Summary: For a believer the final destination of heaven is settled, but there’s still the matter of living for today and developing Christlikeness.
I’m Heading In The Right Direction 7-29-07
New Series: The New Me – Pt. 4 Phil. 3:12-14
Intro. There’s a certain sense of excitement that wells up when you’re ready to set out on a trip to a place where you’ve never been before. Maybe it’s a vacation to an exotic location or a mission trip to a 3rd world country or even something as simple as trying to find your way to a new friend’s home. Do you know what I’ve found out? “Winging it” on your directions only works for destinations that don’t matter very much. If you’re out for a Sunday drive and you suddenly decide to try to find your friend’s house, but you don’t find it that day…well that’s no big deal! But as the destination becomes more important so do the directions that lead you to that destination. For instance, if you’re going on vacation to Jamaica next week or you’re heading to Moldova for a missions trip in the fall, but you don’t have a clue how to get to either place, then you’ve got a real problem. You need directions and you need them because those destinations are important to you.
As a Christ follower there are 2 destinations that are of utmost importance to your life. The primary one is your eternal home called heaven. Now the directions to heaven are pretty simple. You place your trust and faith in what Jesus did on the cross. You believe that He died in your place and He paid for your sins on the cross and then you decide to live your life for him. That’s how you get to heaven. But what about the second destination? Where are we supposed to be heading? The simple answer is towards Christ-likeness. The destination for this life, for the here and now, is to become more and more like Jesus Christ. When God spells out his purpose for saving you and me, here’s what He says. Rom. 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”(NIV) I think Message translation makes it a little clearer, “God decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.” If you’ve ever wondered what you’re supposed to be doing with your spiritual life, then wonder no more. Your heavenly father wants you to spend the rest of your life imitating and thereby becoming more and more like Jesus.
Throughout the NT we find the mature Christian life described as a race. In 1 Cor. 9:27 Paul says, “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win.” (NLT) Heb. 12:1 says, “Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” Then at the close of Paul’s ministry, perhaps just days before he gave his life for Christ he wrote these words, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Tim 4:7 (NLT)
I don’t know a lot about racing, but I do know this much. You’ll never finish and you certainly won’t win that race if you don’t know where the finish line is. In Phil. 3 Paul reminds us that the race we’re supposed to be running is towards a growing maturity in Christ. Now he not only shows us the finish line, but he also gives us some mile markers along the way. This morning as we finish this series on the New Me, I want to point out 5 mile markers that you can use as a means of determining whether you’re heading in the right direction or not.
Read Phil. 3:12-14
Marker #1 – A Holy Dissatisfaction
Of all the people who should have been satisfied with their xian life or their spiritual maturity, you would think that Paul would be that guy. But just the opposite is true. Look at what he says in v.12. I’ve not achieved much and I’ve certainly not reached spiritual perfection. One of the more modern versions says, “I don’t have it all together spiritually speaking”. This is from a man who saw thousands saved under his ministry, who started churches in multiple countries, who performed miracles and had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. And yet he looked at his life and could legitimately said, “I’m not there yet, I’m not nearly as Christ-like as I should be.”
Why do you think the church is filled with so many people who seem to be satisfied with their spiritual progress? I think it’s a matter of perspective. You can remain self-satisfied as long as you compare yourself with the wrong person. As a believer you can always find somebody who’s not as far along the spiritual road as you are. They may struggle with certain sins that you’ve conquered years ago. And so when you compare your life with theirs – well you come out on top every time. Comparing yourself with other believers is a seductive way of remaining self-satisfied. If we’re not supposed to compare ourselves with one another, then who are we suppose to use as a model? Paul answers that question at the end of v.12 – “I’m working towards that day when I will finally be all Christ wants me to be.” There’s only one person that will lead us towards a true spiritual comparison and that’s Jesus Christ.