The Philippian Christians were faced with two dangers: two dangers that all Christians down through the ages have faced.
1. Paul warned them repeatedly of the Judaizers who taught that works must be added to faith in order to be saved. Phil. 3:2-3
2. He also warned them of the Libertines in Phil. 3:18-19 who taught that how they lived their lives after they were saved was not important. They taught the people that they were free to live as they please, since they were saved by grace through faith and not by works.
These two false, sinful extremes have plagued the Church these past 2000 years.
WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES?
The godly Christian is focused on God and eternal values.
The worldling, carnal Christian is focused on the cosmos, the fleeting values of this world system. His purpose in life is to squeeze from it all the fun and satisfaction it has to offer and have all his desires and needs met. He believes that when his desires and perceived needs are met, then he will be satisfied and happy. Deceived by Satan and living in a euphoric dream world, eventually he learns that nothing really satisfies. When it comes time to die, he comes to the realization with Solomon, that it was all vanity and worthless.
THE MESSAGE OF SELF WORTH
False teachers misuse the Bible to teach that our goal in life to be self- fulfilled and self-satisfied. Their gospel is the message of self worth, the good news of being significant and prosperous.
Instead of preaching the message of the crucified life, as found in Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20 and 6:14 and the mortification of the flesh nature, as taught in Colossians 3:1-5; they preach the message of the need to have a good self-image and a high opinion of one’s self-worth,
No, the ultimate goal is not self-satisfaction and self-fulfillment. The ultimate goal is that Christ be satisfied with me, that my life be centered in Christ, as Paul testified in Philippians 1:21. “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IS MORE THAN JUSTIFICATION
Some Christians get so focused on the wonderful truth of justification, that we are saved by grace alone and not by our works that they carry their liberty in Christ to a sinful extreme. They fall into the error of libertinism. They rightfully rejoice in Christ’s righteousness which makes them fit for Heaven. They rightfully rejoice in their freedom in Christ; but how they live their lives is their business and no one else’s. This is the careless, sinful attitude that since our spirit is saved and since we can’t lose our salvation, it doesn’t matter how we live. We can give in to our fleshly desires and live as we please because God sees only Christ’s righteousness when He looks at us.
They falsely brand preachers who preach holy living as legalists.
But the Christian life is more than simply our standing in Christ. It involves the pursuit of godliness, the pursuit of Christ-likeness. That’s the doctrine of sanctification, a very unpopular message with most Christians; and yet it is the only path to true self-fulfillment.
CHRISTIANS ARE SAINTS
As a king’s son is born a prince, so we are born again as saints; but as a young prince knows very little about being kingly, so we know very little of saintliness. It takes time in God’s Word to become saintly, just as it takes time and training for a prince to become kingly.
I John 2:6 challenges that if we are Christians, we are to learn to walk as Christ walked.
Paul travailed for young believers in Christ as he wrote in Galatians 4:19 that Christ would be formed in them.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:29 that our calling as Christian is to become conformed to the image of Christ. That’s perfection! We will never attain it in this life. If we think we have attained it, I John 1:8-10 informs us that we are deceiving ourselves and the Truth is not in us and we are calling God a liar. Nevertheless, though we will never attain it until we are in Heaven, it is to be our life-long goal to become more like Jesus.
Of course, only a genuine Christian can even begin that journey, for until we have come to the end of ourselves and put our trust in Christ; the Holy Spirit does not yet live in us. Only as He lives within us and we are surrendered to His leading, can we even begin that journey of sanctification.
SO HOW DO WE ATTAIN CHRIST-LIKENESS?
1.Through faith in Christ’s blood sacrifice on the cross, God not only frees us from the guilt and penalty of sin; but He imputes to our account the very righteousness of Jesus. But God has more for us beyond judicial righteousness. He wants to impart to us His practical righteousness that changes the way we think, the values we hold and the way we live.
2. We attain Christ-likeness by hungering and thirsting after His righteousness and feeding on His Word, the Bible, as Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:6
3. We attain that righteousness by submitting ourselves to the control of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, as Ephesians 5:18-21 teaches us.
As Christians, we are complete in Christ, Colossians 2:10 says. That is, we have all that is necessary to live the victorious Christian life.
Only in Christ can we as Christians find our self worth and purpose in life. All else is vanity and results in a wasted life, Solomon concluded in Ecclesiastes.
PRACTICALLY, HOW CAN WE ATTAIN CHRIST-LIKENESS?
I could tell you to follow the example of Jesus, but that seems so unattainable, After all, Jesus is God, and He is sinless. How can we possible follow His example? A more practical way of growing in godliness is to find someone who is living a godly life. Hopefully your parents or your pastor, or some other person who evidences Christian virtue.
That’s why Paul repeatedly challenged people to follow his example. Though imperfect, as he admitted in Philippians 3; yet he lived the Christian life with integrity. So it is safe to follow the example of another Christian just so long as they are living faithfully for Christ. Test your mentor by the plumb line of the Bible and follow him as long as he is true to the Word of God.
That is what church leadership is all about. Pastors, elder and deacons are not to boss you and command you, but we are to be examples of the believer to young Christians so they can safely follow our examples.
Understand that when we teach you to follow godly mentors, we are not teaching you to try to mimic their personalities. Christian are not to be clones of their pastor or other Christian leaders. How silly that would be. Be yourself. Express your own personality, but make sure it is under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Make sure that your walk is consistent with your talk, that your walk is integrated with your talk; that’s integrity!
What Biblical warnings are given to Christians concerning this carnal attitude?
Read these verses carefully. They show us that Christ is concerned about more than our justification.
Romans 16:17-18 Follow godly preachers. Their lives and examples are more important than their ability to communicate in the pulpit.
Galatians 5:13-26 Verse 13 is perhaps the most important passage in the Bible on the issue of libertinism.
Philippians 3:17-19 Faithful pastors, teachers, Mothers and Dads will not hesitate to encourage their children to follow their example. SHAME on the father who commands his children, “Do what I say. Don’t do as I do!” For example, watching R and X rated moves while at the same time forbidding your children to do so, or perhaps allowing your children to watch them with you.
I Timothy 6:3-6 Another solemn warning to avoid and flee from hypocritical pastors and teachers.
James 4:4 Stern language to Christians who love the world’s life-style, as exemplified in movies and television and in night clubs; more than Biblical preaching and godly Christian fellowship.
II Peter 2 Here Peter blasts selfish, carnal preachers who lead their congregations into sin through their vile sinful examples.
I John 2:15-17 Verses that you won’t hear preached in many churches today.
Jude 3-4 A warning to beware of preachers who in the name of Christian freedom, give their congregations license to sin.
WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION!
Rejoice in the wonderful salvation you received by the grace of God apart from any works of your own. You and I don’t add to our salvation by our works, but we work it out as Paul taught in Philippians 2:12-13, so that others can see it operating in our lives and can be drawn to our Saviour and God can be glorified.
Jesus summarizes it all in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:16. Read this, memorize it, meditate on it and let it soak into your heart and mind. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
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