Summary: Conflict is unavoidable and spiritual conflict is no different. This message looks at how Paul deals with spiritual conflict amongst the religious and how we still today battle between being religious and being saved by faith alone.
Part 6- Conquering Conflict
Pastor Ryan Akers
Have you ever felt like no matter what you do you will never be good enough?
Job- no matter how hard you work, how many extra hours you put in, how much you give up to be the best you always seem to get passed over for promotions, or your boss never says good job or thank you. Or you can never quite do enough to get on your co-worker’s good side.
Relationships- People put these expectations out there and you do your best to meet those expectations although they are typically unrealistic. But no matter how hard you try that friend or boyfriend or spouse is never satisfied. They never think you’re doing enough. Some of you probably had parents who were never happy with you. They always had a yeah but for you. “I got an A- on my paper!” “Yeah but it could have been an A+.” “I got accepted to so and so college!” “Yeah but you could have gone here.” “I did my chores and got everything done on time.” “Yeah but you didn’t do this.” We like to put yeah buts on people. (Guilty of doing that to my wife- work all day to clean the house and take care of the kids, yeah but there is still some stuff laying on the table or yeah but dinner isn’t ready.)
This feeling of never being good enough seems to come up in some form or another in most everyone’s life. No matter what we do and no matter how hard we work there is just some people who it’s never good enough for. Unfortunately this feeling of not being good enough more often than not enters into our own spiritual lives.
More people than you would think have this tremendous fear that they are not good enough for God because they aren’t doing enough. It is a tremendous spiritual conflict that happens between spirit and flesh. My spirit says I am saved by faith in Jesus but by flesh says I am not good enough because I’m not following all the rules. And because they aren’t good enough and following all the rules then they are going to go to hell. We seem to get this mental image of God standing over the earth watching his creation waiting for us to mess up so that he can punish us. We picture God as that husband or the father who looks at us with contempt and disappointment and who is never satisfied and who’s given us the yeah buts’. When we think like this there then grows a motivation in us not out of love but out of fear to make sure we are doing enough so that God will love us.
We become driven by a works based faith, which is heavy into religion instead of a faith-based relationship. Our thinking becomes, “If I go to church God will love me.” “If I give money God will love me.” “If I’m a nice guy and work hard at my job then God will love me.” “If I just follow His commands then God will love me.” Our standing with God is now determined by us and our personal accomplishments rather than by God through repentance, grace, faith, forgiveness and sanctification. Even those who don’t have a relationship with God have this natural human instinct in them that convinces them that if they are a good enough person and help enough people and mind their own business that God will let them into heaven or they’ll be reincarnated into a good life or they will become enlightened.
Paul had to deal with those who gave the yeah buts’ a lot in his ministry. They were the religious. Jesus called them a brood of vipers, whitewashed tombs. Paul was one of them. Works based faith with a lot of yeah buts’, legalism, rituals, traditions. In Philippians 3 Paul gives his readers warning to watch out for those who think like this and instead grab hold of truth, which is found not in religion but in an authentic, grace filled, sanctified, life-transforming relationship with Jesus.
Philippians 3:1- Whether we live or die, fail or succeed, suffer or experience peace all believers should continue to rejoice. Keep your hope centered on Christ. For it is continual growing faith in Christ which produces peace in the midst of suffering and conflict. When we rejoice in Christ we will always be reminded of God’s grace to us. His forgiveness of our sins. His love for us. The proof of that love by Christ sacrificial and atoning death on the cross and the promises of God which say he will never leave us or forsake us. When your trust is fully in God then you will experience great joy and be able to rejoice in life because you have a full understanding that regardless of what is happening to you God is in complete control of your circumstances. He knows what’s going on and He will see you through your current valley of pain. Paul says, “I never get tired of telling you these things.” We are in the middle of this letter and Paul is basically giving us a review of what he has already said to us over the last 6 weeks and what he has written in previous letters to other churches. We should never get tired of hearing them. So often we forget God’s most basic promises of provision, forgiveness, love. That’s when the thoughts begin to enter our minds that God is punishing us or that we aren’t doing enough to please God, which is why we are experiencing what we are. We all need to be constantly reminded every week of God’s grace, love, forgiveness of sins. We need to be reminded everyday of Jesus and who Jesus is and what he did. It is that constant reminder of God’s love for us that keeps us moving forward both in life and in our relationship with the Father. It keeps us living for him and trusting in him.