Before we quote those verses, it’s important to see that Paul warned the saints at Philippi in verses 1-2 of “evil workers” who were teaching that one must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be righteous before God. In verse 3 he states that believers in Christ “are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH” (NASB). When one is seeking to be justified before God by adhering to religious ordinances and keeping the Ten Commandments, they are in essence “putting confidence in their flesh,” which means they are trusting in their own efforts and achievements. Now we are ready to read our portion.

“Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:4-7).

Paul knew that the false teachers who were peddling their false doctrines were bragging about their Law-keeping and religious achievements, yet their ability to brag paled in comparison to Paul. So, he outlines his religious advantages and pedigree in verses 5-6:

“Circumcised the eighth day”…he was born a Jew and his godly parents had him circumcised on the exact day as prescribed by God in Genesis 17:12 and Leviticus 12:1-3.

  • “of the nation of Israel”…he belonged to the most favored nation on earth and was a member of God’s chosen people.
  • “of the tribe of Benjamin”…he was also in one of the favored tribes that made up the nation of Israel.
  • “a Hebrew of Hebrews”…he was in a family that held to the Hebrew language and customs.
  • “as to the Law, a Pharisee”…he was in the most orthodox sect of the Jewish faith.
  • “as to zeal, a persecutor of the church”…his zeal was second to none, and he proved it by trying to systematically wipe out the Christian faith by killing all who followed Jesus Christ.
  • “as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless”…he followed every jot and tittle of the Law. Men viewed Saul as a “model Jew” who could have been the posterchild for morality.

Yet all those things that he took pride in were counted as loss when he was converted to Christ on the Damascus road (see Acts 9:1-18). In verse 7 he states emphatically, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Like a skilled accountant, he took inventory of those things that he had looked at as “assets,” and realized that they were actually “liabilities.” They were NOT a GAIN, but a LOSS! This all happened in a split second when his eyes were opened to see that Christ was the sinner’s righteousness and that to trust in one’s own efforts and achievements is ruinous. In a word, Paul came to see the truth of Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all an unclean thing, and ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES ARE LIKE FILTHY RAGS” (NKJV). (251.3) (DO)