Summary: This is a New Year's message based on Philippians 3. Paul had looked back at his life in Judaism, and realized he still needed to be growing to become more like Christ.


Philippians 3:2-14

Greenmount and O’Leary Churches of Christ

January 01, 2016

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1.) On this New Year’s Day we reflect on both the past and also the future.

2.) Because we have been given the privilege of entering into another year of life we can resolve to changing and improving in one or more areas of life.

3.) If I was to make a prayer for the New Year it would be “May I be More Like Christ in this New Year!”

A.) May all that I am and do in this new year be a reflection of Jesus Christ.

4.) A little more than a century ago Charles Gabriel penned a hymn expressing that which could be our prayer for the New Year:

More like the Master I would ever be,

More of His meekness, more humility;

More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,

More consecration for work He bids me do.

Take Thou my heart, I would be Thine alone;

Take Thou my heart and make it all Thine own.

Purge me from sin, O Lord, I now implore,

Wash me and keep me Thine forevermore.

A.) If we would be more like Christ we must realize:


1.) Religious heritage can be an obstacle in our relationship with Christ.

A.) It was for Saul of Tarsus whom we know better as Paul the Apostle.

aa.) If there was anyone who could have boasted about his Jewish heritage it would have been the Apostle Paul.

aaa.) Philippians 3:4-5

ab.) Certainly among the Jewish people few would have excelled in the Jewish faith more than the Apostle Paul.

ac.) I would be surprised if Paul did not have times even after coming to Christ when he was tempted to take pride in his religious heritage.

aca.) Even though Paul had the goal of living for Christ, he may have had times when human pride caused him to think back of his glory days in Judaism.

.01) After all, his former days as a Pharisee would have been days he would have received much honour and praise from the people as one who had his act altogether spiritually.

B.) Our stories may be different than Paul’s, but our religious heritage can also be an obstacle in developing a closer relationship with Christ.

ba.) Most of us in this room are at least second or third generations of an active faith and involvement in the Church.

baa.) We can rejoice that the faith of our fathers has also extended to us and our families as well.

bb.) Though there is a great blessing in this, it can be a source of pride that can be an obstacle to our developing a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

bba.) We do not have to come from a Jewish background to have a pride in our religious heritage.

.01) Even as Christians we can be hindered in our own spiritual walk because of pride.

2.) Religious zeal can also be an obstacle in our relationship with Christ.

A.) Before coming to Christ Paul certainly had religious zeal.

aa.) There would not have been too many as zealous or excited about their faith as Saul of Tarsus.

ab.) Yet in Saul’s zeal, he went to the point of persecuting the church, and killing Christians.

aba.) Many can have a religious zeal, but that in and of itself does not bring one closer to Christ unless it is a zeal focussed on intimacy with Christ.

3.) Religious service can be an obstacle in our relationship with Christ.

A.) Saul was certainly active in religious service.

aa.) He spoke of himself as a Pharisee of the Pharisees.

ab.) In many ways the Pharisees were the ones who tried to protect Judaism from becoming liberal.

aba.) Certainly, in this role, Paul would have been very active in religious service.

abb.) In some ways Paul’s commitment to religious service was an obstacle to a close relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

B.) Like the Apostle of old, Christians can become so active in the church and the ministry of the church that it is possible to miss the goal of drawing near to Christ.

ba.) As we come into this New Year, our focus must be Christ and Christ alone!

4.) Religious regrets can be an obstacle in our relationship with Christ.

A.) Through the years, I have found that some Christians have religious regrets that are allowed to become obstacles to a close relationship with Christ.

B.) By religious regrets I am referring to the inability to forgive ourselves for sins and wrongs we have done.

ba.) While Christians can on some level accept the forgiveness of Christ, there are those who cannot come to forgive themselves.

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