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No Confidence in the Flesh

3 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ( Philippians 3:1-14, New International Version). 

What a wonderful morning to worship the Lord together. I am so happy and blessed to be with you this morning and to share with you the word of God that we just heard from Philippians chapter 3. I would like to continue the same theme of the sermons series that you took the previous weeks talking about building blocks of faith. Which made me think carefully about what could be essential in shaping and building the blocks of our faith, off curse our corner stone for our faith building is Jesus Christ but you know what sometimes we are missing this point in our life neglecting our spiritual growth in deepening our knowledge and relationship with Jesus. This is what made me choose the title of our sermon this morning: Knowing Jesus.

The Apostle Paul begins his letter with a warning, and it is not the first time he did that against a group of people that forces new believers to convert to Judaism first in order to become Christians. The real problem with that is that they do not consider that knowing Christ is sufficient and not considering Christ is their only pride in their lives, but nevertheless they are proud of their works of the flesh. Therefore, the apostle Paul himself gives them an example that he does not depend on the works of the flesh, and that his only pride is knowing Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul gives many wonderful qualities in his life, yet he is not proud of them. Some of them are good qualities, some of them are bad, and in all of these things he is not at all proud of them. He could have been proud of his circumcision, he could have been proud of being one of the people of Israel, who are God’s chosen people and whom God distinguished from all the peoples of the world. He might have been proud of being a Hebrew, of which he spoke fluently, or he might have been proud of being from the tribe of Benjamin, one of the most loyal tribes in Israel. Or he could have been proud of his domination as being a strict Pharisee and keeping all the the law. But Paul does not do so, because he considers that all of that is nothing, is  loss, is  garbage compared to gain and knowing Christ. I want to ask all of ourselves this morning, what could be hindering us from knowing Christ and growing in Him? What could be preventing our pride in Christ? What could we hang on and consider a gain in comparison with Christ? Is it our wealth that we are proud to have collected for our children? Is it our successful business or career? Or our pride focusing on the high education we have? Or a beautiful house or things? All these things are blessings from God to us, but never in comparison to our knowledge of Christ, and it is not the priority in our lives, but our priority is Christ. And this is the problem that we sometimes fall into, and I am one of you, that we put our work, our education, our ambitions to be the center in our lives and not our center in Christ. All these things will end, but the knowledge of Christ Jesus alone is eternal and will remain forever. God calls us today to arrange our priorities, what is so precious and most important that our lives should center around and hold on to Jesus Christ firmly and never let go.

In verse 10 there is a surprising thing for me that I was unable to understand, which is the request of the Apostle Paul that he wants to know Christ. That he still wants to know Jesus? What? At the first moment when I read this, I thought that Paul is a great hypocrite, because really who is asking this? Paul, who wrote for us two-thirds of the New Testament, Paul, who, because of the great revelations he had, God given him a thorn in the flesh in order to keep him not becoming conceited. However Paul finds that he still needs to know Christ more, And he still needs to realize and consider Jesus more in his life, still needs to be found in him. For Paul, knowing Christ is not an event in the past, but an event linked to the present and the future. The knowledge of Christ is renewed every day. He still needs to renew the power of the resurrection of Christ in his life every day, and to experience the power of the resurrection every day. The resurrection is not just an event happened in the past that we celebrate as we celebrated this month, but it is daily life with Christ, we experience his power despite all the sufferings of this present time. Which makes us renewed with hope and look forward to the eternal future with Christ. This is the thing that most challenges our faith because sometimes we are satisfied with knowing Christ, we think that we have reached the perfection of knowing Jesus. So our spirits stop growing and fellowshiping with Him. We see from the words of the Apostle Paul that the knowledge of Christ is unlimited and unendless. The Apostle Paul raises a prayer for the Church of Ephesians in chapter 3 and says: 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Do you think we will reach the perfection of knowing Christ? In earth and even in heaven, we will still need to go deeper into knowing Christ and his love.

Therefore, our faith is closer to being a journey full of experiences with God that formulate our understanding and knowledge of Him. Paul considers it a race and the goal of this race is to win and hold in Christ. But in order to win this race, he needs to do something important which is forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I want you to think with me about this question, what exactly does the apostle Paul want to forget that hinders his knowledge of Christ? We will all remember when he was Saul and he was the persecutor of Christianity. But I see that Paul is not referring only to his past life. But he refers to experiences and events, whether positive or negative, in his life that prevented him from knowing Christ. Paul forgets his old life with all its shame and disgrace, and also does not stop at his current knowledge of Jesus and to be satisfied with it. There are many experiences full of suffering, pain or loss in our lives that can not only disrupt our knowledge of Christ but can distort it as well. It is possible that some of these experiences and crises that we have happened in our life working on distort the love of Christ, distort the goodness of God, do not reflect God’s faithfulness, and raise many confusing questions for us. Why does this happen in our lives? It is possible that we could not forget these experiences because we did not recover or healed from them yet in the first place, and we still need God’s grace to heal our wounds. Until we come back to know Christ, trust in His righteousness, His faithfulness, and make sure of His love for us. Or it may be that there were some experiences in our lives in the past that were full of blessings and the presence of God in our lives, and we made them the standard for knowing Christ. So we get frustrated in our lives every time we remember that we were on this high spiritual level Or some good times in fellowship with God. Our relationship with God is ups and downs, and through it we discover Christ more and know Christ greater. What shaped Paul’s life and faith were not only his positive faith experiences in his life but also all the things he regretted doing in the past. God used Paul’s past and present to made him build the church. Therefore, we do not have to stop at an experience of growing in Christ. But let all our lives work by deepening in the knowledge and love of Christ. My brothers and sisters, I invite you to reconsider our race, what is holding us back in the race. Is it because we missed the target? Is it because there are many goals of thank knowing Christ and winning Jesus is not on the list. Let’s focus on the purpose of our life, the basis of our life, and all our lives, Jesus Christ. Because knowing and loving Him is the only thing that will last, and it will be the only thing we can be proud of. The only thing if we lost it means we lost the whole race. Don’t look back, focus on Christ, focus on his, love, and goodness. And the greatest thing that comforts us is that He is with us, sharing the race and giving us the strength to finish it. Amen!

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