Obsessed Over One Thing

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And we’ve been going through a series on rejoicing in the broken. And it’s written the book, the book of Philippians, written by the Apostle Paul during his stint in prison. Helping us as believers to discover what it means to rejoice in Christ. Paul gets to chapter three and verse 12. Today we’ve got just a few more lessons out of this series together before it ends. But he answers something very important for us as a body of believers as he explains the the joy and rejoicing that should take place in our lives through our relationship with Christ. And that is this Paul. Paul answers this question. If we were to ask what is the secret to a successful Christian life? Paul defines that for us this morning in Philippians chapter three and verse 12. In fact, when you start in verse 12. Verse ten is what’s listed first here. I’m going to skip down to verse 12, which is just a few lines below that. It says, not that I have already obtained all of this talking about his life in Christ or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind. And straining toward what is ahead. Paul describes all of the Christian life, everything that he’s talked about in the first three chapters of Philippians down to this one concept.

He says, if you want to know what a successful Christian life is all about and living for Jesus, it’s it’s this one thing. And what is that one thing? Well, Paul is building off his idea in verses 12 and 13 with the previous section in chapter three that we read together last week. And in verse ten, Paul got to the pinnacle of thought of that section in the passage, and he says this I want to know Christ. Yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Paul says the one thing that he pursues in life. Is to know Jesus. Not just intellectually know Christ. But to relationally know Christ. He wants to be connected to his creator as creature. A few weeks ago or excuse me, not a few weeks ago. A few days ago, I was with a body of believers and someone posed this question in this group. They said, what questions do you ask yourself to determine if you’re living a godly life? And and so everyone started spouting off these questions that have hit home with them and checking their relationship with the Lord. But you can imagine, as 25 people are sharing in a group, if 2 or 3 people or there’s 2 or 3 questions shared per person before you get to the end, there is a long list of questions. And as we we got to the end of this discussion, one of the people finally just stood up and said, because if I had to live that list, I would drive myself crazy.

What about this? Why don’t I just cling to Christ? The truth is within our lives. The Bible tells us that we are sinful by nature. And there are a couple of roads that we can choose to walk in that decision and recognizing we we don’t always live godly lives. We can choose to modify our behavior. We can choose to mask ourselves in religion. Or. You can choose Jesus. And what the thought that Paul is carrying in this passage of Scripture for us as a body of believers is this. Guilt for a while can work when you feel like you’ve done something bad. But ultimately, what guilt does is modify your behavior. What Jesus really does is he comes into your heart and transforms your life through His Spirit. And you can expend an exuberant amount of effort and energy trying to live this religious identity, hoping God pleases as it finds you pleased in him, and he pleased with you and or or you can embrace what Christ has done for you. Surrender yourself to him. Knowing that when God created you, he created you in his image and breathed into you His Spirit. Meaning as a creature, you are created for his purposes and having his spirit. You were created with God’s desire for you to connect to him. And behavior modification may change you temporarily.

But what the Bible tells us that Jesus does is to work on us from the inside out. And so when Paul describes the Christian life, he says, it’s about one thing. It’s not about this list of do’s and don’ts. You can drive yourself crazy. As a matter of fact, if all you look at is a list of do’s and don’ts, you can live a good life, but you may not live a godly life. Because a godly life is about Jesus. And so Paul comes to verse ten and he says, that’s what the Christian life is all about. It’s just one thing. To know Christ. Personally. Intimately. We know when we. Think about relationships. There’s no such thing as a relationship that just stands still. You can’t freeze it in time. Now you know, the friendships that you had in high school that you would thought you would have forever, right? And then everyone gets married and has kids, and now you don’t know where they are except for Facebook when it tells you. Relationships don’t stay the same. They grow or they become divided and separate. And so is our walk with Christ. Our relationship to Christ is why we were created in. God’s desire for us is to recognize that one identity that he has given us in Jesus, to know him. Christianity is about one thing. And so when Paul approaches Philippians chapter three, verse 12 on into chapter four and verse one, he’s describing for us one thing, which is our relationship to Christ.

And he’s approaching it from different angles as we consider it as a body of believers. When you watch someone who specializes in one thing. It is a pretty unique opportunity. I know when Sam grabs a hold of the guitar up here, I could watch him do that one thing for quite a while, right? When you watch a master painter work on his canvas, the beauty that comes off of just a plain sheet of paper. Or like some of you today, when you grab your buffalo wing and you sit down in front of the television and you watch these athletes that have tuned their body toward one thing. It captures our attention. And I think that works in the life of a believer to. Living your life, for one thing. I can tell you in my own life, when I walk into this world and I meet people that say they know Jesus, but. But then live like they know Jesus. And when I walk away from them, I feel like I’ve been with Jesus. They’ve made their lives about one thing, and it just captures our attention and the beauty of what it represents. And Paul says in verse 13, Christians, it’s this one thing that we’re living for. And so he describes it. He says, brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead.

Do you know what kept the Apostle Paul stretching in his relationship with God? It’s because he always recognized he’s not finished growing. And if he’s not getting closer to the Lord, he’s getting further away. And so he uses this word. He says, I’m straining ahead or I’m straining toward. The picture that that Paul paints with the Greek terminology that’s used, is one of a race that’s being run by a runner, and this runner is looking at the finish line. And you know how this works on the 100 meter dash when you watch Usain Bolt or whoever it is, speed down this 100 meter lane ten times faster than I ever thought I could run. When they get to the end, they just stretch their head out or puff puff their chest out just enough to get ahead of the other people to cross that finish line. And that’s what Paul is saying. Don’t get content. Because what Christ has called you to, and whatever Christ has called you to your relationship with him is far greater than anything else in this world. Don’t get content. But strain towards this one thing he says in verse 12. He uses another word where he says, but I press on to take hold for that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. This word press is often used in Greek literature to refer to the way a a predator pursues his prey, or the way Nathaniel pursues the top sirloin steak at Takano’s when he goes right.

If that stuff was bubble gum, I would chew it all day. But there is a hunger within you that cannot be quenched. Never be satisfied. I will take gift cards there, by the way. And that’s what Jesus does. When you begin to taste the goodness of who he is in your life. You want more? To never let yourself be quenched by that. But to continue to understand for that which you were created is just it’s one thing. God made you to know him and to know him for all of eternity and rejoice in his presence. And so Paul says, live for this one thing, to strain toward it to, to allow the world to be captivated by you in this focus of your life. And you press toward this calling that Christ has placed on you. And not only not only does he say we strain towards this, but in verse 13 he also told us to let go. Let me read it again, brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do forget what’s behind. And strain toward what is ahead. You know, sometimes we think about following after Jesus. Some of us look at ourselves and wonder, how could Jesus accept me? And I’ve heard this oftentimes as a pastor. Yeah, I want to go to church, but I got to get my life right first.

Of which I would say you’re missing the point of one thing. It’s either about behavior modification. Our Jesus transformation. And the way that Jesus transforms your life is not by allowing you to go out and do it on your own. Rather you come to him. And he knows we’ve all got mistakes, sins, and skeletons in our past. In fact, even knowing that he died for that. Jesus doesn’t love you for who you think you should be. He loves you for who you are. And he is the only cure. To a heart. Longing for a home. And so Paul comes to verse 13 and he says, not only is about straining ahead, but it’s also about forgetting what is behind. If Christ could die for it and say it’s finished, it’s time you did too. To forget as a believer doesn’t mean you fail to remember. What it really means for us is to count it as loss and let it go to forget. And the Bible means no longer to be influenced by or affected by. In fact, when God promises their sins and iniquities, will I remember no more. In Hebrews 1017, he’s not suggesting that he will conveniently have a bad memory. That’s impossible. God’s omniscient. Rather what he’s saying. Is that I will no longer hold their sins against them. Forget what lies behind. An athlete cannot win. The victory of today’s training for the finish line focused on the weight of yesterday. You as a person cannot obsess about the one thing that God has called you to in this world when something else occupies your mind.

In James one eight says this A double minded man is unstable. And the truth is for us as people this morning, regardless of what our past is, we cannot change the past. But we can live for a future. And we can redefine the meaning of our past. When you think about the Apostle Paul and the type of individual he was before he came to know the Lord. There was a radical transformation in his life. And the credit that he gives all of this. If you read in Philippians chapter three, Paul said in verses five and six, it was not Jewish religion. It was just Jesus. Was to know him. And Paul says, and within Scripture, he has skeletons in his past. As a matter of fact, in First Timothy writing, two Timothy his his, I should say spiritual son in the Lord, he says in verse 12, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he can. He considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service, even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.

But for that very reason I was shown mercy. So that in me. The worst of sinners. Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Paul says. Not only have I let go of my past. But God’s redefined it for his glory. It gives people hope when they see your circumstance, your situation previous to Christ and now God giving you this new hope, this new freshness in him. And it’s not anything that you’ve done but what Christ has done as you surrendered to him because your goal is just one thing to know him. The goodness that God brings out of that. Last. This past Saturday we had men’s breakfast here and we had the guy from Radio Christian Radio station in Utah County came up and just shared his testimony. And his testimony from beginning to end was like Paul’s. And it was beautiful. To see what God has done in his life. Knowing that God has always loved him, God has always extended himself to him. Jesus has come. Jesus has died for him, that he could just surrender to him and be embraced by the one who wants to transform him from his heart, from the inside out. One thing. And so Paul then says in verses 15, let us therefore, as many as are perfect have this attitude. If in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you.

However, let us keep living by the same standard to which we have attained. This word for perfect in the text could also be translated in Greek as mature. And what Paul is saying here is he’s looking for body of believers that are spiritually mature, spiritually minded. Living for this cause. Knowledge is not maturity. Just because you know about Jesus doesn’t mean you know Jesus. Knowledge isn’t isn’t maturity. Knowledge isn’t wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, and maturity is the living out of wisdom that you have? Maturity deals with character. To be spiritually mature. Sometimes we like to have a picture of an individual that’s not honestly mature as God would describe it. And sometimes we think being spiritually mature is mystical and dreamy and impractical and and distant and and you’ve got to say lots of these and these and. God doesn’t care. He’s just interested in the heart you bring before. There’s no semantics. You have to play to come before God. As a matter of fact, when you come to God, God’s desire is that you come empty. Because there’s nothing that you’re going to do to impress him, and there’s nothing that you’re going to do that he can’t already do. But rather what God desires is you in your heart. Because what he created you for is to know him. To be spiritually minded or mature simply means this you look at Earth from heaven’s perspective.

The way that God desires to view this world is the way your heart desires to view this world. In Colossians three two it says this give your heart to heavenly things, not to the passing things of earth. And I say all that to say this. Sometimes as church people, we get weird. We like to make life that God has given us about more than what it was intended to be. As a matter of fact, there are some things we should not care about in the name of Jesus and other things that we need to care more about in the name of Jesus. All right. What God’s concern about on Sunday morning. We gather together as a body of believers is not the color of our carpet and the color of our walls. I would be a little concerned with the outside of our building, but what God’s really concerned about is your heart. Don’t want to play games. Don’t go to church to go to church. I come here because I know that God desires my heart to praise his name. And as I connect to God in my heart, God desires for me to connect with others as a heart that reflects him having, uh, heaven’s perspective of Earth. And so as a church family, when any of us gather, when anyone walks through our doors on Sunday morning, all of us understand that what it’s about is the heart. And there needs to be a place in our lives where we can just come empty.

And just say before the Lord God, I just want to make it about one thing. I’m tired of games. I’m tired of these rules. I’m tired of everything. I’m tired of failing. I just want it to be about one thing. If you made me to know you, I just. I just want to know who you. To specialize in it, to strain towards it, to press in it, to let go of everything as Christ has let go of it for us, and mature in that relationship. To understand that what God has called us to is to just give our hearts to him, and the simplicity that he may work his miracle in us. And so Paul then goes on and describes in verse 17 to 19, for us as a body of believers need to recognize there are people who gather in the body of Christ that don’t don’t really belong to Jesus. They can look maybe even like they might belong to Christ but don’t belong to Christ. And so it’s important to find godly examples. And so he says in verse 17, brethren, join in following my example and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us for many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

Paul saying, find godly examples. This one thing is so important in your life. It can should consume you so much in what God desires to do in you and through you, that as you’re thinking about how to press, you need godly examples to encourage you in that as well. Because God created all of us for community. None of us likes to live life by ourselves or feel like we’re alone. Matter of fact, just to satisfy that, I’ll get on Facebook to see what’s happening in the world, right? Randomly text someone just to let them know I’m there. And Paul says. If you’re looking for relationship and you’re looking for friendship and you know how important one thing is, then find a godly example to relate that to your life. Don’t settle. Pursue it. Because on the back end of that, there are people who come into the body of Christ and stand as enemies of the cross. Can I say something important about verse 18? When Paul talks about enemies of the cross. One of my favorite things that Paul says here deals with his attitude towards those people. It says for many walk, of whom I often told you and now tell you, even weeping. They are enemies of the Cross of Christ. I like that Paul recognizes. They don’t know Jesus. But also like recognize recognizing this passage that Paul’s heart’s broken. For those who don’t know Jesus. They may stand in opposition to Christ.

Well, Paul isn’t yelling at him. Paul’s not angry towards them. It’s broken. He’s broken because he is a man that understands what Jesus has done in his own life. He was just like him. And he weeps just to see the same miracle that God worked in his heart to work in their heart. And yelling doesn’t reach that. And so Paul, even in Romans ten, elaborates a little further on his attitude towards the Israelites, which which were the individuals that perpetually followed Paul and his ministry and caused opposition for him wherever he gathered to plant a church. So it says in Romans ten and verse one, brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them. They have a zeal for God. But their zeal is not based on knowledge. So they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own. They did not submit to God’s righteousness. Well, Paul saying in chapter ten is this these people came to this road in life where Christ has covered you and Christ wants to redeem you, and Christ wants to work in you and through you or, or you can do it on your own. And he’s saying, these people, these Israelites, they sought to do it on their own, in their own religious experience, and they have a zeal for God. That’s admirable, but they just they don’t know him.

My heart’s desire. And my prayer for them, rather than to be mean to them, is to understand the same grace that’s been extended to me. God is extending that grace for them, and I just want to see them know him. And so in verse nine he says this I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For. I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race. That they may just know him. God wants you to have examples that encourage you in your life, and even with those that discourage you, rather than respond in anger or frustration. To just break for them. And just to share with them the beauty of what Christ is that in you as you are refined in this one thing. When they walk from you, it’s as if they walk away from Jesus. And so Paul concludes the section with this thought in chapter three and on to four. He encourages us to continue in a vision for this one thing. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for the for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of his glory by the exertion of his power that he has even to subject all things to himself. So now, as Paul says in everything in this passage, it’s all about Christ’s power.

And your citizenship belongs to him. And I think Paul uses the word citizenship here because it was of particular importance to the people of Rome. To be a Roman citizen was a very prominent thing. It costs a lot of money. If someone who was captured by a foreign nation brought into the Roman Empire wanted to purchase their citizenship. And Paul saying, the way that you value that citizenship in Rome, the way we look at that citizenship as people and some of us crave it and some of us have it and appreciate it, that that appreciation for that citizenship, it should be more so with the citizenship that you possess in heaven. Don’t ever undervalue it. Take it for granted. But appreciate what God has given you and by acknowledging your citizenship. You clarify what law governs you, which is Christ? Not the world, but belonging to Jesus. And for us as believers, it’s easy to endure hardship during the day when you know that joy comes in the morning. Ultimately, when your peace rests in Christ, you know, as Jesus hung on the cross, he said, it is finished. And so regardless of what happens in this world, you know, it’s all passing away. And the hope to come in Jesus far surpasses any of that. Which is why even the life of Abraham, he ultimately looked for a city when he was content to live in a tent. Or when it came to Moses, he looked towards the rewards of heaven, forsaking Egypt and wandering in the desert because of the joy of his walk in the Lord, even Christ in Hebrews chapter 12 and verse two says, for the joy set before him, he endured the cross.

Jesus one day. Will subdue all things. It tells us in verse 21 under his authority. And you belong to that kingdom. And so Paul ends with his final thought in verse one. Therefore, my brothers and sisters. Whom, whom I love and long for. My joy and crown. Stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends. And what Paul concludes with as he has pursued this one thing in his life, as this one thing impacts the world around him. As you pursue Jesus. Jesus is demonstrated in your life and other lives are changed through that. And what a joy it would be as a spouse coming before your spouse to look at your wife hoo hoo! In your relationship or your husband in your relationship, saw Jesus in you and they become your joy and crown because they begin to reflect the same example you set forth in your marriage. What about your children? Growing up in the Lord from a godly mother or father who just loves him and prays for them. Heart breaks for them when they don’t understand the goodness of Jesus, but still ministers to them, and they grow in the Lord, and they become your joy and crown. What about your neighborhood? The area that you live.

The place where you work. The people that you impact. The beauty of just one thing being lived out. Obsessed with the goal of pressing towards it, to be able to let go of the things that have shackled you. To embrace this God who has called you to such a glorious future, letting go of what is behind and pressing towards what God has called you. One thing. Impacts the world for Christ. Maybe the question I just leave with you this morning. As you look at this last verse, as do you, do you look at people as Jesus looks at people? You look at yourself the way that Jesus looks at you. Have you made your life about anything other than Christ? Or is it just about knowing him? And when the fork comes in the road between modifying your behavior so that people find you acceptable, or just simply coming to Christ empty handed to allow him to transform you from the inside out. I remind you this morning that whatever Jesus can do in you and through you is far greater than any power that you might express in your own strength. It’s far easier just to surrender. And the Christian life from beginning to end for us, for those who desire to be what God has called us to be. As simplistically about one thing. And so my heart’s desire for us as a body of believers is that with all that we are, as we give ourselves to him, that he may work through us and in us.

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