Philippians 3: 12 – 21 (NLT)
We’re going to take 2 days to look at the verses at the end of Chapter 3. Today, I want to examine the Biblical basis for what we are responsible for once we become Christians. I think it’s important that we see what the Bible says, so we aren’t living on incorrect beliefs. Yesterday we looked at how some Christians were sidetracked into thinking they needed to do something to earn God’s favour. That totally negates what Jesus did for us, and the wonderful acceptance we have as God’s children.
Now, Paul is concerned about the other extreme – Christians who are so confident God accepts them that they think they can do whatever they want. So here are verses 12 to 21:.
“12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control”.
Paul tackles this issue of behaviour once you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour. If God accepts you just as you are, then does that mean it doesn’t matter how you behave at all? These verses in Philippians echo the same idea expressed in Romans 6: 1 – 2, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (NLT) In verses 18 and 19 of Philippians 3, Paul is in tears over the people who think they can do whatever they want, and it doesn’t matter.
God wants us to experience the complete forgiveness He offers us through Christ’s sacrifice, but that adoption into God’s family should change the way we live from that point on. We are now part of a family. Families that have good relationships include members who work to get along, who understand that a person’s behaviour affects the whole family. We look out for one another, we love each other. At times though, we do things that upset the family. We’re not perfect.
So, Paul also stresses that belonging to God doesn’t mean perfection here on earth. He definitely states that he hasn’t reached perfection. Does that mean that I’m accepted into God’s family totally on faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for me, but … then I have to work hard to be a good Christian? Yes and no. We do have a part to play in what happens once we are in God’s family; we are not some God-controlled robot. But God also doesn’t leave us all alone in this lifetime venture.
The first thing we need to know is that when we fail, God will forgive us. It’s important to realize that we are not asked to be perfect in our lives as God’s children any more than we are asked to be perfect for God to accept us in the first place. The Apostle John is writing to believers when he wrote these words.
1 John 1:7-9 (NLT)
“ But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
So our sin can be dealt with as we confess when we know we’ve messed up. We also have the Bible to guide us in how we should live. II Timothy 3: 16 – 17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (NASB) That’s why it’s important for us to read the Bible on a regular basis and become familiar with what it says.
When we become Christians, God gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us permanently. I want you to read the verses I’ve included about the Holy Spirit and what He does for us. I think it’s important that you are aware that you are not living life alone, but that God’s power is available to you.
Romans 8:14-16 (NLT)
“ For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children”.
John 16: 7 and 8; 12 – 15 (NLT)
“ But in fact, it is best for you that I (Jesus) go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. … 12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me”.
Titus 3:5 (NLT)
“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit”.
1 John 2:27 (NLT)
“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ”.
Romans 8:26 (NLT)
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words”.
Galatians 5:16 (NLT)
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves”.
Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”
To sum it up, God accepts us as when we realize that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins and we accept his sacrifice for us personally. God has given us the Bible so we have the information we need to understand who God is and what he expects of his family. God is willing to forgive us when we mess up. He gives us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us in our life. God provides all we need to live in a way that honours him!
Did you get that? God provides all we need!
Our song for today is Lord I Give You My Heart by Michael W. Smith.