The “Flu” of the Soul. Philippians 3:3–14
I love good comedy, and one of my favorites is a very proud inspector working for the French. He has great confidence in himself, in spite of how often he is humiliated. One of my favorite scenes is when he enters a hotel and sees a dog. He asks the man behind the front desk “does your dog bite?” The man replies “no.” He then bends over to pet the dog, and the dog viciously bites his hand. He stands up with a surprised look on his face, and states, “I thought you said your dog does not bite!” The man behind the desk looks at him and says “that is not my dog!”
Very funny scene, but it also carries a good point. When we become so full of ourselves and overconfident in what we “think we know” the reality of truth may...
turnaround and bite us!
Paul has just defined what it means to be a Christian. He is now going to challenge the accepted concept of spirituality from the world’s perspective. Let’s learn from him.
Philippians 3:3-14 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
What does Paul mean he could have confidence in his flesh? He means he could put his trust in it. If anyone had bragging rights when it comes to religiosity, the apostle Paul did. Let us also be very careful, because spiritual pride is highly contagious and easily caught. How many times have you been listening to a sermon and your main thought is “I sure wish so-and-so was here, they need to hear this.” I understand sometimes this is driven by concern, but far too many times, at least in my own sinful heart, I lost track of how I should be listening to the message… As if I don’t need it just as much as the person I’m thinking of does! Let’s be careful.
Still, just so we understand Paul’s heart and his point, let’s examine his pedigree:
* Circumcised the 8th day – this was the day God commanded for circumcision to take place. The Ishmaelites did their own thing and did it on the 13th day. So Paul is completely “kosher” when it comes to the sign of being an Israelite.
* Paul was an Israelite, which means he came from Jacob not Esau.
* Paul’s tribe was Jacob’s favorite – Benjamin. Remember Benjamin stood with David against Absalom and followed Judah into the southern kingdom, which stayed faithful to God long after the northern kingdom had been taken into captivity.
What does Paul mean by “Hebrew of Hebrews?” Consider his testimony in the book of Acts, notice he is speaking to them in Hebrew.
Acts 22:2-3 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he said, 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.
* Spoke the holy language and was trained by one of the greatest teachers in Judaism.
* The fact that he was a Pharisee basically means he was a scholar of the Scriptures. This would be equivalent to a doctorate in theology today.
6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
* He points out that he actually persecuted the very message he’s now preaching; he thought he was defending his faith.
* Lastly, concerning righteousness, the statement Paul is making is not a claim that he was sinless. To be blameless would encompass two aspects of his life. First, there would be no legal charge that could be brought against him for breaking the law, and if he did sin, he had made the appropriate sacrifice to pay for that sin.
So as we can see, when it comes to being able to feel justified in our flesh, Paul need not take a backseat to anyone. Having made this point, he’s now going to make an astounding statement that is a “slap” in the face to our human pride.
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
How can Paul say this? Is he just trying to sound spiritual? Let’s remember where he’s come from; in his society he was already at the top of the spirituality pyramid! So what he is saying is not from a mindset of pride… On the contrary, he is full of God’s wisdom since the day he was humble enough to open his mind and heart to an all-loving God. Pride goes before destruction, humility precedes exultation; this, Paul now understands; so his statement comes from the perspective of how does God see what I used to consider gain. This is made clear by the word he chose to describe how he now sees what his pride considered "gain." The word “loss” is the Greek word:
ζημία zēmía; Damage, loss, detriment 
Paul’s point is not that his gain (the pride of his flesh) was sacrificed for Christ, but was a detriment and damage to his life. How we all need to have this fresh perspective from the Holy Spirit in our own lives. Whatever accolades, applause or even admiration from others that might cause our pride to swell and make us more independent of our Lord should be viewed as a detriment. This includes our material success also, which many times lead’s us to great independence of our Lord. Perhaps we should take some wisdom from God’s book of Wisdom and make this our prayer.
Proverbs 30:8-9 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, 9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.
Spend some time today asking the Lord to examine your heart and show you any seeds of pride that would lead to confidence in the flesh. There is more treasure in this passage, let’s look forward to discovering what the Word of God is speaking into our lives!
 Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.