Relying on our own strength

Philippians 3:5-9

“I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.  I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.  I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.  Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.”


  • Paul tells us all the reasons he could put confidence in himself:
  1. rule follower from day 1- he has been circumcised (he probably mentioned this because this was the contention the Judaizers had with the Philippian church)
  2. bloodline is pure – Hebrew of Hebrews
  3. zealous for the law and obeyed it and enforced it harshly to others
  4. of the order of the Pharisees – the stricted Jewish group, he studied under Gamaliel, the most celebrated teacher of the Pharisees (Acts 22:3)
  • What Paul once considered assets, he now saw as detriments.  “By trusting falsely in human performance, he had not only failed to make any progress toward the righteousness God requires but had also let his Jewish ‘advantages’ drive him to persecute the church, which proclaimed the message of the righteousness of God received by faith, the only kind of righteousness God accepts.”  (Expositors Bible Commentary)
  • Paul speaks of counting “all things” as garbage compared to Christ.  “By using panta (all things) rather than tauta (these things), Paul’s thought broadens from his Jewish advantages just mentioned to include everything that might conceivably be a rival to his total trust in Christ.” (Expositors)  He sees everything as garbage when compared to knowing and trusting in Christ.
  • It started on the road to Damascus when Paul first accepted Christ, but that was only the beginning of Paul’s journey.  In Colossians 2:3, Paul writes that in Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.  He is continually searching out that wisdom and counting his own merits as garbage over and over because as a human we have a tendency to go back to relying on ourselves.


  • If you were writing a resume of your own value, what would you include?
  • What human accomplishments do you have a tendency to trust in for your own righteousness? (church involvement, serving others, having quiet time, etc. are all very good practices in our lives – but they flow out of our love for Christ, they do NOT earn our righteousness)
  • Take a moment to just bask in the fact that Christ secured your righteousness for you by His death on the cross.  Really – stop for 1 minute and just think about the freedom of receiving by faith rather than earning by good deeds….
  • Write this last phrase from today’s passage on a post-it note and put it on your bathroom mirror: “For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.”
  • “There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. There is nothing you can do to make God love you less.  He just loves you.”  (Phil Yancey)


Adoration: Praise God that He loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us and we don’t have to rely on our own human accomplishments.

Confession: Admit that you tend to find your worth in your own attempts at being good rather than counting it as garbage compared to knowing Christ.

Thanksgiving:  Thank Him for His Word that realigns our perspective continually.

Supplication:  Ask God for joy today as you trust in Him alone!




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