Our Flesh List.

“We work from the outside in, God works from the inside out.”

What do we have in our “flesh list”? Apostle Paul listed things like heritage, race, his good works, his dedication to his previous job when he was Saul, his zeal…what is on our list? Paul says that those things that he once considered to be so great, to be his “gains” he now counts as losses.

Our only true gain is Jesus Christ. We need to forget about the things on our flesh list and count them as loss so that we may gain Christ and He can work in us and transform us from the inside out. Our gains may seem good, but we often focus on our own righteousness. Going to church, following the rules, being a good person, doing good works, are all important things, but mean nothing unless we do those things for God with a good mindset. We need to forget about our own righteousness and find God. Put the things we hold dear aside and find out what is important to HIM and where He’s leading us.


A bit of a background for this story before we dive into scripture; Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote this epistle. When we think of Paul in prison, we as Christians probably feel a twinge of pity or of sadness towards the man. In our eyes, prison is never a positive thing. We think of prison and we see chains, bad food (if any) and sad, skinny, weak people locked away in rooms no better than cages. In Biblical times, prisons were obviously much worse. Paul was persecuted greatly, and I’m sure his time in prison was anything but pleasant, but we see in Philippians that he is positive about his time in this prison. In the first chapter, verse 12 specifically, he tells us that his time in prison was organized by God for the furtherance of the Gospel. He was able to see this because of something we’ll talk about majorly in the next few minutes…he saw that God was involved, and it could be nothing else but a gain.

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

He had a confidence in God. That confidence was so strong that he was confident in his chains, knowing that he was God’s, and God would not put him in prison without having a divine reason. Before we skip right into the main point of this post, I want to hint towards it. People tend to like setting goals for themselves. We like New Years resolutions, and making out lists for ourselves full of things we’d like to accomplish. When we do accomplish those things, we get great joy from crossing it out and knowing we did it. We consider these “gains.” Take this for example; when someone graduates from school, whether it be high school or college, or really, whatever grade you may be in, we consider this an accomplishment. A gain. When we win a trophy in sports, or we run our first marathon, or get accepted into our college of choice, or so on, we consider these to be gains. Accomplishments. And we add these things to something that I’m going to refer to as our “flesh list.” I first heard this label from Pastor Clarence Sexton of Temple Baptist Church, and it made the words of Paul in Philippians 3 seem to jump out at me and convict me. I’m going to talk about the one true gain that a Christian can have. The one thing that makes our other gains, our other accomplishments, seem like rubbish. (In the word of Apostle Paul in KJV, “Dung.”) The thing that makes all of our old gains in our old life when we were without Christ seem like losses. Let’s look at Philippians 3, verses 4-9.

though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;

concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

You’ll see in verses 5-6 that Paul talks about his old gains…he makes his “flesh list” full of things that he once considered to be accomplishments or things to be proud of. He was of a good heritage, he was proud of his race, of his family. He was of a very well known tribe. He was a Pharisee, followed the laws perfectly, he had a great zeal for his life, for his job. He had a big fire lit under him in whatever he did, and he always worked to the full extent of his abilities. He says that he was blameless according to the law. This may remind us of the Rich Young Ruler, who had also followed the law since his youth. But we remember what Jesus said to him…none of his gains meant anything. None of his accomplishments, his riches, his relatives, or even his near perfect way of living, meant anything to Jesus because he hadn’t been born again and made into a new creature. His gains meant nothing because they were not because of the Lord. He had his own righteousness, but our own righteousness does nothing, only God’s does.

Paul, previously Saul, frequently talked about his life before he was saved, and we don’t normally focus on what he did before, other than to say…”man, look at how evil he was!” so I don’t think we really see that Paul was actually following the world and what they told him to do. In our eyes, he was evil, and indeed he was. He persecuted the church in horrible ways…but according to the world, he was incredible. He was a hero. According to the world, his list of accomplishments were astounding. But to God, they were nothing. God doesn’t care about our race, our genealogy…He only cares about one thing; are we following Him?

If you are a truly born-again Christian, God is currently working on you. He is changing you inside and out. “God’s work begins on the inside, our work begins out the outside.” We are concerned with how we look on the outside, we are the ones who want to list these gains to the world and show off how righteous we are on our own…but when we are saved, we understand this; God is righteous, we are not. All of the things we had before are losses. Let’s read part of Philippians 3 again,

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Everything we may have in our flesh list should be nothing to us. It should be rubbish, because our one gain is Christ. Everything good we do, everything good that we have, is from Him and Him alone. Not by our own works, but by Him. Not by our own accomplishments, by Him.

God should be transforming our minds so that we no longer have the typical carnal mind, controlled by flesh, but so we have a mind completely focused on Him. So we can see things from God’s perspective. Things that once mattered more than anything to us now seem like rubbish, they have been replaced by the holy things of God. By God Himself. When you are born again, your perspective changes, your life changes, your goals change, your gains change. He is working on us so that we desire His will, not our own. So that instead of making worldly goals, we focus on eternity. So we become holy minded. Philippians 2:13, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. We should be striving to follow His will and to please Him. Do the things on our flesh list please Him? Are we doing those things to please Him or are we doing it to please ourselves and impress others?

We will never have complete certainty in God until we see the true losses and gains of a Christian. Our life decisions are based on what we consider a gain and what we consider a loss, and our life decisions dramatically effect our relationship with God. When we have this certainty, we will begin to see the real gains and losses…like Paul, we will see God’s hands in everything, all the time. Whether we be suffering in prison like Paul, whether we are being bullied for our faith, or if we are in the happiest phase in our life thus far. Because we have a confidence in God that He will finish our story, that everything He does is for our good, for the furtherance of the Gospel, for Him. When God is involved and our flesh gets out of the way, nothing is a loss. He is the gain. Not our social status, our grades, our trophies, our goals…God.

He will instill in us true gains, not carnal ones.

Our gains may seem good, but we often focus on our own righteousness. Going to church, following the rules, being a good person, doing good works, are all important things, but mean nothing unless we do those things for God and for His gains.

We need to forget about our own righteousness and find God. Put the things we hold dear aside and find out what is important to HIM and where He’s leading us.

So..what is on your flesh list? Because whatever is on there needs to be removed and counted as a loss until only one thing is left…God.

*you can listen to the sermon “The Gains and Losses of a Christian” here.
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14 thoughts on “Our Flesh List.

  1. tara8910 June 19, 2016 / 12:51 am

    This is one of the best blog Bible studies I have ever read! You made lots of great points. I have never heard of a Flesh List, but I will use that terminology now. It brings new perspective to an old message.

    Like

    • kalinann June 21, 2016 / 3:15 am

      Thank you so much! I’m so happy you enjoyed it.

      Like

  2. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven not Harvard June 19, 2016 / 1:30 am

    Oh how differently I see my whole world now that I am firmly in Christ! My whole life is totally different. So much of what I once considered normal or important has become just “rubbish” as you put it. And Paul’s letters from prison are so inspiring to live with joy no matter what we’re facing.

    Like

    • kalinann June 21, 2016 / 3:15 am

      Amen! Our perspectives should change so greatly because of Christ!

      Like

  3. Diwakar Wankhede June 20, 2016 / 2:19 am

    Hello Kalinann. I have already posted my comment on your blog post but since it did not appear I am attempting to write again. I am a Passtor from Mumbai, India.. I have thoroughly enjoyed your post ” We work from the out side in God works from the inside Out”. very touching and profound thoughts from the Word of God. I am truly blessed by your study of the Word of God. I am blessed and feel privileged and honored to get connected with you as well as know you through your profile on the blogger and the blog post becaue of who you are in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have been in the Pastoral ministry for last 37 yrs in this great city of Mumbai a city with a great contrast where richerst of rich and the poorest of poor live. we reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing to the broken hearted. We also encourage young and the adults from the west to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. We would love to have you come with your friends to work with us during your vacation time. I am sure you will have a life changing experience. Looking forward to hear from you very soon. God’s richest blessings on you, your family and friends and also wishing you a blessed and a Christ centered rest of the year 2016

    Like

  4. barnabaslane June 21, 2016 / 5:45 am

    This is such a great fresh perspective!! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  5. danahoebeke June 21, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    All of this is wrapped up in surrender. Surrendering our will to Him, not my will but Thy will Lord!
    God called me to write a bible study on this topic of surrender and I am seeing and learning it literally encompasses every part of the Christians life.
    We can accomplish nothing in and of ourselves, but through surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do all things!
    Great reminders from Paul in prison, always puts life into perspective.

    Like

    • kalinann June 21, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      Thank you for your comment!
      Amen; we have to surrender everything to God!

      Like

  6. Less to More June 27, 2016 / 9:48 am

    My flesh list is LONG!! The only thing that surpasses it is my sins list. Praise God that they were all nailed to the cross!

    Like

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