Summary: In our text in Phil 3:12-16, Paul’s not telling us how to be saved. He’s telling us how to live now that we are saved. We are not saved BY good works but we are saved TO good works.
Several times in the New Testament the Christian life is pictured as a race 1 Cor. 9:24-27 (ESV) says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Here, Paul talks about the discipline it takes to be a good runner, and we too must be disciplined in the spiritual life if we are going to win the spiritual race.
2 Tim. 4: 7 (ESV) says, “ 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Heb. 12:1 (ESV) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
In our text in Phil 3:12-16, Paul’s not telling us how to be saved. He’s telling us how to live now that we are saved. We are not saved BY good works but we are saved TO good works. Salvation is the work God does FOR us. Sanctification is the work God does IN us. Service is the work God does THROUGH us.
While I am preaching to you, I am preaching to myself. I want my life to count. I don’t want to waste my life. I don’t want to look back with regrets at the end and wish I would have done more for Christ. I want to hear my Savior say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” If that is to be, I need to do these four things.
First, we need to do an evaluation. Verse 12, 13a say, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.” Paul does an honest evaluation of his life. He is an old man, and he is facing death in prison. And Paul says, “I am not there yet. I am not perfect. I want to grab hold of what Christ saved me for. I want to be just like Jesus. And I’m not, so I’ve got to keep striving and straining.”
At the end of the year as we get ready to head into a New Year, it is a good time for all of us to do a self evaluation. All of us should be satisfied with Christ but not with ourselves. Regardless of how spiritual we have become, we all have a long way to go to catch up with Jesus.
We all need to do an evaluation and realize where we are in our Christian life. I am nowhere near where I want to be and need to be and in reality, should be.
I have met Christians who think they have it all together. They are so arrogant, so proud, and they go around nit picking everyone else and acting like everyone else doesn’t measure up to them. Paul wasn’t like that, and he was probably the greatest Christian who ever lived. But he didn’t think he was. The more he grew to be like Christ, the more humble he became.
Before he was saved, Paul considered himself perfect, faultless. He was a proud Pharisee. But now that he is saved, he sees that he is far from where he would like to be. Paul said in Phil 3:8, “I count all those things that I gained as rubbish compared to knowing Christ.”
What makes people satisfied with their Christian life is they compare themselves with others instead of comparing themselves with Christ. When you compare yourself with others who have not grown to where you are, you feel better about yourself than you should. You get puffed up and proud. Don’t compare yourself with anyone. Compare yourself only with Jesus Christ. None of us measure up to Him.
Do you know what sin is? It is the distance between you and the glory of God. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Unless you have gotten to the place that you are glorifying God in everything you do, you have sin in your life.
What we need to do is spend more time looking in the mirror of God’s Word. God’s Word is a mirror that reveals the true condition of our heart. So this year, let’s spend more time looking in that mirror. And when we do, God will reveal things in our lives that are not pleasing to Him.