Week of November 14, 2021 

SERIES: Living Christ for Real  

TITLE: Week #3 – “Choose What’s Greater”  

Philippians 3:1-11

Message Preview

Pastor Zac continues our series this Sunday as we look at Philippians 3:1-11. Here is a preview of the message, “Choose What’s Greater.” 


  1. Illus: Being “sick” and missing school. Watching The Price is Right and Let’s Make a Deal. 
    1. Sometimes, they would make a good deal: they would trade something less for something greater. Sometimes, they would make a bad deal – trading something of greater value for something of lesser value. 
  2. We may not ever play, “Let’s make a deal” – but in life, we make these kinds of decisions all the time. 
    1. We choose one thing over another. We choose between two things. The difference is, that in life, we can often see what we are choosing between. 
    2. The choice: Where do we put the greater(est) value?
      1. Danger: We put greater value on something that is actually less. And sometimes we put lesser value on something that is actually worth more. 
  3. Today, we are continuing our series in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. 
    1. In this series, Living Christ for Real – Pastor Brian has been helping us see the difference in simply 
  4. Paul uses the example of a certain group of people to show his readers and us, that if we are not careful, we can make a bad deal – choosing to place greater value and importance on something that is actually worth far less. We can exchange what is found only in Jesus, for what we can try to accomplish on our own.  
  5. Let’s take a look at this passage and see what God has to say through Paul to us today – and how we can Live Christ for Real. 


  1. Read Philippians 3:1-11 // “The Very Words” 


  1. Philippians 3:1-11 ESV “Finally…
    1. Paul comes back to the specific circumstances and situation 
    2. A transition point – “as to what remains, furthermore, so then” – Paul makes a transition at this point in the letter.  
    3. He continues the theme of “rejoicing” – and how to rejoice in the right things. 
    4. Based on what he has written – it’s the “so what”. In light of who Jesus is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He has promised to do, how should we live?
    5. What are they to do, to prioritize, to pursue based upon these previous things? How are we to live Christ for real – placing the right value on the right things and not settling for something less. 
  2. As we walk through these verses together, and look at Paul’s words – I want to share FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER AND DO as we seek to Live Christ for Real. 


  1. Remember To Rejoice In The Lord
    1. Philippians 3:1 ESV “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” 
    2. Paul says that they are to rejoice (celebrate) in the Lord. 
    3. Call to be joyful – joy is internal and lasting. (not based on external circumstances that come and go) 
    4. Be reminded of this – Paul saw no trouble or burden coming back to this exhortation. 
      1. This is one of 12 times he would talk about “joy” and “rejoicing” in this letter! 
    5. For us, he would say the same…
      1. Because of Jesus – because of who He is, because of what He’s done, is doing, and has promised to do, we are to be people of joy. Those who choose to rejoice always. 
    6. Question: Does “joy” define your life? If not, you may be settling for the pursuit of happiness. 
  1. Look Out For Those Who Place Greater Value In Lesser Things
    1. Philippians 3:2 ESV “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.”
    2. “Look out” – beware / be warned against. Paul says this 3X. 
    3. Context: Rampant false teaching (of this kind) had not yet come to Philippi – this is a preemptive strike at what was happening at others places and could happen there. (i.e., Galatians) 
    4. Paul uses the example of a specific group of people – those who have embraced a certain type of believing – as a warning to the believers in Philippi. 
      1. Referring here to a group of Jewish Christians. Not all Jewish Christians (Paul was one) – but a certain group sometimes referred to as the Judaizers. 
      2. For some, they could have had great intentions in this…
        1. Sincere desire to integrate Judaism and Christianity 
        2. A deep love and desire for their Jewish heritage 
      3. Or they could have had other, less positive motivations and intentions. Regardless, this was not a correct way of thinking. And tells the people to “look out”. 
    5. How does Paul Identify/Describe this Group
      1. Those Dogs 
        1. Some insisted on ethnic purity for the people of God. Jews who still considered Gentiles to be “dogs” – outsiders. Salvation was only for Jews. 
        2. They put their pride in their pedigree – their background and ancestry. 
        3. Paul is being “ironic” calling them what they called others. 
      2. Those Evil Doers 
        1. They boasted in their “good works” – keeping the law. 
        2. They believed that this would save them – it made them righteous and set them apart. 
        3. They taught and pushed the teaching that Gentiles who came to faith in Jesus, needed to adopt the OT Jewish laws and customs (in order to truly be saved. 
      3. Those Mutilators of the Flesh 
        1. Paul is referring here to circumcision. But in doing so, he uses a different Greek word: “katatome” – refers to pagan mutilation of the flesh (ceremonially). 
        2. They taught that Gentile men must be circumcised to be saved – as part of adopting Jewish laws and customs.
        3. He is saying, they practice circumcision, but it has lost its original intent and meaning because it has become a meaningless religious ritual. 
        4. Circumcision was an outward symbol of the commitment of the heart. It was designed to be a sign of faith. But it had become a symbol of status, performance. 
    6. Some may have pushed these beliefs from a right heart: Sincere desire to integrate Judaism and Christianity or because of a love for their Jewish heritage and the OT. Some may have done this from a wrong heart. 
    7. Regardless, Paul says to “look out” for them. They may appear godly, but are actually far from it.
    8. Mark 7:6-7 ESV “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,” ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
    9. Some would accuse Paul of being anti-Jewish…he’s not. 
      1. He saw people settling for something less – and putting great value on it. And he wanted, more than anything, for them to come to know what he had come to know in Jesus. 
    10. Question: Do we see this today? Do we struggle with this today? 
      1. Seeing faith as something for those who are “like me”. Seeing our church, LifeGroup, relationships for those who are like us.
      2. Trusting in our good works, our good deeds, our religious performance to please God?
      3. Focusing more on the outward than the internal? Checking the boxes of “religion” but never giving out heart. Never experiencing true faith. 
      4. Pride in our religious pedigree or performance only leads to pride and despair. It never leads to true righteousness before God. 
  1. Know Your Identity And Calling In Christ
    1. Philippians 3:3 ESV “For we are the circumcision…” 
      1. We (those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior and Lord) are the true circumcision. The true people of God are those who follow Jesus. 
      2. What is Paul saying? 
        1. Circumcision was a requirement of the Old Covenant law. It was a physical sign that was supposed to reflect a spiritual reality – a relationship with God. This set them apart. This identified them. And there were Jews who believed this was still the case. 
        2. But now, through and because of Jesus – God’s true people (the true circumcision) are those who have chosen to follow Jesus. They have received a different type of “circumcision”. 
          1. Colossians 2:11-12 ESV “…11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
          2. It is because of and through Jesus that we are made right before God and receive eternal life! 
        3. And this was not reserved for just those of Jewish lineage – it is for everyone, Jew and Gentile. It is who we are now! 
      3. This is who you, as a follower of Jesus, are. Paul says we need to know this – be reminded of it. Peter echoes this idea: 
        1. 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
    2. Paul then defines our callingOur identity reveals our calling
    3. Philippians 3:3 ESV “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…” 
      1. The Circumcision: What Defines us? We are to be those who
        1. Worship by the Spirit of God – We worship by means of and in God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. 
        2. Glory in Christ Jesus – “boast” or “exult” = we make much of. 
          1. We do not glory in and take pride in our work, righteousness, or ability to please God. We acknowledge that salvation and restoration come from Christ alone. It is through his life, death, and resurrection that we are saved and live for Him. 
        3. Put no Confidence in the Flesh – we put no confidence in what we do or don’t do to please God, but in what God has done for us through Christ Jesus. 
    4. These three defining characteristics are again in contrast with those Jewish believers Paul was referring to earlier.
      1. The true circumcision – those who through Jesus, have become God’s people – are the true people of God. Not exchanging what Christ has done with faith in what we have done. 
    5. And because of this, we see that we are too…
  1. Value Christ Above All And Consider Everything Else As Loss 
    1. Philippians 3:4-6 ESV “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee…” 
      1. Paul: “if you want to play the pedigree and performance game – if you want to see who has the better resume – who has more reason to trust in their own accomplishments, then let’s play…and I will win!” Paul was a Jew among Jews. 
      2. But that’s not what mattered. Human achievements – even good things, cannot earn salvation, they cannot overcome the penalty of sin, and gain eternal life. 
    2. Philippians 3:7-8 ESV “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish…”
      1. “Whatever gain I had” – Paul says, no matter how much I have “gained” in these things, I count them as a “loss” compared to what I have gained in Jesus. 
        1. The sum total of all my great works is nothing compared to Jesus – and so I count them as a loss compared to him. 
      2. “Everything” – I’ve traded pride, faith, and trust in these lesser things – for something that is greater. In fact – not only these things…everything as loss. 
      3. “For his sake” – even my faithfulness to Jesus, the suffering and sacrifices I’ve made- they are nothing (nothing to trust in, take pride in, hold as valuable) compared to Jesus. 
      4. “Rubbish” – trash, refuse, waste, dung” 
        1. They are nothing to hold on to…nothing to trust in, take pride in. They cannot gain me what I can gain only in Jesus. 
      5. Paul: “I’ve traded the lesser for the greater! 
        1. All of Paul’s and our “good works” – all our credentials, achievements, accolades, success, even the good things we do for Jesus – cannot replace what Jesus alone can do for us. 
        2. To rely on these things to please God – earn his love, grace, forgiveness, and eternal life will never be enough. Only Jesus. 
    3. Paul made the decision to put Jesus above everything and count everything as a loss compared to knowing Him! 
    4. Question: What does this mean practically?
      1. The value of something is determined by what we are willing to give up to get it. What we are willing to sacrifice for it. 
      2. Holding Jesus as our highest value means that we will orient our heart, passions, pursuits, calendar, time, finances toward knowing Him and following Him in obedience. Not to earn His love but because we are loved!
    5. Here is the fifth thing. Because of this valuing Jesus, we will…
  1. Pursue What Is Greater And Lasting 
    1. Philippians 3:8b-9 ESV “…in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…”
      1. Paul writes that he chooses to not trust in his own good works, his own pedigree, how own religious performance because he wants to…
        1. “Gain Christ” – know Jesus in a personal way – gaining what only Jesus can bring to our lives. 
        2. “Be found in Him” – not living for himself, not trusting in his own accomplishments that will fall short, but again, knowing Christ
        3. “Having a righteousness that comes from faith” – a true rightness before God. One that brings me into the family of God. One that forgives and frees me of sin. 
    2. This can only come from placing Christ above all and as our sole source of hope for salvation!
      1. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
        1. Jesus became sin for us – took on our sinfulness – so that we might have his righteousness. Only he could do that! 
        2. And it is only through this righteousness that Paul and we can…
    3. Philippians 3:10 ESV “…10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
      1. This is what Paul desires – it’s what he is pursuing…what is greater and lasting. 
      2. What is this: 
        1. “Know Him” – not just know about Jesus, but to know him fully and personally. This is a relational knowledge. To know him more and more each day. 
        2. “The power of His resurrection” – To know what it’s like for the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to be active and working in and through my life. To be raised to life again when Jesus returns. 
        3. “Share in his sufferings” – Jesus suffered for us, and Paul wanted to honor him by suffering to his sake and that of the gospel. He wasn’t looking for what was easy – he was looking to be faithful even if it cost him. 
        4. “Becoming like him in death” – To die to sin and our sinful self in our life. Because Jesus defeated sin, we too can find victory (not perfection) over sin in our lives. 
        5. “Attain the resurrection from the dead” – humbly trusting in Jesus for eternal life in the end. That Paul would get to live with Jesus forever. To be fully restored in the kingdom that is now and is to come. 
    4. Paul counted everything as loss compared to Jesus – so that in Jesus He could pursue things that are greater and lasting – a relationship with Jesus and the power of Jesus working in and through his life. 
    5. If we trust in and value what we can do – we will pursue lesser things that will not last. 
    6. If we trust in and value Jesus and what He can do – we will not only pursue but also find greater things that last for eternity. It’s the choice we have to make. 


  1. Question: Are you choosing something of lesser value over what is of greater value? 
  2. If we are not careful, we can trade something of greater value for something far less. 
  3. John 3:16 ESV “16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
    1. True righteousness is found not in what we can do – but in what Christ has done! 
  4. Romans 10:9-10 ESV “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
  5. Living Christ for real means trusting and putting you faith in Him for everything…it’s valuing Him above all and considering everything else as loss.