FREED: from our PAST to His Future | Philippians 3:12-4:1
Topic: New Testament Passage: Philippians 3:12–4:1
Christopher Rich – June 3, 2018
FREED | From Prison to Peace | Wk 9
FREED: from our PAST to His Future | Philippians 3:12-4:1
Introduction | What is your past prison?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we’re continuing our series FREED: From Prison to Peace.
What does your past say about you? What do you believe about yourself from your past? How have you heard your story told in your head or by others? Is it the story that God has told about you? What from your past is keeping you from engaging in the present? At certain points what has happened in the past to us or that we have done traps us and imprisons us in a time and place we are no longer in. Sometimes this is past failures, past sin, past shame, or pain that we feel is impossible to move on from. We feel they are so big they cast a dark shadow over right now and into our perceived future. Other times it’s past success, past seasons of flourishing, past accomplishments we keep looking back on with such longing we believe they shine so brightly they are still enlightening our lives today even long after their true glow has faded. We cannot see our future because we’re always looking back. Then there is dealing regret in our past where we keep telling ourselves if we had acted different then, or achieved more then we would be in such a better place now. This is Uncle Rico disease from Neapolitan Dynamite. In all these cases our past becomes a prison. What is your past prison? How are you right now living in the past and how is it keeping you from being fully engaged in the present and hopeful for the future? Living in the past keeps us in prolonged states of immaturity where we are called to grow in maturity. It keeps us from seeing who we truly are today and who God is calling us to be as we go forward. We need to be FREED from our Past.
PART I | FREED from our Past | v3:12-16
Philippians 3:12-16 | 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. let us hold true to what we have attained.
We want to experience true resurrection power now AND forever we must break free from the prison of our past. This is necessary for us to live new in the present and for us to have hope of better in the future. Paul has just finished talking about how futile it is to rest on our own self confidence or accomplishments compared to Jesus in our place. To break free from that prison requires the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the resurrecting power of God. This power is real, it moves us from spiritual death to spiritual life it empowers us to grow and mature so we look less like our sinful selves and more like the person God has called us to be in Jesus. But there is a tension between what it means to be both new and being made new. Between who we know we should be, who we are, regardless of who we were. Paul is calling this tension between being FREED in Christ and being finished maturing and finished experiencing this power. He says he has not fully obtained the experience of this fully resurrected forever life even though he knows it has been obtained for him in the work of Jesus. It is the tension of not being satisfied while still being secure. Not being complacent while resting in contentment. This is not the end of our growth and maturity. This is not the fullness of God’s power in us or the resurrected life so we should want more.
To be experiencing growth should lead us to want more growth. To experience the power of freedom that comes in Christ should lead us to want more Freedom. We should want more power, life, endurance. We should always want to be better. We don’t need to be trapped in a new prison of performance or never being content, but be freed from a prison of complacency or low expectations. We are freed to mature.
We have been “Taken hold of by Christ” Jesus has purchased us as His possession so we can possess life with Him. We are owned by Christ, so we can own our life with Christ. So when we read “perfect” know it equals mature. This is something we grow in but never fully obtain in this life. We don’t finish, until we’re finished. How encouraging is it to know if Paul, varsity Paul, can say “I haven’t arrived yet,” then we can be free to realize than “neither have we.” True maturity is a raising awareness of your dependence on Jesus and how much more you need to grow. People in a prison of immaturity are those who are constantly content with things as not as they are, but as they were. This is enough maturity, is the same thing as saying this is enough of experience the new life we have been given in Christ. Compliancy is the enemy of maturity.
Present complacency has a relationship with our past. We fight compliancy by Forgetting.
We have been Freed to Forget (Isa-65:17 former things shall not be remembered or come into mind) The past can be dangerous. This is important part of repentance, turning, etc. Mature discipleship means turning from sin that was to a new life now. It also means forgetting the vision we had of ourselves birthed out of either pride or shame It means have a new vision for what true life looks like now and in the future. One that is focused on and pointing to Jesus. WE cannot let our past overshadow what God is doing right now.
Past full of sin/shame/despair- This imprison us from thinking that we’re so defined by our past we cannot possibility be embraced by God or accepted by people. When we remember and dwell on our past sins and shame that keep us from experiencing the gracious life with Him and His people, we forget what Jesus has done on the cross in our place is MORE than sufficient to pay for our sin and make us clean and new. We have to forget sin that seeks to define us and remember it has been forgiven and covered by Jesus.
Past is full pride/accomplishment/performance – Immature people have a season of growth, a season of production, a season of accomplishment, theye’re constantly going back to or resting on. “I was doing XYZ while you were in diapers” Cool. What are you doing now? What are you working towards? Where are you going? If all your Christians life, God working in and through you is in the past, you should be concerned. If you’re always looking back and saying I was faithful then. That was a good season. You’re back to trusting your performance then rather than communing with a living God in the here and now. You’ve forgotten how insufficient your deep need for the mercy of God is found in Jesus. You don’t engage with others well because of pride, you need to remember we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy.
Past has been twisted into lies. There are challenges with what is true from our past. Our past is an even more powerful prison that keeps us from maturity when its’ been rewritten into something it never truly was. We do this all the time. We rewrite the past in a few ways. We make it better or we make it worse. There are events and experiences that are powerful and have an impact on our current life and future but so much of it has to do with the narrative we tell around these events. How we relate to our story, our past, experiences, emotions, and narratives has so much to do with real life now and hope for the future. Relational Soul says you have experiences, emotion, and narrative. You can’t change the first to later, but you can change the third and that can change how it affects you today. How does our past lie to us?
That also means forgetting past lies. Our past lies to us and tells us a few things that keep us from maturity.
- The past was better than the present. Remember when? Nostalgia. That was peace. This happened to God’s people after they were brought out of slavery in Egypt.
- The past defines us more the present. We hold on to the things we’ve done or have been done to us so we believe where we’ve been defines us more than where we are, or where we’re going.
- The past is more powerful than the future. Whatever may happen cannot overcome what has been.
What is true? In the Gospel, trusting Jesus, we have a great hope in our new forever life with Jesus.
- The future will be better than the present and the past good/bad cannot compare.
- Where we are going defines us more, even now, than where we’ve been. Citizen of Heaven.
- The future is inevitable and will ABSOLUTLY overcome our past and present.
So where do you need to confess sin from your past? Where do you need to forgiveness from your past? Who do you need to forgive from your past? What lies from the past do you need to stop believing?
If we are going to be engaged with what God is doing in our lives now we have to forget what lies behind. When we keep looking in the past we’re denying how good God has been to see us through it. We’re forgetting how much God had done for us. We’re forgetting how much He is doing for us right now, and we’re forgetting how much God has promised to still do. Specifically with blessing. But also with taking our false confidence and giving us true power right now. I say engaged right now because there is another ditch in only look ahead to a distant future. WE are in sin when we look to the past or only to the distant future. Because God has led us out of the past but has not brought us to the future He has us in the present.
We are FREED to be present in the present. We never arrive in this life but we do strive. Shifting from complacency to striving can rob us of present contentment if So we don’t say “life begins when”. Life is now. So we engage now, not mourning the past or pining away for a distant future. This leads us to Self- pity and keeps us from striving towards where we are going. Striving… this means having an accurate assessment of what is true today. Because, what is true today is what is true. In my early 20’s I had some pretty legit running times during a couple of races, that was like 15+ years ago, I ain’t the fast today.
Remember God’s grace to you, praise God for what he’s done. But we fail to mature when we stop looking ahead for what He’s going to do. The only looking back we can do is back at Jesus perfect work in our place. Lot’s wife, looking back to the city. She longed for what was (and was begin destroyed) more than longing for what was ahead. When we are looking at past we cannot see the present and we cannot strive towards the future. When we are finally FREED to forget the past to stop looking back we can see we’ve been freed for a purpose, we are FREED to press ON (Strive, towards greater maturity) -
To possess the resurrection life (ownership) (v12) To progress forward to grow (v13) Toward the prize of glory when we finish our race. (v14) Towards the upward “heaven” orientation of a prize. The award of athletic achievement we’d say strving for a ring, a championship. In Roman times the winner of a race/sport would be brought up to the emperors box/suite and honored before the crowd. This is what Paul is alluding to. Our life as a disciple is way more like a long marathon than a sprint or one time event. We run a marathon not looking at the finish line (because it’s too far away to consider) but to see the markers mile by mile than tell us we’re at mile 16 and so thankful we’re not a mile 3. One more mile, one more step, etc… It’s like eating an elephant…. One bite at a time. We forget what lies behind but we don’t forget the progress made. You can’t go back because that is not where you belong.
Freed to hold ground God has gained for us. We also don’t have to fear losing what has been gained for us by God. When we progress sometimes in feels like three steps forward and two back but then we need to actually praise the step forward. God has given us growth we can hold onto. So we don’t daily have to walk in fear of failing in xyz. That doesn’t mean I walk foolishly. When we’re beginning to grow in something it can take awhile to really have somethings stick. Eventually, we have been changed by a degree or two or three in ways that don’t easily revert back. It’s that turn in an area of our life we we’ve gone from FREED from bondage in an area, to FREEDOM to not fear an area. Where we can truly know some real freedom is found in the victory that Jesus has achieved. So I can be told and encouraged to “Hold true to” what has been attained. We do possess some maturity that’s been granted for the present.
PART II | FREED from present Enemy to present Example | v17-19
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
What does maturity look like in the present? It is attainable now, but it is perfected later. More maturity should make you crave more maturity. But this only happens IF you’ve place your faith in Jesus. The new life with Jesus is here, secure, and available. There is freedom, joy, and a real future. There are also real stakes and real consequences involved. There is a present reality you need to confront. You are either walking as an example of a mature/maturing disciple or your walking as an enemy of the Cross.
Enemies walk like this: Deny Jesus, don’t think the cross is significant, or that Jesus is significant. They are complacent with themselves as the greatest authority in their life so all striving is to grow their independence from others, even God, rather than in growing dependence on the one we truly depend on.
Desire their own appetites - selfishness. Everyone is going their own way and it’s not a shared vision. They are governed by and worship themselves and their desires. This isn’t being ruled by our past, this is when we are so focused on the present we only care about what we want or enjoy now. WE don’t consider how our appetites, and our will might be contrary to what God would have for us because we are our god.
Define sin as glorious - Values reversed. When we’re are enemies of God’s work we’ll call our work, which God has called sin and glorious. The are not without shame, but they are shameless in their blindness to their present condition. It’s eat drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die. They forget actions have consequences.
Destination is destruction- They’re feasting on their own desires that are apart from the will of Jesus. The focus on this present time, place, experience, they have forgotten there is a future judgment. All their Sin leads to death. They are so focused on the things of this earth they have forgotten the trajectory of history is this. The earth will pass away and Jesus will return with a new Heavens and new earth. ONLY look at the here and now and never consider our eternal destiny. IF it’s not in Christ, it’s destruction.
But there is another away. The Gospel is enemies of the cross who have been met by, confronted by, Jesus who surrender to Jesus and He says stop being my enemy and join the new family. You’re not going to be a prisoner of war or execute for war crimes, you have been freed from the past to follow Jesus today and join with others who are following His example and the example of other faithful followers. Example that is imitate Remember the standard isn’t lowered, its shown as imitable. This is what it means to be part of a Gospel Community encouraging Gospel Living. “Join with others” in imitating a culture of growing in maturity. CS Lewis used a well functioning Navy as an analogy There is a group of ships together. They all share the same Goal/destination/mission (this is set as life with and for Jesus Christ). This requires them to function individually (this is the moral/practical life of every believer pressing on towards maturity) Finally the ships are all aligned in such a way that they’re not constantly running into each other and not getting in each others way. Examples walk (sail) together following other examples that are attainable. We can do this because we don’t forget our citizenship but remember the best is yet to come.
PART III | FREED to be Citizens of the Future | v3:20-4:1
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. 4 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Mature brothers and sisters know where they’re citizens of. Heaven. What does that mean? You’re a patriot of heaven. You are focused on advancing the values of your new nation and forgetting the values of your old one. Praising God he’s brought you out of that place, feeling His presence with you in this place and trusting Him to take you to a far better forever place. You are a citizen so you have privilege and duty now and forever.
We want to see real change, because we know things as they have been are not acceptable, and things as they are is not enough. So we have the promise of a new life with new power and new body that has been not just striven for but has actually be transformed to function gloriously in a new glorious future.
So for now we can stand firm in the present knowing our future in assured. Because Jesus is transformed we have the promise that we are going to be transformed. We stand united moving together.
Our future transformation will be complete, but presently we strive/press for progress now and tomorrow.
We don’t look like Jesus yet, but we look more like Jesus now than we did, so we praise God! And we’ll look more like Jesus in the future, so we praise God!
We don’t dwell in the past because that is not where our citizenship is. We were purchased from the past to be freed to strive for life now with the promise of a resurrected life forever when we TRUST JESUS!
More in FREED | From Prison to Peace | Philippians
June 24, 2018FREED: To Contentment | Philippians 4:10-23
June 17, 2018FREED: To Peace in Conflict | Philippians 4:2-9
June 10, 2018FREED: to Present Maturity and Future Glory | Philippians 3:17-4:1