Question: Please comment on the word righteousness as used
in Philippians 3:9.
Answer: The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians
about A.D. 61 from the imperial city of Rome. Paul was at this
time a prisoner on behalf of Jesus Christ, yet he maintained an
attitude of Christ-likeness and joy, which he exhorted every Christian
to have. In Philippians chapter four Paul encourages each faithful
believer to strive for a truly righteous life. It is the biblical
idea of "righteousness" that is important to understand.
In Philippians 3:9 Paul wrote: "and be found in him not having
a righteousness of mine own..." This "righteousness"
refers literally to "a straight line" which is God's
standard or will (cf. Gal. 6:16). Paul affirms in Philippians
3:9 that we cannot be righteous on our own merits, nor can we
be righteous on our own terms. Rather, we must rely upon the standard
for righteousness which is God's revealed will (cf. Rom. 1:1517;
1 John 2:4).
In Philippians 4:19 Paul dearly shows righteousness and
Christian living go hand-in-hand. Indeed, this fourfold formula
for righteous Christian living is an integral part of living acceptably
unto God. God himself, through his inspired Word, has settled
his objective standard for what constitutes righteousness.
I. The exhortation to be righteous (4:13). Paul admonished
his readers to be in a right relationship with God through Jesus
Christ. How can we stress to others the benefits of living the
Christian life if we ourselves are not in a right relationship
Paul wrote: "[S]tand fast in the Lord, my beloved."
We must stand fast (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58) and we must do so "in
the Lord," that is, in a right relationship with him. This
is accomplished when we obey the Gospel and remain faithful to
the teachings of Jesus. We must be right, according to God's standard
II. The exhortation to be righteous in prayer (4:47).
Paul admonishes us to be active in prayer. This is a spiritual
must. The avenue of prayer is open to every faithful Christian,
and we must take advantage of the spiritual growth which prayer
affords. One of the great results of prayer is found in Philippians
4:7 "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall
guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." Humanistic
psychiatrists and counseling psychologists cannot adequately explain
the peace of Christian living, yet this is one of the unexplained
realities of God. Only by being right with God and being regular
in prayer do we know the depth of this true peace. We must pray
III. The exhortation to be righteous in thought (4:8).
Paul encourages his readers to be righteous in thought. In fact,
we are to meditate, think, or contemplate upon only those things
which are: "true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of a
good report." Do we really live for these things? Are our
minds truly centered upon these facets of Christian thinking?
The Hebrew Scriptures affirm: "As a man thinketh in his heart;
so is he," and "Keep thy heart with all diligence; For
out of it are the issues of life." Solomon urges us to "keep"
or "protectively guard" our very minds. The Hebrew Scriptures
again teach "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes."
How appropriate in consideration of Philippians 4:8. Let us purpose
to keep, guard, and protect our mints as we reflect only upon
that which God would have us to meditate upon. Brethren, we must
IV. The exhortation to be righteous in our deeds (4:9).
Paul affirmed: "The things which ye both learned and received
and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace
shall be with you." Notice that Paul mentions four things
that were a divine demonstration of a righteous life (i.e., "learned,"
"received," "heard," and "saw").
We are to put the Christian life to the test by living it.
This may be novel to some, yet if we fail to make a personal application
of the will of God to our lives what is the point? Finally brethren,
we must do right not just feel right