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Summary: Our own doings can not make us right before God. For only Christ's righteousness, which is yours by faith alone, stands in God's courtroom. A. All other gains are garbage. B. Your faith knows the power of Christ's resurrection. C. You strain forward

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Text: Philippians 3:8-14

Theme: In Losing Everything, You've Gained Christ's Righteousness

A. All other gains are garbage

B. Your faith knows the power of Christ's resurrection

C. You strain forward toward your resurrection sharing in Christ's suffering

Season: Lent 5c

Date: March 21, 2010

Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/In-Losing-Everything,-You_ve-Gained-Christ_s-Righteousness-Philippians3_8-14.html

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God which the Holy Spirit gave to the Apostle Paul to write to bring us Christ and his righteousness is Philippians 3.

"Therefore moreover I am considering all a loss because of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I was made to lose everything (and I consider those things garbage) in order that I gained Christ and was found in him, not having my own righteousness from law but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness from God based on faith, that is, to know him both the power of his resurrection and the fellowship with his suffering, being conformed to his death, if I will arrive at the resurrection from the dead in some way.

"Not that I already took it or already have been made complete, but I press on if I will also take hold, because I've been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not reckon that I myself have taken hold, but one thing: forgetting what is behind and stretching forward toward the goal, I press on to the prize which comes from God's calling heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:8-14

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

A lifetime of work, countless hours of effort, all gone in a flash. I'm not talking of a wall street trader losing his fortune, or a politician's career ruined in scandal, or a sport star's fame tarnished by drugs. I'm talking about Saul, also known as Paul. He was a rising star, born into a good family and trained in the best schools. He had the drive to make things happen and outstanding morals on top of it all. He could have gone far in the Jewish leadership.

But that all changed on his way to Damascus. He lost everything -- not to bandits or some freak accident, but to Jesus. "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to" (or more precisely "because of") "the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ . . ." (Philippians 3:8 NIV). In losing all that he had thought made him great and good and right in God's sight, he gained Christ and the righteousness that comes from Christ alone.

That's the miracle Jesus worked in Paul, and that, dear friends, is the miracle he has worked in your heart through Baptism and his word. In losing everything, you've gained Christ's righteousness. That's the theme we ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen our hearts with as we inwardly digest this word of God before us in Philippians 3.

A. All other gains are garbage

1. What's life like before Christ's righteousness becomes our own?

What's life like before Jesus, before Christ's righteousness becomes our own? The conscience in all of us drives us on to do what is right and good. Often sinful desires in people win out, so that they do what is bad even though their conscience condemns them for it. But that can give them all the more incentive to do good to make up for the bad and ease their guilt.

Now in his early life, Paul eager sought to do the good that his conscience dictated. He even had God's laws given to Moses at Mt. Sinai to direct his conscience. He was convinced that what he did was good and made him right in God's sight.

That's righteousness that comes from law. It comes from what we do, our obedience to the commandments. It's the righteousness that Paul in his early life strove to gain. Yes, because those Christians were worshiping this Jesus as their God and that obviously broke the commandment to have no other gods -- or so Paul thought at that time -- he hunted down the Christians, thinking that would make him even more right in God's sight.

How that all changed in a flash! When that same Jesus appeared to him in his divine glory near Damascus, all that Paul imagined he had gained for his credit before God vanished as garbage. Yes, even the good things he had done weren't right enough to stand up before the holy God who judges with unadulterated pureness and piercing justice. All was garbage and loss.

For you see, dear friends, if we are holding on to anything hoping it will help make us right before God, then we are not holding on to Christ's righteousness. The only way that we gain Christ's righteousness is to lose everything else as any kind of hope for making us right before God, counting all those things as garbage. Only in losing everything, do we gain Christ's righteousness.

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