Summary: Introducing the chapter of Romans in which he describes salvation as reconciliation, Paul says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1 NIV). I want us to think about 5 A’s illu
Text: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13 Niv).
Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:3-4:20
Introducing the chapter of Romans in which he describes salvation as reconciliation, Paul says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1 NIV).
That is the starting point: peace with God.
People can never adjust to life to their vocation; to others to their past, present, or future until through Christ they have been remade into a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17).
This was true of Paul. Before he met Christ on the Damascus road, he was according to his own testimony, a maladjusted man. Out of that experience, and as a result of the growth stemming from it, he became one of the greatest men in history.
Our passage is rich in autobiographical insights into Paul’s mind and heart.
I want us to think about 5 A’s illustrated in Paul’s life and experience.
ATTAINMENT, ASPIRATION, AMBITION, ADJUSTMENT, ATTITUDE
There are two ways in which people may have an elevated worldly status:
By right of inheritance or by virtue of their own attainments. Paul had both.
As to his heritage, Paul names four things (3:5 NIV):
1. "Circumcised on the eighth day."
Paul was an Israelite by birth, having by heredity and the sign of the covenant his part in the covenant promises.
2. "Of the people of Israel."
Paul’s parents were themselves Hebrews by birth.
3. "Of the tribe of Benjamin."
This was the tribe that gave Israel its first king and that remained true to the Davidic throne when the other tribes broke away from Judah.
4. "A Hebrew of Hebrews."
Although living at Tarsus, Paul’s parents adhered to the Hebrew language and customs. Paul was no Hellenist by upbringing, but a Hebrew. This was an impressive pedigree.
As to his personal attainments, Paul names three things 3:5-6
1. "In regard to the law, a Pharisee."
By his own choice he had embraced the party that took the strictest view of the law.
2. "As for zeal, persecuting the church."
Paul was not merely a Pharisee, but a zealous Pharisee, a relentless persecutor of all heretics.
3. "As for legalistic righteousness, faultless."
As far as the observance of all formal rules, precepts, and practices of the law were concerned, Paul measured up to all requirements. As far as worldly status was concerned, Paul could outboast almost anybody (v. 4).
As to his attitude toward his worldly status, Paul’s scale of value had undergone a radical revision (w. 7-8).
Something had happened when he became a Christian to revise all of his former standards. The new power in Paul’s life was utterly devastating to his old views.
His new attitude toward worldly status was is here in verse 7: "Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ".
His motive? Look at verse 8 "That I may gain Christ"
We need to aspire to righteousness (w. 8—9).
Christians have two kinds of righteousness:
Eph. 2:10 speaks of the good works of our own lives for which we were created in Christ Jesus. This is our standing as Christians before the world.
The 2nd kind is when 2 Corinthians 5:21 speaks of the righteousness of God imputed to us by faith on the basis of the atoning work of Christ. This gives us our right standing before God and it is what is on Paul’s mind here.
We need to aspire to fuller Christian knowledge Phil. 3:10-1.
The resurrection of Christ is mentioned first here.
It was the victorious Christ who met Paul on the Damascus road; and when Paul met him, Christ’s sufferings began to have meaning for him. This is the knowledge that we should desire, that the great facts of Christ’s life may be re-enacted in our own.
We need to aspire to Christian maturity (w. 12-15).
As we seek to make progress as Christians, Paul gives us three simple rules.
Concentration, Direction, Perseverance
"One thing I do," Paul said (v. 13). He was saying, "I have one purpose, one thought, and one goal." Here is our weakness. We give the Lord, among other things, a little time, a little place, a little effort, a little thought.
"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal" (13-14). The direction is forward, and forward only.
3. Perseverance (v. 14). "I’m not already there,"
Paul is saying. "The goal is still a long way off, but I’m pressing on."
We need to aspire to stability (v. 16).
In times when spiritual endurance is demanded and when we may be tempted to weaken, we need to stand fast so that God can use us.