Categorically, there are two types of people: Christians (Paul and other faithful people) and enemies of Christ (enemies of the cross, dogs, evil doers and mutilators of the flesh). As the church, we are to be looking out for the enemies of Christ, being careful not to imitate them and instead to be imitating Paul by recognizing our freedom from the guilt of sin we have found in Christ, trying to live righteously, focusing our efforts on the goal (righteousness), focusing our thoughts on the prize (heaven) and recognizing God’s calling for our lives.
INTRODUCTION: If you are not for me, you are against me
Last week we talked about a war. You are trapped in the city, surrounded on all sides by the enemy, but if you remember, you have received word that the war has been won. You are simply waiting for word to reach the troops surrounding your city.
This is an illustration for how God works in our lives. A spiritual battle has been won, but we are still here on earth waiting until the end when Christ returns. Today we are going to talk about how to get through this waiting period, through life, without giving up and going over to the other side. Statistics show that this is a real fear. The latest polls show that 70% of teens will walk away from the church within six months of graduating high school. They exchange their walk with Christ for the sins of the world because it simply seems easier to do.
Let’s quickly recap the two different forces.
- Who are the enemies of the cross?
- The dogs. (3.2a)
- The evil doers. (3.2b)
- The mutilators. (3.2c)
- Who are the faithful?
- Those who worship by the Spirit (c.f. the dogs). (3.3a)
- Those who glory in Christ (c.f. the evil doers). (3.3b)
- Those who put no confidence in the flesh (c.f. the mutilators). (3.3c)
IMITATE PAUL (3.17): About Paul
- Paul’s credentials. (3.4-6)
- circumcised on the eighth day
- of the people of Israel
- of the tribe of Benjamin
- a Hebrew of Hebrews
- as to the law, a Pharisee
- as to zeal, a persecutor of the church
- as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
- Paul counts everything as loss…(3.7-11)
- …because of the value of knowing Christ (8)
- …to be counted as righteous (9)
- …to know Christ (10).
- …to attain the resurrection of the dead (11)
- Paul has focused his attention…(3.14)
- …toward of the goal—righteousness (14a)
- …on the prize—heaven (14b)
- …because of the call—apostleship (14c)
PPP: Paul gives us three reasons that we should imitate him and other faithful men:
- They are going to heaven (c.f. The enemies are going to hell). (3.20a)
- They are concerned with their sin and a need for a savior (c.f. The enemies are pursuing pleasure). (3.20b)
- They follow Jesus as Lord (c.f. They follow the world). (3.20c)
EXHORTATION: Imitate faithful men so that you will not be one of the 70% to abandon their faith.
- Live like you believe in heaven.
- Paul kept his mind focused on the prize. We should too.
- Pursues righteousness through Christ.
- When you do, God changes your desires to line up with His own and then fulfills those desires.
- The more we desire the righteous things of God, the less we desire the sinful things of the world.
- Follow Jesus as Lord (The Gospels).
- The path may be narrow, but the Holy Spirit guides us. When we follow Christ, we are never left alone to work anything out for ourselves because Christ is with us.
SMALL GROUP QUESITONS
- Are you shocked that so many walk away from the church?
- Do you think you would walk away? Why or why not?
- Why do you go to church now?