STUDY | Spend the week studying Philippians 3:1–11. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | When I put my trust in Christ, I am enough, no matter what.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
For many, January 1st comes with a renewed confidence to make changes. A new year feels like a clean slate to do things differently. With fresh wind in our sails, we make resolutions to eat healthy, lose weight, get a handle on our finances, get more involved, be more disciplined or spend more time with our family.
But as we know, many of our resolutions don’t stick. The gym that’s crowded in January is usually back to normal by March. Even when we stick to some of our resolutions, we still wonder whether it’s enough. We hear nagging questions in the back of our minds: Will I ever be good enough? Do I have enough? Have I done enough?
In this series we’re going to look at what the Bible says about the idea of “enough.” As you resolve to do better this year, remember that real confidence comes from trusting in Christ and what He did for you, not in what you do. When you trust in Christ, you are enough, no matter what.
Q: What New Year’s resolutions have you made this year?
Q: Why do many of our resolutions fail to lead to lasting change?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
EXPOSING SPIRITUAL PRIDE
There was a problem in Philippi. False teachers called Judaizers were deceiving believers in the church. In addition to believing in salvation by grace, they wanted everyone to observe Jewish law and social customs. In Philippians 3:1–11, Paul warns believers in Philippi not to be fooled by these false teachers. Their teaching wasn’t the gospel Paul and others had brought them previously. The Judaizers were teaching that physical acts like circumcision made you acceptable to God. Paul calls this putting “confidence in the flesh.” Essentially, their message was a form of works righteousness.
Through his letter, Paul wanted to expose the Judaizers’s spiritual pride. To do that, Paul used himself as an example. Before Paul became a Christian, he had quite the résumé. On the outside, he was a model Jew, excelling as a Pharisee by obeying the Law and defending his Jewish faith by persecuting Christians. But Paul came to realize that his efforts would never be good enough. His zeal to do and be better would never give him what he truly desired—righteousness (a right standing before God).
Read: Philippians 3:1–11. Explain Paul’s argument in your own words.
Q: What makes believers susceptible to false teaching?
A BETTER WAY
The only way for Paul to be enough, to be righteous, was through Christ. This was a different kind of righteousness, a faith righteousness. This was the true gospel Paul wanted believers in Philippi to understand and experience.
What really mattered to Paul was his relationship with Christ. Everything Paul relied on to be enough in the past he came to see as worthless garbage. Paul lost everything—his status, reputation and relationships—and gained something greater. He gained Christ. By trusting in what Christ did for him, Paul received a righteousness by faith. This is a righteousness that can’t be achieved or earned. It can only be received as a gift from God (Romans 6:23).
Paul’s hope wasn’t in his own faithfulness and obedience. It was in Christ’s perfect faithfulness and obedience on his behalf.
Q: Describe the differences between works righteousness and faith righteousness.
Q: What causes someone to put their hope in their own faithfulness and obedience?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
ENOUGH IN CHRIST
Paul’s message is clear—Put your trust in Christ and what He has done for you, not in what you can do for Him. Christ is enough for you, and He can make you enough. To live your life any other way will leave you feeling like you don’t measure up or that you’re not enough.
The truth is, you could never earn acceptance with God on your own efforts. Sin is too big a problem and God’s perfect standard is too high for you to reach (Romans 3:23). But the gospel of grace gives you hope. Paul Tripp writes,
There is only one portal to acceptance with God—the righteousness of Christ. His righteousness is given over to our account; sinners are welcomed into the presence of a holy God based on the perfect obedience of another. Christ is our hope, Christ is our rest, Christ is our peace. He perfectly fulfilled God’s requirement so that in our sin, weakness, and failure we would never again have to fear God’s anger. This is what grace does! So as the children of grace, we obey as a service of worship, not in a desperate attempt to do what is impossible—independently earn God’s favor.1
Q: What are some areas of your life in which you feel like you don’t measure up? Where do those standards come from? What is the only standard that truly matters, according to what you read in Philippians 3:1–11?
Q: How does the gospel of grace give you hope in your walk with God and in your struggle against sin?
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to remember that you are enough in Christ?
POWER AND HOPE
Paul’s desire to know Christ shaped every aspect of his life. A new power was at work inside him. The more Paul sought to know Christ, the more power from God’s Spirit he received to live in obedience. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead was now at work in him to shape his character and transform him from the inside out.
Like Paul, you have the same Holy Spirit living inside you (Romans 8:11). You have access to the same resurrection power in your life. When you turn to Christ, you receive resurrection power that gives you real hope for real change in your life.
Q: How have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? Describe that experience.
Q: Name one area of your life where you’d like to see change and transformation. How can you arrange your life to receive God’s grace in this area?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
VALUE AND IDENTITY
Many of us seek our value and identity in what we do or who we perceive ourselves to be. Some seek their identity in their work or the size of their bank account. Others find their value and identity in their reputation in their community or church. Many people don’t feel valuable unless they make the dean’s list or graduate at the top of their class.
The gospel calls you to seek your true value and identity in Christ. In Christ you don’t have to strive to earn God’s favor and acceptance. You already have it in Him. In Christ you don’t have to be perfect or achieve at the highest level in order to be enough. You are already enough in His eyes.
In Christ you are enough. Period.
Q: Why do we seek value and identity? What do we desire?
Q: How would you live differently if you found your value and identity in Christ alone?
Ask God to search your heart and reveal any ways you are seeking acceptance through works instead of faith. Pray for a heart that trusts in Christ alone and believes that, no matter what, you are enough in Him.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read Ephesians 1:15–23 and 3:14–21 and reflect on the resurrection power of Christ and how it can change you from the inside out.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Physical vs. Spiritual Circumcision
Circumcision was used as a sign under the old, Abrahamic covenant for God’s people, the Israelites (Gen. 7:9–14). Paul’s argument in Philippians and in Galatians is that, under the new covenant in Christ, Gentiles (non-Jews) do not need to be physically circumcised in order to become a disciple of Jesus and a member of the covenant community. Physical circumcision has always been a sign of spiritual circumcision of the heart, which is more important (see Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 2:25–29; Col. 2:11).2
The True People of God
In Phil. 3:3, Paul describes four reasons why Christians, not the false teachers, are the true people of God:
- Circumcision. Circumcision symbolized one’s commitment to righteousness. Despite Israel’s disobedience and rebellion against God, God promised to circumcise their hearts, so they would love and obey Him and live (Deut. 30:6).
- Serve God by His Spirit. True worship is initiated by the Holy Spirit, who indwells believers and extends beyond rituals and sacrifices in the temple. Believers are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19).
- Boast in Christ Jesus. To boast in Christ is to put one’s full confidence in what He has done to save and redeem sinners. The opposite of boasting is shame, and God promises that a believer’s trust in Christ will never put him/her to shame (1 Pet. 2:6). Boasting is also vocal. Out of joy and gratitude, believers declare the good news of the gospel.
- Put no confidence in the flesh. Believers see no reason to boast in their good deeds because they’ve put their full confidence and trust in Christ. Repeatedly, Paul discourages believers from boasting (Rom. 2:23; 1 Cor. 3:21; Eph. 2:9).3
Theology was extremely practical to Paul. Nearly all of Paul’s letters begin with theology and end with application. This order emphasizes the truth that “theology and life go together and that the antidote to poor living is proper theology.”4
1. Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), Kindle edition.
2. Douglas J. Moo, “The Letters and Revelation,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 2419; Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 32, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 128.
3. Douglas J. Moo, “The Letters and Revelation,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 2420.
4. Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 32, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 131.