Knowing Jesus Christ is the most valuable treasure you can ever discover. That’s a bold statement, but it’s the core argument made by the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:1-11.
What’s the value of knowing Jesus Christ? Paul says in verse 8 that he counts everything in his life—all of his accomplishments—as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ.
How is the gospel a treasure? Paul lists three ways in verses 8, 9, and 10. He touches on three benefits of salvation that greatly enhance our understanding of just what God has accomplished for His people both in this life and in eternity.
First, Christ’s righteousness replaces our condemnation in the sight of God. Paul says in verse 8 that everything he has earned for himself in this life he considers a pile of dung compared to the value of knowing Christ.
To be accepted by God we must be made righteous in His sight. Because He is a holy God, for him to accept unrighteous humanity into relationship with Him would be unjust. The problem for us, as Romans 3:9 puts it is there is non one righteous, not even one.
So the gain we receive upon salvation is the righteousness of Jesus Christ as we are justified in the sight of a Holy God.
If verse 9 is about our standing in God’s sight then verse 10 is about our walk with God. Paul’s goal is not to know Jesus in a way that results in salvation—he’s already saved. But salvation is not the finish line. It’s the starting point.
Then, Paul lists three ways he wants to grow in his knowledge of Christ. Paul says he wants to know Christ in three ways: through the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering, and by being conformed to His death.
The same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in the lives of His people today. Know this: God has already accomplished more in your life than you will ever understand and He is capable of accomplishing more than you could ever dream. But you have to rely on His power to drive you. Through His Holy Spirit God has placed the same power at work in you that raised Jesus from the dead, this power can and will create the desire in you to devote yourself to God’s work in this life, it will give you a drive to be holy—to look more like Jesus tomorrow than you do today—it will help you understand God’s love for yourself and His love for others, and it will give the strength to endure all the hardships that a fallen, sinful world can throw at you.
Paul has already told us in this letter that God’s power will carry believers through until the end, right? Remember 1:6? I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Sanctification by being conformed to Christ’s death
The New Testament paints a pretty clear picture of two different ways of life—the way of the world and the way of the cross. Paul wrote to the Romans Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
He tells us here in Philippians 3:10 that his goal is to be conformed to Christ’s death. That means that we, like Christ in 2:5 should be obedient to the point of death. The life of a Christian should be marked by radical obedience to the will of God as revealed to us through Scripture and through the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Paul also states he wants to grow in his knowledge of Jesus Christ through partnership in His suffering and conformity to His death. Paul’s identity was so wrapped in Christ that he sought to become like him both in life and death.
Understanding our new, redeemed position in the sight of God and the Spirit-led fellowship we have with God through this new relationship we can cast our eyes to the promise of verse 11.
Paul knows that because he has been justified in the sight of God and is becoming like Christ in this life, he will also join with the resurrected Christ in eternity.
If we are like Christ in His humility, in His suffering, in His conformity, then it stands to reason that we will be like Him in his exaltation after this life is over.
Jesus Christ is the most valuable treasure you will ever experience and that treasure has value not just in this life but also in the one to come. Your salvation is the treasure that has already purchased your resurrection from the dead. We should find both comfort and strength in that truth. Knowing that God’s grace in your life abounds both in the future as well as the present helps us keep our lives in perspective.
No matter what you are going through in this life, I hope you find rest in the promise of eternal joy through union with your Savior.