Welcome Valley Bible Studies

Lesson 3: Leaving the Waste Behind

Text: Philippians 3:1-21

Philippians Chapter 3

[1] Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

[2] Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

[3] For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

[4] Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

[5] Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

[6] Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

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

[8] 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,

[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:

[10] That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

[11] If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

[12] Not 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.

[13] Brethren, 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,

[14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

[15] Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

[16] Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

[17] Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

[18] (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

[19] Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

[21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.


An old song says: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” (Lemmel, Helen Howarth, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus.” Singspiration, 1922.) The author could well have been reflecting on Philippians chapter 3 as she wrote; although, Paul wrote in even more vital language. In Philippians 3, the salvation offered by Jesus Christ isn’t simply a matter of finding something better. It is a question of finding the only means by which a person can experience eternal life. Paul found this salvation so wonderful that he left his proud religious record and trusted Christ alone for peace with God and eternal life. Having received salvation as a gift, he made it the focus of his life.

Paul found it necessary to warn against the error of those who tried to corrupt the Christian message. These people taught new Christians they must earn their way to Heaven by keeping the rules God had given before Christ came. Sadly, this error remains with us, having only changed in detail. People still seem driven to put their faith in their own merits rather than in Jesus Christ. Philippians 3 isn’t only about a problem in the ancient church. It applies to us today as well.

Points to Consider:

* Paul calls on Christians to rejoice in the Lord (Verse 1).

* Paul writes for the spiritual safety of his readers. Specifically, he warns them to  beware of dogs, evil workers, and those who would demand circumcision as a means of salvation (Verse 2). It is hard to say what Paul had in mind when he spoke of dogs, but he may have been thinking of people who turn back to the lifestyles they practiced before Christ saved them. 

* Faith in Christ alone marks the child of God today as surely as circumcision did the Jews of the Old Testament (Verse 3).

* We are not to put any confidence in the flesh for our salvation (Verse3).

* To put confidence in the flesh is to depend on either one’s heritage or righteous behavior for salvation (Verses 5-6).

* When Paul saw the truth of Jesus, he realized his previous spiritual strengths were worthless (Verse 7).

* There is nothing that is worth keeping if it conflicts with one’s relationship to Jesus (Verse 8).

* Our standing with God is based strictly on Jesus Christ, and we receive this standing through faith (Verse 9).

* To know Jesus is to know the power of His resurrection (Verse 10).

* Knowing Jesus will also involve knowing his sufferings and “being made conformable unto his death” (Verse 10).

* The resurrection from the dead is part of what makes salvation worth all we might lose by having it (Verse 11).

* Even though we have yet to be raised from the dead, we continue in the hope of that resurrection through Christ (Verse 12).

* While none of us is completely perfect, we need to earnestly pursue our relationship with Jesus Christ and the will of God (Verses13-15).

* It is important to follow good, reliable Christian examples (Verse 17).

* We need to guard against those who are pursuing their own interests rather than Christ (Verses 17-19).

* Christians are already citizens of Heaven and wait confidently for the resurrection and future glory (Verses 20-21).


1. What is Paul’s first instruction in Philippians 3:1?

2. What three types of people does Philippians 3:2 warn against?

3. Who are the covenant people of God (the circumcision in Philippians 3:3) today?

4. From Philippians 3:4-6, what are some of the items that Paul counted as loss in Philippians 3:7?

5. In Philippians 3:8, why was Paul willing to count his religion--and everything else--but a loss?

6. What three things did Paul seek to know in Philippians 3:10?

7. In Philippians 3:11-12, what was Paul still waiting to attain that he’d given up all for?

8. What goal was Paul pursuing in Philippians 3:14?

9. Even while pursuing the “high calling” where did Paul put his confidence for salvation and the resurrection? (See Philippians 3:3, 3:9, and 3:20 if you need help.)

10. From Philippians 3:18-19, what are the characteristics of those who cling to earthly things rather than to Christ?

11. What is the final end of these people (from question 10)?

12. From Philippians 3:20, where is the Christian’s real conversation (citizenship)?

13. In Philippians 3:20 we are waiting for Christ’s return. In Philippians 3:21, what will He do when He comes?


The prophet Isaiah compared the righteousness people possessed in themselves with “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In Philippians 3, Paul compares our efforts to earn God’s presence and forgiveness with waste to be thrown out. He would also look at the carnal things of life in a similar way. He doesn’t advocate disobeying God’s law. He doesn't tell us to abandon all church tradition, or deny ourselves legitimate pleasures, but when these things begin to compete with Jesus Christ, they have to go. There is nothing so precious that we dare trade Jesus Christ and His salvation for it.

Once we have salvation and are confident in it, Jesus is still so precious as to warrant making Him our lifelong passionate pursuit.

This study is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed freely.