Philippians 008 – Better

Philippians 008 – Better
Philippians 3:7-14 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 24, 2020 • Philippians



Philippians 008


Philippians 3:7-14

May 24, 2020

Dr. Andy Woods

You guys are looking well-rested out there. Some of y’all’s hair is a little longer than I remember. Let’s take our Bibles, If we could, and open them to the book of Philippians. Chapter three. As time permits, We’re going to try to look this morning at verses seven through 14. And the title of our message this morning is just one word. Better. Better. Can you guys say that with me? Better. And the reason I entitled this message. That of that variety is because when God takes something away, He replaces it with something better. In fact, maybe, even better is not the right word. Maybe the maybe a better word would be best. And so many times in life, we settle for what we think is good until we open our hands and let God take out of our hands what we’re so tightly clinging to. So he can give us his very best. That’s the trajectory of the Apostle Paul here, particularly in verses seven through 14.

And of course, Monday is Memorial Day, isn’t it? I kind of look at Memorial Day, kind of like the gospel. Without shed blood, there’s no freedom. And that’s true with our fallen heroes. We wouldn’t be having the opportunity to meet here today had it not been for the blood that they shed. In battle for the United States of America. And I don’t know about you, but what the president of the United States said, I’m not trying to make a political speech at all, but it did bring tears to my eyes to watch him go in front of the cameras in the midst of all of these sort of tyrannical governors and bureaucrats shutting everything down, telling churches what they can and can’t do, etc… It was very Enriching, It was very rewarding to see President Trump go in front of the cameras and say, number one, churches are essential, As if we already knew that anyway, right? Because Jesus is building his church. He’s been building it for the last 2,000 years. And number two. Churches are open, so go back to church next Sunday.

To my mind, I can’t Remember someone of his countenance and stature in the midst of a crisis saying something just like he said it. 2 minutes he was done, no questions asked. And I just said, Well, praise the Lord, the President United States. Is standing in the. Gap for the churches. So all you fraidy cats out there, it’s time to come back to church. Amen? So we are continuing to move through the book of Philippians. One of the reasons I launched a series on the book of Philippians when all of this COVID craziness started, is because it’s really a book about joy. It’s how to walk in the joy of the Lord. In other words, it’s a book about how to experience the peace of God and the mental and the emotional well-being of God, regardless of circumstances. And I felt this was a message we all need to hear for the simple reason that many of us, we recognize that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ.

But if you look at most of our lives, we are not really experiencing the peace of God. And our lives are filled with worry and emotional disturbances and resentments from the past, and whatever the issue may be and Philippians is really a book about how to walk. Not just to have the peace of God, but how to walk out experientially the peace of God. The Peace of God is something that’s a divine right to every child of God, regardless of their circumstances. So chapter one and we’ve actually gone through several lessons on this. Hopefully, you could we’re tracking with us via live stream, etc… But chapter one is really about how God takes negative things and turns them into positive results. It’s what I like to call the chapter where Paul says the glass is not half empty, but the glass is half full. Paul, in chapter one, and it’s beautifully described for us, could see the positive hand of God in his so-called negative circumstances. And he was in negative circumstances when he wrote this book. That’s what makes it so impressive to me.

He wrote it from his place of imprisonment. He’s not writing from a place of comfort and leisure. You know, he’s not on a cruise or something like that. And he’s talking about the joy of the Lord. And he models it for us there in chapter one, because every negative thing that happened to him, his imprisonment, he saw four positive results. God is always going to show up, whether we see him or not in our circumstances. He will always do something positive in the midst of negative circumstances. The problem with us is we’re not really trained to see it. All we can focus on is what’s wrong. Paul doesn’t do that in chapter one. He focuses on what’s right and how God was at work because of his circumstances. And consequently, Paul lived a life where he was not a prisoner of his circumstances. And so that’s what chapter one is about.

Chapter two is about servanthood. You really don’t experience fulfillment in the Christian life until you spell joy the correct way. J stands for Jesus. O stands for others. Y stands for yourself. And as long got the letter spelled correctly, Jesus first, others second, ourselves third, you will walk in joy. But the problem is we get the Y out of place and it doesn’t spell joy anymore. And we wonder why we’re so miserable as Christians. Well, we’re not really walking out servanthood. And the pathway to fulfillment is to live a life that’s beyond oneself. Jesus first, others second, ourselves last. There’s where joy comes from. And Paul gives us in chapter two, Four examples of how to follow these examples, how to walk these things out. And chapter Three is what we started last time which is the third– the thing that must be in place to Experience joy, and that’s to avoid legalism. Paul condemns legalism in the harshest way in this chapter. Legalism, if you’re into legalism, It will destroy. It will suck the life right out of the room. It will destroy joy in your life all of the time because legalism is man coming in with his set of rules and what legalism does is it tries to get the flesh to try harder to live the Christian life. Someone has said that the Christian life is difficult, which I always disagree with. It’s not difficult. It’s impossible. Satan doesn’t want you to understand that. He doesn’t want me to understand it. He wants us to try to walk out Christianity through the power of human will. Human self-discipline. The power of the flesh. And as you try to live the Christian life outside the means of the Holy Spirit, by faith alone, you are going to be a saved Christian, no doubt, but you will be a very unhappy, miserable person. Because you’re set up for perpetual failures. You’re set up to try to do something that the flesh or the energy of the flesh cannot achieve. And so, Paul, in this book of joy begins a frontal assault on legalism. He describes legalism, verses one through three, versus the true walk via the Holy Spirit.

And he commands us to rejoice, verse one He tells us the threat posed by legalism, verse two, And then he gives the characteristics of those walking by the Holy Spirit. And he does all of that in three verses and at the end of verse three, he says something very interesting. He talks about putting no confidence in the flesh. In other words, what got us in the door with Christ to begin with is faith alone via the Holy Spirit. Are you so foolish as he writes to the Galatians, having begun in the Spirit? Are you now? Do you now think you can be perfected by the flesh? You’ve gone under legalism. And the flesh will need certain rules to follow if it’s not going to be led by the Holy Spirit. Typically those rules come from man somewhere.

And so it puts the flesh sort of on a works-oriented spiritual life. And it gets the flesh to try harder. And as the flesh tries hard, it fails. And the flesh says, Well, I need to try even harder for godliness in my life. And it fails again. Well, I’ll try even harder. Not understanding that God never commanded us to live the Christian life through the power of the flesh. And these perpetual disappointments lead to the joy being sucked right out of our lives. So Paul says a characteristic of those walking by the spirit is they put no confidence in the flesh. Then Paul gets autobiographical. This is where we pick it up today.

And Paul says, you know, this transition from being a religious person operating in the flesh to the man of God that I am today, allowing me to experience joy in the midst of incarceration and imprisonment is a transition that I myself went through. So I know all about it. I’m talking today, Paul says, From personal experience. So he makes a transitionary statement, verse four. He knows all about what it was like when he was Saul. Before Jesus got hold of him in Acts nine. He knows all about walking in the flesh. In fact, there, in verses five and six, he gives his resume. And you look at this resume and you say, that’s impressive stuff. He lists eight things. Circumcised Israeli Benjamite. Hebrew of Hebrews. Pharisee. Persecutor of the church. Zealous. Blameless. And these are the things that was being produced in his life as an unsaved person through the power of the flesh. It’s a stellar resume when you think about this. And Paul says, as I walked that out, I was in complete and total blindness. And so he’s describing how this resume, as stellar as it is, was simply a work of the flesh. And he begins to describe his transition away from the life of the flesh to new spiritual realities. So here’s our outline. As time permits, we’re going to try to follow this morning. Notice his rejection. First of all, of fleshly things. He says, verse Seven, Whatever things were gained to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. I had some good things here in my resume. Backing up a moment. There’s a lot to brag about here.

But the reality of the situation is my grip loosened and God replaced what looked good was something better. In fact, when I got in exchange for these things was God’s very best and one of the great deceptions of the devil is simply this boy, if you yield to Jesus Christ, He is really going to make your life miserable. You know, I thought that as a very young person, I can’t get to Christian yet. I can’t let go of too much yet because I want to have some fun. I’ve got to sow a few oats of my own, etc… Thinking that somehow Jesus has come into the world to wreck our lives and wreck our existence. What a perverse, distorted view of God.

John ten verse ten Jesus says, I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly. The faster you can get saved in life and the faster you can begin to walk out the principles of grace via the power of the Holy Spirit is the more fulfilled you’ll become. But Satan doesn’t want you to understand that. He doesn’t want me to understand that. And he gives us a lie, that somehow our lives are going to be shipwrecked if we get too close to this man Jesus Christ. So what Paul does in verses eight through fourteen is he articulates the five better things, the five best things that were put into his hand when he let go of his resume in verses five and six.

I mean, he had this impressive resume. He loosened his grip on it. And what did God do? Did God destroy his life? No, God put into his hands five better or five best things. So here they are, number one, knowing Jesus Christ. Look at verse eight. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered loss of all things and count them but rubbish that I may gain Christ. The first thing I had is I began to know Jesus. The word know, or knowing there is gnosis. And speaking of a relationship, this is where we in Bible Church circles missed the boat. Those of us involved in seminaries and academic work and degrees I think completely misunderstand what Paul is saying here. We think it’s academia. Facts, data, encyclopedia, information, all of which I’m in favor of. Computer programs, parsing, being theologically accurate, all of those things have their place. But that’s not what Paul means by knowing those things are a step, a first step, an important step. But they’re just that a first step. Knowledge in the Bible is a relationship with the God that made you. Genesis chapter Four and verse one, as it’s translated in the King James version says Adam knew his wife and she conceived and bore Cain. And said, I have begotten a man from the Lord. Know is the most intimate relationship here. It’s speaking of sexuality that you can experience with another human being. Marriage. Procreation. Et cetera. The most intimate relationship you can have with somebody on planet Earth is called knowledge in the Bible. Knowledge in the Bible is not facts, data, information in and of itself. It has to do with relationship with the God that made you.

Isn’t that what Jesus is going to say to those he turns away in the end? Matthew 7:23. I will declare to them I never knew you. The verb there is ginosko. I never knew you depart from me You who practice lawlessness. What’s the problem? They never knew about Jesus? Apparently, they did know about Jesus. He turns them away because I never had a relationship with you is what he’s saying. There was never any friendship. Intimacy. Fellowship. That’s what knowledge is in the Bible. You know, you talk to people. Yeah, so-and-so is my best friend, They’ll say. Oh, really? Well, when was the last time you talked to him? Oh, about 15 years ago. Well, they’re not your best friend. Because friendship itself involves a relationship. And a relationship itself involves communication. Intimacy between two people. Paul the Apostle, concerning his very Impressive Resume that’s been given in Verses five and six Says in light of knowing Christ, Having a relationship with Christ, I count it, but rubbish. That’s a stunning statement. The Greek there is skybalon. It’s basically the Greek word for animal excrement. Animal manure. The greatest work of the flesh that he had his resume compared to this, though. Walking in a relationship With Jesus Christ it’s but Animal dung he says there I count all things loss compared to what I have now. All things is– What does that mean? Well, it means all things. It means everything that impressed him, everything that he built his self-image on, He just said, compared to what I have now, It’s nothing. So God did not ruin Paul’s life. What God put in Paul’s hands was something better, Might we say best compared to what he once had? And then there’s the second thing that God gave to Paul when he loosened his grip on the works of the flesh and religiosity. That’s Christ’s righteousness. Look at verse nine. And may be found in him not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Now, this is my desert island verse. I think about weird stuff. If they were going to I talked a little bit about this in Sunday school this morning. If they were going to put me on a desert island and maroon me for the rest of my life, but they only gave me one verse of the Bible to take with me, what would I pick? Well, most people would say I take John 3:16. Well, that’s a winner too. But for me, if I wanted one verse that could explain Christianity better than anything else in the Bible, I’m going to take with me Verse nine. I can’t think of A greater and better articulation Of Christianity than verse nine. Paul here in verse nine, look at this. I mean, why don’t we do a ten-month series on this verse?

Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law. He lost his desire for self-righteousness. Is that concept of self-righteousness, is that not the plague of humanity? Is not self-righteousness where we think that somehow we’re going to make ourselves right with God through our own works, Is that not what separates Paul’s doctrine from every other doctrine on the face of the earth? I mean, it’s as old as the Garden of Eden. Genesis three, verse seven, it says, Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. That’s the first act of religion in the Bible. A man trying to fix himself through his own efforts and Paul here condemns it. Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, and he has a lot of that going for him because of his Pharisee-ism which was part of his resume. So instead of that, what a God give him? Look at this– may and may be found in him. The greatest human teacher that I’ve ever sat under was J. Dwight Pentecost a Dallas Seminary.

And he said, you can summarize, Paul through these two words. In him. Or if you don’t want to use the pronoun in Christ. If you want to summarize John Calvin, It’s the sovereignty of God. If you want to summarize Jacob Arminius, it’s free will. But how do you summarize, Paul? Two words preposition “in Christ”. If you understand “in Christ”, You understand, Paul.

So his righteousness was not found in self, but it was found in Christ. What does it say here? Through faith. Now, Faith, wow. That’s an interesting word, isn’t it? What does that even mean? It means to be persuaded of something to the point where you have confidence in it. To trust in it. To rely upon it. That’s how Vines and his complete Expository Dictionary defines the Greek word pestis faith Or Pisteuo in the verb form. Lewis Sperry Chafer says the word faith is used 150 times as the only condition that God requires to enter into a relationship with him. Because if you accept that, you reject works. You can’t have faith in work simultaneously. Romans four and verse five makes this very clear. It says, But to the one who does not work. But what? Believes. I mean, how can you have faith and work simultaneously? It’s an impossibility. Once you move in the direction of faith, faith alone, in Christ alone, that’s the moment you understand. That the standing that we have before God. And the standing that keeps me in God was never produced through the energy of the flesh. And that becomes the difference between the world of religion versus Pauline Doctrine.

Religion, Top of the screen,  says Jesus did 90% and you do the 10%. Meaning what? Pay. Pray. Obey. God bought lunch. You leave the tip. That’s not what Jesus says, not what Paul says. Jesus says– last words on the cross. It is what? Finished. There is nothing left to do if it’s finished. Amen? But other than to rely or trust or to depend upon what Jesus has done in our place. And what do you get? If you receive that? You get the righteousness– what does it say? Which comes from God. You mean it’s not self-righteousness that I produce? You know, Paul, when he itemized his resume thought that somehow doing a bunch of stuff when he was Saul, unsaved, made him right with God. Look at the change here. He’s not here dealing with self-righteousness. He’s dealing with watch this now: Imputed Righteousness. Transferred righteousness. The Protestant Reformers called this alien righteousness. We know what an alien is. Someone from the outside. A righteousness that’s not yours. A righteousness that you can’t produce. A righteousness that no amount of energy in the flesh can conjure up. It’s the righteousness that comes from God. It’s alien. It’s foreign. It’s transferred from the outside in.

I think it’s the lesson that God was trying to teach Adam and Eve when they clothed themselves after the fall. Genesis 3:7: Religion. Genesis 3:21 God says, Well, here’s my solution. The Lord God made garments of skin. Now, where did those garments come from? And obviously what happened is an innocent animal that had done nothing wrong was killed on the spot. Genesis three, verse 21, The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. They’re trying to clothe themselves. That’s what Paul was doing when he was Saul. God says it doesn’t work that way. I’m going to clothe you through the blood of an innocent scapegoat. It’s just amazing what he is teaching here. There are in the Bible three transfers. The formal name for this is imputation. Number one, Adam’s sin is transferred to us. Romans five, verse 12. That’s the great doctrine of hamartiology, the doctrine of sin. Number two, humanity’s sin is transferred to Christ. Second Corinthians five, verse 21. He who knew no sin became sin. That’s the great doctrine of Christology. And what we’re talking about here is your third transfer, where at the point of faith God can look at us as if we were just as righteous as his son.

Wow. That becomes the great doctrine of soteriology, the Doctrine of salvation. Well, you want to talk about transitioning from good to better? I don’t even know if better covers it. To me, it’s best. God’s not going to ruin your life once you open your hands to what he wants to do. He’s going to replace whatever it is you think you’ve lost with something far better. That you sort of look back at what you used to hang on to and say what a fool I was! Why did I hang on to that so long? This is what happened to the great apostle Paul. Third thing that he got is he got involved in the fellowship of his sufferings. Look at verse ten. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection. Now, we’re going to skip resurrection for a minute because that’s coming. That I may know him. We can skip that because we just talked about it in verse nine. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection. Look at this. And the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death. The Greek there for fellowship of his sufferings is the Greek word koinonia, which basically means fellowship. We walk out suffering in the Christian life, and in so doing, we’re following the pattern of Jesus Christ.

John 15 verse 20 Jesus says this Remember the word that I said to you? A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. They kept my word. They will keep yours also. What a different way of looking at suffering. You just walking out the pattern of Jesus Christ. You’re not suffering to pay Christ back. You can’t. But you’re a little Christ. In the sense that your character is being molded into the likeness of the Son of God. And we walk out suffering. We walk out slander raised against us. Unfair treatment. We think these are strange occurrences. No, they’re not. It’s what Jesus said in the upper room would happen. It’s what Paul was experiencing. Do you realize that in one of the cities, Lystra and Darby right around there in the Book of Acts, They they threw so many rocks at Paul that they thought he was dead? And they just left him there and he gets right back up. Goes right back into his ministry. Fellowship of Sufferings of Christ.

You’ll notice there at the end of verse ten, it says, being conformed to his death. What is the cross? I mean, to us, the cross is so cool. You know, we’ve got cross insignias and cross earrings and all of this stuff. The cross was known in Greco-Roman culture as an instrument of death. Everybody understood it that way. I mean, to put cross earrings on, I guess in our day would be like putting electric chair earrings on. And do we understand that we have been baptized or identified into Christ? There baptized is speaking of identification. Romans six verses three through six. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, So we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing that the old self was crucified with Him, In order that the body of sin might be done away with so that we will no longer be slaves of sin: Amazing truth.

The moment I put my faith in Christ for salvation is the moment God took me and identified me with the transaction of Jesus Christ. He died. So did I. He was buried. So was I. He was raised to newness of life. So am I. In fact, the book of Ephesians chapter one tells us that he ascended to the right hand of the father. And Ephesians two tells me that’s where I am right now. Legally speaking. This is why Paul, because of this identification truth. Could say in Galatians two, verse 20, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ, who lives in me. The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

There’s a really peculiar verse and I think the last time I checked this, there was about 200 possible interpretations to it. It’s in first Corinthians 15, verse 29: The resurrection chapter. It says, Otherwise, what will those who are baptized for the dead. Now everybody puzzles over that. What were the Corinthians doing baptizing the dead? What does that even mean? And again, Dwight Pentecost just waves a wand and the confusion disappears. At least for me. What does that mean? Baptism for the dead. It’s simply saying that you trust Christ. You’re identified with Christ. So you’re dead. It’s not some weird practice where they were baptizing the dead. They were physically baptizing people that had experienced this transaction, this positional reality, by way of faith. Compared to my resume what I have now is incredible, Paul says, To the point where my resume just is [s?]. Dung manure. Look. Look at what I have in Christ. And he gives.

Here a fourth thing that God put into his hands. As a result of his faith alone in Christ alone and that’s participation in the resurrection. Look at verse 11. In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Now, part of the positional truth is that Jesus rose from the dead. His resurrection is the first fruits. His resurrection guarantees our resurrection. So I’m on a fast track towards the resurrected body. I’m on a fast track towards glorification and I’m on a fast track towards a resurrected body. Because Christ resurrection is first fruits. First fruits, Jewish harvest imagery. The initial crop comes in and that made everybody real happy because the rest of the crop was virtually guaranteed at that point. That’s what the resurrection of Jesus has done. Your future resurrection in a resurrection body is a certain as the objective evidence of the empty tomb. He continues on here describing this in verse 12. He says, Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect. But I press on so that I may lay hold of that, which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. I haven’t received the resurrected body yet now before you get saved, going to the very bottom of the screen, you have one nature: A nature that hates God.

After you get saved middle tenths of your salvation, you become dual-natured. The new nature has been infused into us. It doesn’t mean the old nature is gone experientially, but the power to say no to the old nature is now there. And so there is always a struggle in the Christian. There are always opportunities to go back to the old nature which we shouldn’t do, because there’s nothing there but death and yet we have provisions like First John one verse nine about how to be made, get back into fellowship with God. When we as Christians go back to that old nature, that’s where Paul was and it was frustrating to him a lot of times.

You ever feel like this? Romans 7:24. Wretched man that I am. Romans 13, verse 14, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its less. Why would he say that? Because he hadn’t received his resurrected body yet. There was always that struggle with the old nature and yet, because we’re on a fast track towards the resurrected body, the time will come in history when we will be single natured again. The old nature won’t even be there. Paul says in the interim, I haven’t arrived yet, but I press on towards a future that God has for me.

You know, there’s a model of sanctification that teaches that you can reach sinless perfection in this life. If you’ve reached sinless perfection in this life, can you come up afterwards and sign my Bible? Paul never taught sinless perfection. I mean, what he taught was the very best you could experience as a Christian is a life that sins less, not sinlessness. We want to be moving in, growing in that middle tense of our salvation. But this idea that you become sinless perfection, that that simply is not what Paul’s teaching at all there in verse 12. Paul knew no such doctrine, except when he received that resurrected body with no old nature in it at all, then you’re going to get your sinless perfection. In the interim, God has made provision for us. That’s where Paul was, that middle tense of his salvation prior to the reception of that glorified body.

There’s a fifth and final thing that he had placed in his hands. As a consequence of yielding to God. That stellar resume that he had, he just gave up on it. He opened his hands to the Lord, probably thinking the Lord is going to destroy his life. But look what God put into his hands. He put into his hands a prize. A future prize. Look at verse 13. Brethren, so if you’re unsaved, in other words, this doesn’t apply to you. Brethren, is a promise to a Christian. Brethren, Verse 13, I do not regard myself as having yet laid hold of it. So, he hadn’t received the resurrected body and so the prospect of sinless perfection was not something that he would experience because he still had the old nature to contend with. But one thing I do forgetting this is so interesting here, what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. It’s hard to overemphasize verse 13, because you deal with so many problems. And even in my own personal life, personal problems and the problems resolved mentally and emotionally because we spend so much time looking in the rearview mirror. Looking at the past. The problem, of course, was social media and Facebook is you have all these relationships now with people you used to know. 20, 30, 40 years ago. And all you can think about is the past. And sometimes the past is not a great place to revisit because there’s failures there.

Let me tell you, Paul had those failures. I mean, if there’s ever a guy that could sit around and dwell on his past, it would be Paul. Considering the fact that as part of his job as a Pharisee, he would kill Christians. You talk about a guilt complex. You talk about a guy that could have spent his whole life in Christ looking backward. You know, it’s interesting. You listen to certain people and you counsel them and they say, well, so-and-so did this to me or so-and-so did that to me. And they rehearse it as if the wounds are so fresh and then you actually get into the specifics and they’re talking about something that happened 15 years ago? 20 years ago? Isn’t that our favorite saying in modern days? Get over it. I mean, if anybody should be getting over things, it would be Christians, because we’re not called to look backwards all of the time. We’re called to look forward. I guess God agrees with me. I hear the thunder there. And of course, this becomes one of the problems with, I would call modern-day humanistic secular psychology because they want you to get into these long sessions where you’re always revisiting and redialing the past. I see no such thing in the Bible. You can’t experience the present till you’ve dealt with the past. I mean, and you’ve got to go back and you’ve got to revisit all of these wounds that have been inflicted on us and all of these wounds that we cause to other people.

What is all of that? It’s bondage. It puts you in bondage is what it does. We’re not to live that way. There’s always a place to look back and admit that what you did was wrong,  or you failed here or there and learn from the experiences and grow. But to sit there and dwell and to ruminate on it? I mean, Paul would have never become Paul had he spent his life looking backward. He was looking forward. I mean, this is a forward-looking verse here, verse 13. Forgetting what lies behind because God has. Did you know that at the point of faith alone in Christ alone, the Psalms say God takes our sins and washes them in a sea of forgetfulness? He takes our sins and throws them as far as the East is from the West. Now, that’s interesting, right there, because there’s no East Pole or there’s no West Pole. There’s a North Pole and there is a South Pole, but Psalm 103, I think it is, says he throws our sins as far as the East is from the West, which is an infinite line! In fact, He washes our sins in a sea of forgetfulness. You go back to the Lord and you say, Lord, you remember that sin I committed 15 years ago? Lord says, No, I don’t remember that. Are you saying God is not omniscient? No, obviously, I’m not saying that. But that’s my understanding God doesn’t even consider it. Doesn’t think about it. If God is analogized to humankind, He doesn’t remember it.

So why are we going back and ridiculing the past all the time? Well, I’ll tell you why we’re doing it. Because the flesh wants to do it and Satan wants you to do it because he doesn’t want you to become what you’re supposed to become in Christ. He wants to keep you in a state of emotional and spiritual bondage. A place Paul could have stayed in with his past, but he didn’t. He forgot what was behind, and he pressed on to the prize. Verse 14 is a description of the prize. I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. What is the prize? There’s the Greek word in brackets. I think you pronounce that brabeion. If I’ve got my pronunciation right, what is the prize. Well, I think in context, the prize could very well and that most probably is the resurrected body. Because that’s what he’s been talking about in contexts.

The time in history where he won’t be dual-natured anymore. Where the appetite or the desire to send won’t even be there. The word for prize here is also used by Paul in one of his other letters to the Corinthians, where he’s talking about the Bema Seat judgment of rewards. That could be the prize also. He says, Do you not know first Corinthians 9:24 through 27 that all who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize run in such a way that you may win? He’s speaking there of the time in history, following the Rapture, where the Christian will stand before the Lord to be given rewards. The degree of which, depending on how we used our lives. Today. I mean, if that’s true and that the prospect of the Bema Seat judgment is in my future, then why am I moping around about the past? There’s too much to do. There’s too much to live for. There’s too many souls to reach. There’s too many people to help grow and Christ. Why would you? Why would we mope around about the past, if that’s indeed our future? Isn’t this an amazing thing that he’s described here?

As he relinquished his resume, verse seven, He opened his hands to God, maybe thinking that God, boy, he’s really going to pull a dirty one on me. And he got put into these hands, these five things. That come as a result of grace through faith that no amount of religiosity or energy of the flesh can rev up? Number one, a relationship with Christ. Number two, the transferred righteousness of Christ. Number three, identification in the sufferings of Christ. Number four, a future resurrection. And number five, a prize. Wow. May the Lord help us to understand what we have in Christ. To understand the riches that have been lavished upon us. And may we live our lives accordingly to what we have been given. If someone, of course, is listening and they don’t know Christ or someone is here in the building and they don’t know Christ, how do you get to know Christ? We’ve covered it today. The Bible explains it 150 times, which is no small sample set. It’s a massive subject. In fact, the subject is so large, it’s sort of baffling to me why people are confused about it.

You come to Christ by way of faith or you don’t come. Faith means trust, reliance, dependence. Jesus entered human history. He died in our place 2,000 years ago. He proved who he was through his bodily resurrection from the dead. He tells you to quit, tells us to quit trusting in our own self and our own works, and instead to trust in his work. And that’s what gets your foot in the door. And so our exhortation here at Sugarland Bible Church, whether we’re at full capacity or not, whether we’re at no capacity is to keep saying that over and over again, because that’s the message that God has commissioned to the church to be given out in these last days. A message that the religious systems of the world are not giving people, but God is giving it to them through the Word. If anybody wants to know Christ personally and they have more questions, I’m available after the service and people can put comments and things on social media, Facebook, email, and we love to minister to you.

Shall we pray?  Father, we’re thankful for your truth. Thankful for your word. Thank you for its clarity. Thank you for how it ministers to us. Help us to leave here understanding that no matter what’s happening to us economically, we are very, very wealthy people, and help us live this week in accordance with those truths, we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory we ask these things in Jesus name and God’s people said, Amen.