Summary: Learn to overcome the enemies to achieving God’s goals for your life.
This morning, we will be looking at Philippians, chapter 3, verses 12-14. The passage lends to the New Year so well, that I’m led to believe God wants to help us get off to a great start in 2001. If a title helps you organize your thoughts, the title is "Five Adversaries to Progress."
I don’t know how many of you make new years resolutions, but I do know that more of us make new years resolutions than there are of us who keep new years resolutions. Susan, my wife, was telling me that she is like an environmentalist when it comes to new years resolutions. She recycles them year after year. When I asked her what her new years resolution would be this year, she replied, "Have better quiet times with God." She was right; I remember her setting that for last year as well.
Jonathan Edwards wrote in his diary on the first day of the year, "Resolve first, that all men should glorify God and be obedient to God. Resolve second, that if nobody else is obedient, that I will be obedient, by God’s grace." With such resolution, can anyone question why God would use Edwards powerfully in the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s?
What are our resolutions for the New Year?
From this morning’s passage, we can gain both guidance for choosing our resolution and help to make progress in our resolution for the New Year. Also from this passage, we will look at the obstacles or adversaries to our making progress in our resolution and how Paul overcame these obstacles.
The first adversary to our making progress in our resolution is ARROGANCE. We read this in verse 12.
Paul put to death this adversary of arrogance by having an honest evaluation of himself. He was quite far along in his knowledge of Christ, to the point we read in verse 8, where all the good things in his life became like garbage when compared to the treasure of knowing Christ. But Paul was not arrogant about how far along he was in his spiritual journey. Paul saw that he needed to press on toward knowing Christ even more.
Arrogance is the attitude of pride or over-confidence. Arrogance leaves no room for learning and growth. In the race between the hare and the tortoise, arrogance is what caused the hare to take a nap and to lose the race.
Maybe your resolution is also to know Christ more through daily quiet times with God. Let me warn you, that if you are able to keep your resolution the first week of 2001, your enemy, arrogance, will follow your footsteps closely for the rest of the year. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians warned, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" Arrogance is the Trojan Horse to our making progress in our resolution.
The second adversary to our making progress in our resolution is ARRIVAL. We read this in verse 13a.
Paul put to death the adversary of arrival by responding to Christ’s expectation, not human expectations. Paul tells the Philippians that his passion for God, his ability to endure hardship for Christ and his Christ-centered perspective in life are not indications that he has arrived at the finish line of his spiritual journey. The false belief that we have arrived is an enemy to our making progress in our resolution.
When we see ourselves as reaching our limit or our finish line, we will stop making progress in our resolution. The person who said that we are "human-becomings" and not "human beings" is helpful in reminding us to make progress continually. We are all able to become more like Christ and accomplish more for Christ than we ever have.
What is your New Year resolution? Is God calling you to become a godly husband and godly father in your family? Then stop comparing yourself with those who are behind you in this journey. You will only deceive yourself into thinking you have arrived.
Is God calling you to be a Christian witness at your work? Every time I lead someone to Christ, I have the same conversation with God. "Lord, can I be with you in heaven now?" That is my way of saying, "God, haven’t I done all you’ve called me to do?" I’m still here, so God must be calling me to commit to new ways of witnessing and to respond to more of His opportunities. Arrival is the glass ceiling to our making progress in our resolution.
The third adversary to our making progress in our resolution is AFFECTIONS. We read this in verse 13b.
Paul put to death the adversary of affections (plural) by measuring his success in the achievement of one resolution. Paul does not say, "These things I do." Paul had a single-minded affection or desire in his heart, to know Christ and to make Christ known to the non-Jewish people. Paul was highly intelligent, very talented, respected, privileged, and he had many different opportunities to succeed in his time and culture. He could have easily been tempted to do many things, but focusing on the one thing made progress in his resolution.