Review of What We Have Covered So Far:
Last week we looked at how being in Christ gives us joy. Paul begins this section be defending the Gospel from false teachings, because he know that any deviation from the truth can steal our joy away. The particular false teaching that Paul deals with is brought on by the Judiazers who taught that many of the customs and rituals of the Jews had to be followed in order to be saved. Paul’s countered this with the truth that it is only because of what Christ has done that we can be saved, therefore we must be in Christ, hidden in Him for our salvation. We looked at how human effort means nothing and we must come to Him in faith. We also saw though that our faith must be in Christ for salvation but that our faith must be alive and active meaning that there should be fruit as evidence of our faith.
So, this now brings us to our next session which is the Joy of Walking with Christ and our passage is Philippians 3:12-21.
Philippians 3:12-21 NLT
"I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control."
Ok, let’s break this down in sections to look into.
Going For the Prize
Philippians 3:12-14, (NLT)
“12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
ASK, “Are there any initial comments or thoughts?”
In Philippians 3:10, Paul expressed his desire to know Christ. Now he lets the Philippians know that the knowledge of Christ does not happen overnight. Certainly, salvation happens in an instant, but a complete understanding of who Christ is can’t be accomplished in a lifetime. The good news is that we will have an eternity to get to know Him. In the meantime, while we are on earth, learning more about Christ is a continual process.
Read: 1 Cor. 3:2
Read: Rom. 1:17
Read: 1 Cor. 1:18
When Paul talks about knowing Christ (3:10) he is talking about more than just a passing acquaintance.
1 John 1:1 (NKJ),
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life”
ASK, “What is John describing in this verse?”
It is in this relationship that we get to know Christ. It is through this relationship that our understanding is deepened. It is through this relationship that we become more like Him, and this is the next thing that Paul is implying when he talks about “knowing Christ” and “looking forward to what lies ahead.”
ASK, “How are we to become more like Christ?”
Being Like Christ
1 Peter 1:16 (NLT),
“For he himself has said, "You must be holy because I am holy."
Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJ),
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
John 14:12 (NLT),
"The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”
ASK, “How is this possible?”
NLT John 15:1-4 (NLT),
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.”
1 Corinthians 15:31 (NKJ),
“I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
Romans 8:1 (NKJ),
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
ASK, “Comments, Thoughts?”
ASK, “How are you doing on this journey?”
Let’s review some good news
“13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on. . .”
Paul likens our walk with Christ to a race, a marathon, not a sprint, its going to take our entire life.
There are Three good Action Steps that Paul Gives to us to help us along the way:
1) Forget The Past
God has forgiven us, we MUST learn to forgive ourselves.
2) Look Forward To What Lies Ahead
Luke 9:62 (NLT),
“But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."
3) Press On Towards The Prize
Knowing Him is the Prize. Being Like Him is the Prize.
Doing His Will is the Prize.
I think that it is interesting that in verse 12 Paul states that Jesus Christ possessed him for the purpose of making him perfect. Jesus ants to live in us to help make us perfect! To me that is something that brings Joy!
Walking In Maturity
Philippians 3:15-16 (NLT),
“Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.”
In these two verses Paul makes a quick diversion from his train of thought to address an apparent issue. Most scholars believe that there must have been a false teaching, probably by the same people whom Paul addressed in the earlier portion of Chapter 3 that basically had a different point of view on knowing Christ.
To these people Paul says two things:
1) They were being spiritually naïve. He says this indirectly by stating that all mature people would agree with him on the points that he was just making.
2) If anyone did have a different point of view, he was confident that God would make it plain to them. This implies that they should be willing to hear from Him.
For me, this is the important issue. There are going to be times in our walk with the Lord that we realize that we have been immature, misguided and outright wrong in our interpretation of portions of Scripture. The question is, are we willing to accept God’s correction in these matters?
ASK, “Well, are you?”
“Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.”
At this point Paul now suggest that the Philippians look to him as some kind of “Walking with Christ” personal trainer. And that they should avoid others who would divert them from the goal of knowing Christ better.
We have learned to be careful when someone holds themselves up as an example to follow. People who usually do this want to be on a pedestal, and they seek the adulation of others. Those people should not be our role models. In this passage Paul tells the Philippians to emulate the way that he walks with Christ. So how is Paul different than the others? (Allow for responses) I think that Paul is not making his request out of conceit but rather from a place of humility in the Lord and he is actually trying to help the Philippian believers.
Remember earlier he stated that all of his accomplishments in Judaism were as a pile of, um, dung.
He also just finished stating that he has not yet attained the completed goal of knowing Christ. He admits to being a work in progress.
This brings us to a very important comparison: Spiritual Conceit vs. Spiritual Humility
Spiritual Conceit tries to cover-up one’s shortcomings and instead draws attention to the person’s good works.
Spiritual Humility recognizes the shortcomings and says, “Woe is me, I need a Savior.”
Spiritual Conceit’s motivation is in trying to draw attention to
Spiritual Humility’s motivation is in trying to draw attention to
Paul’s desire here is to help the Philippians with their Walk with Christ, it is his desire that they copy his intentions and motivation; the desire to know Christ.
ASK, “Any comments or thoughts?”
Next, Paul laments that there are those, who although they say they are following Christ, are in reality following after their own fleshly desires. These people were living lawless lives (antinomians.) Today we call them Hedonist or Anarchists.
Romans 8:6 (NLT),
“If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.”
Keeping In Mind Where The Walk Will End
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control."
ASK, “What are some of your thoughts on these verses?”
Paul concludes this portion by reminding the Philippians that even though they live on this earth, they are really citizens of Heaven, and that one day all will be changed and that we will live with Jesus there for all eternity.
If you remember back to the first session we talked about how the people at Philippi enjoyed something that most cities within the Roman Empire did not. And that was “Ius Italicum”, as far as Rome was concerned, Philippi was Italian soil and anyone who was born there after that honor was bestowed on the city was automatically a Roman Citizen. So the idea that the Philippian believers were also citizens of Heaven would have a strong impact. It was a good thing that Philippi granted them special privileges, but it was much more important that their relationship with Christ was one that was eternal and would forever change their destiny.
Paul was contrasting for the Philippian believers the results of the choices between following after your fleshly appetites, leading to destruction and keeping with your walk with Christ, leading to an eternity with Him.
ASK, “Any comments or thoughts in closing.”