An Example of Confidence
Tim Temple

Introduction

Our text is Philippians, chapter 3, verses 7-14:

Philippians 3

7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8Yea 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,
9And 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:
10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps you are familiar with the story which has often been told of the Civil War veteran who wanted to have a personal appointment with President Lincoln. He had some matters of very real importance to discuss with the President, but they were not the kinds of matters that would normally be delegated of a president's time. The veteran had tried every available means to get an appointment with the President, but he had not been successful. Even though he had tried all of the proper channels, he had not had the opportunity to have an appointment with the President. So having exhausted all of those channels, he was sitting on the White House lawn, dejected and wondering what to do next when President Lincoln's young son wandered by. He was a boy about ten or twelve years old, playing there on the White House grounds. There was probably not as much security as we would have around the White House today. He saw this soldier sitting there. He stopped and began to talk to him. As they had their conversation, it developed that the veteran told him why he was there and why he wanted to see the President and the fact that he had not been able to see the President. So the boy, Todd Lincoln, as a lot of boys will, thought that the soldier's case merited his father's attention. So even though the soldier had not been considered worthy of an appointment by those whom that kind of authority was delegated, Todd Lincoln took that soldier by the hand and took him right into the presence of the President. As the veteran and the little boy walked into the White House, nobody dared interfere because President Lincoln had given strict orders that his son was to be able to come in to see him any time.

This story is often told as a picture of the advocacy that we have through Jesus Christ–the fact that we know the Son of God, and therefore we can come into the presence of God at anytime. It does beautifully illustrate that wonderful truth–the fact that we don't have to go through some outside channels to contact God. We know God's Son and because we know God's Son, nobody is going to question us as we approach the presence of God.

There is also an interesting picture here, and that is the fact that that soldier, as he walked into the President's office, could have walked in there with perfect confidence. Those who have handed the story down from year to year have not dwelt on that particular issue, but that soldier had nothing to worry about. He walked with Lincoln's son into the Presidential office because of who he was with and where he was going. He could have held his head high with complete confidence and boldness.

That is exactly what the Apostle Paul is trying to get across in the passage that we have before us, that believers in Jesus Christ can have perfect confidence and boldness as we go through life if we will just recognize that we know the Son of God, that we are personally acquainted with the God of the Universe.

This is the kind of thing on which Paul bases admonitions such as in verse 1. “Rejoice in the Lord.” He is not saying, as we mentioned last week, that we should just try to keep a stiff upper lip or that we should just try to be happy no matter what the circumstances, but that we should rejoice in the Lord, that we can have perfect confidence no matter what comes along in life. No matter what problems we face, we can have perfect boldness and confidence as we go through life because we are hand in hand with the Son of God Himself.

On that basis, Paul also points out how inadequate any other basis of confidence is. Chapter 3 is broken into three parts. First, in verses 1-3, the prerequisite for confidence; then in verses 4-14, the personal example of confidence; then in verses 15-21, the public exhortation to confidence.

Prerequisite for Confidence

In our last lesson, we began to talk together about the prerequisite for confidence, and we began talking about the personal example of confidence. We did not get through discussuing that particular issue, but it is important for us to notice that there are three prerequisites for having confidence. We have available to us the confidence that is in Christ, but going back to the story of the Civil War veteran approaching President Lincoln's office, it is very conceivable, even though historians and the storytellers have not recorded it for us, that that soldier may have been very nervous with the president's son. He may have wondered if somebody, even though he was with the president's son, was going to stop him and was going to keep him from seeing the president after all.

He had reason to have perfect confidence, but it is conceivable that he was not aware of the basis for his confidence. That is the thing that Paul is dealing with in the first three verses. He says that if we are going to take advantage of the confidence that is available to us, we must recognize the prerequisites for confidence.

We are not going to take the time to go into those now, but basically what he is saying in those first three verses is that we cannot depend on the flesh, that we must not have confidence in the flesh. In other words, the standard approach to confidence in the world today is exactly the wrong thing to do. All of the Dale Carnegie courses, all of the “I'm OK, you're OK,” all of the various examples of pumping up our confidence are not at all helpful. In fact, they are a hindrance to having the kind of confidence that is available in Jesus Christ. The prerequisites for confidence have to do with having no confidence in the flesh, the Apostle Paul says. There are some other prerequisites, but this is the summary of that idea.

So he moves on into the true source of confidence, showing where our confidence can and should come from. He uses himself as he so often does as an example. In verses 4-14, we have the personal example of confidence. In our last lesson, we talked about verses 4-6–the past drives. Paul says, “If there is anybody who could consider himself confident in the flesh, that person would be me.” We talked about the accomplishments and the background that Paul lists for us there in verses 4-6. All of the things that could have given confidence, that are used to give confidence to human beings, Paul had. But he is saying in these verses, “I have found something that is much greater than any of those things.”

Paul's Present Determination

In verses 7-9, he begins to talk about the present determination, and this is what we now want to think about specifically. In verse 7, he says, “In spite of my past drives, I now have a new determination.” He says in verse 7:

Philippians 3

7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

I would like for us to notice first, in verse 7, there is a specific consideration involved in this determination. When Paul says, “Those things that were gain to me, I counted loss for Christ,” he is saying, “I have carefully considered this matter. I have carefully thought it through, and I have come to a conclusion, a determined conclusion.” Notice here, he says, “What things were gain to me.” By that phrase, he is referring to all of those things that we talked about in verses 5 and 6, the qualifications, the basis for his confidence–circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, etc. “All of those were the things that were gain to me.”

Recognition of Real Value

What he is saying in those verses is, “If there is anybody who could have had confidence in the flesh, it was me.” Notice he says here in verse 7:

Philippians 3

7…those I counted loss for Christ.

The word “loss” is a translation of the Greek word zemia , which is a word that is used in the business world, and it has to do with the kind of loss that business men suffer when business hasn't gone like they would like for it to have. It is not that these things have been lost, as if he can't find them. It is not as if these things have been misplaced. It's not as if he thinks, “Well, I am not going to bother with those things anymore.”, but rather he is thinking about his past drives, the way a business man would consider a business venture in which he has lost some money. “Those things were loss to me.”

Actually he is not saying those things specifically were lost, but he is saying, “I counted those things loss.” Notice the word “counted” there. It is a translation of the Greek word hegeomai , which means “to consider carefully.” Before we are through with the passage we are going to see that with this careful consideration, those things were lost; but the important stress at this point is that Paul carefully considered all of these things that he depended on, and he considered them in his own mind a loss. Those things were not inherently bad in and of themselves. Paul considered the whole context. He considered them loss. He came to the conclusion that they were loss.

The reason that I am emphasizing that is that I hope that as we look at this passage we can see that same kind of conclusion about some things that are perhaps in themselves not bad at all, some things that in and of themselves may not really be considered a loss on the surface, but by means of comparison with what God has to offer through Jesus Christ, that we perhaps can come to this same kind of consideration. Paul says, “In pursuing all of those things, in emphasizing all of those things, actually I just lost time compared with what I could have had in developing my relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Now to further emphasize the waste of time, he made a comparison in verse 8:

Philippians 3

8Yea 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,

This is a very familiar verse of Scripture, one that we often memorize and have our children memorize, but one that we perhaps need to think very carefully about because it has some statements in it that are easy to just pass over and not really think about the significance of them. Notice he says, “I count all things but loss.” He is making a comparison here, not just the list in verses 5 and 6, but really everything else in his life. “Not just my past qualifications, but all the things that I would give any value to, compared to what I can have by developing my relationship to Jesus Christ, I count all things but loss.”

The real stress in verse 8 is on the comparison between those things that are inherently good. In and of themselves they may be fine, but compared to a relationship to the Son of God, those things are a waste of time. Notice he says also here in verse 8, a very familiar phrase. “I count them but dung.”

On the surface at first glance, particularly those of you who are hearing this for the first time, that may sound like a very strong statement. In fact, it may really sound like a statement that doesn't carry the kind of impact that we think the Holy Spirit intended when He had Paul write these words.

Dependence On Leftovers

It is another of those translations that suffers because of the change in the meaning of words in the years since the King James version was translated. The word “dung,” here is a translation of the Greek word skubalon , which really doesn't mean “human waste” and “excrement” as we usually take the word to mean. It really means “leftovers.” It refers to the scraps that are left after a workman has finished his job, or to leftovers that are left after a meal has been finished. A more specific word translation would be the word “refuse.”

Think with me then about what this means. What this means is that Paul is saying, “Things that I depended on before, the things that I put my time in, counted on to get me honor in the eyes of other people, the things I counted on for my confidence and boldness in life were actually only the leftovers of life. They were only the scraps of life.”

Now scraps and leftovers are things that are left when the job is finished, when the appetite has been satisfied. I recognize that in some of your homes there are not many scraps left when the appetite has been satisfied. In others there are a lot of scraps left, and that is probably a sensitive enough subject that I shouldn't elaborate on it at all by trying to draw comparisons. But the basic idea is that leftovers and scraps are what we have when the job is finished, and I think that is the concept that the Holy Spirit wants to get across in the use of this word. “These things that I was depending on before are really just leftovers. And I didn't need to depend on those, because actually the job had been completed in Jesus Christ already, and there I was depending for my satisfaction on the leftovers.”

What would we think of an individual who had a large meal, and someone had just eaten before him, and rather than concentrating on the large meal in front of him, he insisted on having the scraps from the table next to him where the other man had just finished his meal? Of course, we would begin to wonder about that person, and if we had any responsibility or any relationship with that person, we might take steps to have some test run or something like that. We would at least worry about it privately, and hope nobody else found out about it. Paul says, “To depend on my background and my training and my birth and my position in life was just the same as depending on scraps or on leftovers.”

Unnecessary Things

There is another aspect of this that we need to see. I think it is also very important in understanding this passage. And that is that the leftovers may be very good in themselves, especially if we have just finished a meal in a good restaurant. Sometimes we leave so much over after our appetite has been satisfied that if we have the nerve, we ask for a doggie bag. Usually those scraps are good enough that we do not want them to go to waste. We want to take them home and use them ourselves when our appetite has built up again.

The thing that I want us to see is that very often we have the idea in Christian circles, and I believe particularly unbelievers get the idea, that the activities of the world are all bad, that everything an unbeliever does is just terrible and bad, worthless and wasted. The Scripture is not saying that. The Scripture never says that everything that an unbeliever does is bad.

In the next verse we are going to see another aspect of this. But what he is saying here is not that those things that I was involved in were like human excrement. What he is saying is that they were unnecessary. They were left over after the job was finished. So, let's be very careful as believers that we don't give unbelievers the idea that we think that everything that they do is bad and harmful, because that's not the Biblical idea. Paul simply says, “Those things were a loss. They were wasted time, but only because the job had already been completed.”

What he is saying here is that compared to what could have been gained by spending that same amount of time and effort cultivating his relationship with Jesus Christ, he has lost a great deal of time. What he is saying is, “If I had put the same amount of time and effort in concentrating on coming to know the Lord better, coming to know His Word better and ministering for Him more fully, I could have been much farther ahead in my spiritual relationship, and that in turn would have given me much greater boldness and confidence because my relationship to Jesus Christ is of eternal value.” The things that Paul are referring to in verses 5 and 6 are not that different from the kinds of things that we invest our time in, are they? Those things are simply of temporal value.

A Spiritual Viewpoint

We as believers need to constantly keep in mind a bigger frame of reference than the world does. Think with me of what a bigger frame of reference is. Perhaps you have had the experience of looking through a camera that had two sets of lenses built into it. It would have a standard lens and it would have a wide-angle lens. Or maybe you have seen commercials on television which have been made recently. Occasionally they will show a picture, and sometimes this same picture has been in a magazine. They will switch to the wide angle, and they will show a much broader picture. Visualize this from a spiritual standpoint. So often, even as Christians, we get to looking at the immediate details of life that surround us, and we get to thinking about the human solutions to those things, and we get to thinking about the human resources that we have available. Paul says, “Those things that we depend on as human beings are completely worthless and, in fact, could be considered a loss compared to the much greater benefit of depending upon Jesus Christ.” That is the wide-angle picture.

We need to cultivate the habit of looking at the events that come into our lives, not just with the immediate view of the human resources that we have and the human situations we have around us, but with the much bigger frame of reference of what God wants to do with those things, of what God has in mind and of what God has available to meet those needs. That is what Paul is saying. The comparison here in verse 8 is between how he had looked at it as a human being and how he could look at it as a person who is personally acquainted with Jesus Christ.

The Righteousness of Man

Then in verse 9, he approaches the same thing from the standpoint of a contrast. Actually in verse 9, he is talking about the same picture, but he is presenting it from a little differenct standpoint. To complete the picture, he talks about the contrast. He says in verse 9:

Philippians 3

9And 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:

One of the things that I hope you are aware of is one of the basic points of Scripture that we need to keep in mind. It is particularly important as we relate to other believers. It is along the line of what we have already been talking about and that is that the Scripture says there is a certain kind of righteousness that man has. There is a certain kind of righteousness that even the unsaved person has. Paul refers to it here in verse 9 as “mine own righteousness.” Paul is saying, “I don't want to be found having only mine own righteousness.” But he is saying, “There is such a thing as human righteousness.”

Recognize with me and be willing to admit with me that many, many good and noble, worthwhile deeds from the human standpoint are accomplished by unsaved people. As I say, I think we as Christians have a real shortcoming in giving the impression to the unsaved and perhaps giving the impression to our children who haven't had the opportunity to think things through completely that anything an unsaved person does is just worthless and bad. The Scripture says that there are many good works which unbelievers can do.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 10. As I am talking about the good unsaved people can do, please listen carefully and please stay with me all the way through, because it will be easier to misunderstand what I am saying and, even worse for me, it will be easy for you to misquote what I am saying. I am very anxious for you to understand, and I sure don't want you to misquote. In Romans, chapter 10, Paul talks about this very same concept. Notice he says in verses 1-3:

Romans 10

1Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2[Notice] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Now let's think carefully about what Paul is saying. First, he is talking about his brethren, the Jews. Paul himself was a Jew and that is what he means there. He says, “My deepest desire is that my fellow Jewish brethren could be saved.” But notice he says, “I bear them record that they have a zeal for God.” You see, it is possible for an unsaved person to be very religious and because of that “religion” to do many humanitarian things. If you will think about it for a minute, you will realize that many charity hospitals, many beneficial camps for children and various kinds of good works have been done by organizations in which probably many of them are not believers in Christ, and yet they have done many good works from the human standpoint.

That is the thing that Paul is talking about. “They have a zeal for God. They are anxious to be holy. They like to do things that are religious.” But notice he goes on to say, “But not according to knowledge.” And of course that is the key. It is possible to know a great deal about God and to talk a great deal about God without knowing Him personally.

He goes on to explain that in verse 3:

Romans 10

3For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

So let's remember first that it is possible for people to be very righteous and very religious. Paul is saying to the Philippians, “I do not want to be found having that kind of righteousness. I don't want to stand in the Lord's presence and say, ‘Lord, I have done many good works in Your name.', and have Him say, ‘I never knew you.'”

Of course that is another of the references to “human righteousness.” Jesus talked about that when He was on the earth. He said, “There are going to be many people who will stand at the judgment and say, ‘Lord, didn't we do this and didn't we do that?'”, and He doesn't say, “No, you did not do good things.” He simply says, “I never knew you.” So there is a righteousness that is of man.

The Worth of Human Righteousness

Another passage that illustrates this perhaps even more clearly is in the Old Testament, in Isaiah, chapter 64. It is a very familiar verse, but notice verse 6:

Isaiah 64

6But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Notice that he says, “all our righteousnesses.” You see, he is recognizing that we do have righteousnesses. We do have good works even as unbelievers. But notice what he says, “Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Here is a verse that I think is often misunderstood. Sometimes this verse is used by believers to give the impression that anything that an unbeliever does is filthy in God's sight.

Theologically that is true, and I will say more about that in just a moment, but that is not really the thought that Isaiah is trying to convey here. The filthy rags to which Isaiah refers, the term that is transferred with our English words “filthy rags,” is a Hebrew word that refers to the rags that were used to dry off sweaty camels after a trek across the desert. Of course they would be filthy rags because they would accumulate the dust and the sweat as they dried off those camels. A person reading this in Hebrew would have understood. The real point is not the dirtiness of those rags, but the concept was that the rags were used up. They had absorbed all they could absorb, and they were useless not just because they were filthy, but because they were full of sweat, and they could not be used to dry off another camel.

That is the concept of righteousness on the part of an unsaved person as God sees it. God recognized that there are many good works. But God says, “Those good works have been used up.” When you have the time read Matthew, chapter 6, and you will see that Jesus is saying that very thing. “When you do your praying, when you do your giving,” he says, “don't do those things as the Pharisees do for they love to pray in the open, standing on the corners and in the synagogues, thinking that they will be heard for their much praying.” Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 6, verse 6:

Matthew 6

6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

The basic context of what He is saying there is the same thing that Isaiah, chapter 64, verse 6, is saying, and that is that human good works are used up in the attention of other people. Human good works are worth only what they can accomplish in this smaller frame of reference of the human life. Human good works may feed hungry stomachs. Human good works may provide eye glasses for the blind. Human good works may provide hot meals for the elderly. We could go on and on, but all of the inherently good things that human good works accomplish the Word of God says that that's all they are good for. They have nothing to do with our standing before God, because they are used up in the process of doing them. And all of the good works that we have done, Isaiah says, are simply used up in the very doing of them. In fact, Jesus, I personally believe, was being a little humorous in Matthew, chapter 6. What He was saying was, “If you're going to do something publicly, you'd better be sure that you get plenty of notice for it because that is all of the notice that you are going to get. Whatever notice you can get other people to give you for your good works, if you are doing them just for that purpose, that's all the notice you are going to get because your Heavenly Father isn't going to notice that kind of works.” Those kinds of works have no bearing on our eternal relationship with God.

The Righteousness of God By Faith

Let's go back to Philippians, chapter 3, with these things in mind, and notice that this is what Paul is saying. He says in Philippians, chapter 3, verse 9: “I want to be found not having my own righteousness which is of the law. I don't want to stand before God with a list of good works that I have done, with a list of keeping of the law that I have accomplished, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Here is the other kind of righteousness. Some have referred to the first kind of righteousness in verse 9 as “human good” and the second kind of righteousness in verse 9 as “divine good.” That is one way to state it. Paul says, “I don't want to be found with the good works that I am capable of doing as a human being; rather, I want to be found as having the righteousness of God by faith.”

Bridging the Righteousness Gap

Let's think for just a minute about this other kind of righteousness, the righteousness which is of God. Where does that come from? He says by faith. What I am about to say, I think, bears repeating, and so like the Apostle Paul in verse 1:

Philippians 3

1…To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

What he is talking about here is the provision of righteousness that God makes for us. I like to refer to this as “the bridging of the righteousness gap.” We're familiar with various kinds of gaps. We have a generation gap in our society. I personally think that the generation gap has to some degree been foisted upon us by the sociologists. But we all talk about the gap between parents and children. We have the credibility gap, and any of us who follow politics to any degree, know what the credibility gap is–that gap between what they say and what they do. The Scripture suggests also that there is a righteousness gap. Romans, chapter 3, verse 23 says:

Romans 3

23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

That little verse is a definition of sin. All have sinned. We could write that verse with a colon in the middle. “All have sinned: Come short of the glory of God.” What is sin? You might say, “Sin is drinking and dancing, and on and on and on, this and that, a long list of things, the dirty dozen, the filthy five, all that. That's sin.” God says that anything that does not measure up to His standard of righteousness is sin. If you are less truthful than God is, you have sinned in the area of telling the truth. If you are less faithful than God is, you have sinned in the area of faithfulness. If you are less of a provider to those who are dependent on you than God is, you have sinned in the area of dependability.

When we look at sin from that standpoint, it really brings it closer to home, doesn't it? It doesn't apply so much to the bum in the gutter any more than it applies to us because sin is coming short of the glory of God. That is a statement of the righteousness gap. Romans, chapter 6, verse 23 says:

Romans 6

23For the wages of sin is death…

Because of the righteousness gap, because of the existence of the righteousness gap, God says in Habakkuk, chapter 1, verse 13:

Habakkuk 1

13Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…

We have an unbridgeable chasm between our level of righteousness and God's level of righteousness. That's the righteousness gap. It is impossible for us to be as righteous as God would have us be. Some people have a very small righteousness gap. They are pretty righteous, pretty much like God, and they only have a small righteousness gap. Others of us have a very large righteousness gap. I had a conversation with a lady one time who told me she had only committed one sin in her whole life. I had not known her all her life, so I didn't know whether to verify that or not. Her daughter was sitting there, and she didn't disagree with her. In fact, she started out saying that she had never committed any sins. Then the daughter reminded her of one that she had heard about one time. That woman had a very small righteousness gap, but she had still sinned and come short of the glory of God. The daughter had not seen it. That was an interesting situation. The daughter had not seen her do that sin. She had just heard about it. This woman was so perfect that the one sin she had committed was a well-known story in her family. She had a very small righteousness gap.

Just to sit there and listen to that, if I could have really believed it, which I really didn't, would have made me feel like my righteousness gap was even bigger. But even that lady, as she was telling us that story, had not accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, and she had an unbridgeable righteousness gap. That is what Paul is talking about right here in Philippians, chapter 3. “I don't want to have to depend upon my own righteousness, because all of my good works have been used up and I still have a righteousness gap.”

God's Provision of Righteousness

II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 21, if you have been listening to me very long, you know is one of my very favorite verses because, in my opinion, it explains the Gospel so clearly–the real essence of the Gospel. II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 21, tells how God bridged the righteousness gap:

II Corinthians 5

21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

That is what the second part of Philippians, chapter 3, verse 9, is talking about. “I don't want to depend upon my own righteousness, because even with my own righteousness I have fallen short of the glory of God. But I want to depend upon the righteousness which is of God by faith, the righteousness that God provides with my acceptance of Jesus Christ.” Think about what he is saying in II Corinthians, chaper 5, verse 21:

II Corinthians 5

21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

God looks at Jesus Christ and He sees your sin that has created that righteousness gap. Maybe it would or maybe it would not include those heinous, terrible sins that we think about. But just the fact that you are, as we mentioned a moment ago, less faithful than God is, or less loving that God is, or less truthful than God is, God looks at your sins and He sees them on Jesus Christ. He looks at your life and He sees instead the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “That is my basis of confidence–not any of the good things that I have done, and I have done a lot. But my basis of confidence is the righteousness which is of God by faith. That is what I am depending on. That is what gives me the confidence to face life, no matter what comes.”

If you will think about it in that context, you see how Paul can say so emphatically, “All those things I count as wasted. Those are just lost. I wish I had not spent my time on them, because they have nothing to do with the true basis of confidence, with the eternal values that God has. That is the true basis of confidence.”

Our Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ

We are going to stop here, but as we conclude, let me ask you this question. “What is your confidence based on?” Really, deep down inside, honestly before the Lord, what is it that you base your confidence on? You may say, “Well, I don't really have much confidence. I am a pretty inward and shy person.” That may be a very natural result of not having the right kind of confidence. But do you recognize that you and I are in the same position, in a real sense, that that Civil War veteran was as he approached the presidential office that day? We are able to come into the presence of God because we are personally acquainted with His Son, not because of any merit on our part. All of our approaches have already been used up. Now they may have accomplished some good things from a human standpoint, but we don't really have any basis for confidence in the flesh, do we?

Some people are confident in the flesh, just like Paul was. To them I would say, remember and recognize with the Apostle Paul that those things that you are counting on for your confidence in life are really wasted compared to the eternal values of a personal relationship to Jesus Christ.

Someone pointed out one time, and I think it is very fitting in a topic like we are talking about here, that to know Jesus Christ only as Savior is something like knowing a famous person like Tom Landry, for example, but not really knowing him for who he is–knowing Tom Landry, but only knowing him as a person who lives down the street from you, and not recognizing the things that have really made him famous. There are many Christians who know that Jesus Christ died for their sins, but that is really all they know, or if they know more than that, that is really all they ever think about.

Paul says, “The thing that motivates me, and the thing that helps me face every situation that comes along and enables me to rejoice in the face of it is the fact that Jesus Christ is the source of my confidence–the eternal values of knowing Jesus Christ personally.”


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