Toward the Goal

Video Talk

Philippians 3:2-3,13b-21 ESV

“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”

“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.

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

This passage of Scripture (I recommend reading the whole chapter) has a dual lesson. One part is against legalism and the other part is for righteousness, holiness, godliness, and walks of obedience to our Lord. For it isn’t either a free-for-all, or it is legalism, as our two choices. We don’t follow all the Old Covenant ceremonial, liturgical, and dietary laws and restrictions or on the opposite end is total anarchy and absolute freedom to keep on sinning now that we have been supposedly saved by God’s grace.

Yes, we are not saved by our own fleshly works of our own doing. There is nothing that we can do in and of ourselves to earn or to deserve our own salvation. But our salvation 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. And his grace instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return (see Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14).

So the “dogs” (false teachers) which we are to watch out for are on both ends of this see-saw or pendulum. And neither extreme is the truth. The truth is somewhere in the middle. For we still have to obey our Lord and his commandments (under the New Covenant), and we still have to live godly and holy lives in righteous living, all by the grace of God and in his strength. Yet we are still to avoid and cast off trying to earn God’s favor via our own fleshly works, and we are not to add on legalistic requirements, not of God.

But pay attention to Paul’s wording here. Putting no confidence in the flesh isn’t just about fleshly works. For the works of the flesh are idolatry, sexual immorality, lying, cheating, stealing, and bearing false witness, etc. We are neither to be legalists who add on to our salvation what is not of God, nor are we to be those who ignore and/or who remove from the truth of the gospel God’s requirements for obedience and righteous living and his requirement that we no longer walk in sin, according to the flesh.

For in verse 10 (not quoted above) Paul spoke of faith in these terms: “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.” And when Jesus suffered on that cross it was to put our sins to death so that we, by faith in him, could die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. It was so that we could be crucified with him in death to sin and raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, free from the control of sin, and free to obey God.

But then Paul talked about pressing on, and forgetting, and straining forward, which are all words of doing something, and so he was not teaching a “do nothing” gospel for sure. For those who are enemies of the cross are those who are opposed to what Jesus did for us on that cross. For in his death on that cross he put our sins to death with him in order to free us from our slavery to sin so that we would now walk in holiness and in righteousness in obedience to his New Covenant commands.

For those who are enemies of the cross of Christ, their god is their own fleshly appetites, and their minds are set on earthly things. But our minds are to be set on things from above, and we are to be those who are following our Lord in walks of obedience to his commands, and who are walking in holiness and in righteousness, in conduct, in practice, in the power of God, and for the glory and praise of God. For if we do not obey our Lord, and if sin is what we practice, we will not inherit eternal life with God.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

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My Sheep

An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

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