Philippians 3:9-14

  1. Introduction:

    1. We have heard what the apostle renounced; let us now see what he laid hold on, and resolved to cleave to, namely, Christ and all the rewards heaven has to offer.

      1. He had his heart on these two great peculiarities of the Christian religion.

      2. The apostle had his heart upon Christ as his righteousness.

      3. This is illustrated in several instances.

    2. He desired to win Christ; and an unspeakable gainer he would reckon himself if he had but an interest in Christ and his righteousness, and if Christ became his Lord:

      1. That I may win him; as the runner wins the prize, as the sailor makes the port he is bound for.

      2. The expression intimates that we have need to strive for him and after him, and that all is little enough to win him.

Verse 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

  1. We are undone without a righteousness wherein to appear before God, for we are guilty.

    1. There is a righteousness provided for us in Jesus Christ, and it is a complete and perfect righteousness.

      1. We are in Christ, yet our righteousness is not enough for complete satisfaction by us or God.

      2. Our righteousness is as filthy rags.

    2. Not having my own righteousness, which is of the law;

      1. Not thinking that my outward observances and good deeds are able to atone for my bad ones, or that by setting the one over against the other I can come to balance accounts with God.

      2. True righteousness is through the faith of Christ, not a legal, but God given righteousness:

      3. The righteousness, which is of God by faith, ordained and appointed of God.

  1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord our righteousness.

    1. Isaiah 45:24 - Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.

    2. Jeremiah 23:6 - In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

      1. Had he not been God, he could not have been our righteousness; the transcendent excellence of the divine nature put such a value upon, and such a virtue into, his sufferings, that they became sufficient to satisfy for the sins of the world, and to bring in a righteousness which will be effectual to all that believe.

      2. Faith is the ordained means of actual interest and saving benefit in all the purchase of his blood.

    3. It is by faith in his blood, Romans 3:25 - Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

Verse 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

  1. Knowing Christ is more than trusting him for eternal life.

    1. Isaiah 53:11 - He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

      1. We are righteous before God because of sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

      2. It is an experimental knowledge of the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, or feeling the transforming efficacy and virtue of them.

      3. Paul, as we, was as ambitious of being sanctified as he was of being justified.

    2. The word “conformable” means “to be the same as”.

      1. He was as desirous to know the power of Christ’s death and resurrection killing sin in him, and raising him up to newness of life, as he was to receive the benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection in his justification.

      2. That he might be conformable unto him, and this also is meant of his sanctification.

      3. We are then made conformable to his death when we die to sin, as Christ died for sin, when we are crucified with Christ, the flesh and affections of it mortified, and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by virtue of the cross of Christ.

      4. This is our conformity to his death.

Verse 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

  1. The fulfillment of a holy life (salvation and progressive sanctification) is here spoken of.

    1. There is no doubt believers will be present at the resurrection of the dead, therefore Paul is not talking about the physical resurrection.

      1. What Paul writes in the verses following relate he is speaking of more than the physical resurrection, which event he cannot control.

      2. There is a desire in Paul to achieve all he can for Christ.

      3. John 5:29 - And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    2. This joyful resurrection the apostle pressed towards.

      1. He was willing to do any thing, or suffer any thing, that he might attain that resurrection.

      2. The hope and prospect of it carried him with so much courage and constancy through all the difficulties he met with in his work.

      3. He speaks as if they were in danger of missing it, and coming short of it.

      4. A holy fear of coming short is an excellent means of perseverance.

      5. His care to be found in Christ was in order to his attaining the resurrection of the dead.

      6. Paul himself did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the merit and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Verse 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

  1. He looks upon himself to be in a state of imperfection and trial:

    1. The best men in the world will readily own their imperfection in the present state.

    2. We have not yet attained, are not already perfect; there is still much wanting in all our duties, and graces, and comforts.

Verse 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

  1. Paul calls them “brethren” because they are joined together with him in this eternal endeavor.

    1. Observe,

      1. Whence our grace comes—from our being apprehended of Christ Jesus. It is not our laying hold of Christ first, but his laying hold of us, not only in eternal life, but also in progressive sanctification.

        1. I John 4:19 - We love him, because he first loved us. Not our keeping hold of Christ, but his keeping hold of us, is our safety.

        2. I Peter 1:5 - Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Observe,

    2. What the happiness of holy living is:

      1. It is to apprehend that for which we are apprehended of Christ.

      2. When Christ laid hold of us, it was to bring us to heaven; and to apprehend that for which he apprehended us.

      3. He adds further (Philippians 3:13): This one thing I do (this was his great care and concern), forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before.

      4. There is a remembering of past sins, which ought to be remembered for the exercise of constant repentance and thankfulness to God.

      5. But Paul forgot the things which were behind so as not to be content with present measures of grace: he was still for having more and more.

      6. So he reaches forth, stretched himself forward, bearing towards his point: it is expressive of a vehement concern.

Verse 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

  1. Pressing toward the mark.

    1. It is not gaining heaven Paul speaks of because that is assured to him in eternal salvation.

      1. There is something more Paul speaks of.

        1. And that is gaining the approval of Christ, the prize God has offered to all who are faithful to him during the trials and troubles of this wicked life.

        2. This prize is not for the casual believer, who will go to heaven, because the blood of Christ eternally redeems them.

      2. The desire of every true believer is to be approved of by God, their eternal father.

        1. Just as children desire more than just to be children of their father and dwell in his house, and be provided for by him, they desire the absolute pleasure of their father toward them and the things they do.

        2. Faithful children desire the father and mother of their household to be so proud of them they speak of them everywhere they go, praising them to everybody.

    2. This is exactly what Paul desires of his precious eternal Father, who gave his only begotten son that he might have eternal life.

      1. Eternal life is granted to sinners, who are dead in trespasses and sins, and the assurance of heaven accompanies eternal life.

      2. But rewards are not a part of going to heaven.

        1. An individual must go to heaven to receive heavenly rewards, of course, but rewards are in addition to a heavenly presence.

        2. There are varying rewards given to various persons for various services.

        3. All of these rewards are given by the grace of God, not as any benefit from faithfulness on our part, as Paul wholeheartedly states in these verses.

      3. Paul, however, states he is pressing toward the mark (target) which will assure him of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

        1. Apparently, there was a target Paul had in his mind he was aiming toward.

        2. Hitting that target with his life meant God assured him he would receive the prize.