Enemies of the Cross

To live for the things of this earth and for the desires of our flesh — no matter what name we claim — is to live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul continues to offer guidance on godly role models with a sobering contrast of those who call themselves Christians, but whose lives tell otherwise. (Phil. 3:17-21)

What does this have to do with joy in Christ? There is joy in seeing a real diamond among a handful of cubic zirconia. There is joy in identifying the truth in a world of lies. And there is joy in having a right and godly perspective for today and the future.

Part 15 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

Be Careful Who You Follow

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Here Paul tells the Philippian believers, be imitators of what you see in me of Christ and what has been taught to you of His ways. It is not that Paul sees himself as sanctimonious, high and mighty, or having arrived at perfection. We saw in the last study that he clearly sees himself as still running the race. He is also not in any way trying to gather followers for himself in the place of followers of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:4-5, he disparaged the notion of following a man and clearly stated he was a servant through whom you have believed. Continue reading

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Keep Pressing Forward

Our past sins and regrets can often paralyze us, steal our joy, and have us looking back so much we forget what lies ahead. Paul encourages us in Phil. 3:12-16 to walk with the expectation and hope of our future resurrection glory, allowing that to motivate us to greater holiness by God’s enabling grace!

Part 14 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

We saw in the last study that Paul rejected the idea of his human accomplishments making him righteous before God, that he held solely to faith in Christ for his salvation. He moves on in these next verses to explain the diligence with which he pursues conformity to Christ on a daily basis, with a view toward glory.

Already But Not Yet

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.

When Paul says in verse 12, he has not already obtained this or is already perfect, he is referring back to verse 11 about resurrection. His sanctification is not complete; he has not been resurrected or glorified. But he does know this much: he belongs to Christ. He has been adopted into the family of God through faith — God’s gift to him — and because of this, he longs for ongoing progress in his sanctification. Continue reading

Losing It All To Be Found In Christ

What is worth holding on to in the face of death? Your house, car, iPhone? Your job and education? Awards and recognition? To Paul, following Christ was more important than anything he had done or been in his life. In Phil. 3:7-11, he covers the deep significance in gaining Christ through faith.

Part 13 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

Forsaking All to Gain Christ

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

In the last study, Paul gave us a laundry list of why he looked righteous by worldly standards, but was clear that none of his reasons measured up. After he’s given us that list, he makes a sharp delineation here: these man-centered reasons are not just without value, but more emphatically, they are a loss, damaging, detrimental. However significant his background and training looked like it had value, when it came to comparing it to the value of Christ, it was a complete wash. When he trusted Christ, he turned his back on all that the world considered in him to be success and accomplishment.

Have you lost anything as a result of following Christ? Friends, work opportunities, the approval of others? Have you let go of dreams or plans that you thought were best for you in favor of pursuing things of eternal value? The next verse should be encouraging to you in that knowing Christ is worth more than anything you may have lost or given up. Continue reading