak, not of the past, but of the present, and how he continued to “count all things loss” for Christ. The vision he had of the glorified Christ some 30 years ago had completely won him over. Mr. H. A. Ironside had this to say of these verses: “Paul reaffirmed the faith with which he had begun. He still counted all that the world could offer as dross and refuse compared with Christ’s surpassing glory, which was the focus of his life…When Paul declared that he wanted to be found in Christ, he was sharing with his readers the secret of the supreme emotion of his being. The apostle was not talking about an attainment or something he hoped to earn by self-abnegation. It was as if he were saying, ‘Ever since I saw Christ in the glory of God, I have considered nothing else worth living for. He has so won my heart that nothing now counts with me but the blessedness of knowing Him and of being completely identified with Him in life, in death and beyond death. Now, even if I could, I would not want to stand before God in my own righteousness.  I desire only to be found in Him.’”

Let me close with some questions we should all face, “Do we (believers) count all things but LOSS for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord? Do we see all things which would hinder us from knowing Christ better as GARBAGE to be thrown away? Is Christ so precious to us that we see Him as the only real and true GAIN in our life?  (411.1)  (DO)