Faithlife Sermons

Philippians - Own It

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:09
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We live in a world where people are slow to own up to things. Some actually never seem to own up to anything. Whether the thing is good or bad, people are noncommittal on big issues. Ask someone what they believe about God or religion or politics and many people will start stammering and spend most of their time being apologetic for what they believe. They oftentimes will appear to talk themselves out of what they believe as they attempt tell you what they believe!
How would you respond if someone asked what you believe to be true about God, Jesus, heaven, or hell? Would you try to brush off the question? Would you stammer around trying not to be offensive? Or would you kindly and graciously reveal the truth of the Word of God to them and share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? In other words...would you Own It?
Join me as we read Philippians 3:12-16
Philippians 3:12–16 ESV
12 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. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Today we are going to discuss a section of Scripture that is all about persevering despite our inability to be perfect this side of eternity. How do we continue to own up to our faith? Sometimes people think of owning up to something in the negative sense of the word. Like admitting to a mistake. This phrase can also mean confessing something. For us as believers, we are to confess our faith in Jesus Christ and persevere despite trials. And we are going to discuss three reasons why we can do this:

I. Believers Can Own Up to Their Faith…Despite Their Failings (12a, 12c, 13a)

Philippians 3:12–13 (ESV)
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect......because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.... (Verses 12a, 12c, 13a)
These first two points run from verses 12-14 and overlap. Pardon me for the choppy verse splices but they help us see the points that Paul is trying to make.
Paul had just finished teaching what we discussed last week. He had just discussed counting everything as loss or rubbish or trash in comparison to the surpassing worth of Christ. If you recall he ended verse 11 with discussing the resurrection power that we talked about last week.
So when he starts off verse 12 saying ‘not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect,’ we understand that he is saying that he has not obtained the resurrection of the dead. He is not living in perfect harmony with Jesus Christ. He has not obtained perfect sanctification or perfection.
In verse 13 we see him echo this same idea - I do not consider that I have made it my own. He knows that he still makes mistakes. He has failed time and time again. Despite how hard he works for Christ, he understands that he has not reached full perfection.
I love the humility Paul lays out here. If anyone had reasons to boast in the fact that they were closer to perfection than others, Paul was that guy. He had been a devout keeper of the law prior to being saved. And now as a Christian, he was zealous and went on missionary journeys throughout much of the known world to spread the Gospel. If anyone could look around and say they had arrived at perfection - Paul was that guy. Just ponder the list of qualifications we saw last week in Phil 3:4-6!
Yet he sees his sin and imperfection. He refuses to look around at those running the race to his right and left and behind him. He refuses to be content with being better than so and so. Instead he uses the measure of Jesus Christ and realizes that he is light-years away from where he is called to be.
Brothers and sisters, do we have this kind of humility? Or do we oftentimes feel pretty good about where we are because, in relation to some others, we are doing pretty good. There is only one measuring rod when we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ - and that is Christ’s perfection. Don’t look to your right or left or at who is behind you. Look above. Strive after Him.
This weight can feel very heavy if we leave it right there. Are we really to compare ourselves to Christ? But He was perfect and how could we ever compete with perfection! But Paul adds in a very important point in the third part of verse 12 - because Christ Jesus has made me his own. That is some amazing news my friends! Although the measuring rod is perfection and we are called to be holy as Christ is holy - there is wonderful news among this calling of perfection.
This wonderful news, or good news of the Gospel, lets us know that Jesus Christ has lived the perfect life on our behalf! We are saved by grace through faith in Him and Him alone. He took our sins on the cross and rose from the dead three days later and now intercedes for us. When we repent, or turn away from our sins, and place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ - his righteous perfection is placed upon us - the fancy word for this is imputed. When God looks at us - He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ!
In summary, we are seen as perfect despite our failings. We are seen as perfect because through our weakness his power and glory are even more clearly revealed. 2 Corinthians 12:9
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Our boasting is in Christ and Him alone!
Scripture References: Philippians 3:4-6, 2 Corinthians 12:9

II. Believers Can Own Up to Their Faith…Because of Their Future (12b, 13b-14)

Philippians 3:12–14 (ESV)
12 .......but I press on to make it my own......13 ......But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Verses 12b, 13b-14)
Paul presses on to make it his own and strains toward what lies ahead.
These two verbs are intense in nature. To press on is the Greek word, diōkō (dee-o-ko), and can be used as to pursue or hunt intently. It can also mean to cause to run. Then we come to the word straining forward, which is from the Greek word, epekteinomai -(ep-eck-teen-no-may), which is the idea of what someone does at the end of a race when they get to the finish line. If you watch runners, they will stretch foreword to try to win the race. Sometimes the race can be decided by milometers and only one more ounce of energy stretching forward can be the determining factor of who wins the race.
As you can see, Paul uses some very intense verbs when discussing how he purses this goal. But what exactly is this goal? It is the upward call of God in Jesus Christ. The goal is eternity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul has hope for his future. He knows that he is saved through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Christ has made Paul his own. This is the hope that Paul has for his future resurrection and perfection in Christ. He has not fully finished his race on earth, but he knows that Christ has finished His work on the cross. Paul’s sins have been atoned for and covered by the blood of Christ. He has a blessed hope for his future because he knows the prize of the resurrection and eternal life with Christ is sure.
This isn’t a prize that has similar odds of winning Publisher’s Clearing House (which I think is somewhere around 1:6.2 billion)! The prize of eternal life with Christ is 100% for those who are true believers! Praise God for such a glorious and wonderful prize that He offers us!
Philippians 3:13 (ESV)
13 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,
We skipped over a very important statement in verse 13 that we need to dig in a little deeper to understand.
Forgetting what lies behind - we all have a past. Some of us have a darker past than others. Some of us leave behind quite a lot of wreckage in our lives. Paul was one of these guys. He had persecuted many Christians. He had many killed and imprisoned. He had railed against the church over and over again. He understood the guilt and shame of a life bent on rebellion against God. In fact he called himself the worst of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15
1 Timothy 1:15 ESV
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
Do you read these words and struggle to press on and strain forward because you see what lies behind in your past?
I pray that you are able to see that the forgiveness from Christ covers all past sins. If it can cover Paul’s sins, it can cover yours as well. There is nothing too bad in your past that can’t be forgiven by Christ. Yet, we have to forget what lies behind and press on toward the prize of eternal life with Christ. We cannot be effective if we spend our time looking back.
If I might be so direct here for a moment...When we look back and continue to allow the guilt and shame of our past to choke our present life - it really isn’t humility at all. It is pride. We think that we are too bad for Christ to save us.
It is pride and sin to state that you are too far gone or too sinful for Christ to save.
Pardon the boldness and intensity of this following statement, but do you not understand how utterly blasphemous that statement is!
Brother or sister - Christ has no limit to His power of forgiveness. You need to get over yourself and let go of your past and move forward to Christ. His arms are open wide to embrace you. Quit worshiping at the altar of shame and guilt and worship the God of second chances. The God of forgiveness. Jesus Christ took all of our sin and shame my friends. He lived a sinless life that we couldn't live. And He suffered a gruesome death on our behalf to cover our guilt and shame and take away our sins.
Do you believe that Jesus is God made flesh? Do you believe that He is all powerful? Do you believe that salvation is in no other name by Christ? I pray that you do. But I also pray that you live like it. Do not blaspheme the name of the Lord by thinking that your sins are unforgivable.
Christ does not need your pity party to aid in His forgiveness.
Brothers and sisters - Press on toward the prize. Quit looking back. Lay your burdens upon our Savior. Strive after Him.
Philippians 3:13 (ESV)
13 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,
Before we get to our next point, it is important to hit another angle of this important phrase in verse 13 - forgetting what lies behind.
Possibly there is a different and maybe even more common issue in today’s postmodern world that insists that all people are inherently good. Some may spend time thinking about the good works they have done. They spend all of their time looking back at how wonderfully they have done. They stop pressing on and stop moving forward in following Christ because they are able to see their photo book memories of the time they served a nursing home when Google or Apple reminds them. Or when they served on a mission trip or soup kitchen. They don’t really need to keep striving because they have done so well already! They think they have already gotten their participation trophy and don’t need to finish the race.
Before we blast the Millennial’s and their postmodern thinking too hard, we also see this sometimes in older generations as well. They have read the Bible a few times. They have attended church and listened to hundreds if not thousands of sermons. What more can they learn? So they start to coast and retire and quit pressing on.
Brothers and sisters - our past must not be our focus.
As Warren Wiersbe once said,
“To forget in the Bible means ‘no longer to be influenced or affected by’....we break the power of the past by living for the future.”
Warren Wiersbe
Look toward our future and strive toward our upward call with Christ.
Scripture References: 1 Timothy 1:15

III. Believers Can Own Up to Their Faith…Because of Their Foundation (15-16)

Philippians 3:15–16 ESV
15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
What does Paul mean when he says us who are mature? This word mature can also be translated perfect which makes it even harder to interpret what Paul is saying. However, to further understand this we can look at Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:48
Matthew 5:48 ESV
48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Obviously Jesus knew we would never be able to reach perfection on this side of eternity. But the heart he is seeking is one that is pressing on and straining toward the prize. Those who are mature - or maybe it could be stated that those who are being perfected in Christ - should think this way.
That brings us to our next question. In what way should those who are mature think? They should value their foundation in Christ and future reward of heaven as greater than all the things to be desired or pursed in this world. Paul has just finished calling all of the accolades and things to be pursed in this world rubbish, or trash, in comparison to knowing Christ (Phil 3:7-8).
We are called to think as Christ thinks and act as Christ acted while on earth. Our values should align with our Master and Savior. Those who are truly mature know what is important and what is not important. They don’t get entangled in civilian matters. They are focused on heavenly matters.
If you take the time to watch children playing you will see immaturity start to kick in time and time again. Things that are of very little importance can blow up into huge arguments and disagreements. This is because they lack wisdom and experience.
1 Corinthians 2:6 ESV
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.
These children lack the godly wisdom that is needed to understand what will pass away and what will not pass away.
Sadly, many adults lack this same godly wisdom. They get so focused on the things of this world that they miss out on what is most important. They can be so focused on possessions, power, wealth, or other worldly things to the detriment of focusing on heavenly things. My friends, this is a mark of immaturity. Those who are mature in Christ are focused on the things of Christ. The things of this world will melt away in relation to the things of Christ.
Let’s take Paul’s advice as seen in Colossians 3:2
Colossians 3:2 ESV
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Philippians 3:15–16 ESV
15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Getting back to verse 15 we see that if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
What Paul is saying is that you may be tempted to think that the things of this world are important. You may be tempted to have much too lofty of an opinion of yourself and your thoughts. If you catch yourself thinking you have arrived in any way take heed.
The early church father, John Chrysostom, once stated:
“He who thinks he has attained everything, hath nothing.”
John Chrysostom
Be careful not to think too highly of your own opinions and thoughts. Pride is quick to shake us from our foundation and make us start to build on the foundation of self instead of the foundation of Christ.
But praise God we get a promise here as well. For true believers, God will reveal to us if we are off base in our thinking. May we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit who indwells believers. He convicts us when we are off base. He guides us back to the path toward our Savior. He helps us take our minds off the things that don’t matter and helps us focus on the things that do.
And finally we get to verse 16
Philippians 3:16 ESV
16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Paul starts this final verse in this section off with the word only. This is an exclusive word. He means what he is about to say summarizes the matter he has been discussing. He means that if you didn’t get the rest of his message, this is the summary of it all. This is the main idea of his exposition.
Only let us hold true to what we have attained. This word attained can also mean arrive at, come upon, or reached.
Paul is encouraging us as believers to hold true to our faith as we run this race of life.
Paul lets us know that he continues to press on and persevere. He continues striving toward Christ. Despite the fact that he is not perfected yet, he continues striving to the wonderful day where he is perfected after the resurrection.
Praise God that all of us as believers will be be perfected after death. But on this side of eternity, we will fail. We cannot attain perfection on earth. Yet true believers continue to get back up and run toward Christ. They quickly repent of their sins and turn in faith to Christ day after day. They persist, or persevere, in their faith - knowing that one day they will be perfected in Christ. True believers own up their faith because they have a firm foundation in Christ.
Scripture References: Matthew 5:48, Philippians 3:7-8, 1 Corinthians 2:6, Colossians 3:2
As we come to a close we have seen that we can own up to our faith despite of failures. We are going to mess up time and time again. But praise God, He offers forgiveness to us through the blood of Jesus Christ.
We also saw that we can own up to our faith because of our future. We know that we have a heavenly prize awaiting us at the other side of this race called life.
And finally we saw that we can own up to our faith because of our foundation. There is only one true foundation, one true Cornerstone in which we can build our life upon - and that is Jesus Christ. I pray that each of us has made the wise decision to build our lives on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray.
If you would like to learn more about salvation through Jesus Christ or want to obey Jesus by obeying the first commandment of a believer in going through the waters of baptism - please let me know.
Have a blessed week.
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