Counting All Things as Loss on Account of the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ
Describe a favorite food to us as if we have never had it before.
Focus: Through Christ’s appearing to us in His excellency, we spontaneously drop all other things and count them as loss that we might gain and experience Him more and more.
I. Read Philippians 3:4-11. Then, read vv. 4-8 one more time.
II. Discuss what is the difference between knowing about Christ vs. knowing Christ. Describe how this would affect our daily walk with the Lord.
A. In v. 8 Paul says, “But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” What is the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus?” Read the following excerpt:
The excellency of the knowledge of Christ is derived from the excellency of His Person. The Jews consider the law of God given through Moses the most excellent thing in history. Hence, they are zealous for the law. Paul participated in that zeal.
But when Christ was revealed to him by God (Gal. 1:15-16), he saw that the excellency, the super-eminence, the supreme preciousness, the surpassing worth, of Christ far exceeded the excellency of the law. His knowledge of Christ issued in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. On account of this, not only did he count the law and the religion founded on the law to be loss, but he counted all things loss.
There surely is such a thing as the excellency of knowing Christ. If you testify that Christ is excellent but do so without having the knowledge of Him, you will be speaking merely according to tradition. Actually your word will be uttered in ignorance. You will be speaking something you do not know, because you yourself have not received the excellent knowledge concerning Christ.
Unless we have the excellent knowledge of Christ, we cannot say that Christ is excellent. We urgently need the excellent knowledge of Christ. Paul was so desperate to have the excellency of the knowledge of Christ that he was willing to count all things loss on account of this knowledge.
Gaining the excellency of the knowledge of Christ may be illustrated by the experience of tourists shopping. The merchants know how to display their products, especially jade, in a way to make them very attractive to tourists. Often when tourists see precious items on display, they become excited. Furthermore, they acquire a knowledge of the excellency of these things. Before they entered the store, they did not know anything of the excellency of these precious items. But once they saw them and gained the excellency of the knowledge concerning them, they were willing to pay the price to possess them. In like manner, we need a revelation of Christ’s excellency, of His supreme preciousness.
B. In v. 8 Paul says, “I count all things to be loss…” In the context of vv 4-6, consider in detail what he is referring to specifically as “all things.” How was Paul about to count them as loss even to the extent that he calls them refuse (also translated as rubbish, filth, dog food, dung)? Read the following excerpt.
According to verses 5 and 6, Paul’s concept is not mainly related to material things. It is true, of course, that worldly, material things occupy people and keep them from experiencing Christ. However, Paul realized that the things which truly frustrate people from experiencing Christ are mainly the things of religion, philosophy, and culture.
For the most part, the thoughtful, philosophical people are not occupied by material things. Those who are not thoughtful or philosophical are the ones usually distracted by material things. Those who are more philosophical care for religion, culture, and philosophy. When you go out to preach the gospel, you will discover that religion, philosophy, and culture are the most powerful strongholds of resistance to the gospel.
We cannot experience Christ if we only drop the worldly, material things. If this is our understanding of “all things” in 3:8, we are far from the experience of Christ revealed here. These verses are not shallow. According to the context, Paul is not speaking of superficial, outward things. He is not concerned mainly with material things. His concept is much deeper and is related to religious, philosophical, and cultural things, even to our domestic logic and national philosophy, things hidden deep within us. As we have indicated, it is very difficult for us to set aside these things in order to give ground to Christ and experience Him.
III. Memorize and pray over Philippians 3:8, then recite it to one another.
But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ.
A. Spend personal time with the Lord to allow Him to attract you and touch whatever is distracting you from Him. Pray for one another to experience the Lord more this week!