Summary: Paul had a great longing to be like his Lord. We as modern-day Christians should have that same consuming desire to be like Jesus.
LONGING FOR THE LIKENESS OF THE LORD
Text: Ps.17: 15; Phil.3: 8, 9
Intro: Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “longing” as a “strong desire; yearning.” It almost goes without saying that everyone has strong desires of one sort or another. And the list of things for which people desire is endless. It seems sometimes that man spends his whole life simply trying to satisfy, fulfill, and obtain that for which his heart yearns.
Though desires and yearnings are not evil in and of themselves, you can tell a lot about a person by what they yearn for in their life. The desires that are the driving force of their life will determine that for which they expend the largest portion of their time, energies and resources. For instance, those who desire great riches will often work long hours to the detriment of their family relationships, and even their own health and well being. They might even develop plots and schemes to obtain the riches they seek.
This principle could be applied to many other areas of life, not just money. We could have mentioned power, prestige, or physical concerns. The point is, what you long for in this life says something about who you are, and what controls your life. And in that light, this principle is no less true in our spiritual lives. If we really desire to walk with God, it will be evident in how we spend the resources of our lives.
Paul the apostle was a man having one basic desire. That singularity of desire is very evident in our text from Philippians. Paul simply wanted his life to take on the characteristics of Christ. And all the resources of his life were dedicated to that end. If we are to be what God wants us to be, we must have an all-consuming desire to be like Jesus. That is the only thing that will make this life truly worthwhile. Notice with me today Paul’s Longing For The Likeness Of The Lord.
Theme: Paul’s great desire for the likeness of Christ in his life is seen in:
I. PAUL’S LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH
A. Paul Realized That The Flesh Was Weak.
1. Paul warned the Philippians of the Judaizers’ fleshly character.
Phil.3: 1 “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”
NOTE:  Paul referred to the Judaizers as “dogs.” This was a term of reproach due to the fact that in Paul’s day, dogs were vicious, unclean, and starved scavengers. He used this terminology to describe their moral and spiritual character. Their sole desire was to prove their own righteousness by trying to keep the Law of Moses.
 Paul also referred to the Judaizers as “evil workers.” They taught that salvation, as well as pleasing God, depended on keeping the Law, and faith in Christ. But the truth of the matter is the works of the flesh are always evil, even though they may be religious works.
 Paul then uses a third term to describe the Judaizers. He refers to them as the “concision.” This word actually means “mutilation.” In essence, Paul was saying that the Judaizers’ theology was a mutilation of the truth. One cannot be rightly related to God by faith, plus works.
2. Paul indicated that the flesh couldn’t be counted on, in living for Christ.
Matt.26: 41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Phil.3: 3 “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
NOTE: The “flesh,” or “sin nature” of man, cannot please God. Even the supposed “good works” performed in the flesh are usually done with a selfish or sinful motive in mind. Mark Bubeck offers this pertinent explanation:
The flesh is a built-in law of failure, making it impossible for the natural man to please or serve God. It is a compulsive inner force inherited from man’s fall, which expresses itself in general and specific rebellion against God and His righteousness. The flesh can never be reformed or improved. The only hope for escape from the law of the flesh is its total execution and replacement by a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mark Bubeck, The Adversary, Moody Press, p. 28.
B. Paul Realized That The Flesh Was Wicked.
Rom.7: 18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
NOTE: Many years ago, a Scottish Jesuit priest expressed to John Knox, his great frustration and confusion over the inconsistencies of his life. The following was Knox’s suggested prayer: