Summary: This sermon deals with the need for Christians to find their joy in their relationship with God and not external circunstances.
May 10, 2004
I. I want to look at some things in the third chapter of the book of Philippians, but first I want to do a quick overview of what has gone on in the first two chapters.
A. In chapter 1 Paul encouraged the Philippians to go on living the Christian life. In other words to continue doing the things that God had laid out in his word that Christians were supposed to do.
B. In chapter 2 Paul used Timothy, Epaphroditus, and himself as examples of how to please God.
C. Then in chapter three Paul started to talk about something else. The thing that he talks about in chapter three is something that Christians still have a problem with today.
D. Thousands of years have not changed one of the greatest dangers to Christians. Paul lays out for the Christians in Phillipi that we are to have no confidence in the flesh.
E. The word flesh in the bible can mean a lot of different things.
1. It can mean the skin or the meat of animals.
2. It can be used to describe the human body.
3. A person can still be referred to as flesh even after they are dead.
(1 Sam 17:44 NIV) "Come here," he said, "and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"
4. The King James version of the bible uses the term "all flesh" to describe humanity as a whole. The NIV says the same thing with the words "all people."
5. The word flesh can also be used to describe a relationship. (Gen 2:23 NIV) The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ’woman, ’ for she was taken out of man."
F. And, many times the bible uses the word flesh to describe the basic weaknesses of the human nature. The word flesh is used to describe human beings tendency toward self-centeredness, and weakness and sin.
1. The spirit of God lives in us when we are Christians, but there is a sinful nature that is apart of being human, and the bible talks about that in terms of the flesh or our human weaknesses to decide, that what we want is best, or what looks easiest, or what we think will bring the most pleasure to us.
2. Romans chapter 8 verse 5 gives us a good description of that. (Rom 8:5 NIV) Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
(Gal 5:16 - 17 NIV) So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
3. The Greek word that was translated in the NIV as sinful nature was "sarx" which literally means flesh, or our humaness.
G. That is the thing that Paul is talking about in the third chapter of Phillipians. And, he tells us that we are not to put any confidence in the flesh. What he is saying is we are not to trust our own human desires as gauge for what is right, because our human desires are many times in conflict with the leadership of the Spirit.
II. Paul starts out his description of why we are not to rely on our own desires as a guide for what is right in a different way than we might think.
(Phil 3:1 NIV) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
A. Paul begins this passage about not putting confidence in the flesh by telling the Phillipians, and us, to rejoice in the Lord.
B. That is a good place to start. So many times we look for our joy in life in what we have, or what we can do, or in our own abilities to make life the way that we want it to be, when all the time real joy only comes from our faith in and relationship with God.
C. When our confidence is in ourselves and our ability to make life always be the way that we want it to be, we set ourselves up for a life of no Joy.