Summary: As Stephen Covey states, "begin with the end in mind"...doing this will assist us in finding God’s will and way for our lives.
Keeping My Eyes on the Prize
* Some of the most famous words that the Apostle Paul ever penned are found in his letter to the church at Philippi. In chapter 3:13-14 he writes, “ Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew he possessed eternal life because of his Damascus Road experience. Anytime his faith was called into question, he was ready to “give an answer for the hope” he had by describing the time he personally met Christ. Even in his security, Paul continually attempted to convey the need to “go on” for Christ, to mature in the Lord, walk in the Spirit, and press on.
* Please open your copy of God’s word to Romans 6. Last week we began this Chapter with Paul teaching about “Walking in a new Way of Life.” He exposed to us the flaws in some of our thinking, he enlightened us as to the truth of God’s word, he explained to us the implications, and he emphasized the actions of having this new life. Verse 14 ends with the implied, “IN CHRIST” we are not under law but under grace.
* Today we begin in verse 14 and immediately I get the impression that wants to make sure everyone understand what not under law but grace really means. Even a cursory reading these verses gives one the impression that Paul felt that the concept of “grace” was apt to be abused by those who didn’t understand or didn’t care to understand. You see, almost every time grace is extended, some will abuse it. (Let’s read)
* The year Pete Rose was about to break Ty Cobb’s all time hits record in spring training he was being interviewed. One reporter blurted out, “Pete, you only need 78 hits to break the record. How many at-bats do you think you’ll need to get the 78 hits?” Without hesitation, Pete just stared at the reporter and very matter-of- factly said, “78.” The reporter yelled back, “Ah, come on Pete, you don’t expect to get 78 hits in 78 at-bats do you?” Mr. Rose calmly shared his philosophy with the throngs of reporters who were anxiously awaiting his reply to this seemingly boastful claim. “Every time I step up to the plate, I expect to get a hit! If I don’t expect to get a hit, I have no right to step in the batter’s box in the first place!” “If I go up hoping to get a hit,” he continued, “then I probably don’t have a prayer to get a hit. It is a positive expectation that has gotten me all of the hits in the first place.”
* Pete, for all his faults and failure, made a choice to hustle, hit, and win. History records that, even with his shortcoming, he accomplished his goal because he kept his eyes on the prize. That is exactly what Paul is telling us, what Jesus showed us, and what our God expects of us. But let’s break down this thought and ask, “If I am to keep my eyes on the prize and press on, what does it mean for me?” I suggest from the text, four things.
Keeping My Eyes on the Prize – Pg 2
1. THE CHOICE I FACE. The fact that we make choices every day shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone. Every day, we decide what to eat, where to go, what to say, what to buy, and the list goes on. But the choices we make daily are NOT what Paul has in mind for here. Look in verses 15 & 16 and let Paul direct our thinking in a way which forces us to respond.
a. These verses begin with “what then?” Since in Christ we are under grace and not the law, what now? What does it mean? He then asks “should we” and “don’t we know?” Paul’s desire is to engage us with thought provoking questions which forces us to respond. And with our response comes a choice, a huge choice.
b. It is a choice which can be communicated in the simple question, “Whose slave are you?” Now, we don’t care to think of ourselves as “slaves” to anything or anyone, yet for some reason Paul uses this word 6 times in this passage. Additionally, Paul repeatedly uses this concept to identify his own position in Christ. The letters to Rome, Philippi, and Titus all begin with this “doulos” or slave, servant type of bond to Christ.
c. Having run around the truth that we are all slaves to something, the question becomes, “to whom or to what am I a slave?” According to verse 16, we are either slaves to sin or slaves to God. Please hear this, every person who has ever lived falls in one of these two categories. The choice we must make is whose we are. Some say, “I refuse to choose.” Yet, the Bible says, “Choose today, whom you will serve.” Others respond, “Two choices aren’t enough.” The Bible counters, “There are only two gates, one is wide and the other is narrow.” Still others protest, “It seems to me that I’ve found another way.” The divine response is, “There is a way which seems right to a man.”