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The Goal of Life in Christ

January 15, 2023 Preacher: Chris LaBelle Series: Various Messages

Topic: Church Scripture: Philippians 3:1-11

Sermon Text:

Good morning RGC. I am grateful to be here this morning opening God’s Word with you.

  • Background of myself. My name is Chris LaBelle… Married, children, journey to now.
  • We all know living in Michigan, there is one thing that continues to be a problem in our state. Construction!!
    • And that can mean only one thing: Warning signs that indicate traffic slow downs or lane closures.
    • Story of missing warning signs and getting stuck in traffic.


Read v.1

  • I want to begin like Paul and encourage you to rejoice!
  • Like the warning signs that we miss, whether in construction zones on the road, patterns of behavior, or directions from GPS, Paul writes this warning here for believers to look out for false teachers as a safeguard for the Church.
  • As we consider these warning signs, may we, as the church, look forward to the goal of life set by Christ.


Review: Review of Philippians: Paul is writing to the Philippians from imprisonment at Rome. A church that began in Acts 16 from the salvation of a woman named Lydia in Philippi at Macedonia. The aim of this letter is to commend their faithfulness in the participation of the gospel and to encourage the believers to live in unity and fellowship for the sake of the gospel.

  • Paul’s confidence of God’s work in the Philippians. (Phil. 1)
  • The faithfulness of the Philippians to the Lord and Paul. (End of Ch.1)
  • Paul’s call to unity in the church on the foundation of the gospel. (Ch.1-2)
  • The example of Christ in the gospel. (Ch.2)
  • The example of love in Timothy and Epaphroditus. (End of Ch.2)

Now, Paul begins his final warning and exhortation to the Philippians.


Reading: Philippians 3:2-11 ESV


Relevance: As we go through this first half of chapter 3 together. Heed the warning that Paul is writing here to be on the watch for false teachers and false believers that teach false doctrine, skew the gospel, and preach something other than Jesus. Those that are seeking their own gain and personal status before men. God’s Word is a safeguard for us, in particular here in Philippians 3. In response to this warning, God wants us to see His goal for our lives. That it’s found in Christ.


The goal of life in Christ points us to consider:

  • Discernment of the flesh v. Spirit; and
  • Life of the Spirit in Christ: Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.


Transition: First, Paul gives us warning of the incoming false teachers that seek to divide the Philippians.


  1. Discernment of the flesh v. Spirit. (v.2-6)


Explanation: Read v.2

  • Paul speaks of the false teachers and Judaizers.
    • Dogs (Jews called Gentiles this).


Psalm 22:16-18, “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.


  • False circumcision- Circumcision given to Abraham as a sign of God’s people. Part of the Old Covenant. The Judaizers were trying to add this part of the Old Covenant onto Jesus. They are dogs who seek value from God based on their performance.
  • “…those who mutilate the flesh.” Signifies a decision to fully discredit the grace of God in Christ. Going all in.

Genesis 17:9-14, “And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.


Read v.3

  • Fleshly circumcision v. circumcision of the heart.
    • Real worship is in the Spirit of God.
    • False worship is adding works or Law to the gospel.


Romans 2:25-29, “For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the Law; but if you break the Law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised, but keeps the Law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the Law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly; and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from a man, but from God.


  • A Jew is not one by any outward works, but by his bloodline. A Christian is not anymore a child of God by circumcising himself, but through the work of the Spirit. That God would make us right inwardly by the circumcision of the heart. We cannot boast otherwise!


Paul is able to boast. Read v.4-6

  • Paul’s resume would have made the Judaizers proud.
    • Circumcised on the eighth day- Proves his parents conformity to the Law and true Jewishness. Just like Abraham was first instructed.
    • Tribe of Benjamin- This tribe stayed true to their Jewish roots even with the surrounding paganism of their day.
    • Pharisee. (Those who put Christ to death)
    • Zealous in his persecution.
    • Followed the Law blamelessly.- Under the teaching of Gamaliel.


Acts: 22:3-5, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.”


  • Gamaliel- Most influential and prominent rabbi of his day. He was the lone voice to speak against an immediate death of Peter and the apostles. It would be like having Charles Spurgeon as a mentor in pastoral training.


Illustration: My resume in getting a degree. Pastor Kevin as a manager. Other resumes in the workplace. We all have something we could boast in. It is a fleshly pursuit. It points to us rather than Christ.


  • It’s not bad to accomplish something or reach a goal.
  • Do we place our identity in these accomplishments?


Application: Where do you find your worth? Is it in Christ or your accomplishments and training? In your marriage? Children? As an elder? Deacon? Secretary?

  • May we all set aside our own personal gain for the sake of Christ and remember our worth in the sufficiency of Jesus.


Transition: The goal of life in Christ allows us to have discernment for false teachers and works of the flesh verses what the bible says about our life in the Spirit. Here in verses 7-11, we see Paul’s argument for the work of the Spirit working through the life of the believer.


  1. Life of the Spirit in Christ: Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. (v.7-11)


Explanation: Did Paul remain satisfied with his resume? Was this enough for Paul? No


Read v.7-8

  • Paul counts his former life a loss. The former things that brought him status and gain.
    • Paul counts all things to be a loss.
  • It is “rubbish”- “σκύβαλον
    • Useless or undesirable material that is subject to disposal, refuse, garbage.
    • “to convey the crudity of the Greek… : ‘It’s all crap’.”
  • Paul wanted Christ above all things.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

  • Paul’s surpassing worth in knowing Christ is by the work of the Spirit in our unity with Jesus. This is found in our understanding of justification, sanctification, and glorification in Christ.


Read v.9-11

  • I will give a definition of the three in alignment with Scripture and give you application to go along with it.
    • In Justification, we know that we have been made right by God. Our legal standing no longer says we are “sinners” before a Holy God, but because of the sufficient work of Christ on the cross, we are given a new legal standing, “saints”. By faith alone.

v.9, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”


Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Application: God ordained our salvation to take place.

  • We were born under Adam’s curse in sin.
  • God justifies us and we believe in faith. Drawn to Him.
  • We are made alive in Christ, set apart as Saints, holy and righteous in Christ.


  • Sanctification fleshes itself out in real time as we are continually shaped and molded into the image of Jesus, who is the perfect image of God. Unity with Jesus.


v.10, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”


Ephesians 4:13-16, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

  • In the unity of the Church, God uses individual people to bring believers together to fulfill God’s plan in redemptive history in love.


Application: At the point of salvation, we were justified, but also sanctified. (see 1 Cor. 6:11)

  • By the Spirit, we get to walk freely in suffering. Knowing we have been made a new creation, by the power of Christ’s resurrection. We share the gospel and suffer for His sake.
    • Isolation, death, persecution.
  • By the Spirit, we get to walk freely in repentance.
  • By the Spirit, we get to put to death the deeds of the flesh.

Romans 8:10-14, “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

  • Finally, in Glorification, we will one day be resurrected from the dead with renewed and perfected bodies, unstained from sin and death.

v.11, “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”


1 Cor. 15:21-23, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”


  • There will be a day when those who have been born-again will see exactly what they will look like.
    • Bodies will be completely restored. No more sin, pain, suffering. Made perfectly in the image of Christ.


1 John 3:2, “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”


Application: In our present life, in real time, we look forward to this day with hope.

  • Every trial and troubling circumstance will be rectified.
  • For every injustice, justice will be served.
  • For every hurt, there will be comfort.
  • For every bump and scrape, physical ailment, whether temporary or lifetime, will be healed.
  • Every spot of cancer formed in the body, every deformed member of our body or underdeveloped brain, and every aborted baby will be restored in Christ.

When we pass and look back at our lives, Christ will wipe away every tear. May we look ahead now, as we press into this life in Christ.


1 Peter 1:3-9. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”


  • Because of the Spirit, we can look ahead and experience real joy and life despite the circumstances or bad hand we may have been dealt with.
    • No one has went through life unscathed by sin.


1 John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”



  • As we leave here this morning, my hope is that Paul’s warning for the Philippians would be enough to spark change. There are many in this world, in different places of our lives, trying to influence and change our identity. The world views status, power, and our own resume as enough to sustain and fulfill us. Paul writes that all of this is rubbish.
  • The surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ is enough to set all of this aside. Knowing Jesus means that we see the gospel in its entirety. That we were drawn to the Father and in faith justified, identified as Saints. Sanctified, set apart in holiness, and by the Spirit of God walking freely in that holiness. And one day we will be glorified, finally attaining the resurrection from the dead.


Encouragement and Application: Let me give you a final encouragement this morning. As you walk out of those front doors, set aside your own personal ideas on what it means to feel worthy. If it’s in your own achievements or standards of holiness, set it aside. If you are going through a real storm and trial right now, remember the gospel. Remember why Paul is writing to the Philippians. Knowing Jesus is enough. This life is hard, but when we make it to the end, we will see the culmination of Christ’s work in our lives. And we will see Him in perfection, how it was meant to be the whole time. And He will wipe away our tears. All things will be made new. I’ll leave you with this final passage


Revelation 21:4-5, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

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