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Philippians 3:7-11


Intro: Here is a woman, she is a good person, morally speaking. She is a good mother to her children and a good wife to her husband. She keeps a neat house and has a good, gentle spirit. For her, Christianity is about being a church member. It is about avoiding the "big sins" in life. It is about being a good neighbor, a good friend, a good parent and s good mate. She doesn't pray like she should, but she does pray when bad things happen. She doesn't read her Bible as she should, preferring instead to watch TV when she gets a spare minute.

Here is a man. He too belongs to the church, but he only attends when it is convenient, and usually it isn't! He is a good provider and he cares for and loves his family. He doesn't pray as he should either and he tolerates sinful habits, altitudes and affections that he knows he should deal with.

Here is a young person, they are a church member, but the church just doesn't seem relevant to them anymore. They watch the older folks at church and wonder why they should bother if they are going to turn out the same way in the long run. As a result, they attend infrequently, they rarely read their Bible and they only pray when there is a big problem.

Here is another church member, this person talks about how much they love the Lord and they are at church faithfully, but they are always defeated, always the victim and always in the middle of some big spiritual battle. They prayer, but their prayers are really selfish and do not honor God. They hear the preaching and read the Bible, but the warnings and the admonitions are always for others, and not them.

When we hear about people like that, we think, "Well, that's just normal Christianity!" We think, for some reason, that the Christian life is supposed to be one in which we lose more than we win; we fail more than we succeed; we cry more than we shout; we just barely get in and let others go all the way for God. We think the Christian life is one in which we fail and seek to justify our failures by pointing to others who are as bad off as we ourselves are.

Well, I want to shatter those notions forever this morning! What we think is "normal Christianity" is really "abnormal Christianity"! The normal Christian walks in victory in this life! The normal Christian is in love with Jesus and lives it! The normal Christian is not the victim, but he is the victor! But, the normal Christian is an elusive beast! Why? Because he is so rare! The church is filled with the run of the mill, abnormal variety, when it should be filled with the other kind.

If you want to see a normal Christian, then look no farther than the Apostle Paul. He lived the normal Christian life! He would never have been satisfied to live the kind of lives we live and try to justify today. You would never have heard Paul say, "Well, I'm just doing the best I can! Everything is against me and I have the hardest time being a Christian." You would never have heard Paul say, "I just can't stop this sin! I am so weak! It has such a hold on me and I know that I will never be free from it." You would have never heard Paul say, "I just feel like giving up! I can't live this way anymore and besides, no one understands how I feel. No body cares!" That wasn't Paul! No, he said, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." Phil. 3:13-15!

In these verses we have read this morning, Paul gives up some insight into what the normal Christian life is all about. I want to point out three steps you can take to begin to develop a normal Christian life. Let's look together for a few minutes at this thought, How To Develop A Normal Christian Life.


A. This Involves A Personal Assessment - (Ill. Paul and his past life - v. 4-6. If anyone had a reason to hope they could make it based on their birth and their religious background, it was Paul! All of this Paul accounted to be a loss. The word "loss" means "damage or injury" In Paul's life, what he thought were assets were really liabilities! All those things worked against him to prevent him from trusting a source outside his religion or outside himself. That made them very dangerous!) Friend, the same is true for you this morning! Just because you come from a Christian heritage does not buy you a ticket to Heaven. Being raised in the church and being a good person all your life will not save your soul! You still must be born again - John 3:3! Many times, what we consider to be assets in the religious realm are actually liabilities, hindering and preventing us from perusing a genuine, saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ!

B. This Involves A Present Accounting - Paul used present tense verbs to describe what he does with those things that he used to consider assets. He counts them as loss and he views them as dung! He is telling us that he lays all he is and has alongside Jesus and sees it all as garbage compared to Him! In other words, nothing in Paul's life was nearly as important as being a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Note: Is there anything in your life that hinders you from having a focused, vital, growing relationship with the Lord Jesus? Is it really worth the price of being hindered in your walk with Him? Just as a world class athlete must lay aside certain things if he is to be at the top of his game, the believer who wants to be all he can be for Jesus must lay aside everything but Jesus in order to know Him better!)

C. This Involves A Precious Acceptance - Notice why Paul did this, "for Christ", v. 7; "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord", v. 8; "for whom", v. 8; "that I may win Christ", v. 8. Paul was willing to turn his back on everything that was important to him so that he might be saved! He saw Jesus as worth more than everything else! Notice that he uses the language of "personal relationship" in these verses! (Note: The whole point of these verses is to cause us to see that knowing Jesus is more valuable than anything else in this life, or in the life to come! If you have all the religious attainments and miss Jesus, you have lost everything, Mark 8:36-37! Have you come to the place where you have calculated your losses? Have you seen the truth that you can have everything, but without Jesus, you have absolutely nothing?


A. There Is Persistence In A Consecrated Life - When Paul came to Jesus, he counted all his assets as losses and this he continues to do day by day! This is talking about a mind set that says "Jesus Christ is first in my life and I will allow nothing to come between me and Him!" Friend, it is easy to allow things to cloud your vision of Him! In fact, just about anything in life has the potential to eclipse Jesus if it is given an opportunity! The faithful, growing Christian is the one who is always looking for ways to deepen his relationship with Jesus and is constantly on the look out for things that would hinder that relationship, Heb. 12:1-2! (Note: When we see the Savior like Paul saw Him, it helps us to live this kind of life. He saw Him as Christ - "The Holy, Anointed One, the Messenger, Messiah and Prophet of God" Jesus - "The Savior Who gave Himself for all those trapped in sin." Lord - "The Sovereign Ruler and ventral authority of all of life, the One Who hates sin and is set against it.")

B. There Is Pleasure In A Consecrated Life - Paul speaks of the "excellency of the knowledge.." The word "excellency" means "superior, above and beyond the ordinary." Paul says that his just being able to "know" Jesus is a privilege beyond compare. Here, he is referring to the knowledge that comes by experience. It is one thing to hear someone else speak of Jesus, Who He is and what He can do. It is quite another to experience Him for yourself! Paul says that knowing Jesus is worth more than anything he may have given up to come to God. (Note: To know Jesus in a personal, intimate way is a blessing beyond compare! He is more than jus t story in dusty old book. He is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother! He is the shade on my right hand. He reveals Himself in the storm and in the sunshine. He shows His glory on the mountain of victory and in the valley of defeat. To know Him in salvation is just the beginning! Every mile reveals more of His glory to the seeking pilgrim! Every valley proves His sweetness. Every burden His grace. Every step is fragrant with His power and presence in the life of the believer. Yes. All of life is but dung compared with the knowledge of Him!) Note: Do you know Him? Not just know about Him, that is never enough! Do you know Him personally, intimately and experientially?

C. There Is A Payoff For A Consecrated Life - There may have been those who questioned Paul's mental state when he turned his back on family, fame, fortune and future to follow this man named Jesus. Surely he gave up a lot from human perspective. (Note: He was probably disowned by his family. Sometimes Jews would hold a funeral for those who had converted to Christianity. He lost his fortune, his friends, his heritage; pretty much everything of value to him before he met Jesus!) But, for Paul, what he gained far outweighed what he may have left behind! Paul knew that all his credentials and all his family associations and religious achievements would amount to nothing when he stood before the Lord. He wanted to stand before the Lord, not in his own works and goodness, but in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul knew that is he appeared within himself and within what he had done, he would be condemned, Isa. 64:6. But, he also knew that if he appeared there in Jesus, he would be accepted in heaven as if he were Jesus Himself, Eph. 1:6. Paul knew that the instant he trusted Jesus as his personal Savior, the righteousness of Christ was imputed (applied) to his account, Rom. 4:24. He knew that what Paul was would be judged as worthy of Hell, but that what Jesus was would be accepted by God. Therefore, Paul wanted to be "in Christ." This he was because he had placed his faith in Christ for salvation. He plainly tells us that this righteousness is given on the basis of faith alone. (Note: Where will that day find you? We are all going to stand before the Lord some day, Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10. You can either stand there as a Christian at the Judgment Seat of Christ, or you can stand there as a sinner at the Great White Throne. Where you appear will be determined by what you do with Jesus Christ! You see you are born into this world in "Adam", Rom. 5:12. All of Adam's children are under a death sentence because they are all sinners, Rom. 3:10, 3:23; 6:23. When a sinner trusts calls on Jesus by faith for salvation, that person is removed from Adam and placed in Jesus, 1 Cor. 12:13. If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, then you are saved by faith and you are in Jesus and not Adam. Everyone who is found in Adam will die and go to Hell! Every one who is in Jesus will be saved and will go to Heaven. The only way into Jesus is by faith, Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 10:9, 13; Acts 16:31. Where are you today? If you are in Adam, you need to get into Jesus. You can only do this by repenting of your sin and calling on Jesus for salvation by faith.) (Note: Just as a side note, living a clean life will never save the sinner. Salvation comes only through faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ as Paul himself says in verse 9.)


A. The Consecrated Life Longs For A Personal Experience - Paul says that he wants to know Jesus. He has already talked about his experience of Jesus in salvation. Now, he relates that he wants to grow in his experience of the Lord Jesus day by day. The normal Christian life is one that continually learns about Jesus and grows in grace day by day, 2 Pet. 3:18. You see, as we go through the experiences of life, we have the opportunity to learn more about Jesus Christ. As we experience His grace, His presence, His power, His glory and His blessings, we will develop a desire to know Him even better. The normal Christian life is one that cannot exist without Him.

B. The Consecrated Life Longs For A Powerful Experience - "The power of His resurrection", refers to the power of the life of Christ living through him. You see, Paul has learned what so many people never figure out: you cannot live the Christian life! It cannot be done! If a life is to be changed and lived in the newness of His power, then it must be lived through the Christian by the Lord Himself. This is just what Paul himself said that he desired in Gal. 2:20. The genuine, consecrated life is one that longs for the power of Christ to be in control of every aspect of life!

C. The Consecrated Life Longs For A Painful Experience - "The fellowship of His sufferings" This phrase calls to mind a readiness to go all the way with Jesus, even to the point of death! Far too many believers view themselves as a victim! Everything in life is against them and they are so pitiful! They have it so hard all the time. The consecrated life is one that sees genuine suffering as a means of growing closer to the Lord. A truly consecrated life reacts to suffering like Jesus said, Matt. 5:44; James 1:2-3; 2 Cor. 12:10.

D. The Consecrated Life Longs For A Practical Experience - "being made conformable unto His death" This phrase speaks about coming to the place where we reckon ourselves dead with Christ. This is the challenge to every believer! To die to sin and to self is to be more alive in the Spirit than ever before, Rom. 6:6; 11. The consecrated life is one that has ceased to live for itself. In fact, it has died to itself, its lusts and its attractions. It is dead to the world, but it is alive to God, His word and His will. All it wants is what God wants.

E. The Consecrated Life Longs For A Pleasant Experience - Verse 11 is about Paul's desire to leave this world in the rapture. He longs to be with the Lord and to return with Him to glory! This is the heartbeat of every consecrated life! It longs for the return of the Lord Jesus. It throbs with anticipation over His return. Therefore, it lives a holy, dedicated, consecrated and expectant life, looking and longing for the return of the Lord from glory, 1 John 3:1-3.

(Note: When you take all this into consideration, does it sound like the life you are living?)

Conc: In light of these verses, would you have to say that your Christian life is normal or abnormal? The church and the world have seen enough abnormal Christians to last for many life times. Don't you think it's time that people like you and me showed this world what Christianity is all about? That it isn't about church buildings and denominations; that it isn't about offerings, rules and regulations; but that it is about a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. We need to get real before the world and show them the difference Jesus makes!

There are some here this morning who do not even know Jesus. Like Paul, you are religious, but you are lost. I would like to invite you to come to Jesus today and lose your religion.

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