I Press on Toward the Goal

Philippians 3:7-11 ESV

“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.”

Everything Counted as Loss

Paul counted as loss everything which he had gained in the flesh by way of his own fleshly and human accomplishments. But that wasn’t all. He died with Christ to sin, and he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ to be used of him for his praise and glory, no matter what it cost him.

Paul surrendered his status as a Pharisee and as a Hebrew of Hebrews, and he humbled himself before Jesus Christ, and he became a servant of the Lord Jesus, to do whatever the Lord required of him, even if it meant being persecuted like he had done to others, and even if it cost him his life.

He left the security of a home, neighbors, friends, and companions, and he went on the road, traveling from city to city sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. And much of that was in the face of much opposition, much like what Jesus Christ faced, too, when he lived on the earth.

He was hunted down as a criminal, he was accused falsely, falsely arrested, put in prison, and beaten, and even left for dead, at least once. He faced much opposition, and he continually felt the need to defend himself and his calling and ministry for the sake of protecting the integrity of the gospel.

So, when he said that he counted EVERYTHING as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, his Lord, he meant it. He didn’t just give up his “good works” done in the flesh. He surrendered his whole life to Jesus, including his reputation, his body, his mind, and his heart.

And this is what we must do, too. All to Jesus we must surrender, holding nothing back. We must die to sin and be putting sin to death on a daily basis, and we must be following our Lord Jesus in obedience to his commands, going wherever he sends us, and doing and saying what he says to do and to say (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6).

No Righteousness of his Own

There are many people today distorting this teaching here and are concluding that faith in Jesus Christ is opposed to obedience to Christ. That is a lie! Paul was talking about how he used to get his righteousness, or so he thought, by keeping what he believed was the letter of the law.

What he described, though, were all things external, and had nothing to do with a transformation of the human heart. His glory used to be in his physical circumcision, his birth as a Jew, his status as a Pharisee, his book smarts, his persecution of what he believed was a sect contrary to the will of God, and his keeping of the liturgical, sacrificial, and ceremonial laws.

But he wasn’t blameless in God’s eyes, and he wasn’t righteous in God’s eyes, because he was opposing Jesus Christ and his followers. He was murdering the Lord’s servants. For, as he stated, his confidence was in the flesh, not in the Lord. In the flesh, though, all his i’s were dotted, and all his t’s were crossed. In the flesh, he had much pride.

So, when he said that he now no longer got his righteousness from the keeping of the law, but that which comes through faith in Jesus Christ, he is not saying that he no longer had to obey the Lord. His whole ministry was based on his obedience to Christ and doing the will of God.

What he was saying is that our own righteousness, based on our own good deeds and religious performance, is not going to produce salvation from sin and eternal life with God. It is through faith in Jesus Christ, which comes from God, that we have salvation from sin and eternal life with God.

But notice with me how he described that faith here. It involves sharing in Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that he may attain the resurrection from the dead. This faith has criteria that must be adhered to. We must die with Christ to sin and be raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

We must have an intimate knowledge of Christ through relationship with him which involves us knowing and desiring him and wanting to be like him in righteousness, godliness, purity, and honesty. And the power of his death and resurrection is the deliverance from our slavery to sin so that we can be empowered of God to become slaves of God and of his righteousness.

And if we claim to know God and to be in intimate fellowship with him, but if we are still walking (conducting our lives) habitually and deliberately in willful sinful practices, and if we are not walking in obedience to our Lord, and if righteousness is not what we practice, we don’t know God.

Philippians 3:12-16 ESV

“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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”

The Christian life, though, is a process. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns, provided that we walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, that we don’t make sin our practice, but righteousness is what we practice, and that we continue in that God-ordained faith until the very end.

But “nobody is perfect” is never to be used as an excuse for continuing in deliberate, habitual, and premeditated sinful practices against the Lord and against others. For, if we do that, we must know that we will be judged accordingly, and unless we repent, we will NOT inherit eternal life with God.

All throughout the New Testament we get the picture of our faith and of our salvation as something that is present tense, that is active, and that is progressing. It is obedient faith, not passive faith, too. So, we relinquish our past lives of living for sin and self, and now we pursue a life of righteousness and holiness in the power of God, and for the glory of God. Amen!

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

God is With Us

An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46

God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.

Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.

God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.

God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.

Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.

Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.

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