The Wrong Path to Pursuing Christ (Philippians 3:4-6)

Monday, November 28th, 2016

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The Wrong Path to Pursuing Christ

The eternal danger of religion–Philippians 3:4-6

I struggle when immature believers or so-called make-believers attack genuine Christians with the phrase, “You’re legalistic!” Shocked, soft-hearted Christians get hurt and ask, “What did I do?” So the attacker clarifies, “You tell believers they have to go to church, read their Bibles and pray–you’re legalistic.”

Christians can respond in one of two ways. First you can say, “Far from it, I am not legalistic–I am an obedient believer. And I am obedient, not because I have to obey, but because I want to obey. I have a heart that wants to obey Christ, Romans 6:17. God commands me to live holy. And the means to live holy is God’s Word, prayer, worship, fellowship and more.”

You can add, “I confess there are even times when I don’t want to obey, and I don’t feel like obeying, but I choose to obey because I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12. Though I am freed from the penalty of sin, I still run from sin and I pursue holiness through obedience to the Word in order to please the Lord who gave everything to me.”

Second, you might respond to the accuser like I would, which would be, “Wow, I had no idea you were part of the compromise crowd who use God’s grace as a means of excusing your sin. Did you want to confess your sins right now to turn to Christ?” You say, “Chris, you’d never say that.” Yes I would–Jude did.

Jude 4 says, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Wake up friends, Spirit-dependent obedience to the Word of God is not legalism. Obedience to the New Testament commands of Scripture is the pursuit of holiness, a desire to walk worthy of Christ with the hope of maturing in order to be more intimate with Christ.

Legalism is about keeping rules. Dependent obedience is about relationship. Most people have no idea what legalism is. Legalism is adding rules, traditions and laws to the Scripture in order to be saved, or an attempt to earn God’s favor. But dependent obedience to the Scripture is how believers are sanctified.

Those who attack heart-driven obedient believers are merely seeking to justify their own disobedient lifestyle. Jesus says to them in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Or worse in Matthew 7:22 and 23, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

It’s time for obedient believers to expose the error of the accusing compromiser who thinks God’s grace means, “I can cuss, get drunk, slander others and divide the church without consequence.” It’s time to shun those outside the Church (meaning stop being the friend of people like this–they’re not friends of Christ) and discipline those inside the Church who mock those who pursue holiness while these accusers live marginal, fleshly, compromising, probable pseudo-Christian lives in the name of a twisted and faulty view of God’s grace.

These mini-false teachers are seeking to harm believers and turn others into little images of themselves. Take your stand upon the Scripture. Reject their teaching, and if necessary when pushed, oppose them. They are doing much harm to the saints. Christian, you were saved to be holy and commanded to live holy. Ephesians 1:4, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” And 1 Peter 1:15 and 16, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

It is right we celebrate what God has saved us from (our sins), but today we are giving little thought and making little effort to all Christ has saved us to (holiness). Shouldn’t those who are most passionate about the Gospel, thankful for His grace and desire for God’s glory also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness?

Sadly, there is a huge gap in our enthusiasm. We are excited about what we are saved from (sin), but not enthused about what we are saved to (holiness). Why are we not as excited about living holy? Let me offer some reasons . . .

1  In the past, Christians equated holiness with abstaining from a few taboo practices, such as drinking, dancing, smoking, card-playing, Easter eggs, Christmas trees, etc., which were liberties but not matters of obedience to the Scriptures.

2  Our churches have many unregenerate people in them who are not interested in holiness.

3  Our culture has dismissed truth and rejected character as a requirement for leadership. As a result, genuine holy character has come to be viewed as not important by many in the Church.

4  The Church today often emphasizes a culture of cool that pushes the boundaries with language, entertainment, alcohol, fashion, even doctrine and whatever else is deemed cool.

With our culture of tolerance, labeling something as unholy or ungodly now feels judgmental.

6  Those who compromise are vocal against those who pursue holiness, so those who won’t compromise truth fear being called legalistic and are frightened by words like diligence, effort and duty.

7  Pursuing holiness is hard work, so many try to dismiss it as legalistic or reject it as unattainable.

8  As a result, many Christians have tried to live holy, but have just given up.

Open your Bibles to Philippians 3 and follow along with your outline. Paul told us last week we can live holy, we can pursue Christ, and we can walk worthy in verse 1. Philippians 3:1 to 3, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”

Paul taught us in verses 1 to 3, in order to pursue Christ we’re required to, #1 Sustain a HEART of joy, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (3:1a), #2 Remain DISCERNING, “to write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you” (1b-2), “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision” (2), then #3 Maintain GENUINE Christianity, and this included . . .

1st  Genuine TRANSFORMATION “for we are the true circumcision” (3a)

2nd  Genuine WORSHIPING “who worship in the Spirit of God” (3b)

3rd  Genuine BOASTING “and glory in Christ Jesus” (3c)

4th  Genuine INABILITY “and put no confidence in the flesh” (3d)

Now Paul does something crazy. He begins to explain the Spirit’s work in his heart as he was saved. Paul interjects his own personal testimony in verses 4 to 8 to reinforce the point he just made in verse 3, that believers are the true circumcision who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.

True believers do not trust their own flesh, they don’t rely on self-righteousness to earn salvation. Genuine Christians do not trust in keeping laws or rules to be saved. This is crucial, because the Philippians were assaulted by the heretical group known as the Judaizers. These were legalistic Jewish false teachers who taught that circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses, verse 3 (“having confidence in your own flesh”) were necessary for salvation.

Paul warned Philippi against the Judaizers by calling them, verse 2, “dogs, evil workers, and the false circumcision.” Then after unmasking the Judaizers in verse 2 and defining genuine Christians as the “true circumcision” in verse 3, Paul anticipates Judaizer response in verses 4 to 8. These unsaved legalists will undoubtedly argue that the Philippians, being Gentiles, don’t understand the rich heritage of Judaism. They would argue, these Gentiles should become tradition-obeying Jews first in order to become Christians.

Yet in no uncertain terms, with an in-your-face clarity, Paul will destroy their legalism by sharing his own testimony. Paul describes his own Jewish credentials and clearly declares all his religious efforts count as nothing–in fact, they count as a loss in turning to Christ. Paul shows us the legalistic route to Christ is actually the path to Hell in verses 4 to 8.

Paul shows us through his own life that all external religious efforts to get saved are errant. The Judaizers say, “Look at how good we live. Now you all do the same as us in order to be saved. Paul says, “Look at how much better I lived than you–and all that was wrong. It only leads to a false salvation.”

Paul’s Jewish credentials were impeccable. His works easily surpassed the Judaizers. Paul knew firsthand all that Judaism had to offer and he says all of it is excrement. Read what Paul says about his errant pursuit of Christ, the wrong path–the way that seems right but leads to Hell. Start with the end of verse 3d, “and put no confidence in the flesh.”

Philippians 3:4, “although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”

Do you have religious friends or religious family? The danger of religion is it teaches an external pursuit of God which ends up empty. The danger of the wrong path is you think you are pleasing God, but you’re not. The danger of external righteousness is that it actually nauseates God. The danger of legalism is a confidence in a faith which is unfounded. The danger of religion is it assures you of Heaven, but takes you to Hell.

In verses 4 to 6, Paul gives us all his assets, his religious credentials, the best a human can do to attempt to earn his way to Heaven. Paul is describing all his legalistic efforts at salvation before he became a believer. Next week in verses 7 to 8, Paul will tell us all those efforts are what you put in the toilet–excrement, worth nothing. All that religious work is a waste and a lie.

The path of the legalistic Judaizers leads to Hell. And Paul now says, “The pursuit I was on was far better than the Judaizers, but my path equally leads to Hell.” In verses 4 to 6, those legalists are trying to work their way to Heaven. But Paul says, “I worked harder and lived better than they did–yet all my religious sacrifices and heritage did not and could not save me. Paul gives eight reasons why.

#1  Salvation is not by CONFIDENCE  Verse 4

Look at verse 4. Paul offers himself as 1) a SUPERIOR example and 2) a NEGATIVE example all at the same time. SUPERIOR, in that Paul speaks to the Judaizers and tells them you guys are the peewee league. If you want to try to work your way to Heaven, then take a look at what I tried to do. I far surpassed all your efforts. Paul emphasizes himself in verse 4. See it in verse 4, “I myself–even more than all you Judaizers.”

NEGATIVE, in that Paul speaks to the Philippians saying legalism, works or religion is not the path to pursue salvation. He just told us in verse 3, genuine Christians put no confidence in the flesh. Now he says in verse 4, “although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh.” Paul is not saying you can be saved through your own efforts–Paul says if you could, I would take the gold medal in eight different events.

Paul continues in verse 4, “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more.” As far as human achievement, pursuing salvation, I’m on the top of the pile. Now if Paul did not attach any merit for eternity through the efforts he is about to list, then why does he confidently list them all? Two reasons:

1  To silence those who might say Paul minimizes his Jewish path cause he wasn’t a very good Jew. No, quite the opposite–Paul was the best.

2  Paul lists his religious accomplishments to silence the claim of the Judaizers that these works have saving value.

No–Paul will say they are all a complete waste. Today, if you have confidence in your own righteousness–like you say, “I go to church, I keep the Ten Commandments, I am nice to people, in fact I am even nice to salespeople and those who cut me off on the freeway, thinking I am confident God is pleased with me. Then right here Paul is telling you, “No, you’re wrong.”

You must realize human righteousness–being nice, sacrificing for the poor, caring for orphans is nothing when measured against the righteousness of God. Righteousness is like perfection–once there is the tiniest flaw, it is no longer perfection. Once you commit the tiniest sin of thought or attitude, it makes all your righteousness unrighteousness. You’re either completely righteous by God’s definition or you are not righteous at all.

And the Lord’s definition is clear in Matthew 5:48, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That is God’s standard. Every one of you falls short. If you have a boat tied up to a dock by a chain that has ten links, you only have to break one link to set it adrift. And if the rocky waterfall is fifty yards downriver, the boat will go over it and be destroyed. Just as easily with one link broken as with all ten links broken.

It’s the same spiritually. Some break all the links of God’s law–we call them criminals. But each of us have broken the chain–some of you in a very small way, just one tiny link. But all of us have broken the chain and the result is the same–you are adrift, heading for that rocky death. We are all equally unrighteous from God’s point of view.

You can spill an entire bottle of ink on a white shirt, or just a little ink can leak from the pen in your pocket–either way the shirt is ruined. You can drink an entire cup full of poison, thinking it was apple juice–or you can just take one gulp of that same rat killing liquid. But either way, you’re dead. Each of us do good things, but all of our good deeds, even our best deeds, are contaminated by sin. And just one sin condemns you before a perfect God.

King Solomon knew about God’s perfection when he said in Ecclesiastes 7:20, “There is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” Paul reminds the Philippians, the Judaizers and each of you–do not be confident in your works. We can only be confident in the works of Christ for us.

#2  Salvation is not by RITUAL  Verse 5a

Paul says this in verse 5a, “circumcised the eighth day.” Paul was circumcised on the prescribed day–the only day. At the proper time, Paul went through the ceremony that initiated him into the covenant people. The reason the apostle mentions circumcision first before anything else is this very rite is what concerned the Judaizers the most. The Greek text literally reads, “With respect to circumcision I am an eighth-day-er.”

The eighth day strictly followed the Law in Leviticus 12:3. Isaac was circumcised at eight days old in Genesis 21:4. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day in Luke 2:21. But eighth day circumcision could not be said of every Judaizer. In all likelihood, some of them were proselytes from the Gentile world, and as a result they had not been circumcised on the eighth day, but as adults.

So already, Paul bettered them–that is, of course, if circumcision according to Law was a salvation advantage. Like most Jews, these Judaizers and Saul himself—they had forgotten that circumcision was to depict how sinful and in need of cleansing people are. The Jews as a people had turmed that surgery into a badge of righteousness.

Now as a believer, Paul put the most important Jewish religious distinctive into the loss column as he weighed it against what true salvation is in Christ. True salvation is not by ceremony, even if that ritual be Catholic mass, marriage in the church, infant or adult baptism, making a decision for Christ by walking an aisle or observing the Lord’s Supper. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone and in the person and work of Christ alone. Do not hope in a salvation you achieve by ritual.

#3  Salvation is not by RACE  Verse 5b

Paul adds in verse 5b, “of the nation of Israel.” West coast families are not snooty about lineage unless they’re from Beverly Hills, attended USC, have a cat or enjoy the city of Hemet. East coast families want to know your lineage. Were your relatives in the Revolutionary War? Are you a Roosevelt, Cabot, DuPont, Forbes, Astor or Shackelford?

For a Jew, Paul has all the right breeding. His parents weren’t mixed stock, like so many people in Palestine at the time. Nor had Paul been grafted into Israel. This is unique. The Ishmaelites could say they were Abraham’s descendants. The Edomites could claim they were Isaac’s offspring, but Paul was from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s offspring–Jacob who wrestled with God, then was given a new name, Israel.

Paul was by birth a member of the chosen people, the specially privileged people God described in Amos 3:2, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth.” The Judaizers were probably not able to say this since some of them were Gentile converts to Judaism. They wanted everyone to do as they had done, become a Jew. But Paul says, “I didn’t have to become a Jew–I was born an Israelite Jew.”

Yet this too is repudiated by Paul and considered useless excrement–unable to give you salvation. Paul says the true Jew is not outward, but inward–transformed in heart by the Holy Spirit when you turn to Christ. Salvation is not by race–being white, black, brown, yellow, dark or light does not matter. What matters is you have surrendered to Christ alone.

#4  Salvation is not by FAMILY  Verse 5c

Verse 5c adds, “of the tribe of Benjamin.” Benjamin is one of the most celebrated tribes in Israel. Benjamin was the younger of the two sons born to Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. Benjamin was also the last of Jacob’s sons to be born. Benjamin was the only son of Jacob to be born in the Promised Land.

Saul, Israel’s first king, was a member of the tribe of Benjamin. When the Promised Land was divided among the twelve tribes, the Holy City of Jerusalem was included in Benjamin’s territory. When the kingdom split after Solomon’s death in 931BC, only Benjamin and Judah remained loyal to the Davidic dynasty. The great leader, Mordecai, used by God along with Esther to save the Jews from genocide, was a Benjamite. The tribe of Benjamin was one of the most noble in Israel.

If saving credit exists for earning salvation and getting a ticket for Heaven by being in the right tribe, then Paul surely deserved it because he was the most authentic Jew, being a Benjamite. Many Jews in Paul’s day didn’t know which tribe they belonged to, but Paul’s family had remained pure Benjamites, which elevated him once again above the Judaizers.

But being a Benny didn’t elevate Paul before God. Your family does not matter. Students, you must come to Christ on your own. You must see your sin as vile and cry out for mercy from Christ on your own. Neither dad, mom, nor your family will get you into Heaven–only Christ can.

#5  Salvation is not by CULTURE  Verse 5d

Verse 5d adds, “a Hebrew of Hebrews.” Paul was born to Hebrew parents and maintained the Hebrew tradition and language, even while living in a pagan city. Acts 21:40 says, “Paul…spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect.” Then in 26:4 and 5, “… all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 5 … I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.”

The apostle’s claim to be a Hebrew of Hebrews is best understood as a declaration that as he grew to manhood, Paul strictly maintained his family’s traditional Jewish heritage. What’s the big deal? In the first century, the Jews had been dispersed all over the world. In every city and country, there were Jews. There were tens of thousands of them in Rome and in Alexandria there were more than a million.

They stubbornly refused to be assimilated to the nations where they lived. They faithfully retained their own religion, customs and their own laws. But many Jews living away from Israel forgot their own language. They became Greek-speaking out of necessity, because they lived in a Greek culture–they were Hellenized.

But a Hebrew was a Jew who deliberately retained the Hebrew tongue. Such a Jew would speak his local language, but he also spoke his native Hebrew tongue. Paul was born in Tarsus, a city in Asia Minor, not in Israel. But unlike many Jews scattered around the world, Paul remained firmly committed to the Hebrew language, orthodox traditions, and the customs of his ancestors.

Paul didn’t become a Hellenized Jew, meaning a Greek Jew, adopting Greco-Roman culture. No, Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews–that is, “purest of the pure.” Hebrew of Hebrews stresses the integrity of his lineage and commitment to his language and culture. Paul is saying, “I am definitely a Hebrew–a Hebrew if there ever was one.”

There are people in the US and abroad who think–if you’re a red-blooded American, you’re automatically a Christian. Paul says, “I was the purest Hebrew that ever existed.” But he’ll say, that too doesn’t buy you salvation. No, salvation is not your commitment to culture, it is your commitment to Christ.

#6  Salvation is not by RELIGION  Verse 5e

The end of verse 5e concludes with, “as to the Law, a Pharisee.” Literally, as far as the Law went Paul was a trained Pharisee. There were never more than six thousand Pharisees, but they were the spiritual Olympic athletes of Judaism. Their very name means “the separated ones.” They had separated themselves from all common life and from all common tasks in order to make it the aim of their lives to keep every detail of the Law.

Paul devoted his life to the rigorous observance of the Law. No man knew better from experience what the Jewish religion was at its highest and most demanding. So then how could a Jew ever take pride in being a Pharisee? Jesus described the Pharisees as snobs, peacocks, hair-splitters, fools, serpents, vipers, cheats and hypocrites. All that is true, but not all Pharisees were equally bad. Some were genuinely zealous for God and His Word.

In fact, Pharisaism at its beginning was not nearly as bad as it became. This religious party began after the closing of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament as a reaction to the abuses of Jews who had slowly become more fleshly, pagan and Greek. To be a Pharisee was to be a member of an influential, elite and highly respected group of men who fastidiously lived to know, interpret, guard, and obey the Law.

The Pharisees were neither chauvinists like the Zealots, nor radicals like the Sadducees, nor politicians like the Herodians. They accepted the entire Torah, the doctrines of immortality, the resurrection of the body, and the existence of angels. Their great mistake was accepting an entire system of legalistic interpretations which the scribes imposed upon the Law, burying the truth under a load of traditions.

Then they began to believe by obeying the Law they could secure entrance for themselves into Heaven. But no human being can live the Law, let alone all the legalistic applications to the Law, so most of the Pharisees became self-righteous, proud hypocrites who looked down on others. To the Sanhedrin, Paul declared in Acts 23:6, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees.” At his hearing before Agrippa in Acts 26:5 Paul testified, “I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.”

But Paul’s cherished status as a Pharisee was just one more item in his spiritual loss list–it did no good. No priest, monk, theological scholar, elder, deacon, or devout member of a cult can achieve salvation through religion.

#7  Salvation is not by SINCERITY, nor ZEAL  Verse 6a

Verse 6a begins with, “as to zeal, a persecutor of the church.” Paul sincerely hated the early Christians. In his zeal for the Law, as misinterpreted by the scribes, Paul threatened to slaughter the disciples of Christ, carrying out his program of molestation “even to foreign cities”, “putting in chains and committing to prisons both men and women.” If persecuting zeal could have opened the gates of Heaven, Paul would have walked right in.

The Jews viewed zeal as the supreme religious virtue. Zeal is a two-sided coin–one side is love, the other hate. To be zealous is to love God and hate what offends Him. Paul’s zealous but misguided love for God caused him to hate and persecute Christianity. After Stephen was stoned with Paul’s approval, he asked for letters to allow him to jail those belonging to the way.

In Galatians 1:13, Paul admitted, “For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” Late in his life, Paul confessed to Timothy in 1:13, “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.”

As far as sincere zeal, Paul surpassed the Judaizers. They only proselytized the Church–he had persecuted it. His zeal for God led him to relentlessly and mercilessly try to stamp out Christianity. Paul was sincere, but wrong. The world is full of people who are sincere in their religious beliefs. They’ll make any effort, pay any price, and sacrifice anything in their attempts to please God.

They may be orthodox Jews, loyal Roman Catholics, or even Protestants who attend services. They may pray, fast, or live in poverty and seek to do good. But religious zeal nor sincerity guarantees anything. Those people can be sincerely wrong. Don’t be fooled by zeal or sincerity in yourself or in others. Neither of those make you right with God–only Christ is the way to the Father now and Heaven later.

#8  Salvation is not by LEGALISTIC RIGHTEOUSNESS  Verse 6b

Verse 6b ends with, “as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” Paul claims there was no demand of the Law he did not fulfill. Really? Sure Paul had been so strict in his outward observance of the law, that in Paul’s pursuit of goodness, by human standards he had become blameless. His outward conduct seemed irreproachable.

The Judaizers were not there. By all outward appearances, Paul was a model Jew who lived by Jewish Law. He was not, however, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, who in Luke 1:6, “were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” Their hearts were right.

Paul seemingly had it all. He’d undergone the proper rituals, he was a member of God’s chosen people, he was from a favored tribe in Israel, he had scrupulously maintained his orthodox heritage, he was one of the most devout legalists in Judaism. He was zealous to the point he persecuted Christians, and he rigidly conformed to the outward requirements of Judaism. But all that religious goodness was useless for salvation.

And get this–the apostle did not come to believe all those things were good, but Christ was better. No–Paul viewed all those religious deeds and heritage was bad. Religious actions are deadly, because they deceived Paul into thinking he was right with God. False religion deceives the mind and consequently damns the soul.

Paul will tell us next week, all those zealous religious sacrifices are counted as a loss on the balance sheet of the soul. All those religious actions increased his debt before God, all those good deeds actually made things worse. The only hope, the only possible gain on the balance sheet, the only way to pay off the debt is knowing Christ.

You must completely abandon the way of human achievement and totally depend upon the work of divine accomplishment. Christ died so you would not have to die eternally. And Christ rose so you could live eternally.

Consider what Paul has taught us. Some of you this morning are trusting in a false gospel. You may have walked an aisle, prayed a prayer, signed a card, made a decision at camp and you’re hoping that will be enough to get you into Heaven. It won’t.

Others of you used to live bad–you heard about Jesus and now you live good, but you’re not born again. You are trusting in external lifestyle adjustments, rules you follow, but not in Christ. Friends, if you are saved, Christ lives in you and through you. Second Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”

Some have fallen to extremes–either legalistically counting on sacrificial actions to please God, forgetting you’re graced and loved by Christ no matter what. Or you’re liberally abusing God’s grace as you continue in sin, but reason your choices and freedoms are covered by His grace. And many are robbing their own joy because you are coasting. If you were to describe your spiritual life, you would not say you were cold, you would not say you’re hot–you’d say you are lukewarm.

But the Bible says, the lukewarm are the unsaved. It is time to repent of coasting and pursue Christ. Assurance of salvation is not based on a decision in the past, but the direction of your life now. Are you following Christ? John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Let’s pray.

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Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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