Thursday, December 18, 2008

I’m Better So Don’t Bother

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
(Philippians 3:4 – ESV)

Paul was giving them and is giving us a reason not to trust in the flesh, that is, no matter how good you think you are, he was better than you, and since he doesn’t trust in his flesh you shouldn’t trust in yours. He says, “I have it but I don’t use it”, in a sense, “don’t be thinking you do, I’ve done more and got more than you yet I don’t use it and neither should you”.

If anyone could lay claim to pleasing God by law keeping and the works of the flesh, it was Paul. The process of joy means not having pride in your pedigree or your previous practice. No matter how good you think you are, you were born into the kingdom of men, and you must be born again into the kingdom of God (Galatians 3:26).

Why did God choose Paul? Galatians 1:13-16 / 1 Timothy 1:13 – perhaps because he did have such an outstanding resume, but God was not using this as a reward but a reminder that no matter how good it isn’t good enough. We see justification by faith here again. Paul was doing what he knew to do and doing it right, but sincerity is no substitute for truth. Paul had to repeat this idea of “works don’t work, because I did more than you anyway” theme over and over again (1 Corinthians 15:10 / 2 Corinthians 11:17-12:12) when defending his faith and apostleship. He now boasts of Christ (Romans 15:15-19 / Galatians 6:12-17 – he bears the true marks, the true circumcision). It isn’t that these things were all bad in themselves, but that these things only hinder us if we place our trust in them instead of Christ (Matthew 16:26).

Reckon that what you gain is greater than what you leave behind. You empty yourself of yourself; your heritage, your past, your social standing, your position, your passion, your performance, everything. Value the relationship with God above all else. Paul was speaking of leaving behind his Jewish heritage to gain something greater, which was Christ. You may think you're great, but Paul was better, so don't bother trying to tell God how good you are.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great picture to go along with the message. I have felt just what you have exclaimed.

Even So... said...

Thanks, Paul, not sure why the comments aren't showing up yet (except in the pop up window)...

Even So... said...

There we go, I hoped that if I commented the thing would get its act together...

Anonymous said...

The apostle Paul stands out as a fascinating paradox, for as you have mentioned, he lived “according to the strictest sect of (Jewish) religion,” (Acts 26:5), while in truth he was an accessory to murder & a oppressor of the church without peer in his day. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, yet a persecutor of Jesus Christ Himself.

Acts 9:15 The Lord said to Ananias, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

In this passage the paradox continues, for “he is a chosen vessel" of Jesus, yet “he must suffer for (Jesus’) name’s sake."

Paul’s conversion was a dual affirmation that both the “good” & the bad of any society are coequally in need of repentance before God- truly “all have fallen short of the glory of God.” Consequently, the best, the worst, & the “tweeners” all have the same call: humble repentance.

Even So... said...

Beta blogger takes some getting used to...

Even So... said...

BTW, Steve, excellent comment...

Even So... said...

I'm not sure why some commentors have gone from known to anonymous, still working with the beta stuff...

Even So... said...

11-28-06

MrsEvenSo... said...

This picture reminds me of your example....
"In this corner ... (me) and in the other corner ... GOD!" of course that makes it obvious who is going to win. And when we think of things in proper perspective that's exactly what we are doing. When we follow the flesh we are fighting against God Almighty.

From last week's sermon I've been pondering the image of God having my entire life recorded on DVD and replaying it for me on judgment day. That, is a scary thought indeed.

Even So... said...

Yikes!