This is lesson 4 of 8 in Extraordinary Joy, a bible study on Philippians.
- Main Point of the Passage: Paul warned the Philippian Christians against placing their confidence in their own obedience to the Old Testament Law.
- Main Point of the Lesson: When we depend on our own obedience to God’s laws, we separate ourselves from God.
- Main Application of the Lesson: Participants will stop depending on their own obedience to find favor with God.
- Key Verses: Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.”
- Word Studies: “confidence” in Philippians 3:4 & “circumcision” in Philippians 3:3
To prepare for this lesson, write your own answers to each of the questions below. You will share some of your answers with the group, but make it your goal to talk less than 20% of the Bible study time. Ask the questions, listen to your group, and let them carry the Bible study. You’ll be amazed.
If you plan to use the optional homework, you’ll need two or three volunteers each week. A few days before your Bible study, choose two volunteers and give each of them one of the following assignments. Tell them you’d like them to take 3-5 minutes to share their work with the group.
Once everyone in your group is sitting in a circle, say, “Here’s the first question. Everyone answers the first question, and it’s just for fun.” Then read the first question, pause, and listen to your group’s answers.
Smile Question: What is your most memorable experience involving a fish?
Share Question: If God’s acceptance depended on your own performance, what accomplishments would you list as evidence that God should accept you?
Introduce the Passage: When we depend on our own obedience to God’s laws, we separate ourselves from God. In Philippians 3:1-7, Paul warned the Philippian Christians against placing their confidence in their own obedience to the Old Testament Law. Paul warned against placing confidence “in the flesh.” When a person places confidence in the flesh, they are depending on their own obedience or heritage or religious rituals to make them acceptable to God. To be a Christian is to depend only on Christ to make us acceptable to God.
- Optional: Have a member of your group either recite the passage or give a detailed summary of the passage.
- Optional: Have a member of your group present their word study on the following word(s):
- “Circumcision” in Philippians 3:3
- “Confidence” in Philippians 3:4
Study Question: Let’s read Philippians 3:1-7 and list answers to this question: What reasons did Paul have to put confidence in the flesh?
Possible answers include:
- He was circumcised according to the Law (v. 5)
- He was a genetic Israelite (v. 5)
- He was from the tribe of Benjamin, which gave him extra status (v. 5)
- He was a Pharisee, which meant he was extremely careful to observe the law (v. 5)
- He was so zealous for the Law that he persecuted the Church (v. 6)
- He was considered blameless when it came to obeying the Law (v. 6)
Connect-the-Dots Question: What purpose do you think Paul had for listing his Jewish accomplishments and resume here?
Count-the-Cost Question: Why is it tempting to depend on our own performance to make ourselves acceptable to God?
Let’s-Do-It Question: What happens when a person stops depending on their own performance and start depending on God’s grace?
Prayer: Father, thank you for accepting us in spite of our poor performance and our failure to meet your standards. Teach us to live in the joy and freedom of your grace. Amen.
Optional homework for next time: After your group discussion and prayer, distribute the attached pages to volunteers in preparation for your next Bible study.