Becoming Like Him in His Death

Philippians 3:8-11 ESV

“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.”

Jesus told us that if anyone would come after him, to be one of his disciples, he (or she) must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die with Christ to sin and to self) and follow him in obedience. And the Apostle Paul taught us that faith in Jesus Christ involves us daily dying with Christ to sin and us living to Christ and to his righteousness (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 8:1-17).

So, when we count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, this means we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin so that we will no longer live in slavery to sin but so we would now be slaves of righteousness. It is not just forsaking self-righteousness, which is trying to earn our salvation by our own good works, but it is forsaking our flesh and its sinful passions, too.

So, this righteousness that comes from faith is not absent of works, it is just that they are the works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them. For, Jesus gave himself up for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Eph 2:10; Tit 2:14; cf. Php 2:12-13).

So, not being under the law does not mean we are to be lawless. It just means that we don’t have to obey all those liturgical, ceremonial, and sacrificial and purification laws that the Jews had to follow under the Old Covenant. We still are required to obey God’s commandments, but the ones taught to us in the New Testament (1 Jn 2:3-6).

And yes we are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ but it is those who practice righteousness who are righteous, not those who merely make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ but who then continue living in their sins deliberately and habitually. We are what we practice, not what we profess. If we practice lying, we are liars, and if adultery, we are adulterers, etc.

So, we can’t just claim Jesus’ righteousness over our lives and then continue living in sinful practices. We must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and we must by the Spirit be putting to death the deeds of the flesh if we want to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Gal 5:16-21).

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.”

Just because Jesus saved us from our sins and he delivered us from our slavery to sin, it doesn’t mean we have all of a sudden reached perfection, as though we never ever sin again. BUT this truth is never to be used as an excuse for continued habitual and deliberate sin against God, for if we walk in sin we will not have eternal life with God (Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6).

So, although we have not yet reached absolute perfection, we also are not free to continue in habitual and deliberate sin. We are to be walking now according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Daily we should be dying with Christ to sin and to self and daily we should be putting on Christ and his righteousness in the power of God (Eph 4:17-24).

The Christian life is a work in process, but it needs to be a work in process and not just a show of righteousness. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns and our salvation is then complete. This is an ongoing process in our lives of dying daily to sin and living daily to the Lord and his righteousness.

I hear a lot of people say, “We all sin, and one sin is not bigger than another.” And what they generally mean by this is that the person who commits a singular sin is in the same category as those who are living in sin, who are making sin their practice, and who are defiantly, willfully, deliberately, and premeditatively sinning against God and others.

The Scriptures do not teach that. The Scriptures teach that we are either living for righteousness or in sin. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to God and to his righteousness via obedience. And if we are habitually and deliberately choosing to ignore God’s commandments, and in his face we are continuing to rebel against him by sinning against him, then we do not have the hope of eternal life with God unless we repent (forsake our sins).

So, there is a distinct difference between a believer who may or may not sin occasionally and those who profess faith in Jesus Christ yet continue to live in sin in defiance against the Lord’s commands, deliberately choosing their flesh over God and his commands habitually. So, lack of perfection doesn’t equate to freedom to keep on in deliberate sin against God.

But we press on in our faith, and we grow in the Lord and in his righteousness, and if we should sin, we repent (forsake the sin) and we continue to follow the Lord in obedience. But please note here that if you are making sin your practice, just because you may occasionally confess sin and own up to it, if you go back and continue in it, that is not repentance.

Also, forgetting what is behind does not mean that we can keep on sinning against the Lord and then just keep dismissing the sin as though it is past when it isn’t. Forgetting means that the sin is no longer a part of our lives. We don’t continue in it. But if we continue lying, we are still a liar, and if we continue committing adultery, we are still an adulterer until we change.

So, we cannot press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus if we are answering a downward call of Satan and if we are continuing in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord. We have to be daily dying to sin and to self and daily walking in obedience to the Lord and to his commands if we are going to make progress in a forward direction.

So, holding true to what we have attained is holding true to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ which teaches us that we must die daily to sin and to self and we must walk in obedience to the Lord and to his commands. And the Lord will be with us, and he will help us to resist the devil and to flee temptation and to walk in holiness and righteousness in his power.

Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)

Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Chris Eaton

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father you have come
And chosen me now to carry your son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven

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