Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Confidence In Christ

Part 8 of To Live Is Christ, a series through Philippians

You can listen to this sermon here.

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3). 

Your Christian Résumé

Probably most of us have written a résumé. As you know, a résumé is a list of our qualifications and accomplishments that we use in our attempt to get a new job. We try to impressive a prospective employer with our resume, but sometimes a résumé has the opposite effect.

  • “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.” 
  • “Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store.” 
  • One women sent her résumé without deleting someone else’s editing, including such comments as “I don’t think you want to say this about yourself here.” 
  • “My duties included cleaning the restrooms and seating the customers.”
  • “Objective: I am anxious to use my exiting skills.” 
  • “Other interests: Playing with my two dogs. (They actually belong to my wife, but I love the dogs more than my wife.)” 

One day we will all stand before God, and he will determine whether or not you and I are really Christians. (Not everyone who says he is a Christian, really is a Christian. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. 7:21). If you were to hand God your Christian résumé, how confident would you be that he would accept you into heaven? Maybe you’d be anxiously thinking, “Is my résumé good enough? Do I have the right qualifications? Do I have enough accomplishments?”

Consider "Bill Baptist's" Christian résumé.

  • I was born into a Christian family. 
  • At the age of 8, I walked forward during an altar call at my church and repeated a sinner’s prayer. 
  • I had perfect Sunday School attendance in 1983 and received the Scripture memory award in 1985.
  • I was baptized by immersion at the age of 13. 
  • I have read through the entire Bible 7 times. I even read every word of Leviticus. 
  • I pray almost every day
  • I go to church almost every Sunday. I have even attended church on my summer vacation.
  • I give a tenth of all my income to my church. I even give extra money to various charities.

Should Mr. Baptist be confident? No, his résumé is missing the one essential requirement for entrance into heaven: faith in Jesus Christ.

A Christian is someone who puts his or her confidence in Christ, not in his or her qualifications and accomplishments. 

Unless your confidence is in what Jesus has done for you and not in what you have done for God, you shouldn’t call yourself a Christian.

Where's Your Confidence? 

Paul was a man who once was confident in his own religious qualifications and accomplishments. But then he met Jesus on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), and his life was changed. From that day forward, his trust was in Christ, not in himself. And our confidence (trust) must be in Christ alone.

1. Confidence in Christ is sufficient. 

Paul tells the Philippians to “look out” (v. 2) for the Judaizers. The Judaizers claimed that faith in Christ is not enough to make a Gentile a Christian. They said that a Gentile must also follow the Mosaic law, and they emphasized circumcision (Acts 15:1). Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:11)—God’s promise to bless Abraham’s descendents and make them his chosen people.

By demanding that Gentile believers be circumcised, the Judaizers thought there were doing what was right. But Paul calls them “dogs,” “evildoers,” and “those who mutilate the flesh” (v. 2). The Judaizers thought they were the true people of God, but Paul says, “We are the circumcision” (v. 3). Unlike the Judaizers, the true people of “worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (v. 3). 

2. Confidence in Christ prevents immense disappointment. 

Paul writes, “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more” (v. 4). Then in verses 5-6, he presents his pre-conversion résumé: “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” Paul had once thought that his religious qualifications and accomplishments would bring him eternal life.

But,” he writes, “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (v. 7). What he thought was a positive was actually a negative. Paul came to the realization that trusting in his religious résumé was actually preventing him from receiving eternal life. Religious people who continue to trust in their religious résumés will be shocked that they will not gain entrance into heaven.

3. Confidence in Christ brings immeasurable gain. 

Paul says, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 8). Paul was like the man in one of Jesus’ stories who sold all of his possessions to buy a field that contained a great treasure (Matt. 13:44). Paul adds, “For [Christ’s] sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (v. 8).

A Christian is someone who is justified—declared righteous (innocent of sin) by God. How is this possible if we are sinners? Paul says that he is now “found in [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (v. 9). How we can be justified through faith in Christ is explained more fully in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Your Christian résumé should read, “My confidence is in Jesus Christ.”

Do Good Works Matter? 

People like the Judaizers argue, “If faith in Christ is the only requirement to be a Christian, then it doesn’t matter how we live.” Obviously Paul didn’t think that good works don’t matter. In 1:27 he writes, “Only let your manner of life be worthy [fitting] of the gospel of Christ.”

Confidence in Christ doesn’t mean that sit back and do nothing. Paul’s desire is that “I may know [Christ] and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection of the dead” (vv. 10-11).

We don’t obey God in order to gain acceptance with God; we obey God because we love him.

Throw Away Your Flawed Résumé 

If your Christian résumé looks like Bill Baptist’s, throw it away. It’s garbage.

No amount of religious effort can make a person a Christian. The only way of acceptance with God is through faith in Jesus Christ.

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