Summary: Paul had a great longing to be like his Lord. We as modern-day Christians should have that same consuming desire to be like Jesus.


Text: Ps.17: 15; Phil.3: 8, 9

Intro: Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “longing” as a “strong desire; yearning.” It almost goes without saying that everyone has strong desires of one sort or another. And the list of things for which people desire is endless. It seems sometimes that man spends his whole life simply trying to satisfy, fulfill, and obtain that for which his heart yearns.

Though desires and yearnings are not evil in and of themselves, you can tell a lot about a person by what they yearn for in their life. The desires that are the driving force of their life will determine that for which they expend the largest portion of their time, energies and resources. For instance, those who desire great riches will often work long hours to the detriment of their family relationships, and even their own health and well being. They might even develop plots and schemes to obtain the riches they seek.

This principle could be applied to many other areas of life, not just money. We could have mentioned power, prestige, or physical concerns. The point is, what you long for in this life says something about who you are, and what controls your life. And in that light, this principle is no less true in our spiritual lives. If we really desire to walk with God, it will be evident in how we spend the resources of our lives.

Paul the apostle was a man having one basic desire. That singularity of desire is very evident in our text from Philippians. Paul simply wanted his life to take on the characteristics of Christ. And all the resources of his life were dedicated to that end. If we are to be what God wants us to be, we must have an all-consuming desire to be like Jesus. That is the only thing that will make this life truly worthwhile. Notice with me today Paul’s Longing For The Likeness Of The Lord.

Theme: Paul’s great desire for the likeness of Christ in his life is seen in:


A. Paul Realized That The Flesh Was Weak.

1. Paul warned the Philippians of the Judaizers’ fleshly character.

Phil.3: 1 “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”

NOTE: [1] Paul referred to the Judaizers as “dogs.” This was a term of reproach due to the fact that in Paul’s day, dogs were vicious, unclean, and starved scavengers. He used this terminology to describe their moral and spiritual character. Their sole desire was to prove their own righteousness by trying to keep the Law of Moses.

[2] Paul also referred to the Judaizers as “evil workers.” They taught that salvation, as well as pleasing God, depended on keeping the Law, and faith in Christ. But the truth of the matter is the works of the flesh are always evil, even though they may be religious works.

[3] Paul then uses a third term to describe the Judaizers. He refers to them as the “concision.” This word actually means “mutilation.” In essence, Paul was saying that the Judaizers’ theology was a mutilation of the truth. One cannot be rightly related to God by faith, plus works.

2. Paul indicated that the flesh couldn’t be counted on, in living for Christ.

Matt.26: 41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Phil.3: 3 “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

NOTE: The “flesh,” or “sin nature” of man, cannot please God. Even the supposed “good works” performed in the flesh are usually done with a selfish or sinful motive in mind. Mark Bubeck offers this pertinent explanation:

The flesh is a built-in law of failure, making it impossible for the natural man to please or serve God. It is a compulsive inner force inherited from man’s fall, which expresses itself in general and specific rebellion against God and His righteousness. The flesh can never be reformed or improved. The only hope for escape from the law of the flesh is its total execution and replacement by a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mark Bubeck, The Adversary, Moody Press, p. 28.

B. Paul Realized That The Flesh Was Wicked.

Rom.7: 18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

NOTE: Many years ago, a Scottish Jesuit priest expressed to John Knox, his great frustration and confusion over the inconsistencies of his life. The following was Knox’s suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and put an end at Thy good pleasure to this my miserable life; for justice and truth are not to be found among the sons of men…Be merciful unto me, O Lord…Now after many battles, I find nothing in me but vanity and corruption. For in quietness I am negligent, in trouble impatient, tending to desperation…pride and ambition assault me on the one part, covetousness and malice trouble me on the other, briefly, Oh Lord, the affections of the flesh do almost suppress the operation of Thy Spirit…In none of the aforesaid I do delight; but I am troubled, and that sore against the desire of my inward man which sobs for my corruption, and would repose in Thy mercy alone; to which I claim, and that in the promise that Thou hast made to all penitent sinners of whose number I profess myself to be one.

“Answer to a Letter of James Lurie, a Scottish Jesuit,” in John Knox—A Great Intercessor, by Bessie G. Olson, Hall of Fame Series, Des Moines: Walfred, 1956, pp. 45-46, quoted in Mark Bubeck, The Adversary, Moody Press, pg. 33.

C. Paul Realized That The Flesh Was Worthless.

Rom.8: 8 “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”


A. He Had To Give Up His Station In Life.

Phil.3: 4 “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;”

B. He Had To Give Up His Self-Righteousness In Life.

Phil.3: 6 “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

8a Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…”


A. Paul Longed To Be More Consumed With Christ.

Phil.3: 8 “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”

B. Paul Longed To Manifest More Of The Character Of Christ.

Phil.3: 9 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”

NOTE: Folks, Paul’s desire to be more like Christ, ought to be ours as well. But it isn’t merely when things are going well that our character should reflect that of Christ. The “bumps” of life ought to reveal Christ’s character in us.

Henry Wingblade used to say that Christian personality is hidden deep inside us. It is unseen, like the soup carried in a tureen high over a waiter’s head. No one knows what’s inside—unless the waiter is bumped and he trips! Just so, people don’t know what’s inside us until we’ve been bumped. But if Christ is living inside, what spills out is the fruit of the Spirit.

Carl Lundquist.

C. Paul Longed To Be Made Conformable To Christ.

Phil.3: 10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

Rom.12: 2a “And be not conformed to this world (shaped by the world’s mold): but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

NOTE: Too many Christians of our day seem to be totally unconcerned with the need to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom.8: 29). Rather, they seem to think that they can live pretty much as they please, as long as they admit it to God. This could not be farther from the truth. Somewhere along the line we have lost our fear of God. As John Franklin says:

Barna Research shows no significant difference in the lifestyles of Christians within the church and those of pagans when it comes to living together before marriage, illegitimate births, gambling, and discounting absolute standards of right and wrong. In fact, the divorce rate among Christians is even higher (26% compared to 22%).

Light, A magazine of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Of The Southern Baptist Convention.

Theme: Paul’s great desire for the likeness of Christ in his life is seen in: