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Learning How To Count
Scripture: Matthew 6:31-34; 1 Timothy 6:17; Luke 12...
Track 3 of 6 in the Philippians-A Life of Joy series
Running time: 58 minutes, 38 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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Counting, think about how many times in your life you use the function of counting. It is something we just do like breathing. There is no thinking about it, we just do it. But it I fun as a parent and even more fun as a grandparent to sit and begin to teach a small child the basics of counting.

How do you teach someone to count? What steps do you go through to teach this basic tool we use everyday and to count accurately?

We learned from Paul that in order to overcome the thieves that are out there to rob us of our joy, we have to develop certain attitudes of the mind. We have been talking about the single mind. In chapter 3, Paul is going to introduce to us the thief attitude we must develop, the spiritual mind.

It’s important to see the total message of this chapter before we start examining it in detail. The following outline will show us where Paul is going with this:

Verses 1-11: Paul’s past, the accountant, “I count”, new values
Verses 12-16: Paul’s present, the athlete, “I press”, new vigor
Verses 17-21: Paul’s future, the alien, “I look”, new vision

What Paul is describing is the “spiritual mind”. He is going to contrast those Christians who profess to be Christians that still have the mind that is focused on earthly things with the believer with the spiritual mind who has his thoughts on the heavenly things. You will recall that Philippi was a Roman colony. In a sense, it was a Rome away from Rome. In the same sense the people of God are a colony of heaven on earth. Our citizenship is in heaven and when we look at earth and all it has to offer, we see it from heaven’s point of view. This is the spiritual mind.

When Paul talks about the thief called “things”, what do you think he is talking about? What do you think some of the things are that Christians get themselves wrapped up in that causes them to lose or never find Joy in their lives?

There are the tangible things that we can see but there are also the intangibles such as reputation, fame, achievement. These are also considered things to Paul and these too can strangle the joy out of a person just as easily as the things we can touch and feel. Paul is going to share with us the things that were behind him, and the things that are still waiting for him. Many of the past things were the tangible and intangible things such as religious achievements, self satisfaction and morality.

We have to remember that the things by themselves are not sinful. God made things and the Bible declares that the things God makes are good. In Genesis and the account of Creation, after God created on a certain day and that day had ended, God said, “And God saw that it was good.” God knows and understands that we need certain things in order to live. Look at what Jesus says about things:

Matthew 6:31-34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Quantity is no assurance of quality. Many people who have the things money can buy have lost the things money can’t buy.

The key word in our lesson today is “count”. In the Greek, two different words are used, but the basic idea is the same: to evaluate, to assess.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates

Yet there are few people who really sit down to weigh seriously the values that control their decisions and directions. Many people are slaves of “things” and as a result do not experience real Christian joy.

What do you think Paul means when he says people are slaves to things? How does this happen and how do things enslave us?

In Paul’s case, the “things” he was living for before he knew Jesus seemed to be very commendable: a religious life, obedience to the Law, the defense of the religion of his fathers. But none of these things satisfied him or gave him acceptance with God. Like most “religious” people today, Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven.

It was not the bad things that kept Paul from Jesus – it was good things! He had to lose his “religion” to find salvation. I want you to think a minute about the slide that is up on the screen. Are there good things in your life that are keeping you from experiencing joy?

One day Saul of Tarsus, the rabbi, met Jesus Christ, the Son of God and on that day Saul’s values changed. When Saul evaluated his life, his wealth, he discovered that apart from Jesus, everything he had lived for meant nothing. In this lesson Paul is going to list two kinds of righteousness, works righteousness and faith righteousness. Faith righteousness is only one.

Works Righteousness: Philippians 3:1-6

Philippians 3:1-6 Finally, my brothers, 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 men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has 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 legalistic righteousness, faultless.

Paul is giving the church a triple warning. The warning is not about those outside the church, but those from within the church. He calls them dogs, workers of evil, those who are mutilators of the flesh. In order to understand fully what Paul is talking about, we have to go back into the early history of the church to get the answers.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

At the beginning of the church, the Gospel first went out to the Jews. In fact, the first 7 chapters in Acts only deals with the Jews. In Acts 8 the Gospel spread to the Samaritans but this didn’t cause too much upheaval because the Samaritans were partly Jewish. But in Acts 10 the first Gentile is won to Christ and an uproar was created. Peter was called on the carpet by the church leaders to explain his activities. Acts 11 is Peter’s explanation. The uproar was over why these Gentiles didn’t first become Jews to become Christians. Peter’s explanation satisfied the leaders for awhile.

Then Paul starts sharing the Gospel to the Gentiles and thousands of Gentiles are being won to Christ. During his travels Jewish Christians oppose Paul’s ministry and end up coming to Antioch teaching that is was necessary for Gentiles to submit to Jewish rules before they could be saved. This disagreement led to a conference in Jerusalem that is described in Acts 15. The result of the conference was an approval of Paul’s ministry and victory for the Gospel. Gentiles did not have to become Jewish proselytes in order to become Christians.

But, the dissenters were not content with the decision. They followed Paul wherever he went and tried to steal his converts and his churches. The term for this group is “Judaizers”. The whole letter to the Galatians was written primarily to combat this false teaching. It is the “Judaizers” that Paul is referring to in verses 1-2 of chapter 3.

Paul didn’t just use the names he calls this group because he is mad and upset; the names were used to make a point:

Dogs: The Orthodox Jew would call the Gentile “a dog”. This is how there were, like scavengers, attempting to steal his converts; constantly nipping at his heals as he traveled.

Evil workers: They taught that the sinner was saved by his faith plus works of the Law. Paul states that their good works were really evil works because their works were based on the flesh.

The Mutilation: Here Paul is using a pun on the word “circumcision”. The word translated “concision” literally means “a mutilation”. The true Christian experience is based on a spiritual circumcision in Christ.

Colossians 2:11-12 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

In contrast to the false Christian, Paul describes the true Christian, the true circumcision:

Romans 2:25-29 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

- He worships God in the Spirit: Does not depend on his own good works.
- He boasts in Jesus Christ: Does not let others know of his own good works.
- He has no confidence in the flesh: Does not depend on himself, looks to God for help.

The question I think about a lot with Paul when he talks about his former life is; how could a man who was so sincere about following God get things so wrong? Doesn’t he get some credit for effort?

The answer to this question is easy; he was using the wrong measuring stick. Saul of Tarsus was looking at the outside and not the inside. He was comparing himself with standards set by men and not by God. When Saul looked at himself or looked at others, he considered himself to be righteous. But one day he saw himself as compared with Jesus. It was then that he changed his evaluations and values and quit trying to do works of righteousness because he couldn’t achieve what God achieved.

Faith Righteousness: Philippians 3:7-11

Philippians 3:7-11 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

When Paul met Jesus on that road to Damascus, Paul tells us that he lost some things and he gained some things. The same is with all Christians. What were Paul’s loses?

Paul’s Losses:

• His reputation as a scholar and a religious teacher.
• His Jewish heritage and religious achievement
• His religious friends who admired him for his religious zeal

Paul measured these treasures against what Jesus had to offer and he realized that all that he held dear was really nothing but “refuse”. His own treasures brought glory to him personally and they did not bring glory to God. They were gain to him only if he were to remain selfish.

Paul’s Gains:

• The knowledge about Jesus – This means more than historical knowledge, it means to have a personal relationship with Him through faith. Salvation is knowing Jesus in a personal way.
• The righteousness of Jesus – Righteousness was a great goal in Paul’s life when he was a Pharisee, but it was self-righteousness that he could never attain. But when Paul met Jesus, he gained the righteousness of Christ.

The technical word for this is called imputation: it means to put to ones account. He looked at his own record and saw that he was spiritually bankrupt. He looked to Jesus record and saw perfect righteousness. When Paul trusted Jesus, he saw God put Christ’s righteousness to his own account. More than that, Paul discovered that his sins had been put on Christ’s account on the cross and God promised him that he would never write his sins against him any more.

• The Fellowship of Jesus – When Paul became a Christian, it was not the end, but the beginning for Paul. The experience was so tremendous that it transformed his life and the experience continued for many years to follow. It was a personal experience. But it also was a painful experience for Paul suffered a lot to follow Jesus and to do what God asked him to do.

Every Christian is to experience the loses and gains Paul experienced. The Christian lives for Jesus because he died to self and he takes up his cross daily and follows Jesus. The loses the Christian experiences is far less than the gains he experiences. In fact, for Paul the gains were so thrilling that all other things were nothing but garbage to him in comparison. No wonder Paul had Joy. Paul’s life did not depend on the cheap things in life but on the eternal values found in Jesus.

People who live for things are never really happy because they must constantly protect their treasures. They worry about their value. A person who has the spiritual mind finds his treasures in Jesus and can never have the treasures stolen and they will never lose their value.