Your Old Life Is A Dumpster Fire

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put 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; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phillipians 3:4-9)

This past Sunday morning, I had the opportunity to share a word with a local drug rehabilitation ministry (I was a stand in for my father in law). I shared the above text.

I always liked how Paul piles his daunting resume of accomplishments a mile high and then commences to set them ablaze before his reading audience. Paul had the right pedigree, the coveted social status, was highly educated (what would be considered three PhD’s) and was the most zealous for good works (=murder of Christians) among his peers. No man could boast in the flesh more than the apostle in chains. Before conversion, Paul lived the first century Israeli cultural equivalent of the “American Dream.”

But in Phillipians 3 he funnels all those supposed blessings into one disgusting category/latrine. Compared to the unimaginable worth of knowing Christ all of this was:

“Skuvbalon” or “Rubbish”

Admittedly, I know as much about Greek as a Japanese donkey, but I do try to rely on trustworthy sources when studying these matters. Biblical language professor, Daniel B. Wallace, of Dallas Theological Seminary says this about the term that is translated “rubbish” or “garbage” in many English texts:

The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between “crap” and “s**t.”

I shared with the recovery group that this brings repentance into a different light. Who wouldn’t want to turn from a heaping sewer latrine to the immeasurably refreshing living water found in Christ? Like it is natural to turn your face and run from a putrid smell emanating from a sewer pipe, when we become born again it becomes natural for us to turn from the stinking trappings of the world system and turn to the beautiful sweet aroma that is Christ crucified.

I’m not trying to open up a debate about whether Paul had a potty mouth, I am trying to convey the shocking force of the language Paul is using to display the value of knowing Christ. Pile everything in the world into one gigantic stack cloud high and wide as the ocean. Throw in even legitimately good things people may desire (education, careers, respect) with the blatantly immoral (adultery, drug addiction, pride).

Now light a match and make it all a burning diaper filled dung heap.

That is what everything is worth apart from being in a relationship with

“Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phill 3:8)

To know His name, “Christ” the promised one we have been waiting for, “Jesus” the merciful one who saves us from our sin, “Lord” the holy one who sovereignly rules over us. Not just any king in a far off land, “my” King.

Knowing the living Son of God is eternally worth it.

Let everything else die in a dumpster fire.


Bryan Daniels

Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

42 thoughts on “Your Old Life Is A Dumpster Fire”

  1. Every Monday I teach a Recovery Class for men recovering from addictions. Today’s lesson is about the powerful pull of our past, trying to draw us back into the old life, rather than a new life in Christ through the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Paul’s language and your reminder are critical to their survival. Thanks for your faithfulness.

      1. Bummer!..Just kidding man, I’m sure she’s a gem. But yeah, from what I can tell after reading a few posts, I think you’d be a good fit here.

  2. loved this–one of these days i will share about my dad–we refer to him as Apostle Paul–but when i write of him, it will probably Paul’s Prison Letters–he goes to the prison 4 days each week for bible studies, and corresponds with about 200 inmates all over–they send him questions, he compiles them and sends them out–nice to read your post of the rubbish and the grace and mercy that removes it cleanly and permanently from us!

      1. he grew up in rural pennsylvania going to the jail with his dad and then has been doing it almost full-time since he retired–he is pretty cool

  3. Very well said as well truthfully cut throat writing thank you for sharing I have been struggling with my past creeping up on me and have been on the fence with wanting God, as well my own desires… Your post brought a whole new light perspective to my situation… Thank you again for sharing keep up the great work…

    God, Bless


  4. So powerful, Bryan. I’ve also been impressed – and humbled – by reading Paul’s resume and then his changed heart in Jesus. Your illustration makes it much more real. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Well said, Bryan. I’m one of those who must look back on a past that astounds even me. I often question my “worth” as a servant of Jesus Christ, and just as often I am reminded of Paul. Many years ago–it was actually before I began to seriously renew my life and live for Christ–I claimed Phillipians 3:13 as my verse. It keeps me humble and reminds me that though I’ve traveled far, I am not nearly there yet. But, I also claim that I am here and this is where all that has come before has brought me. I’ve been through the fire, so to speak, and though I used to struggle with the temptation to return, I n longer see thaat as even remotely possible.
    Sorry to ramble on. I probably should condense this to the first three words, and put the rest on my blog!
    Thanks for all you do!
    Here’s a poem I wrote this morning that kind of (very vaguely) runs with the same theme:

    1. You’re welcome charles! No character restrictions for any comments, I enjoy reading your thoughts either way. Peace and grace brother! (Your avatar always cracks me up)

  6. Uhh… my flaming garbage heap had more of the blatantly immoral than the ligitimately good stuff.. strange how they’re both heaped into one burning mountain. I had quite a bit of pride of position, and monetary standard of living–the rug got pulled out from underneath me. Great post, Chief O’ Least!

  7. Well said! All the biblical concepts are well placed for the topic. But it is a catch 22 😉

    As a recovering addict, of 15 years with a very personal relationship with Christ. One must also convey the message that through the eyes of the world there is no forgiveness! No matter how long you have been clean, there will be people constantly holding you acountable for what they perceive as your failures!

    There are triggers that can cause a frail new addict learning to live substance free. That can be devastating to the success of what they perceive as a VICTORY!. AND RIGHTLY SO! They need more then lectures. They need to see and experience the love of Christ. We are talking about a group of God’s finest creations that survive on emotion. The high needs to be there! Knowing that I have a God that loves me inspite of my sins is the Greatest High ever! And it’s already been paid for!

    Much Blessings RJ Da Warrior

  8. What do you think this means for students or people developing their skills? Even Paul still made tents to support his ministry.

    I think that if we praise God for our skills, through our skills, with our skills, and even without our skills, then we can trust that He is ultimately the one who deserves the glory, who gave us those skills in the first place, and who can take them away as well.


    1. Good thoughts DoP! I think it simply means this. All the human skill in the world minus a relationship with Christ equals crap in the end. I agree, we are individually gifted and skilled by the grace of God and for the glory of God.

  9. Good applications.

    The Greek word you referred to is translated as “dung” in the KJV. It’s probably one of the times where it actually gives a much better sense of the Greek meaning in comparison to other translations.

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