Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Philippians 3:7 and 8 say, “But what things were gains to me, these I have counted loss on account of Christ. But surely I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them to be refuse that I may gain Christ.” When we come to these verses, we come to the heart of this book. Here we are initiated into the experience of Christ.
In verse 7 Paul speaks of “what things were gains to me.” These are the things mentioned in verses 5 and 6. The things that were gains to him Paul counted loss on account of Christ. All the different gains were counted as one loss by Paul because they all issued in one thing, that is, the loss of Christ, as indicated by “on account of Christ.” All the things which were once gains to Paul hindered him and held him back from participating in Christ and enjoying Him. Hence, on account of Christ, all the gains were a loss to him.
Whereas in verse 7 Paul refers specifically to religious things, in verse 8 he goes on to say, “I count also all things to be loss.” Paul counted as loss on account of Christ not only the things of his former religion, but all other things as well. In this message I have a particular burden to point out what these things include.
Years ago, many of us were taught that the things in verse 8 refer to worldly, material things. In a sense, this understanding is partly right. However, to interpret Paul’s word in this way is not very practical. According to verses 5 and 6, Paul’s concept is not mainly related to material things. It is true, of course, that worldly, material things occupy people and keep them from experiencing Christ. However, Paul realized that the things which truly frustrate people from experiencing Christ are mainly the things of religion, philosophy, and culture. For the most part, the thoughtful, philosophical people are not occupied by material things. Those who are not thoughtful or philosophical are the ones usually distracted by material things. Those who are more philosophical care for religion, culture, and philosophy. When you go out to preach the gospel, you will discover that religion, philosophy, and culture are the most powerful strongholds of resistance to the gospel.
Before Paul was converted, he was not one who loved material things. On the contrary, he was a person fully given to Jewish religion, philosophy, and culture. His whole being was for Judaism and everything included in it. Apparently Jews care for their religion. Actually they care much more for their culture and philosophy than for religion. The same is true, of course, for people of every race, culture, and nationality. Moslems, for example, are fully occupied with their own type of thought, logic, philosophy, and culture.
Let us review the items covered by Paul in verses 5 and 6. He says that he was circumcised the eighth day, that he was of the race of Israel, that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, that he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, that concerning the law he was a Pharisee, that concerning zeal he persecuted the church, and that concerning righteousness which is in the law, he was blameless. These items are related to religion, philosophy, and culture. This is a strong indication that as Paul was writing these verses he was conscious not of material things, but rather of religious, philosophical, and cultural things. At the time the book of Philippians was written, most of the people in the Roman Empire were for religion, philosophy, or politics. In fact, the three main elements of Western culture, then as well as now, were Jewish religion, Greek philosophy, and Roman politics.
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