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No matter how much we have behind us, Jesus calls us to move forward in Christlikeness.

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Pastor Tom spoke about starting off the New Year with 3 words: Strangers, Revealed, Holy

Introduction

If you could accomplish one thing this year without fail, what would it be?
If you knew your New Year’s resolution would continue past January 8th and actually be accomplished, what would you do?
This is about Sanctification
Philippians 3:12–16 ESV
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. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
(((There is something in front of us for the glory of God))

A Sanctified Dissatisfaction (12-13a)

(Realistic View of the Past)
Philippians 3:12 ESV
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.
Phil 3:12
What is the “this” and “it” that Paul is talking about here?
vs 10 - Paul talks about how he longs to know Jesus fully, to know the full perfection of the human experience that happens for believers upon their resurrection from the dead.
We, as believers, live in this strange tension of experiencing the power of the resurrection currently in our lives while we wait for the full expression of the resurrection life.
Obviously, Paul has not experienced the resurrection, nor has he experienced the full perfection of the Christian life here on earth
(some Philippians believed they had attained perfection)
Paul was living with a sanctified dissatisfaction - or a holy dissatisfaction
There is a difference between contentment in our identity in Christ and attainment our sanctification in Christ.
We can be satisfied in all that we are in Christ and still be dissatisfied with the fact that we are not yet like Christ.
A sanctified dissatisfaction is the first essential to progress in the Christian race.
Self-evaluation can be dangerous - we can think ourselves better than we really are or worse than we really are
This is neither legalism nor license.
Legalism states that I must do or not do certain things in order to be accepted or loved by Jesus.
License says because I am saved and accepted by the grace of Jesus, my actions don’t matter - whatever i do, Jesus will still accept me.
V. 12 - “Not that I have already obtained this . . . but I press on. . .

Neither our failures nor our successes are reasons to stop moving forward.

Neither our failures nor our successes are reasons to stop moving forward.

Let this sink in. There is no reason to not move forward.
You cannot mess up enough that Jesus will not forgive and call you to take the next step in following him. Neither can you be so godly that there is not another step to become more like Jesus. We are all walking together.
Paul had some of the greatest successes and as one who would chase down Christians and have them killed just for following Jesus, he had some pretty bad failures.
We can be satisfied in all that we are in Christ and still be dissatisfied with the fact that we are not yet like Christ.
Jesus called us to “Follow Him” - this implies movement. Whether you’ve been walking with Jesus for an hour or for seventy years there is always a next step.
To all of this Paul says,
Philippians 3:8 ESV
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Sadly, there are many in the church that seem to think the Christian life comes with cruise control.
Many Christians think they are ok and are simply on “cruise control.” I fear that many of us simply compare ourselves to others who are not making as much progress as we are and so we are satisfied in our discipleship.
If Paul had had this mentality, according to his resume in the first half of this chapter, he would have been doing pretty well.
Instead, Paul says,
Philippians 3:8 ESV
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
A sanctified dissatisfaction is the first essential to progress in the Christian race.
Jesus called us to “Follow Him” - this implies movement. Whether you’ve been walking with Jesus for an hour or for seventy years there is always a next step.
Self-evaluation can be dangerous - we can think ourselves better than we really are or worse than we really are
This is neither legalism nor license.
Legalism states that I must do or not do certain things in order to be accepted or loved by Jesus.
License says because I am saved and accepted by the grace of Jesus, my actions don’t matter - whatever i do, Jesus will still accept me.

Jesus reveals we are not perfect, and Jesus redeems us for perfection.

So, you’re not perfect. If you were unaware of this, simply slide your worship guide notes to your spouse and I’m sure they will be more than willing to give you an itemized list of exactly how you are NOT like Jesus.
Don’t worry, you’re in good company here. The good news is none of us here are perfect. Even the great missionary and apostle Paul knew he was not perfect.
Paul says he himself is not perfect , but I love what he says about his motivation for moving forward toward maturity:
Philippians 3:8 ESV
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:13 ESV
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
Philippians 3:12 ESV
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.
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Many Christians are self-satisfied because they compare their
ILLUST - many of the cars today have radar cruise control, emergency braking assist, lane departure assist, and hands-free parallel parking. All of this is to allow you to do as little as possible to make you as comfortable as possible.
Sadly, there are many in the church that seem to think the Christian life comes with cruise control.
Many Christians think they are ok and are simply on “cruise control.” I fear that many of us simply compare ourselves to others who are not making as much progress as we are and so we are satisfied in our discipleship.
If Paul had had this mentality, according to his resume in the first half of this chapter, he would have been doing pretty well.
Philippians 3:8 ESV
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Jesus called us to “Follow Him” - this implies movement. Whether you’ve been walking with Jesus for an hour or for seventy years there is always a next step.
Paul had a single-minded pursuit when it came to his next step:

A Single-minded Pursuit (13b-14)

(Focused View of the Future)
one thing - three parts
V13 - “one thing I do”
> What are your distractions?
For many of us, distraction can be just as dangerous as deception - both keep us from moving forward in a Jesus-first life.
Distractions can be deadly.
ILLUST - Lady at Berskshire Mall who was distracted by texting and fell into a fountain.
She was so distracted by her virtual world that it affected the way she walked.
I think how Satan would love nothing more than to do the same for us - have us so distracted by the world around us that it affects our walk with Jesus - and we fall.
She was replying to a text from someone from her church
> What are the things that keep you from moving forward in your sanctification? From moving forward in a Jesus-first life? What are your distractions?
Heart test: Do you long to know Christ fully? Is it the most important part of your life? Seriously, would you give up your career, your accomplishments, your privileges as an American in 21st C., your income, etc.
If the answer is “no,” the affections of your heart are either deceived or distracted. You either don’t truly know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or your heart has become distracted and your affections drawn away.
> What will you do to remove those distractions this year? Do you have a plan in place? Do you have someone to tell to walk with you? Trust me, if you try to go it alone in secret you’re most likely to fail.
Good intentions has killed more New Years resolutions than fresh Amish crack. Any good fitness coach will tell you you need a plan and a partner - that’s discipleship.
So, how are you planning to make this year any different in your walk with Jesus than last year?
(Personal Discipleship Plan?)
Paul says, “One thing I do. . . “ He has a singular focus with a three-fold formula:

Forget the past.

forgetting what lies behind

V13 - “Forgetting what lies behind. . .” Lit. “One thing! Forgetting what lies behind.”
”to forget” does not mean failing to have the ability to remember; instead it means choosing not to remember.
You can’t move forward while looking in the past.
ILLUST - it’s like driving down the road while looking in the rear view mirror. No one plows forward while looking back.
What is Paul forgetting? He is obviously not forgetting how God has provided for him in the past. He is not forgetting those things that shaped him into the person that he is.
Paul is choosing to lay aside those things in his past which would distract him from moving forward toward a Jesus-first life. They could be failures or successes.
Usually, most of us either regret or relish the past. There are moments on which we look back and cringe - whether it is something we did or it was something done to us, and there are those moments on which we look back and smile, but either way, you cannot live there.
Paul writes in V 8,

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
Paul’s past accomplishments are not shabby, but he chooses not to let them distract him - he considers them as poop.
future orientation
Paul chooses not to look back, instead , he talks about:

Face forward.

V 13b - “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”
ILLUST - have you ever run a race? Maybe not officially but even as a kid? Ever push yourself so hard that you know about it later? You strain yourself to win?
The term “straining forward” is an athletic term describing the runner leaning forward to cross the line first. He is focusing all he has on the goal.
Christianity is NOT a spectator sport!
V. 14 “ I press on . . .”
This is not a casual pursuit. This is the same word Paul uses to describe how passionately he pursued his life before Christ.
V 6 - “As to zeal, a persecutor of the church. . . “

5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

You don’t get much more zealous against the church than to be a persecutor of the church.
Paul uses the same word to describe his extreme zeal for the law which led to him being a persecutor (“persecutor”) as he does his pursuit of Christ now (“press on”).
> What if we were a people that pursued our walk with Jesus with the same intensity as we pursue other areas of our life (golf, career, music, etc). What would the church look like if we poured the same amount of time and energy in pursuing Jesus.
What do you need to get you to that place?
“I press!” This same verb is translated “I follow after” in , and it carries the idea of intense endeavor. The Greeks used it to describe a hunter eagerly pursuing his prey. A man does not become a winning athlete by listening to lectures, watching movies, reading books, or cheering at the games. He becomes a winning athlete by getting into the game and determining to win! The same zeal that Paul employed when he persecuted the church (), he displayed in serving Christ. Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christians put as much determination into their spiritual life as they do their golfing, fishing, or bowling? (Bible Expositor Commentary)
Christianity is NOT a spectator sport!
Again, there are two inherent dangers: I can do it all or God should do it all.
“Let go and let God” is as silly as the quarterback saying “Let go and let the coach” or ”Forget the coach and let me!”

Focus on the prize.

Jesus is the goal
“Prize”
What’s a race without a prize?
ILLUST - for some of us guys, we just need a “I bet I can beat you challenge” and even if it is over hot coals - it’s on! If you’re my wife, as she says, she’s not running even if bad men are chasing her.
The greater the prize the more we will be willing to sacrifice, the less we will let distractions keep us from the prize.
Jesus is the prize for which Paul will give up everything else. Jesus is worth it.
Paul says the prize is “The upward call of God in Christ Jesus” or as another translation calls it, “The heavenly prize.”
The prize toward which we run is heaven, the completion of all your joys, the death of all your pain, the satisfaction of all your desires.
“Goal”
ILLUST - How far would you run if the prize at the end was guaranteed money for the rest of your life. One race and your set - you don’t even need to come in first, just finish well.)
It’s for this prize that Paul says he presses on toward the goal - if he hits the goal he gets the prize.
The goal is faithfulness.
ILLUST - How far would you run if the prize at the end was guaranteed money for the rest of your life. One race and your set - you don’t even need to come in first, just finish well.)

Faithful Steps (15-16)

(Measured View of Each Step)
Philippians 3:15 ESV
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
I love the irony

Increase your faith.

I love the irony - “Let those who are mature realize we are not yet really mature.”
I think this is what Paul is saying here:
The goal for which we strive to win the prize is faithfulness - my goal is not to beat you, it’s not to see if I can coast in with the least amount of faith and the most amount of sin, those are all distractions. My goal is faithfulness.
The only way to be faithful is to look to Christ, the one toward whom my faith is aimed.
As I do this, I realize how immature I really am and I strive with all the passion within me toward a Jesus-first life.
The grace of God in all of this is even if I don’t fully understand it, God will reveal it to me.
If my affections are not drawn to Jesus, if I don’t really desire to make Jesus the aim of my life, God can change that!!!!
“reveal” = apokalupto - God discloses what I cannot know.
We can go to God and ask him to change our affections, to make us want to want him! God can increase our faith.
ILLUST - - Right after Transfiguration - (we see) perhaps the most obvious sign that Jesus is the Messiah - Jesus meets a father whose son is demon-possessed who struggles with his faith - “I believe, help my unbelief!” And Jesus does.
The fact that you don’t feel God does not mean God cannot reach you - I pray God will reveal that to you also.

Maintain your faithfulness.

Only” - Lit, “In light of all of this. . .”
Paul says we are to “hold true to what we have attained” - we are to move forward.
The verb “hold true” means to live a life in agreement to what we have attained.
We are to be faithful to the steps we have taken and we are to set our sights to move forward.

Conclusion

The real question today, at the beginning of the year, 2018, the Year of Connections - Fresh connections with God and each other, is what is your next step in a Jesus-first life? Do you have a plan for moving forward? If not, why not?
We have no excuse to not move forward and every reason to take the next step.
2018 is our Year of Connections - Fresh connections with God and each other.
((Pray))
(((There is something in front of us for the glory of God))
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