Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…
The world has ever shown curiosity with regard to the inner lives of its great men. Hence it is that few branches of literature are more popular than autobiographies. The Church shares this curiosity with regard to the eminent servants of Christ; and it has pleased God with regard to two of them to gratify this feeling. David and St. Paul are to us more than historic characters; we are admitted into the inner workings of their hearts. In the text we have the key and master spring of all the apostle's actions and motives.
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY WINNING CHRIST.
1. Remember that St. Paul did not write these words in the first fervour and flush of a new conversion. It often happens with new converts that their impressions and resolutions are like the early blossoms of spring, which perish in the bitter winds. When the apostle wrote these words he had been serving Christ for thirty years, and had derived no earthly advantage, but had suffered every earthly loss for Him. Can any votary of pleasure after thirty years' service of self, sin, and Satan say that there is nothing more he desires so much as a few more of those sinful gratifications?
2. That which was before St. Paul was not Christianity but Christ. There is a wide difference between a system and a Saviour, between abstract truth and a living, loving person. This is always the object which St. Paul sets before himself and his readers; hence the vital interest of his life and writings.
3. The apostle desires to win Christ and be found in Him. Here we have the key phrase of St. Paul's writings; but it is only a continuation of the Master's teaching (John 15)(1) This has reference to the believer's legal condition before God. By faith man becomes one in Christ, and when God looks upon him, He looks upon him as being "a man in Christ."(2) But this has also a moral reference, being quickened in Christ from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. There is a great distinction between all human morality and the morality of the gospel. Heathen morals are many of them very beautiful, but they lack the grand disideratum — the motive power. In the gospel we get not only perfect precepts, but the motive union with Christ. And there is this distinction. In ancient times there were thousands of followers of the systems of Aristotle or of Plato, but whoever heard of such an expression as "in Aristotle." Christ, however, is not an external teacher, but He is in me and I in Him, and so I have power to obey His law.
II. WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THIS.
1. The loss of all that St. Paul counted gain. If ever a man could have gone to heaven without Christ it was he. He was conscientious, earnest, and ecclesiastically all that could be required. He had a high position and brilliant prospects. But he gave up everything to come as you must come, an empty handed, empty hearted sinner to Christ. But besides self-righteousness and worldly advantages to be given up, a Christian must expect to bear ridicule and persecution.
2. But for all this loss he was amply compensated by the gaining of Christ. What will be the wealth of all the Indies to us when we come to die.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,
WEB: Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ