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Paul ends the last section by calling us to rejoice in the Lord. His very next thought is to look out for false teachers who were teaching that you could be righteous before God based on performing the Law of God. Paul knows from his own experience that when you trust in your own performance it destroys faith in God, which ends up alienating us from God and his power to truly transform us.
So Paul draws on his personal experience to urge the Philippians to trust in the righteousness that is theirs by faith in Christ that they might enjoy their relationship with God, experience His power in his life and have the motivation to press on because of the assurance of God’s favor.
When have you been in a position where you had to trust another person for something important? What made it easy or difficult to trust them?
1. Who are the “dogs”, “evildoers” and “those who mutilate the flesh”? How are they contrasted with the Philippians?
2. In the last section, Paul called us to “rejoice in the Lord”. His very next thought is to “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” How might the influence of these people keep the Philippians from rejoicing in the Lord?
3. What does it mean to “put no confidence in the flesh”? Why do you think Paul give himself as an example of this? What does Paul put his confidence in now?
4. Look over Paul’s credentials. What “gain” was he deriving from them? Why does he now see them as loss?
5. What does it mean to be “found in” Christ? How is this related to being righteous?
6. Paul says the ultimate purpose of being righteous is so that he can know Christ and the power of his resurrection. What does he mean by these things?
7. What is the resurrection of the dead?
8. Some people argue that if you are assured eternal life there is no more motivation to persevere in a life of serving Christ. Yet here Paul indicates that his motivation to persevere is just because “Christ Jesus has made me his own”. How does this work? Why might the assurance that Paul belongs to Christ motivate him to “strain forward” toward heaven?
9. Why might Paul consider it a mark of maturity to recognize your own imperfection?
10. What things are you hesitant to lose or count as rubbish for the sake of Christ? Why? How might this relate to putting confidence in the flesh? How do you see yourself putting confidence in your achievements?
11. How have you seen placing confidence in self rather than Christ affect your joy in Christ, perseverance in Christ, or your relationship with him?
12. How does the righteousness that is from God achieve what you are trying to achieve by your own efforts?
13. How might your life look differently if you were to believe by faith that Christ’s righteousness was enough for you in each moment of life?
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