Summary: We should be motivated both by our promised reward and by the consistent example of faithful Christians such as Paul. Like them, let us “press toward the mark of prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14)
LIVING IN CHRIST
(Philippians 1:12-26; 2:1-13; 3:7-21; 4:4-19)
PRESSING ON in CHRIST
A. The peace of Progress
The title of today’s message is “Pressing On in Christ.” part 3 in our sermon series Living In Christ. Through this text we will know something of what it takes to remain faithful to Christ when they feel like giving up. Using images from the athletic world. Paul will inspire to run in the face of weariness. We should be motivated both by our promised reward and by the consistent example of faithful Christians such as Paul. Like them, let us “press toward the mark of prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14)
Illustration: Traffic jam
As Christian we are on the way toward the home prepared for us by the Lord who has gone before. But are we really moving in the right direction? Or have we stalled in our progress? Is it possible that some difficulty has moved us away from, rather toward the Lord who waits to welcome us home? Today’s text from Philippians 3:7-21 points us to the way of progress and peace, guaranteed to get us home safely under the direction of Jesus.
B. Sermon Background
Chapter 1 present Jesus as the focus and goal of Paul’s life: “For me to live is Christ” (v.21). Chapter 2 presents Christ as the perfect example of self-sacrificing spirit that will build the Church in peace and unity.
Chapter 3 opens with an exhortation to “rejoice in the Lord.” Then Paul warns of certain false teachers who are encouraging people to put their “confidence in the flesh” rather than in Christ. He proceed to list some of the items in his background that gave him reason to be proud of.
1. The Goal Is Christ (3:7-11)
In verses 5 and 6 the apostle has noted that his “bragging rights” in relation to the Jewish law were far better than those of others who depended on the law for the acceptance of God.
A. Counting Everything Loss (vv.7-8) Paul recognized that any part of his background or reputation that encouraged reliance on anything but Christ for his salvation was a handicap to him. The more desirable those items had been, the greater would be their potential to become a hindrance. They must now move from the “profit” side of his personal and spiritual ledger to the loss side for the sake of his relationship with Christ.
So, Paul here is talking about a business transaction that involved a profit column and a loss column. There were certain things which he felt were in the profit column which he switched over to the loss column when he met Christ. In fact, he says very clearly in verse 7, "Whatever things were profit, those things I have counted as loss." Now what you have here is a transaction. You have the Apostle Paul spending a life time accumulating spiritual profits and filling up a column of spiritual profit banking on that column of spiritual profit to earn him salvation.
And what Paul is saying is that I am willing to give up trusting what was once valuable to me as a means of salvation to trust Christ instead. It is an exchange and that’s what salvation is. It is self-denial. Jesus said, "Deny yourself and follow Me." In other words, consider all that you have attained as useless, worthless and follow Me
A Christian should ask himself occasionally which of his “assets” have become liabilities because they compete with Christ for top priority in his time and attention.
Read verse 8.
To know and serve and be with Christ is a blessing so great as to be sought at any and all costs. It begins with considering the information about Jesus found in the gospels; it moves to an acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord; it then grows into the kind of intimacy described by Paul as the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. Thus does one become prepared for the further intimacy of an eternity with Jesus.
Note that Paul was not promising some price that he would pay; he was giving a sober account of what he had already paid. His position in the Jewish community; his family and friends; his home with all its comforts and security- these and other assets has been tossed aside that he might win Christ.
“Whenever something is of tremendous value to you, and you cherish its beauty or power or uniqueness, you want to draw other’s attention to it and waken in them the same joy. That is why Paul’s all consuming goal in life was for Christ to be magnified.” (Don’t Waste your Life, pp.65 – john piper)