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January 24, 2020 3:00 am
Spiritual living the Christian life is a process of pursuing Christ likeness. We must become more and more like Jesus Christ's simply stated that the Christian life. An actor or an athlete, you might've tried to dress and talk and act exactly like they did. It's actually part of being human. We mimic those whom we admire now. It may sound strange, but that trait can really help you grow spiritually. You just need to know the right examples to follow. So, who are some biblical characters you should imitate and how can their imperfect lives, their struggles and their failures. How can that help you become more like Christ. Find out today on grace to you as John MacArthur continues his series reaching for the prize, and with that, here's John. Philippians chapter 3 verses 17 to 21 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 for our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait 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 the power that he has even to subject all things to himself. This great and thrilling passage.
As I said continues the theme of pursuing the Prius. It focuses us back on that which we discussed in detail in our last message, and that is that the goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus Christ and if I might remind you of that very simple and basic truth. You might say to yourself that seems basic enough.
Is it necessary for us even to be reminded and my response to that is I think so. In this very complex Christian culture in which we live, where there are so many viewpoints and so many theologies and so many seminars and so many formulas and so many exercises quote unquote in Christian growth.
Sometimes I think we can totally cloud the real issues spiritual living the Christian life is a process of pursuing Christ likeness the Christian life is a process of pursuing Christ likeness that in simple terms is the direction of the whole matter of sanctification. We must become more and more like Jesus Christ. Simply stated, that is the Christian life. As I said there are so many books and so many tapes and so many formulas in so many different viewpoints of things that sometimes reality in its simplicity gets totally lost. If I might, I want to call us back to this matter of simply pursuing Christ likeness.
You remember when Jesus came and called his disciples, he said, follow me, and that particular command has not been replaced or improved upon. The whole matter of the Christian life and Christianity is this matter of following Christ to become more and more like him. The apostle John said that if you belong to Christ. If you abide in Christ, then you want to walk as Christ walked the apostle Paul writing to the Galatians said I have pain until Christ is fully formed in you and writing to the Corinthians. He said a couple of times, be followers of me as I am of Christ. But most significant, perhaps to us is the word of God the father.
Romans eight records for us that God the father's purpose in saving us was that we might be conformed to the image of his son Christ called us to be like him.
John reminds us to be like him. Paul is in pain until we are like him and that is because that was God's purpose in the beginning, that we be made like Jesus Christ. Now the goal then of every Christian's life is to be like Christ. That is the goal that is the thing which we pursue. That is the purpose of our time here and that is the pursuit of our sanctification. It then becomes the lifelong objective of every Christian to become more and more and more like Jesus Christ.
That is as basic as it can be stated.
Just to remind ourselves that this is the general theme of the text go back to verse 12 for a moment where we started last time Paul says not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus pulses. I haven't arrived at perfection. I am not like Christ. But that's why God laid hold of me and that's what I desire. I haven't arrived, I haven't obtained it, but I press on, that he says it again in verse 13 brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet. Why would he say it twice what is he repeated.
Well I think there's a sort of polemic here, it may well have been that the Judaizers were confusing the Philippian church were claiming that through circumcision and law keeping. They had attained some kind of perfection. It seems as though Paul is arguing against something as much as just stating a case. Nonetheless, the point he makes is that I haven't arrived but one thing I do.
I love that. Now with that statement. Paul has reduced the Christian life to its lowest common denominator. What do you do Paul. One thing what is that one thing forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal. What's the goal Christ likeness for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. By the way we noted last time that the goal of the prize of the same thing.
The goal is Christ likeness. We pursuant we don't ever reach it in this life, but it becomes the prize that God gives us in the life to come. What is our goal here is our prize. There we will someday be made like Christ until that day when we receive the prize we pursue that as the goal, so Paul is saying look I haven't arrived.
There's no perfection here he is not a perfectionist. He doesn't believe that you can reach a point where your sin is eradicated where you no longer sin or transgress against God. That was not his experience, nor was that found in anything that he had received by way of revelation from the spirit of God, so he is saying.
I'm in a pursuit in my life is boiled down to one thing to be like Christ to say when I limited though we have more things to do than that don't always must be glorifying God yes and the more you glorify God. The more you like Christ.
I was supposed to be evangelizing a lot, yes. And the more you do that, the more you like Christ because he said he came to seek and to save that which was lost. The goal of the Christian life and the pursuit of sanctification is simply reduced to Christlike now. That leaves us with the necessity to understand two things. How is that going to happen. Well, there is an object event. The subject development. The object development is the word of God. If we are going to become like Christ. We have to know what Christ was like if we want to know what Christ is like the word we go to the Bible right because this is the disclosure of Christ. This is the revelation of Christ. The Old Testament sets the scene for him creates the need for him announces that he is coming. The Gospels record his arrival. The book of acts records the immediate impact of that the epistle delineate the significance of his life and ministry and the revelation talks about the consummation but Christ is the focus of it all. So as we study the word of God. We study it in order that we might know what Christ is like beloved, may I encourage you along that line that such a basic truth. In Christian living. But very often gets lost.
We study the Bible for the sake of theology, we study the Bible for the sake of the answering someone's questions, we study the Bible for the sake of argument, we study the Bible, thinking that somehow imbibing some biblical data is going to impact our spiritual life and in some cases, of course, it makes a contribution to that in but the product that God is after in giving us the revelation is that we in understanding more about Christ might therefore no better. The goal of our own living and if you study the Bible for anything less then understanding more about the Christ whom you are to be like you missed the point. The second, and subject development in this matter is the work of the Holy Spirit.
If we are going to be like Christ.
We are dependent on knowing what Christ is like and that means we must study the word of God. We are also dependent on the spiritual work of changing us into the image of Christ which is the work of the Holy Spirit. Second Corinthians 318 says that as we gazed at the glory that is revealed, the glory of our Lord, the spirit changes us into his image. So I objectively we are committed to the deep study of the word. Subjectively, we are committed to submission to the spirit of God, a spirit filled believer who lets the word about Christ dwell in him ritually is one who progresses toward the goal understood and that is that simple statement. The bottom line of Christian living and I emphasize it because I'm quite confident that it's been flogged in our day and it can be lost as to its simple and very core significance. We are to be like Christ. That is to consume us. Paul says one thing I do I press toward that goal of Christlike. That's the one thing I do is that simplify the focus of your spiritual life you say how can you reduce life to that look back at verse seven. Paul had a very complex life before he was a Christian. He was trying to keep all the laws and traditions and formulas of Judaism, both divine and human. He was trying to follow all of the privileges and all that they deposited into his account and in all that he found not what he saw and then you remember on the Damascus Road. He was confronted by the living Christ and immediately coming to the realization of the fact that Christ was everything verse seven says, whatever things previously were gain to me those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Once I met Christ. I realize that everything in my asset column was a liability.
Everything I thought was gay and I counted loss I found all I needed.
In Christ more than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but dung, manure, rubbish, trash, garbage, in order that I may gain Christ is the Christ is everything to him and in Christ is everything you need to be reminded of his great statements in Colossians chapter 2 where he says that in Christ. Verse three are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that is amazing. That is a comprehensive statement where the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. They are in Christ, they are all in Christ, the more I know about Christ, the more I know about wisdom and knowledge. That is why verse six says as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in here and pattern your life after him. Verse nine for in him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form and in him you have been made complete. Paul understood it, it's all in Christ. Beloved, somehow, remind yourself to strip away anything that clouds that are covers that and get back to that basic glorious reality that we are pursuing Christ likeness. And so when you study the Gospels you study them in order that you might know Christ better.
We must be focused on the person of Christ. When you read the word of God.
Let it speak to you of Christ, but it revealed the glories of Christ to you and as you yield yourself to the spirit of God, and obedience.
Let it be with the desire that he mold you and shape you from one level of glory to the next until you are more and more made like Jesus Christ.
Now in verses 12 through 16. Paul exhorted the readers to that exhorted all of us to move in that direction to press toward that mark that prize. That goal in fact in verse 15. He said if you have a different attitude.
If you're not willing to do that doesn't have to deal with you. There may be some chastening and then in verse 16 he says whatever standard you come to move on from there.
Keep pursuing Christ likeness you have somebody say to you, you know, you really are. Read the Bible every day really study the Bible every day and sometimes he said here's how I'm doing it but I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be learning or what I'm supposed to be getting keep this in mind the purpose of all of that is to mold you into the image of Jesus Christ.
It is to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, it is to let the spirit of God.
Feel you so that Christ shaping may take place now as you come to verse 17, Paul wants to get practical and he suggests to us that there are three necessary elements in this pursuit that will enhance us as we pursue three things that are necessary for pursuing Christ likeness number one following after examples number two fleeing from enemies and number three fixing on expectations.
Those are the three things he deals with.
In verses 17 to 21 following after examples fleeing from enemies and fixing on expectations but number one if I am to pursue this goal of Christ likeness. Then I need to follow some example to show me how good were 70 brethren and by the way, is the third time is use that word in this chapter is feeling very warmhearted toward them very conciliatory brother and join in following my example and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us that I will verse just about follow others who are pursuing this prize.
Now let me talk to you about that for just a moment I want you to understand first of all, Paul is not putting himself on a pedestal, not a pedestal of perfection. Paul is not saying I'm perfect be like me. What Paul is saying is I'm imperfect. Follow the way I move toward that perfection. He wants us to understand. In verses 12 to 16 that he is not obtained it that he is not already perfect that he is not already arrive.
If you read the New Testament you are very much aware of that God had to give them a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being too proud because he was prone to pride, he had to be rebuffed and rebuked significantly for letting his mouth flow against the high priest at the end of the book of acts and say things that he never should've said no he was not a perfect man, and in that lies the significance of his example. In fact, in first Timothy 115. He said I am for most of sinners not I was, but I am and surely he understood the principle of first John 179, that if you say you have no sin, you make God a liar so he is not sinless.
He is not reached perfection. He has not had a sin nature eradicated. There is no second work of grace here that's put them in a different category from all the rest of the folks he is saying I am a sinner. I have problems with my flash but I am pursuing the goal follow my example, if I were to climb a high mountain, a dangerous climbing expedition alone, which is a very remote possibility. Folks, but should it occur. There is a little adventure in me and I should decide to climb this mountain and I should get equipped with all the stuff you need to climb this curious precipice of what significance would it be for a helicopter to fly across the peak of that thing and drop some guy on the top and have that guy up there looking down and shouting. I'm up here. This is where you want to come you can just get up here. This is the top, looking up and I'm down here and he's up there. The problem is he got up there by helicopter, and he had no the way up either.
He hasn't gone that route. He is not of much help to me. In fact, the more he hollers at me on the way up the more frustrating it will become what I would rather have is some guy ahead of me who is climbing the path and says follow me. I know the way up what I need is somebody who models the way up who shows me the process. How do I deal with my fallen flash how do I deal with the struggles of life.
How do I deal with disappointment.
How do I deal with trials.
How do I deal with pride. How do I deal with temptation Ottawa deal with sin. Somebody's got to show me that path because it's only in the overcoming of my sinfulness that I move toward being like Christ, so have to follow somebody who's battling to overcome sin.
If I want to climb this precipice.
I want somebody who knows the way with a rope around his waist hook to mine who pulls me up the right way. That's Paul. Paul put himself in that position numerous times and he is saying. I'm not the perfect model that's Christ I'm just somebody you can follow on the path of victory. So he says. Look at verse 70 join in following my example literally the Greek says the fellow imitators of me or keep on being fellow imitators consume them at this from which get the word mimic soon means, together with is a sort of a collective call saying all you all of you be fellow. Imitators of me mimicked me all the way that I live my life back to verse 14. I am pressing on toward the goal you watch how I do this is grace to you with John MacArthur thanks for tuning in today.
John's current study comes from Philippians chapter 3, and it's titled reaching for the prize now today John, you talked about the value of following imperfect people imitating flesh and blood examples and and I know you often point to the apostle Paul. I know he's sort of your spiritual hero, but a talk about other examples, people you've known personally and whose godliness you strived to imitate the other goes back filled to my childhood and the sweet spiritual virtue of my mom and dad.
I think it's safe to say that my dad never did anything.
I never saw him or heard him do or say anything that undermined what he preached.
I know I wasn't perfect but he was exactly what he got in the pulpit and urge everybody else to be. He was faithful to the word of God faithful to the Lord. There was a humility about him.
There was a simplicity about his life. There was love in his heart and in our home. So that's what started with him and him and with my mom as well.
I can think back to early Sunday school teachers I can think back to the example of a coach or Christian coach that I had in high school who had virtue that was manifested even as as a football coach and and I saw in him. Consistency of life as a Christian when I got seminary. I then was surrounded by godly men in my seminary days I was blessed to go to seminary where first of all, all the faculty were true Christians there. There were there were no aliens there where they all believed in biblical inerrancy and authority, and they lived the Bible and I saw that lived out Dr. Charles Feinberg a talk about him a lot. Dr. Robert so see both of them now with the Lord there were other people that crisscross to my life that were examples of faithful living faithful godly virtue in ministry. Even though ministry is very difficult that I think as you as you grown as your life continues, you, you sort of pick specific things out of those people's lives out of Dr. Feinberg's life.
It was this relentless desire to master the word of God. He read through the whole Bible four times a year. Other men showed me the character that could be manifest in compassion. Somebody else showed me the power that could be generated in preaching. There was one particular preacher that I had the opportunity get very close to who showed me how to explain the Bible with the Bible and his name is Ralph Kuyper. He was nearly blind but he was he was in a research secretary for Dr. Donald Ray Barnhouse, the great preacher in Philadelphia tense press and he taught me how to explain the Bible with the Bible, which is been characteristic of my life so they're all these bits and pieces of these people throughout my life that sorta become a composite model for for me to follow, and I encourage young pastors fill your life with those kinds of people. That's right, John.
In fact, you have been one of those kinds of people in my life. I've learned so much from you and I'm sure many of our listeners would say the same thing. In effect, friend, if John's ministry has help you grow spiritually. Would you let us know. We would love to hear your story. If you have time, jot a note and send it our way. Contact us today. You can email your thoughts to email@example.com or if you prefer regular mail right to grace to you.
Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412. Here's our email one more time. Letters@TTY.you also find all of our contact firstname.lastname@example.org when you visit the website why.make sure you download this study Bible is a free app that gives you the full text of Scripture in the English standard King James or new American Standard version and it also allows you to link instantly from the passage or study to related online resources including study guides, blog articles sermons from John MacArthur to download the app again. It simply called study Bible visit TTY.and now for John MacArthur until Johnson reminding you to watch grace to you television on Sunday. Check your local listings for channeling times and then join us next week. John's going to look at how you can be a godly example at home work or at church. That lesson is part of his current study, reaching for the prize here Monday for another half hour unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on