For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:3-14 ESV)
Where does our confidence come from?
I know many Christians who name Christ and follow the bible, but I don’t know many who are spiritually confident. I know many believers who have sacrificed much of their lives for the gospel but I don’t know many who are alive with a confident joy in the gospel. Spiritual confidence requires much more than blind sacrifice to a cause we were raised to endorse; it demands our absolute belief.
We can be very confident in our own abilities or degree titles, and handicapped in our faith. We can look like powerful Christians because we help people, volunteer time, and have confident personalities but inwardly quake when evil stares us in the face. We can be dynamites in the workplace while simultaneously being cowards in spiritual battle.
Paul states that those of faith put no confidence in the flesh. If anyone had reason to put confidence in the flesh he did! He was circumcised, under the law, and a Pharisee. He had all confidence that he was doing the right thing even as he persecuted the church. Why does he mention “confidence” so much?
Being confident means: to be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe: to have faith: in a thing. Paul was first persuaded and convinced of the law and thus followed it with his whole heart, but after his revelation of God He became fully convinced and completely confident in the God that had manifested Himself. If we want to grow in spiritual confidence we need to be convinced and absolutely persuaded in what we believe about God. It is the convinced and persuaded who are daunted by nothing because they know what they believe.
I want to share with you three ways you can start building your spiritual confidence today!
- Spiritually confident believers know what they believe about God
That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philipians 3:10)
Paul in this passage repetitively uses the words flesh and Christ. His point is that it’s not how much you know but rather who you know.
We are often conditioned to say and think certain things about God, but when pressed with trials or dealing with a deeply personal touch of evil, we sway like the wind in our faith. We may be confident that God exists, but are often very unsure about his character. That uncertainty taints every spiritual battle with defeat and discouragement.
Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” (11 Timothy 1:12)
We often don’t believe that full redemption is possible. We don’t really believe in the full gospel. We don’t know what we believe about God because we haven’t truly known Him in suffering. Christians who know the character of God have invited Him into their personal suffering and the pain of others. They fear nothing, because He has overcome everything. They are not afraid of lament, grief, and agonizing questions, because they know the God who meets them there.
Theodicy is the study of the goodness of God in relation to evil and I believe it is one of the deepest quests of the human heart. Who is God? Who is He when evil touches the innocent? Can we say with Paul “I know whom I have believed?”
That “knowing” is what convinced him that “He is able.”
Spiritually confident believers know God in every capacity, and it convinces them of His absolute power at work everywhere they go.
2. Spiritually confident believers know HIM who is true
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)
Paul contrasts knowing a lot of information and knowing Christ.
We are living in an age of information. Every day we are bombarded with opinions, advertisements, new podcasts, books, and youtube channels. There are barrages of opinion on what is true about everything we might be interested in. In our quest to know the truth we often miss knowing HIM who is true.
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)
Jesus came to give us understanding! He came so we could know the true God. We can now live in Him, in the true God. Don’t be so focused on finding out WHAT is true that you miss knowing HIM who is true. Paul says everything is “as loss” except the worth of knowing Jesus.
Spiritually confident believers know Him who is true so they aren’t so swayed by the noise of what others think is true around them. They don’t get so distracted by politics, conflicts, vaccines, viruses, and relational stressors that the face of this Jesus becomes dim. Instead they lock eyes with Him, and everything in their peripheral view fades in His glory.
3. Spiritually confident believers are baptised in resurrection power
Paul says, “That I may KNOW the power of his resurrection.” (Philipians 3:10) There is no other way to know this power, unless we have been filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience to him. The Holy Spirit was sent to teach us all things. (John 14:26)
Paul connects overflowing hope with the power of the Holy Spirit. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Hope and confidence are tied together. We cannot have spiritual confidence if we do not have hope and hope comes by the power of the Holy Spirit. Seeing the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives brings overflowing hope and confidence in the effectiveness of the gospel.
That word “power” that Paul longed to know, is the same word “power” that he used in Romans 15 that brings overflowing hope. It’s the same word that Jesus used in his promise to his disciples before the Holy Spirit came upon them.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
It is also the same word as Acts 6:8, when Stephen was “full of faith and power” doing “wonders and miracles” among the people.
This word “power” in its original meaning was a power able to work miracles, hence miracle working power. The Holy Spirit baptism brings with it the ability for the believer to perform miracles by the Holy Spirit’s work through them. We see this on full display in Acts 6:8 as Stephan, full of the miracle working power of God, led many people to repentance and baptism through signs and wonders.
Before Jesus left His disciples he promised never to leave them alone. He promised a comforter, the Holy Spirit who would bring this power. After His ascension the disciples experienced pentecost, and the power of the Holy Spirit came with signs and wonders.
Many Christians read the book of Acts and marvel at the power of God, but few invite that same power into their Mondays and Tuesdays. That same power is for you and I today! We can talk all day about personality types and Myers Briggs but forget to earnestly desire prophecy or obediently pray healing over the sick. How can we be spiritually confident believers if we “neglect the gift that is in us?” (1 Timothy 4:14)
The Holy Spirit baptism came often through the laying on of hands in the New Testament, and was followed with supernatural signs and wonders. If believers are not experiencing the supernatural and not expecting the miraculous, they will become “unbelieving” believers especially if they engage in darkness. If however, they have been baptised in the Holy Spirit and received the gifts of the spirit and are obedient in exercising them they will be overflowing with the goodness and power of God.
In this postmodern age of pluralism and relativistic thinking, the need has never been greater for confident people of faith who know the character of God, both in abundance and lack, suffering and blessing and trust His goodness through it all. These christians know Him who is true, Jesus Christ who was sent to give us understanding. They are not swayed by popular opinion, but tuned in to His voice. They are not as concerned about the newest podcast as they are about receiving full anointing. These believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit and exercise obedience through the gifts of the spirit. This power within them gives fresh spiritual energy and hope in trials.
Maybe you’ve been feeling the dryness, that cloak of oppression hanging low over your shoulders. Maybe no one knows the real questions you’ve buried into your pillow and hardly dared to let escape from your lips. There is hope for you today! Start asking yourself, “What do I truly believe about God?” and go to Jesus for understanding instead of that stack of opinion saturated books that will clutter your mind. Surrender fully to the work of the Holy Spirit and ask for the laying on of hands to receive His fullness. Throw off the weights and sins that are entangling you and get serious about knowing who you believe and are fully persuaded in so you can be fully convinced of Him who is true.
All hell stands back when confident believers emerge with armor like that.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash