Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak? – Philippians 3:1-3 – Skip Heitzig

Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak? – Philippians 3:1-3 – Skip Heitzig


Hello. And welcome to this message from
Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. If this message encourages you,
we’d love to hear about it. Email us at
[email protected] And if you’d like to support
this ministry financially, you can give online securely
at calvaryabq.org/give. As we continue our
series Technicolor Joy, we learn that spiritual thorns
that display joy can also threaten our
Christian experience. In the message “Has
Your Joy Sprung a Leak?” Skip considers some
simple principles that firm up our life journey
a keep the joy of the Lord intact. Please turn in your
Bible to Philippians chapter 3 as he begins. Lord, we intentionally now
just push everything aside and ask You to do what
You are so good at. And that is to convince us
of how loved we are by You, and areas that You are trying
to deal with and carry us along through so that we can be
more and more into the image of Your Son, the
Lord Jesus Christ. How thankful we are that You
are so committed to our growth, to our maturity, that You
walk with us every day and give us so many
blessings, one of which is here right now– the freedom
we enjoy in this country to open up the scriptures and
the freedom to worship You. Speak, Lord. Your servants are hearing. In Jesus’ name, amen. I don’t know if you have
heard the name Billy Sunday, or if you know much
about who he was. Billy Sunday was a
professional baseball player. He was a center
fielder for Chicago who got converted and
became an evangelist. And he was a fiery
evangelist– so much so that when he would
speak, people would remark on the joy
and enthusiasm that emanated from Billy Sunday. Well, he spoke a lot
on the subject of joy. One of the things he
said is don’t look as if your Christianity hurts you. Isn’t that good? There’s too many people
who say, I’m a Christian. They wince their
way through life. He also said, the
trouble with many people is that they have
just enough religion to make them miserable. But my favorite quote by Billy
Sunday on the subject of joy is this. If you have no
joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere. My question to you this morning
is have you sprung a leak? Have you sprung a leak in joy? Has your joy sprung a leak? Now, there are a number
of things in life that can challenge
anybody’s joy. Circumstances can. People can. Everyday problems can. Overwork, sin, doubt,
disease, chronic pain– those are just a few things
that can challenge our joy. However, if those things steal
your joy, you’ve got a problem. And the biggest problem
is Paul the Apostle. You say, Skip, how do you figure
that’s our biggest problem? Because if those saints
can steal your joy, you’ve got an apostle,
you’ve got someone telling you to be joyful who has
every reason not to be joyful. No, we already know from
studying this book that Paul writes this from a jail cell. He does not know
if the verdict’s going to be live or die. But before we even
read this text, let me remind you of
something else Paul wrote. This is 2 Corinthians. It’s a paragraph that he
wrote in 2 Corinthians 11. Listen to Paul describing
his Christian background up to this point. He said, I have
worked harder, I have been put in jail
more often, I have been whipped times without
number, faced death again and again. Five different times the
Jews gave me 39 lashes. Three times I’ve been
beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night
and day adrift at sea. I have traveled
many weary miles. I have faced danger from
flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from
my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the
cities, in the deserts, and on stormy seas. And I have faced danger from
men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness
and pain and sleepless nights. Often, I have been
hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often, I have shivered with
cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all of this,
I have the daily burden of how the churches
are getting along. So how are you doing? I mean, with this
guy’s background– and yet, Paul the
Apostle felt he was so anchored to Jesus
Christ, so trusting in Jesus for his future,
that he felt it was no way he could not have joy. He couldn’t help but be joyful. And that has been a key note in
this letter up to this point. We’ve noted that. I want you to note
it one more time. Go back to chapter 1 verse
3, and just notice this. This prisoner in jail,
facing death possibly– verse 3 says, I thank my God
upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of
mine, making requests for you all, with joy. Verse 18, chapter 1, what then? Only that in every way, whether
in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached. And in this, I rejoice– yes– and will rejoice. Chapter 2, verse 16– holding fast the word
of life so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ
that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Yes? And if I am being poured
out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service
of your faith– in other words, if this costs me my very life
and I die in the process– I am glad and rejoice with
you all for the same reason you also be glad
and rejoice with me. Now, let’s skip ahead and
look at chapter 4, verse 4. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice. OK. So if you were to go back
and go through this letter and count how many times
Paul uses “joy” or “rejoice” or “rejoicing,” you
would count 14 times in all just in this letter. Now, with that as
our background, let’s look at our
verses this morning. Philippians, chapter 3– we’re
only going to look at three verses– 1, 2, and 3. “Finally, my brethren,
rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same
things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware
of evil workers, beware of the mutilation, for
we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit. Rejoice in Christ
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Now, immediately you
notice that, though he’s talking about rejoicing, he uses
some pretty strong language– very vivid warnings. Why? I think he wants to
shock them a bit. I think he wants
their attention. Their joy is being
threatened, and he wants to keep them safe from
the things and the people that are a challenge to their joy,
that are possibly robbing them of joy. You know, sometimes, when you
give instructions to people, they’ve heard them before,
so they’re not listening. And so you introduce
an element of shock to draw them in so
they get the point. So let me give you an example. There was a principal of a
school, a junior high school, in Oregon. He had a problem. Some of the girls in
that junior high school were wearing lipstick. They go in their little
girls, in the girls’ room, and put lipstick on. But then they would press their
lips up against the mirror, leaving dozens of lip
prints in the restroom. So the principal kindly
asked them not to do that, instructing them why. We have to clean up
every time you do that. Please don’t do that. You think it helped? Uh-uh. Didn’t help at all–
they kept doing it. So he thought, well, I got to
get a little more creative. So he invited all the
girls into the restroom, said, I’m going to give
you a demonstration. This is how hard it is
to clean the mirrors. So he got all the
girls in the room, and said, now, girls, when you
put your lip prints up there, we got to clean it every day. And here’s the custodian
to show you that it’s not that easy of a task. Well, they’re just sort of
licking their little clicks, talking, and not really paying
attention, and giggling. So he says, OK, I’m
going to demonstrate. So he tells the custodian,
demonstrate cleaning the mirror in the bathroom. So the custodian gets the
long handled squeegie, dips it in the toilet– [LAUGHTER] –scrubs the marks off
and squeegees it off. Since that day, there have
been no more lip prints on the mirrors in
the girls’ restroom. He’s a pretty smart
guy, isn’t he? That little shock value
changed everything. Well, so Paul does the same
thing in these three verses, especially in verse 2. What I want to show you
here are three defenses that will stop leaking joy– three defenses that
will stop, that will help you against
your joy leaking out. First of all, joy
must be guarded. Look at verse 1. “Finally, my brethren,
rejoice in the Lord.” Well, let me just say that just
because Paul says “finally” here doesn’t mean he’s done. He’s got a whole
half a book left. So he’s a preacher. So when he says “finally,”
it doesn’t mean finally. It means I have a whole
second half of the book to go. So it doesn’t mean he’s lying. It just means that the
word translated here should probably
have been translated more appropriately “furthermore”
or “also” or “on another vein.” That’s what the word can mean. It’s translated here “finally.” He’s going to use this word
again in chapter 4, verse 8. When he does it that time, he
is closing the letter down. But here, “finally”
means “furthermore.” So further more, or also, my
brethren, rejoice in the Lord. Those words from anybody else
would sound very shallow. But when they come from
the guy who experienced all that we found out
that he experienced, they are very profound words. Rejoice in the Lord. Now, he’s given them a command. In fact, it’s in what’s called
the present active indicative, which would be
translated this way. Go on constantly rejoicing,
or be continually rejoicing. Now, when I discovered that
that’s what that wording means, that tells me
something about joy. Number one, it tells
me that joy has much less to do with
what’s going on around you and much more to do with
what’s going on inside you– that no matter what’s
going on around you, you can respond
to that with joy. The second thing it
tells me is that it’s not an automatic response. This is something that
is a learned response. It’s a choice that you make
to make joy your outlook. How do I know that? Because by the time we get
to chapter 4, verse 11, Paul says this. Listen carefully. I have learned in whatever
state I am to be content. It’s not automatic. I had to learn that. And I have learned it. So that is now my response. Some of you will
remember when David in the Old Testament, King
David, before he was King, he was being chased by Saul. And he was very discouraged
and very distraught. And he thought he was
going to lose his life. We come to 1 Samuel,
chapter 30, and we are told, then David encouraged
himself in the Lord. So that’s Paul. Paul said, I will rejoice. And he goes,
rejoice in the Lord. You see, joy was Paul’s
outlook, because Jesus was Paul’s up-look. Speaking of that,
look at the phrase. “Finally, my brethren”– he
didn’t say rejoice period. He says rejoice in the Lord. Why is that important? Because he’s not saying
rejoice in your circumstances or be dependent on
people for your joy. When you rejoice in
the Lord, your joy is a byproduct of a
relationship with God. Perhaps one of the reasons
you don’t experience joy is because you’re looking for
joy in all the wrong places. You’re looking for
something or someone else to produce it for
you and in you. The way I see it, joy is
a spiritual reality check. Let’s see. God is still on
the throne, check. I’m a child of God, check. All things work together for
those who love God, check. All of that produces
my response of OK, then, I’m going to be joyful. So I’m not joyful because my
circumstances are favorable. Oftentimes, they’re
not favorable. And I’m not joyful because
people are wonderful, because are they always? No. Have you seen the way
they drive around here? [LAUGHTER] That’s enough to
take your joy away. I’m not joyful because
I own things OR sad because I don’t own things. My joy is a byproduct of my
relationship with the living, loving, Lord of the universe. Rejoice in the Lord. That qualifies the command. Look at the next
sentence of verse 1. Paul says, for me to write
the same things to you, it’s not tedious or burdensome
or irksome or troublesome. It’s not tedious, but
for you it is safe. No, Paul knows he’s
repeating himself. He’s saying the
same things to them. For me to say the same things
to you, it’s not tedious. He knows he’s repeating himself. Living Bible puts it this way. I never get tired of telling
you this, and it’s good for you to hear it again and again. What does he mean? Well, he’s already talked
about joy several times, and he’s not done. And he knows that people
listening or reading this letter, it could
get a little tedious. OK. So you’re reading Philippians. You’re reading along, and
he talks about your joy. And then a few verses
later, he talks about joy. And a few verses later, rejoice. And after a while, you’re
going, he keeps saying that. It’s getting tedious. Hearing things repeated can
get tedious for some people. When I was a kid, when I was
in the bratty stage of being a kid, my parents
would tell me things. They would repeat themselves,
especially my father. And I had that juvenile,
dopey response– rolling my eyes. I wanted to– I know, I can actually
finish your paragraph. Dad, I know exactly what
you’re going to say. I knew the spiel. And listening to things over and
over again got a bit tedious. Well, I’m a parent now,
obviously, and a grandparent. And I see things a
little bit differently. I find myself
repeating those things. And history goes on. A good instructor
repeats himself. Let me say that again. [LAUGHTER] Well, Paul says, I’ve
said this before. I’m saying it again. It’s not tedious for me. And it’s actually safe for you. Now, Paul isn’t the
only one to do this. Peter, when he writes
his letter, he says this. 2 Peter, chapter 1– I will not be negligent
to remind you always of these things, though you
know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it’s
right, as long as I am in this tent, this body, to
stir you up by reminding you. Educators have always known
the value of repetition. Ask any fitness coach,
any athletic coach. My brother’s a golf pro. And he will tell you, you
need to make that swing and make those body motions
over and over again. And he will have you repeat that
and repeat that so that muscle memory gets locked in. You repeat it. Even Aristotle, a couple of
thousand years ago, said, it’s frequent repetition that
produces natural tendency. So he goes, I’ve said it
before, I’m saying it again. I don’t mind saying it again. And by the way, for
you, it’s actually safe that I say it again and again. Why is it safe? It’s safe because
he knows that there are joy-stealers out there. There are grace-killers. There are legalistic people
that attach themselves to every congregation. So joy must be guarded. But number two, legalism
must be avoided. And that’s his thought
when he gets to verse 2. He says, beware of dogs. He’s not speaking
to mailmen who are delivering your mail with a
little sign, “beware of dog.” He’s speaking about
something different. Beware of dogs. Beware of evil workers. Beware of the mutilation. Notice, three times, he
used the word “beware”– “beware, beware, beware.” These are warnings. Who is he warning them against? He’s warning them against false
teachers called judaizers– judaizer. Let me explain who they are. I don’t even know if you’ve
ever heard the term judaizers. I’m not speaking
about Jewish people. Judaizers were people who
mixed the grace of Jesus Christ with the law of
the Old Testament. And they believe you needed both
in order to be right with God. So when Peter in
Acts, chapter 10, goes into a Gentile’s house,
Cornelius, and shares with him and eats a meal
with him, the folks back in Jerusalem,
the judaizers– they were Jewish
people, Messianic Jews, converted to Jesus
Christ, trusted in Jesus– but thought, Peter,
you can’t do that. You can’t go into a Gentile’s
house and have a meal with him. They’re like unclean people. They got all upset. Why? Because they said, have to
come to Judaism in order to get to Christ. Paul the Apostle had
the same problem. He goes on his first
missionary journey. He goes into the synagogues
first, to the Jew first, also to the Greek. They kick him out
of the synagogues. He preaches to the Greeks
at the Areopagus, the agora. In every city, Gentiles,
non-Jews hear, respond. Well, by the time this
filters back to Jerusalem in Acts, chapter 15,
they’re beside themselves. They throw a fit. Acts, chapter 15, this is
what they say, verse 1. Unless you are circumcised
and keep the laws of Moses, you cannot be saved. Those were judaizers. They attached themselves
to the church, and they said that Gentiles
had to submit to Jewish rules. And they opposed Paul
wherever he went. So he warns them. By the way, if you’re thinking,
well, those days are long gone. We don’t have people like
that around today, do we?– are you nuts? There’s always people who
have a list of rules to keep, and you have to go through those
rules to be right with God. And by the way, not much
different than back then– there’s been a movement. And it’s been popular
for some time. It’s called the
Jewish Roots movement. That’s what apologetic
teachers will call it. Jewish Roots movement–
sounds beautiful. That is, let’s get in
touch with our Jewish roots and find out about the
festivals and the prayer shawls and the Hebrew
prayers and light the candles and wear the keep
and blow the shofar. And that’s cool. But what they do
is, a lot of times these are Gentiles, not Jewish
people, who are going back to Jewish roots and
believe that you have to be under the
laws of the Torah in order to be right with God. And so it’s dangerous. So Paul says, beware. Beware. Beware. Why? Because he knows that being
joyful means being careful. And we learn a lot about
the characteristics of these legalists just
from looking at this verse. Notice, first of all, the
legalists can be scavengers. That’s why Paul
says, beware of dogs. That’s a term of
contempt, by the way. You may want to try that. Go up to somebody
and go, you dog. No, don’t do that,
on second thought. It was like a cussword. The origin of the term
“dog” in Hebrew parlance goes back to
Deuteronomy, chapter 23. It referred to a
male cult prostitute. In Deuteronomy 23, it
says, you shall not bring the wages of a harlot
nor the price of a dog to the house of the Lord– very stark language to describe
a male cult prostitute. Well, as time went
on, did you know that Orthodox Jews
started using the term “dog” to refer to non-Jews? Gentiles– so Jews,
Orthodox Jews, would often refer
to Gentiles as dogs. Interesting that
Paul decides, I’m going to throw that term back
at them, these judaizers who say that we have to keep the
laws of Moses to be safe. Beware of dogs. He’s saying that’s who they are. Now, you probably
have figured out that the dogs he is
referring to are not your groomed little pets,
that jump up on your lap– [PANTING]—- that you put those
goofy sweaters on and all that stuff. These were vicious,
ferocious, scavengers who roamed the streets. They were dangerous. They ate filth. They bred disease. And just as a dog
tears and devours, so do legalists tear and
devour the grace of God. So Paul says,
watch out for them. Legalists can be scavengers. Beware of dogs. Second warning–
beware of evil workers. That’s part of their
characteristic. Legalists can be evil while
thinking that they’re good. They think they’re good. But Paul calls
them evil workers. OK. So what we have here is a play
on words, or a play on concept, you might say. Legalists believe that
you get right with God by doing good works. I’m going to go through
a ceremony and a ritual and do good. I’m going to try
hard and earn my way. And Paul says, those
are evil workers. Why would he dare do that? Because when anyone ever
says, I get right with God by doing good works, what
they are in effect saying– the work of Jesus Christ on
the cross was not good enough. I need to add to that some of my
own goodness and righteousness to make that a
completed, finished work. So I don’t want you to think
that I’m disparaging good works and saying, hey,
you’re a Christian. Don’t worry about being good. Of course, I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that
good works are a byproduct of a relationship with God. Once you come to Jesus Christ,
if you’ve really come to Him, if it’s really authentic and
there’s repentance and faith, He’ll change you. There will be good works. But the good works are a
byproduct of the relationship. Once they become the
basis of a relationship, they are evil works,
because you are saying, I need those works in
order to be right with God. One commentator writes this. There are people who do
not want us to be free. They don’t want us to be
free before God, accepted just as we are by His grace. They don’t want us to be free
to express our faith originally and creatively. They insist that all look alike,
talk alike, and act alike. Without being aware, we become
anxious about what others will say about us, obsessively
concerned about what others think we should do. We no longer live the good
news, but anxiously try to memorize and recite the
script that someone else has assigned to us. We may be secure, but
we will not be free. Once in 2 Corinthians,
Paul says that there are false apostles who corrupt
you– listen to the words– who corrupt to you from
the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ. It’s just so simple. Just trust Him. Just embrace the work
He has done for you. It’s so simple. And when that gets
convoluted, you have legalists who think they’re
good, but actually, it’s evil. Here’s a third mark in the
third “beware,” when he says beware of the mutilation. I’m going to explain that. Legalists can be destructive. Now, when he’s talking
about mutilation, the old King James
renders it “concision”– “beware of the concision.” If you ever read that,
you’re going, what on Earth is a concision? So here, it says, “beware
of the mutilation.” Other translations say “beware
of the false circumcision.” So did you know that
the covenant for Jews in ancient times of their
covenant relationship with God was the outward mark
of circumcision? A male child, at eight
days old, was circumcised. That is, the foreskin of the
flesh of his organ was cut off. And that was the symbol of
the national relationship the Jews had with God. What was it a symbol of? The symbol was to
speak of the reality that my flesh life is cut
away, that my focus is on spiritual things,
not on fleshly things. It spoke of a beautiful reality. But as time went on, the
ritual became a formality. It just became a formality. It’s not unlike baptism. For a lot of people,
baptism is a formality. You know how I know this? Ask somebody. Are you saved? Do you know you’re
going to heaven? Often, they’ll say,
I’ve been baptized. Nice. That wasn’t what I asked you. Let’s go back to the question. Are you saved? I’ve been baptized. Great, you got wet once. Are you saved? You see what they’re doing? They’re equating the
ritual they went through, the formality, with being saved. So they did with circumcision. Judaizers, as I mentioned,
taught that circumcision was vital to salvation Acts 15:1– unless you are circumcised
and keep the law of Moses, you cannot be saved. So Paul says, beware
of the mutilation. It’s a very strong term. The term he uses here refers to
the pagans cutting themselves, mutilating themselves. Flashback to 1 Kings, 18, if
some of you know that story, when Elijah’s on Mount Carmel
with the prophets of Baal– and it says they started
cutting themselves for hours, dancing around,
calling to their gods. Remember that? That’s the mutilation. So what Paul is saying is
that their circumcision is as meaningless
as pagan mutilation if there’s no reality
behind the ritual. So legalism does that. It mutilates the grace of God. It mutilates the work of Christ. If you were to boil
all belief systems down to their irreducible minimum– I like to do that– you could say that all
religions in the world have one of two approaches. There’s only two
religions in the world. You’ve heard me say this before. I see people go, oh, there’s
so many different religious systems and so many beautiful
examples of expression. No, there’s really only two
religions in the whole world. There is the religion
of human achievement, and there is the religion
of divine accomplishment. Every single religious
system, including sects of Christianity,
many of them, fall into the category of the
religion of human achievement. I am right with God
because I’ve been baptized and I go to church and I’ve
been confirmed and I try hard and I pray. That’s what you’ve done. That’s human achievement. Only Biblical Christianity
is in that second category, the religion of
divine accomplishment. It’s what Jesus did for you. It’s His finished
work on the cross. That’s divine accomplishment. [APPLAUSE] So joy must be guarded. Legalism must be avoided. And the third defense to
leaking joy is your identity must be comprehended. Look at verse 3. It’s our last verse for the day. “For we are the circumcision
who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” I’m amazed at how Paul the
Apostle can take one verse and put so much in it. In one verse, he
describes a true believer, a Christian believer. It’s a synonym of what
a true believer is. Verse 3 is a description. And it’s a contrast. As opposed to the false
religious legalists, we are the circumcision who
worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. So what is our identity? First of all, true followers– I’m not saying we all
or everybody here is. But if you are
like Paul and he’s identifying with
the Philippians, a Christian believer
is a true follower. Look at what he says. “For we are the circumcision.” Stop there. You could translate this,
because it’s implied, we are the true circumcision. We are the true circumcision. What he means by
that is spiritually, we are circumcised. We are not those who have just
a meaningless, outward mark. We are those who have a
true inward cleansing. We are the true circumcision. In Romans, chapter
2, Paul says, he is not a Jew who
is one outwardly. And the circumcision
is out of the flesh. But he said, a man is a
Jew if he is one inwardly, and the circumcision is the
circumcision of the heart by the spirit, and not
by the written code. See, there’s an inward reality
that the outward ritual needs to speak to. It’s like my ring. I have a wedding ring. I am ashamed to say it’s
the second one I’ve owned. I lost my first one
in the Pacific Ocean. So I quickly went to
a second hand store and got another ring. But the ring itself is not as
important as the relationship that I have. What if I wasn’t married, and
I had this ring on this finger? You would look at me and
you’d say, oh, he’s married. But I’m not married unless
I have a spouse, a wife. So the ring points to the
reality of having a spouse. I do have a spouse, by the way. And so I have a
ring to prove it. You may have a cross
around your neck and you may have a baptismal
certificate on your wall, but do you have a
Savior in your heart? That’s the crux of this. We are the true circumcision. So we are true followers. We are true worshippers. Look at the next phrase. We are the circumcision who
worship God in this spirit. Now, you know what that means– in the spirit as
opposed to the flesh. It’s not only outward. It’s not only rituals. It’s real. It’s authentic. Now, you will notice around
here, we always do this. We always emphasize the inward
as opposed to just the outward. And the reason we do
that– people say, why do you do that so much? Because I’m a Biblical
expositor, and the New Testament does that a lot. That’s why. It’s the inward over
against the outward, because anybody can go
through the motions. Anybody can say,
I’m a Christian. Here’s my Bible. I know these songs. I get together with
other people who believe. I do this once a week. But the outward needs
to speak to the inward. We worship God in the spirit. So do you remember when
Jesus met a Samaritan woman? And he started asking her
questions and talking to her, and he was getting
really personal with her about her marriages and
her previous love lives. And she’s getting really
kind of anxious about that and squiggling out of it. So she does what a
lot of people do. They deflect. Let’s talk about something else. And her deflection was
on outward worship. She said this. Our fathers worshiped
on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem
is the place where one ought to worship. See what she’s talking about? She’s deflecting to the
emphasis on something outward. It’s like saying, well,
we go to church here, and you go to church there,
so what’s the right church to go to? I love how Jesus answered it. He said, woman, the hour is
coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in
Jerusalem worship the Father, for God is spirit, and those
who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. It has to be authentic
in and from your spirit and based upon the
truth of scripture. The question isn’t do you
stand when you worship, do you sit when
you worship, do you raise your hands
when you worship, or do you sway when you worship? The question is do you worship? Is it real? Is it authentic? Is it you in your
spirit, in your heart, authentically worshipping God? So our identity as believers
must be comprehended. We are true followers,
true worshippers. Third description, we
are true celebrators. He says, we worship
God in the spirit, and we rejoice in Christ Jesus. Now, here, he loves
the word “rejoice.” But here, it would be better
translated “we brag on” or “we boast about.” We’re not boasting
about how good we are. We are bragging
about and boasting in what Jesus Christ has done
for us and His accomplishments. Now, here’s the dead give away. You can always spot
a legalist this way. A legalistic person
always minimizes the work of Jesus Christ and
maximizes the work of man. And by the way,
that’s why they have no joy, because it’s always “I’m
working hard to get to Heaven.” And they’re never sure
if they’ve worked enough. So there’s never
any satisfaction. There’s never any joy. There’s continual
shame and hope– hope I’m doing enough. And I’ve got to tell you what. I’ve been around
legalistic people who have these set of
rules and regulations. But then they act
so proudly and smug, like they’ve actually
kept all of those rules and regulations themselves. Mark Twain said, having
spent considerable time with good people,
I can understand why Jesus liked to be with
tax collectors and sinners. [LAUGHTER] Give me them any day
over religious folks. The fourth thing we are, and
we’ll close, finally, brethren. [LAUGHTER] We are true believers. We are true believers–
notice the last six words– and have no confidence
in the flesh. We depend totally
on Jesus Christ. Now, this is the place
where we’ve got to just go– [SIGHS]– oh, yeah. We’ve got to just sigh
a breath of relief, because you see, the
humanist message is you’ve got to pull yourself
up by your own bootstraps, son, because God helps
those who help themselves– which, by the way,
is not in the Bible, unless you wrote
it there yourself. [LAUGHTER] That’s the humanist message. The legalist message
is well, you’ve got to work your way to
Heaven and keep the rituals and keep the ceremonies
and cross your fingers. But that’s not our message. Our message is
Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain. He washed me white as snow. [APPLAUSE] That’s our message
of the Gospel. [APPLAUSE] And listen, that’ll bring
joy back to your life. That’ll bring joy
back to your life. He did it all. That’ll bring you joy,
because Jesus said, I have come that they may
have life and have it more– Abundantly. Abundantly. Abundantly– He didn’t
say, I have come that they might have bummer. [LAUGHTER] And bummer more abundantly– I know a lot of people with
abundant bummer in their life. I’ve come that they might have
joy and have it to the full, one translation says. The Skip translation, the NSV– to the max– joy to the max– abundant joy. Hey, let me close with this. Suppose that you get
a new car and you’re going on a driving vacation. You’re going to Rocky
Mountain National Park. So you fill your car up with
gas, and you’re driving up. You’re so happy. Your whole family’s there. But you get out of
town and you start noticing there
are people outside of their vehicles
pushing on the road. They’re pushing their cars. They’re pushing. You go, that’s kind of weird. So eventually, you
stop and get gas. And one of these pushers
comes up next to you while you’re pumping
gas going, hi. [PANTING] Where are you going? You go, I’m going to Rocky
Mountain National Park, and I’m driving. Yeah, I noticed that. I used to drive too. But now, we’re pushing. You go, yeah, I noticed
that you’re pushing. So what’s up with that? And they say, well, you know, we
used to be, like you, driving. But now, well, we’re
a little more mature. And we’ve grown a
little bit more. We know just a lot more
than we did at first. So we’ve discovered that
it’s really good to push, because well, you get good
exercise, first of all. And it’s good for
the environment. So you ought to just
get out of your car. You’ve got to push. And so let’s just say you’re
dumb enough to go, OK. [LAUGHTER] You sold me. Now that I’m smarter,
I’m going to go do that. So you’re out there pushing. And let’s say you go on
vacation with your family and you push your
car all the way up those passes to Rocky Mountain
National Park and back home. Now, I have a question for you. Are you joyful? [LAUGHTER] Are you kidding? You are miserable. Why? Because you pushed. This is what Paul meant when
he said to the Galatians, why is it, having
begun in the spirit, you are now trying to be
made perfect by the flesh? Or, with our
illustration in mind, you might put it this way– once you had a full tank
of gas in the spirit. Why are you trying to push
your way through life? It’s like people get saved. There’s a joy in the Lord. And they read some stupid book
or listen to some lame teacher and it’s like, here we go. I’m pushing. I’m working really hard
to get God to smile at me. Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. [APPLAUSE] And it could be,
because I was one. Maybe you are a person who
could be best described as a religious person– not a righteous person,
because the only righteousness God will ever allow
any human to have is by faith in
Jesus Christ alone. You might be religious,
but not righteous. You may be moral and sincere,
but I want to ask you this. Are you saved? Are you saved? Now, if you go, well,
I’ve been baptized, you know now it’s
the wrong answer. If you go, well,
I go to Calvary– sorry, God won’t check,
oh, you went to Calvary. Well, come on in. Are you a saved individual? Do you know Jesus personally? Do you worship Him in the
spirit as opposed to the flesh? Is your approach the
approach of the Gospel? Do you trust Jesus alone? I hope so. I pray so. If not, why not? Why not now just say, yeah, I’m
going to stop pushing this car. I’m giving Jesus the keys. I’m going to hop
in the backseat. I’m going to let Him take over. Let’s bow our heads and pray. Father, thank you for
such clear instruction from Paul in just
three verses, to write to a fledgling group who is
experiencing the enormous pull and pressure not
only of the world, but of people
attaching themselves to the Christian
congregation, who are pushing the agenda of
works or Judaism or religion. [AMBIENT MUSIC PLAYING] And so that joy must be guarded. Lord, I pray, as we discover
who we are really called to be, the true circumcision, the true
ones who don’t trust the flesh, but in the spirit, we brag
about what Jesus has done, not about what we have done. But Lord, I do want
to pray, for anyone who might be here among
us, they haven’t really tasted of that yet. They’ve come close. They’ve come here. They’ve heard maybe
many, many messages. But it doesn’t define them. It’s not their
personal experience. They haven’t yet
surrendered honestly to the finished work
of Jesus Christ, to the claim, Your
claim, on their lives, through the finished work
of Jesus on their behalf. They’re trusting in Jesus
plus their religion. They’re trusting in
Jesus plus their ritual. They’re trusting in
Jesus plus their works. They are similarly
caught in the same vortex that the early church was
caught in in Jerusalem and in Philippi. So Lord, I pray
they’d be free of that and trust in Christ alone
and breathe a sigh of relief, because sin is forgiven and
nothing is held against them in the annals of Heaven. With our heads bowed,
if You are here today and You have not trusted in
Jesus Christ for your salvation personally, you’ve never
personally done it– your parents may have done it. I see people all the time
who are drug to church. Their parents make them go. They don’t want to be here. They’d rather sleep
through the service or play Pokemon
through the service. But they want to
get out of here. Or their wives make
them come or they do it because their
relatives want to go. So what about you? Have you trusted
personally in Jesus. And if not, why not? And why not do it today? Why not just sit
simply say, I’m going to give my life to Jesus
Christ and make this real, make Him real to me. I’m going to receive Him
as my Lord and Savior. I want to make sure that when
I die, I’m going to Heaven. I want to make sure
that my name is written in God’s book of life. If you want certainty, with our
heads bowed and eyes closed– my eyes are open– I want you to raise your hand
so I can see and acknowledge that decision. You raise it up, keep it up for
just a moment so I can see you. God bless you, sir, right in the
middle, right down that aisle. Anybody else? Raise your hand, please. Right over here on the
left, several of you– one, two, three, four. Right up here in the front– yes, ma’am. Right there in the
middle– yes, sir. Thank you. Thank you for that. Right there, a couple more. Anyone else? Raise your hand up, please. A lot over here to my right. Thank you. If you’re in the
balcony, anyone up there? Raise your hand up. It’s a transaction
between you and God alone. Family room? Make that decision. God bless you and you, yes. If you’re outside, out
by the amphitheater, out by the fountain,
there’s pastors out– just raise your hand up. If you’re outside and you hear
this, if you’re in the overflow next door, the hub,
raise your hand. A pastor will see you there. Father, I now just pray for each
one who has raised that hand. I pray, Lord, that there would
be such relief in their spirit as they put feet to their faith
and make a prayer of commitment to Christ only to discover
Jesus was waiting there all along to forgive them
and wipe this slate clean and receive them
into His kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Let’s all stand, please. We’re going to
close with a song. And as we close with a song,
I saw several hands go up. I’m going to ask you
to do one final thing. If you raised your
hand, I’m going to ask you now to get up
from where you are standing, find the nearest aisle,
and walk right up here to the front, where I’m
going to meet you and lead you in just a moment in a
prayer to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you raised your hand,
please come forward. We’re not doing this
to embarrass you. As you can hear, we’re
doing this to encourage you, to celebrate with you. [CHEERING, APPLAUSE] Jesus called people publicly
in the New Testament. He called people in
front of other people and said, come and follow Me. So get up, come, walk forward. If you’re in the family
room, walk through that door. Go through the hallway
and stand right up here. We’ll give you just a moment. [MUSIC PLAYING] This is the most important
time of this service. Please be praying for those
people making this decision. If you didn’t raise your
hand, or I didn’t see you, it doesn’t matter,
just come right now. Come to Christ. Be forgiven. Don’t trust in yourself. Don’t trust in your religion. They can’t help you. Trust in Jesus. He will help you. He will help you. He will save you. We’ll give it just
another moment. You might be in the
middle of a row. You might be in the back. You’ve seen this before. You’ve watched this before. But that’s all you’ve done. You’ve watched this. Now, you come. You be a part of it. Make it your
personal experience. [MUSIC PLAYING, WOMAN SINGING
INDISTINCTLY] (SINGING) Oh, come to the altar. The Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the
precious blood of Jesus Christ. Oh, Jesus Christ. God bless you. Awesome. Great to see you. [MUSIC FADING SLIGHTLY] Yeah, come on up. Those of you who have come–
there’s a lot of you– I’m going to squeeze
right in here, right here. Can I do that? Don’t feel uncomfortable. It’s only me. So what I’m going to do
is I’m going to lead you who have come in a prayer. I’m going to pray
this prayer out loud. And I’d like you to say
it out loud after me– sort of like at a wedding,
they share vows out loud. So we’re all witnessing
this, this transaction. So pray these words
from your heart. Say them to the Lord as
you give Him your life. Are you ready? Say, Lord, I give you my life. Lord, I give you my life. I know that I’m a sinner. I know that I’m a sinner. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus– I believe in Jesus– –that He died on
a cross for me– –that He died on
a cross for me– –that He shed His
blood for my sins– –that he shed His
blood for my sins– –that He rose again
from the dead– –that He rose
again from the dead. I turn from my sin. I turn from sin. I repent of it. I repent of it. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. Help me to live
for Him as my Lord. Help me to live
for Him as my Lord. In Jesus’ name. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. Amen. [CHEERING, APPLAUSE] Awesome! [MUSIC PLAYING] As believers, we
have every reason to be joyful because of Jesus
Christ and His love for us. Did this message encourage
you to keep your joy intact? We’d love to hear about it. Email us at
[email protected] And just a reminder, you can
give financially to this work at calgaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for
this teaching from Calvary Church.

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