Philippians 3

This devotional is written by Ruth Slatter.

Philippians 3

No confidence in the flesh
Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh – 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

Following Paul’s example
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.


Some within the church in Philippi had begun to teach that believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus was not enough for people to be saved. Instead, these teachers suggested that salvation was only available by believing in Jesus AND following the Jewish laws of the Old Testament (v.2-3). Paul wrote today’s passage to set the record straight. Using himself as an example, he explains that no one will ever earn their own salvation, regardless of how well they follow the rules (v.4-11). Salvation is a free gift offered to all through Jesus’s death; all we have to do to receive this gift is believe in him (v.9).
This simple truth is at the heart of Christianity, but is difficult to understand and live out. The society we live in celebrates achievement and hard work. Similarly, our broken world makes us wary and feel unworthy of free gifts. Therefore, it is easy to think about our acts of service, or using the talents God has given us as a means to earn God’s love. Many of us not only find it completely unbelievable that we’re truly loved and live under total grace, but also find the freedom implied within these truths daunting. Indeed, it can often be easier to live within the safety net of rules than to explore the freedom of grace.
Spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you more about God’s love and grace and how it can shape your life.

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