Summary: In contrast to the works righteousness that Paul had been striving for before he became a Christian, Paul embraced the faith righteousness that comes through the grace of God by faith in Jesus.
A. When life goes well for people who do not know the Lord they feel elated.
1. When hard times come they sink into despair.
2. But true joy enables us to rise above the rolling waves of circumstance.
3. Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ.
4. When our lives are intertwined with Jesus, he is available to help us to walk above adversity without permanently sinking into debilitating lows and Jesus helps to manage the good times without moving into deceptive highs.
B. But joy can be disrupted by life’s trials and our own sinful tendencies.
1. One of those tendencies is the tendency to define our worth in terms of our own efforts and achievements.
2. The 19th-century Bible scholar G. S. Bowes pointed out the ultimate futility of ambition that isn’t accompanied by dedication to God.
3. Citing four powerful world rulers of the past, he wrote: “Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations. He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, and he died at an early age in a state of debauchery. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the knights he had slaughtered, committed suicide by swallowing poison. Few noted his passing, and he left this earth completely unmourned. Julius Caesar, ‘staining his garments in the blood of one million of his foes,’ conquered 800 cities, only to be stabbed by his best friends at the scene of his greatest triumph. Napoleon, the feared conqueror, after being the scourge of Europe, spent his last years, in banishment.” No wonder Solomon warned of the poor prospects for anyone who strives to succeed without relying on God.” – [ H.G.B. Our Daily Bread, January 31 -//www.bible.org/illus/a/a-17.htm]
C. Charles Swindoll offers some advice in this area when he says, “Something within all of us warms up to human strokes. We are motivated to do more when our efforts are noticed and rewarded. That is why they make things like impressive trophies and silver platters and bronze plaques and gold medals…What does it do? It drives us to do more, to gain greater recognition, to achieve more valuable rewards, better pay, or higher promotions….But how easy it is to forget that not one of those accomplishments gives a person what he or she may lack deep within – that’s why they can’t bring lasting satisfaction. And much more importantly, none of them earns God’s favor.” [Charles Swindoll. Laugh Again: Experience Outrageous Joy. (Dallas: Word, 1991) pp. 126-127]
D. Today we are going to take note of one of the chief joy stealers of our day – the demands of human achievement.
1. This is a philosophy that is glorified in our day, the type A Personality – the workaholic.
2. As damaging as it may be in the work place and in society in general, it is spiritually deadly when it is applied to our relationship with God.
E. Two weeks ago, as we moved into chapter three of our study in Philippians, we explored the subject of learning what counts in our standing with God.
1. I explained that we would need two sermons to properly address the subject, and that the first sermon would be about works righteousness, and the second would be about faith righteousness.
2. In that first sermon, I began with a couple of stories that illustrated the danger of putting your confidence in something untrustworthy – like a non-existent parachute of the skydiving photographer, or the shady investments of Bernie Madoff.
3. We make the same mistake when we trust in something to save us that cannot save us.
F. The apostle Paul had found himself in that situation before he was a Christian.
1. Paul met Jesus on the Damascus Road and three days later he learned how to become a Christian, and so he put his trust in Jesus and was baptized into Christ.
2. A great transaction of the grace of God took place in Paul’s life, the kind that still takes place today whenever sinners admit their need and turn to their Savior by faith in repentance and baptism.
3. During Paul’s encounter with Jesus, he realized how futile were his good works, and how sinful were his claims of works righteousness.
4. Paul came to understand that we are saved not by our works (works righteousness), but by God’s grace through faith (faith righteousness).
5. In that wonderful transaction that took place when Paul became a Christian, he lost some things, but he gained much more than he lost!
I. Paul’s Losses (Phil. 3:7)
A. Paul wrote: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (3:7)
1. To begin with, Paul had to give up depending on whatever he had trusted in to improve his standing with God.