Friday, April 16, 2010

No Confidence in the Flesh

A number of years ago, I came across some sermons that changed me, and of which I need constant reminder. In the 80's and 90’s, Pastor Lon Solomon of McLean Bible Church taught on living by grace. I have an old cassette tape album called “Living By Grace” which includes the message “No Confidence in the Flesh”.

In “No Confidence in the Flesh", Lon Solomon says that most Christians are saved by faith, but live by works. This describes much of my Christian life. And I’m sure others fall into this as well. So here’s an outline of Lon Solomon’s message ...

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Phillipians 3:1-7 (NIV)
1Finally, 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.
2Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For 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— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised 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; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Summary: “God’s plan for believers is that we lean on his grace and not human resources.”
Many Christians have lost what means to simply walk hand in hand w/ Jesus.
The grace of the God is his desire and ability to meet your every need.
• v. 1-2 is a warning - watch out for false teachers that put confidence in human resources.
• v. 4-6 is a testimony - Paul had every human resource that you could possibly have.
• v. 3 & 7 is a declaration - Paul threw it all away to simply rely on the grace of Jesus.

Phillipians 3:3 “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.” (NIV)
In verse 3, Paul gives 3 marks of what it means to live for God …
• Fully depend on the Holy Spirit.
• Fully focus on Jesus.
• Put no confidence in human resources.

Phillipians 3:7 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” (NIV)
Why did Paul consider all of his human works to be a loss? Because they distracted him from living by faith.

If we are fully depend on God, does that mean that we do nothing? Does that mean that Christian practices like bible study, prayer, fellowship, witnessing are useless? No, Christian practices are useful. God can use them and the work we do. But we can’t trust in those things – they are not an end in themselves.
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If you’re like me, you’re easily distracted. You were saved by faith, but somewhere along the way you began to think that your Christian life is all about the things you do. Paul reminds us what we need to do have the abundant life the God offers us - depend on the Holy Spirit, focus on Jesus, and put no confidence in human resources.

Other related verses that I keep coming back to …
• Romans 1:16-17 “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. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (NIV)
• Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
• John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” ( NIV)
• Luke 10:41-42 “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (NIV)
• John 10:10 “... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)

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