Summary: Paul gives another secret of real joy -- how to get right with God. Paul examines several ways he COULD try, and rejects each of them in favor of real FAITH.

Sermon #3: Get Right Before God

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;

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.

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,

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:

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Paul’s joy came from

- Focusing on the right things.

- Thinking Like Jesus

and - Being Right With God

Almost EVERYONE wants to be right with God. . .the difference is the way we go about it.

Let’s look at the way Paul went about being right with God:

1. He didn’t depend on his family background.

I’ve heard people say, “Well, my family were all good Christians, and I was brought up in church.” They say it like that really ought to impress God.

Paul was a guy who had all the right family connections. He was a Jew, who kept all the regulations to be considered one of God’s people.

But here he says, “When it comes to being right with God, I learned that I can’t put confidence in the family background that I have.”

2. He didn’t depend on his own sincerity. (V. 6 – “concerning zeal, persecuting the church...”)

I hear this one really often. “Well, I believe that if you’re sincere, all paths lead to God and heaven. Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, they’re all kind of equal, aren’t they?”

When we look at Paul, we see a guy who really BELIEVED what his religion taught him. He believed in God, he just didn’t believe in Jesus. He believed it so much that he was willing to throw into prison and even to kill those who didn’t measure up to what he thought!!! Talk about sincerity!!

But Paul, now that he’s found real joy, looks back at his old way of TRYING to be right with God, and says, “That didn’t work! It wasn’t enough!”

In April 1988 the evening news reported on a photographer who was a skydiver. He had jumped from a plane along with numerous other skydivers and filmed the group as they fell and opened their parachutes. On the film shown on the telecast, as the final skydiver opened his chute, the picture went berserk. The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without his parachute. It wasn’t until he reached for the absent ripcord that he realized he was freefalling without a parachute. Until that point, the jump probably seemed exciting and fun. But tragically, he had acted with thoughtless haste and deadly foolishness. Nothing could save him, for his faith was in a parachute never buckled on.

Faith in anything but Jesus will wind up the same way. It’s not enough to sincerely believe SOMETHING – you have to believe the RIGHT thing!

3. He didn’t depend on the good things he’d done. (V. 6 - “as touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”)

I recently went through a number of homes in the community and interviewed people. One of the questions I asked them was if they knew they were going to heaven.

Here’s one of the responses I got pretty often: “Yeah, I think so. After all, I’m not a bad person.”

Here’s a guy who says, “I was so careful in keeping the law, you couldn’t have found a problem with me!” But he realizes that this wasn’t enough to get him right with God!

4. He DID depend on his relationship with God through faith. (V.9 “[I want] to be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but. . . the righteousness which is of God by faith.”)

- Paul depended not on WHAT HE DID, but rather in WHO HE BELIEVED IN.

Faith isn’t just a vague belief that there is a God – it’s a lot more than that.

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