The Apostle Paul was a man separated to Christ, so thoroughly consecrated to his Savior and Lord that he could say with honesty, “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.”
Most religious people, following the influence of Romanism, make self-denial denying ourselves of certain meats and drinks, lawful pleasures, and even the privilege of marriage, as though we can attain spirituality and godliness by obeying the legalists’ and will-worshippers’ creed, “touch not, taste not, handle not” (Col. 2:21). In verses 4-8 Paul sets before us an example of true self-denial. It is the denial of all personal righteousness before God. This self-denial is an essential aspect of saving faith. Though it increasingly comprehends all aspects of life as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, self-denial begins with a denial of all personal worth and merit as a grounds of hope before God.
Here is a legalist of highest order laying aside the filthy rags of his self-righteousness for the blessed, pure, perfect righteousness of Christ. Paul counted all his fleshly, carnal, natural privileges, religious distinctiveness, and educational advantages as nothing but dung before God. He placed no confidence in his flesh. He found that one Pearl of Great Price, and sold everything he had to get it (Matt. 13:45-46). This was done on the Damascus Road when the Lord saved him (v. 7). And this was a decision he made everyday, with increasing, growing commitment and consecration to Christ. He counted all things but dung for Christ.
Why? What was the cause of this man’s self-denial, consecration, and commitment? What made this man willing to forsake everything and follow Christ? Paul was inspired, motivated, and driven to the point of utter obsession by four great ambitions of faith (vv. 8-10). May God the Holy Spirit make these ambitions the ambitions of your heart and mine.
1. “That I may win Christ and be found in him.”
2. “And be found in him.”
3. “That I may know him.”
4. “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”