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"Rubbish" Phiilippians 3:4b-14 Proper 22A

October 3, 2011



The Apostle Paul writes this letter to the Philippians, in part, because of threats against the congregation – a threat that I would describe as “pious-one-ups-manship.”  Some of the Jews living in that area had been taunting the Christians – claiming they had no place in God’s kingdom.  These Judaizers demanded that all who would claim to be the children of God – must be obedient to the laws of Moses.

“We’re circumcised (as Moses commands) – and you are not.”  “We’re in – you’re not!”  That’s why the Apostle Paul warns the Philippians (and us) – about putting “confidence in the flesh.”  Being circumcised – or not being circumcised – didn’t determine whether you were a child of God.  Anyone who says you MUST – has put their confidence in their flesh.

“Well, if that’s the game you want to play,” Paul says, “then I’ll out-Moses you.”  “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more,” he says – “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews;  as to the law, a Pharisee;  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;  as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

You want to talk about a killer resume.  That ought to do it.  That ought to shut up these Judaizers.  That ought to put them – and anyone else who wants to give it a try – to shame.

But Paul’s not done.  Now he drops the bomb on them:  “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

In other words – “folks, you can’t have it both ways.”  You can’t use the Law to wrack up points with God – and at the same time – trust in the grace of God in Christ Jesus.  You can’t boast of your righteous living, your accomplishments – and then depend on Christ’s righteousness for your standing before God.

The bottom line is this – you cannot put your confidence in “the flesh” – not yours, or anyone else’s – and also believe that Jesus Christ alone (and His flesh given into death as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world) is the source of your salvation.

WHATEVER you put in the salvation column – apart from Christ – is “rubbish,” Paul says.  That’s a polite way of saying what he says.  It’s dung – it’s manure – it’s a big pile of …… rubbish!  So throw it out.  Flush it all away.  OR, are you going to put your confidence in dung?  Are you going to pile it all up before God, thinking that He will be pleased with it, and count it towards your salvation?

Any righteousness of your own – anything that would lead you to say – “God said ‘do this’ and I did it, so mark one up for me” – OR – “Hey, God, take a look at this, watch me” – is dung.


Instead of that …………. “rubbish,” there is a righteousness that counts before God – a sweet smelling fragrance in the nostrils of the Lord – a righteousness that does not come from your flesh – but from God!

Christ is that righteousness – your righteousness.  The Father looks at Christ and what He has done – and He credits His righteousness to you, who trust what Christ has done (and that alone), for your salvation.

Christ alone counts before God.  All else is “rubbish” – so count it all as loss.  Your number of years in the church – your faithful service as a Sunday School teacher – your gifts to the church — count it all as loss.  Why?  “Because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.”

Christ alone is pleasing in the Father’s eyes – and you have been united to Christ through the waters of Holy Baptism.  His suffering, death and resurrection – which is most pleasing in the Father’s sight – are credited to you.  To you who trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation – the Father declares – you are my beloved child.


Like Paul, you are not yet “perfect” – that is, you have not been brought to the end, or the goal, of this faith and righteousness.  For now, you live in the cesspool of this world – adding to the stench daily with your own sin.  All your efforts to clean yourself up – to make yourself presentable to God – consider it “rubbish” – lose it – so that you know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified for your sins.

Do you (like Paul) want to know Christ Jesus and the power of His resurrection?  Here it comes.  Jesus says to you – “I’ve shed my blood to atone for the sins of the whole world, for your sin” – “You are forgiven.”  And with that absolution comes a resurrection.  Today, you are resurrected to new life.  No need to go about the old life of finding confidence in yourself, in your flesh, in your good works – because in Christ alone, you can be confident of everlasting life.


And so in this life you “press on” – counting everything as rubbish – except for Jesus and His righteousness.  You come to His Table naked – nothing in your hand you bring – and your sinful flesh is clothed with His own Body and Blood (and you are holy and righteous in God’s sight).  You live in that blessed communion – even as you come to the Holy Communion – to be resurrected once again from sin and death to everlasting life.

Dearly beloved, your flesh, like mine – it will always fail you.  But not the Son of God who has come into the flesh for you and for your salvation.  There is your confidence – in this God in the flesh – in Jesus Christ – who redeems you, cleanses you, and makes you to be a new creation – confident of your standing before God in this life, and fully confident that you shall stand before Him, holy and righteous, on the day of the resurrection of all flesh.  Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding, guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.


Rev. Scott Porath, Immanuel, Eagle, NE

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