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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: August 16, 2019
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS.
It could be said in Philippians 3:4-11 Paul’s theme is justification by faith (alone), and the principle verse is located at 3:9:
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Paul wanted these Believers (and us) to understand there wasn’t one thing in his life he could boast to God about, especially his religious achievements (Galatians 1:13-14). The “righteousness” Paul refers to here is understood to be the righteousness that was imputed to him on the basis of his faith in Christ’s finished work of the cross.
The first time I heard the word imputed was in a legal setting (courtroom) and then in my accounting class. For example, an employed teacher decides to return to school to earn their master’s degree. During the period of time they are away in school, the imputed cost of this decision is the wages they might have otherwise earned had they continued to work as a full-time teacher. Imputed is a form of the word imputation and means “to designate an action as reckoned to an individual. Such as when the judge imputed (reckoned) financial costs to my ex-wife’s account and billed her.
Christ’s righteousness refers to His holy, perfect, state of being. So, the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to all those who believe Paul’s gospel or God’s good news for all in the Dispensation of Grace (Romans 16:25-26).
Why is this important? Where you’ll spend eternity depends on what you do or don’t do with Paul’s gospel. Fence sitting is not an option (2 Corinthians 6:2). The Bible states “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No one is good enough to stand before God and boast of their good deeds or good intentions.
We learned last week if salvation is not of God, alone, by faith alone, through Jesus Christ alone then we are asking God to share His glory with us, and God will not do that (Isaiah 42:8).
Since we’re all rebellious sinners by nature, we cannot be in right-standing with God based on anything we do or try to do. Since this is the case, we need a perfect outside source that will make us right with God. This is where the righteousness of Christ enters into the conversation. Our Apostle Paul speaks of this issue in detail, in Romans 4. He used Abram’s faith as an example. I suggest you read the entire chapter when you have opportunity for the sake of brevity we’re going to look at verses 4:19-25:
And being not weak in faith, he (Abraham) considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it (Abraham’s faith) was imputed (to designate an action as reckoned to an individual) to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (See Genesis 15:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:6)
All our sin was imputed to the Lord Jesus Christ who knew no sin. He willingly became sin “for us” and laid down His life for all so that we might (I say might because some might not) become the righteousness of God, in Him (See Galatians 2:20). Each Believer has been “made” the righteousness of God (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:21-23). This imputed righteousness is not our doing it is of God.
********Please open your Bible at Philippians 3:10.
…That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship with his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
“…That I may know him” – here we have Paul stating the object of his faith. Paul no longer put his faith in personal gains or assets, as before his conversion. Now his heart’s desire is “That I may know him (Christ Jesus intimately). We know this because of this statement in 3:9:
“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
Said differently, and I’m paraphrasing, “… in order that I may personally know Him, that I might both experience His resurrection power and share in His sufferings, and thus be more and more conformed to His death.”
Building off of that Bible verse, Paul desired to acquire an intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is to say, a practical knowledge. If you are following the Apostle Paul, as instructed by the risen, glorified Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), you should be likeminded:
“I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:1-2).
This is what Paul’s speaking about. We’re to apply these words to our daily life, practically. We are to renew our minds (repent) which includes the way we view sinful practices. Sin should no longer reign in our mortal bodies:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Romans 6:1-6).
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Romans 6:12-13).
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:15-16).
Paul did not know the Lord Jesus Christ “after the flesh,” nor do we (2 Corinthians 5:16; Romans 15:8-9). We know Him as the glorified, risen Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere in Paul’s letters to the churches does he speak of or deals with Jesus Christ’s birth, His childhood, or His life in any detail. In all his letters, Paul begins with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, explaining their significance to both Jew and Gentile for the very first time in the Bible:
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God ( 1 Corinthians 1:22-23).
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity (1 Timothy 2:5-7).
Another truth Paul speaks of is our identification with Christ Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). It is here the Apostle Paul desired to attain intimate knowledge, i.e. a deeper understanding of the love of Christ and all He accomplished on his behalf by His death, burial, and resurrection.
These thoughts take us to Philippians 3:10:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship (communion; intimate familiarity) with his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Some people see this verse as Paul explaining his lifelong ambition and I’m in agreement. Paul’s heart desire was “to know him” intimately. What does this mean? Notice what prompted Paul's comment about knowing Christ in Philippians 3:10. He had already spent several verses describing his life before his conversion (Philippians 3:4-6). He cited all the cultural and religious advantages he enjoyed as a Pharisaic Jew. But then he declared he had discarded all those personal gains for Christ's sake:
"What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8).
As a Pharisee, Paul had sought to earn God's favor by legal obedience. But he came to realize the law set a standard no one could ever meet. So he scrapped all his own works of righteousness as if they were filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). This does not mean that he ceased doing good works, of course, but that he gave up trusting in those works for his salvation. Instead, he put his faith in Christ Jesus and was clothed in Christ's perfect righteousness instead of his own imperfect works. This is the doctrine known as Justification by Faith
The power of his resurrection – When we search the O.T Scriptures two demonstrations of God’s Awesome Power stand out. 1) In the beginning, God merely spoke, and everything seen, and unseen came into being (Psalm 33:6; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:16-17). And 2) later down the road of time the next great display of His mighty power was visualized at the Red Sea by Moses and the Israelites, which provided deliverance for His chosen people from Pharaoh and his advancing army.
Then in the N.T. we note in Paul’s letters to the seven Gentile churches he always refers to and directs the Believer’s attention to Christ crucified and His resurrection from the dead as a demonstration of God’s Awesome Power and the wisdom of God:
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:17-24).
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Hebrews 1:4-5)
Satan saw the Lord Jesus Christ perish on the cross and was certain he gained victory over God, insofar as he is the prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, and even controls the power of death. (Matthew 4:1-9; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2).
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (the Lord Jesus Christ) also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; (Hebrews 2:14).
Satan hasn’t been destroyed so don’t misunderstand this Bible passage. He’s an eternal being and quite busy deceiving the church and promoting “the lie” today. The same one he used to deceive the woman in the Garden of Eden, which is, you can be like God (Genesis 3:1-6). Humans have swallowed this lie since the dawn of time.
In Colossians 2:14-15, the risen Lord connects the defeat of Satan (and death) by His death, burial, and resurrection:
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The phrase principalities and powers occurs six times in the Bible, always in the King James Version and its spin-offs (NKJV, MKJV). Other Bible versions translate it as “rulers and authorities,” “forces and authorities,” and “rulers and powers.” The context of the Bible passages reveals its meaning. But in most places where the phrase appears, the contexts make it clear it refers to the vast array of evil and malicious spirits who make war against the people of God. These are those forces of Satan that wield power in the unseen realms to oppose everything and everyone that is of God (Romans 8:37-39; Ephesians 3:10-11, 6:12; Colossians 1:16; Titus 3:1).
When Paul refers to the power of his resurrection he means His eternal state:
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:23-24).
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12)
When you put your faith in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), you experienced the power of his resurrection. You most likely didn’t feel it, but in an instant you became a “new creature, in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). For the very first time in your life you were in right-standing with God the Father and now the same power that rose the Lord Jesus Christ up from the grave is the power residing and operating within you. But here’s the thing, to truly know this power, you have to die to self and identify with your inner man:
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (Ephesians 3:16).
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Paul explains to the Galatians the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. Paul’s old life, with its propensity to sin and to follow the world’s ways is now dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him. This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or insensitive, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, especially the sinful lifestyles we once pursued.:
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).
We once pursued selfish, sinful pleasures, of all sorts, without considering God or sin’s lethal effect upon us. But now the true Believer in Christ Jesus pursues, with equal passion, those things that please God.
Therefore, we are to make a present application of Galatians 5:24 in our daily lives. We are unable to live the life Christ Jesus desires for us in our own strength. But thankfully the power of the resurrection will help us yield ourselves to God, as those made alive from the dead, and yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God (Romans 6:13). Sin no longer has power over us unless we allow it (1 Corinthians 10:13; Romans 6:11, 8:1-11)!
Let’s look at verse 3:10:b:
“…and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
I’m sure most of you would agree with me when I say people want to be accepted. I don’t know of anyone who desires to find themselves on the outside looking in. If you’ve ever experienced censure, then you truly understand these words. But if you’re a Believer, in Christ Jesus, the unbelieving world will always look upon you with contempt. In fact, I’ve experienced persecution and scorn from Christians because I promote our Apostle Paul and his gospel over denominationalism (Romans 2:16, 16:25). Having announced those truths, Paul chose to accept his lot in life with the Lord Jesus Christ so that he might understand more fully “the fellowship of his sufferings.” There’s also a verse in Colossians that expresses this notion:
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” (Colossians 1:24).
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you – These words were not meant for the Colossians only, but for the entire Body of Christ. Paul regarded himself as suffering “for the cause of Christ” or his labors in preaching the gospel of grace to both Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 3:1-6). In fact, He was still “a prisoner of Christ,” in Rome, when he wrote Colossians. He was falsely accused of being an insurrectionist by his Jewish opposition. Paul’s gospel included the message “the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down” (Ephesians 2:14-16), meaning the gospel is to be preached to all mankind. Many religious Jews disagreed, thus, the opposition.
“…and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake…” or all that I lack with regard to experiencing the same kind of sufferings Christ Jesus endured for the Body of Christ such as persecutions, reproaches, and strong opposition, to name but a few, not just from religious Jews but the fallen world.
Here Paul is saying although he suffered greatly for the cause of Christ in no way could his sufferings compare to the afflictions of Christ. Paul labored and suffered more than any other apostle on record, but here he admits all those incidents combined did not equal the afflictions of Christ. Furthermore, he’s saying he has a long way to go just to catch up to the Lord’s tribulations:
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
“…being made conformable (having the same or similar manners, opinions or moral qualities) to his death.”
Here’s the word conformable in a sentence “The Gentiles were not made conformable to the Jews, in that which was to cease at the coming of Christ.” Paul’s earnest desire was to resemble Christ Jesus in all respects, so that ““If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (3:11). We’ll examine this statement in depth when next we meet.
When Paul used the word “conformable” he means to take on or assume the same form as His death. He’s not saying we all need to be nailed to a wooden cross and die. Only the sufferings and death of Christ Jesus (alone) could pay God’s sin debt in full. Instead, he is speaking of the sufferings of Christ, i.e. the opposition, persecution, and reproaches he endured daily because he exposed men to the righteousness of God. Believe me when I say if you’re sharing Paul’s gospel to others, operating in your uncomfortable zone, you will experience these sufferings. But this is necessary because the cross addresses mankind’s sinfulness and God’s righteousness. His righteousness was displayed publicly when they nailed our Savior to that Roman cross:
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:34-26).
If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
The unbelieving world hated Jesus Christ without a cause and the same persecution will be true of you and me if we stand for the truth. People continue to reject the Lord today, so we Believers are to bear that lingering hatred of Christ Jesus which still remains. In doing so, we then experience, to a limited degree, what He experienced to the glory of God. This is how we fellowship with his sufferings.
I determine all of these things in verse 3:-9-10 to be the results of “justification.” Paul suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as dung, in order that he may gain Christ. Gaining Christ means receiving his righteousness, knowing him, knowing the power of his resurrection, knowing the fellowship of his sufferings, and being made conformable to his death all to the glory of God the Father.
(To be continued)
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