The One Thing to Do | Josiah Jones

Josiah Jones // Mar 19, 2024

What are you putting your confidence in? Whether it’s your literal resume or your spiritual one, when we treat Jesus like a sidenote in the story we come up empty-handed. This week, Josiah Jones takes us through Philippians 3 to remind us we don’t need to perform for Christ, we just need to pursue Him.

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How are we doing, Dallas? Welcome to The Porch. If you're joining us for the very first time, welcome. We know you could be in a lot of different places here in Dallas, and you're right here at The Porch. If you're joining us online at our Porch.Live location… Y'all give it up after I say it. The Porch.Live Tulsa; Midland; Fort Worth; Scottsdale, Arizona; Boise, and a host of others, welcome with us. We're so glad you're with us tonight.

We've been in a series titled Essential. We're studying these "one thing" statements in Scripture. It's the one thing that gives everything else in our lives perspective and clarity. There are five different "one thing" statements in the Scripture. Tonight, we're going to be diving into Philippians, chapter 3, to unpack another "one thing" statement.

Before we get going, I was just thinking the other day… I had a thought. In America, we love to document our successes…trophies and trophy cases and social media, even. We love to document where we've been and what we've done. It kind of plays out in a way where you're hanging out with your boys or your girls… For me, I know when I hang out with some of my best friends, we talk about the good ol' days, and the good ol' days consist of our accomplishments and our achievements.

I remember walking down the hallways of my high school in Fort Worth, Texas, North Crowley High, and I remember looking at the trophy cases and reminiscing on the past. It brought me to a point in my journey where I was thinking about everything I had done over the last few years of my life. Do y'all remember these patches, the letter jacket? They look more like rugs. I don't know why, but they just do.

They document your successes…all-state, all-district. Or if you're like me, you didn't have any patches. I had to find a young adult who had some patches. This brother is just balled out. I mean, all-state everything. There are different flavors of this. It might not be a letter jacket for you, but it might be your résumé or your LinkedIn profile. Everything, all of our accomplishments…where we've been, what we've done, our GPA, our education…is all on one sheet or one profile. Why? Because we love to document it.

Maybe, for you, it's that big game hunting. You're like, "That's my buck. I put him on the wall. It's my trophy. I killed that with my .270, my rifle." You just kind of document it. There are different flavors of this in Dallas and other cities, and that flavor is us. We're the trophy. You know, you're at the gym, and you're like, "Look at me." You're flexing in the mirror.

Or you know the summer is coming, and you're going to be going out to the lake, you're going to go to that pool, and you're going to find that party cove. You're going to take those pictures over Fourth of July on the boat or you wakeboarding or you showing off your body that was meant for your significant other, your wife or your husband. Ouch. That's all too real. Right? You're like, "No, no. You're not going there now, bro." Don't we do that, though? Come on. I see y'all on the 'Gram. Isn't that what we do? We document our successes, our achievements.

It gets really weird when that desire to be seen in our accomplishments overlaps in our faith and maybe even in the church. I told you I didn't grow up in the church, but when I was young, I went to church for a couple of years, and I remember doing this thing called Bible Quiz. You're like, "Man! When did you do that?" Back in 1994. That's what it says. I mean, the trophy is so old it's yellow now. I got a trophy for this. I got a trophy for knowing answers to the Bible. That's just kind of weird. That's just a visual award for memorizing Scripture and being religious. That's crazy.

Why do I start there tonight? I start there tonight because we live in a culture of performance. It's hardwired in us. Paul, the writer of Philippians, is going to warn us against this. When you bring performance into the gospel, it says, "Jesus Christ, you're not enough. It's not just what you've done for me, Christ; it's what I do." Let me explain. The gospel says Christ performed for us by dying on the cross and three days later rising again to defeat sin and death. That alone is enough to forgive you and me of our sin and to be made right with him.

But when we add some type of performance to the gospel, it says that Christ isn't enough. Let me further explain it this way. If you die tonight, and you stand before Jesus, and he asks, "Why should I let you into heaven?" what are you going to say? Just in the quietness of your own heart… Don't blurt it back up here. What are you going to say in that moment? It's you and Jesus. You stand before him, and he asks, "Why should I let you into heaven?"

What's going to be your response? If it's anything other than the life, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you're wrong. If it's, "No, no, God. It's because I'm a good person. I tried to obey you really, really well. I tried to do some good things, some charitable things…" Nuh-uh. "But, God, I tried really hard." If you pull out your résumé of performance here on earth, you got it wrong. Why? Because that makes it about you and not Christ.

That makes it about me and not Christ, if I pull out my résumé of performance and all of the things I think are good in the eyes of a holy, perfect God. In that moment, that hypothetical moment, you put all your stock in your résumé, and you're like, "God, I went to Africa every year to help kids who didn't have clean water get clean water so their lives could be saved" or "God, I became the CEO of a Fortune 500 company" or "God, I memorized some Scripture," all of these different things you're going to pull out as your résumé that points to you, not him.

This is where Paul is going tonight in Philippians, chapter 3. The gospel says only what Christ has done. Tonight, we'll be in Philippians 3, and here we find a guy named Paul who used to point to his spiritual résumé. Watch this. Philippians 3:3: "[I] put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more…"

That sounds really prideful, Paul. Then he lists his résumé. Watch. "…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless." He's letting them know, "I did it. I've arrived." You're like, "What does that even mean?" Let me tell you what it means. Let me put it in modern-day language for you.

He says, "You want to talk about family? I was born to noble parents. They have connections everywhere. You want to talk about education? Texas, Baylor, A&M? No. Ivy League with honors. You want to talk about power? I have authority over my enemies. I can persecute them. You want to talk about religion? I've never missed a day of church, and I grew up in a Christian church. Listen. I've memorized more Bible than you have forgotten. You want to talk about respect? Older guys call me for advice. You want to talk about spirituality, stuff, status? I win."

Question: What are you putting your confidence in? That you never miss a Tuesday night at The Porch? That you got into some Bible study and now you know some verses? That you serve weekly in the church? Or maybe it's not so spiritual for you. Maybe you do some charity work every single weekend to help noble causes.

Or maybe it's your job, your six- to seven-figure income, your car, the guy or girl you're dating, the promotion, your body, your good looks, your gifts, and your skills. Paul is going to flip the whole thing on its head. He's going to say, "Hey, this is where I thought my worth was. This is where I thought my confidence lay, in my spiritual résumé, accomplishments, and stuff, but now I know…" Verse 7:

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…"

He's reiterating what we just talked about. When you and I stand before God, we're not going to be able to pull out our list of things we've done, the law we've come up with in our own mind that "If I do this or do that, then I'm good." We're not going to be able to pull that out. He says, "No. It's not a righteousness of my own that comes by obeying a bunch of rules; it comes through faith in Christ and what he has done."

The Greek word here for rubbish is skubalon, which literally means garbage or dung. All the stuff Paul gained in his life is garbage compared to knowing Christ. The best of our best without Jesus looks like a pile of garbage in our lives, but we fail to believe that. I fail to believe that. The guy standing onstage at times wants to go back to my résumé, wants to go back to the list, wants to go back to what I do instead of what he has done.

Paul is saying if you're going to pursue righteousness, pursue Jesus. Don't let looking good on the outside be your goal or just being better for the sake of being better. He says if you're going to pursue being the man or woman God has called you to be, you have to do that by pursuing Christ.

Question: What kind of desperation for God did you come into this place with? I know you've had a long day. Some of you worked 12 or 13 hours. You fought traffic. You haven't eaten. But you're here. I just wonder. What kind of desperation did we come into this place with when it comes to our yearning for God?

Ever since I came to Christ back in college my junior year, I've always resonated with men and women who have a deep yearning for God. They desire to be drawn by a passionate pleading for more of God. When I read Psalm 63:1, David says it like this: "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."

This is not David saying, "I just want to be a better guy." This is David saying, "I'm yearning from my depths with an active soul desperation." David is crying out to God. "God, I've got to have you." I wonder if there are any people tonight who want to seek God like that. He continues in verse 2.

"So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips…"

For David, God isn't some distant father, just some intellectual assent. He's near. He's a father who wants to dwell with his children. He continues on in verse 6. "…when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."

I resonate so much with King David, because when you read the Psalms, he kind of vacillates between "God, you're awesome. You're amazing. I just want more of you," and then all of a sudden he's like, "God, where are you? I feel far from you. God, I feel like you've abandoned me, that you've left me."

I was 30 years old and still single. I remember reading this passage of Scripture, the part where it says, "I'm in my bed, and I meditate on you. I'm watching for you in the night, and I'm crying out to you." I just remember saying, "God, have you forgotten me? Have you abandoned me? Have you not seen me?"

In that moment, God was like, "No. I'm right here where I've always been. I haven't abandoned you. Josiah, the goal is me. The end goal is me. I hear your heart, Josiah. I know you want to be married and you want to have a family, but are you satisfied with me and me alone? Because if you don't get there, Josiah, then you're going to find out that spouses make miserable saviors."

What is God doing in your yearning? What does God want to do in your yearning? What does God want to do in you thinking that God is some distant God who doesn't care for you or doesn't see you? He's after your heart. If he would give you the thing you want, it might cause you not to yearn and seek and pursue him the same way you would if you didn't get what you want.

David and other biblical figures who wrote and spoke this way were not just pursuing experiences; they were pursuing God. This is why David writes in Psalm 42, "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." We like to cheese this verse up. We like to put it on a coffee mug or a tee shirt where there's an actual deer on it, and we put that verse under the deer.

This is crazy. Why? Because David right here is in pain. He's crying out. He's saying, "Why can't I get there? Why can't I get more of you? Why do you not feel near to me, God?" So, what do we do in those moments? We lean in all the more, and we say, "God, I'm not getting up from this place until I connect with you, until I begin to see you clearly from your Word, where I begin to see you for who you really are in the midst of my circumstances, in the midst of my pain. I want to know you in a deep, intimate way."

You stay in it, even if that comes with tears, even if it comes with sadness. As I laid in bed that night, thinking that maybe I would never get married, God said, "Well, am I enough? Will I still be enough?" I had to wrestle that down. I came to a place where I said, "God, you're enough," and he met me in that pain.

Maybe some of you right now are sitting there, saying, "What does that look like?" It just looks like you crying out to God and saying, "God, I need you. I know I can't self-manufacture this on my own. I need your Spirit to meet me in my distress." Paul goes on to say in verse 8, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…"

Maybe some of you are sitting there, saying, "In 2024, I want to have this desire Paul has. I want to have this mindset that everything else is loss compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord the way he does." Do you want to know how you get there? You believe what Paul believed. Nothing else in his life mattered except for knowing him. Jesus was ultimate.

He knew with all of his heart that Jesus was the best thing for him. He knew Jesus was the best thing for his finances, the best thing for his relationships, the best thing for his dating, the best thing for everything he could possibly do…his job. For everything he spent his time, treasure, and talent on, Jesus was better. This is how you get there. He counted everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.

You don't wear this anymore. (Well, maybe some of you do. Let's talk about that after service if you do.) This is a picture of some of our lives. Everything about us is spelling out where we've been, what we've done. Paul simply says, "I count this as rubbish, trash for the sake of Christ." You're like, "Why do you still have this trophy?" I don't know why I still have the trophy, but you know what? I'm glad I have it, because it is an illustration that says even my spiritual résumé, even everything I've done for Christ, is trash for the sake of Christ.

I mean, isn't that where we're trying to get to? This is what Paul is pleading with us tonight. Whatever you think you do for Christ… I don't know what it is for you. Maybe it's your car. You're like, "Bro, you can have my car. It's a hooptie." Not for some of you. I've been out in that parking lot. Paul says, "Even my car is trash for the sake of Christ."

Money. We're chasing this, especially in Dallas…the performance track, the hamster wheel of "Man, if I do this, if I get that raise, if I'll go there…" God is saying through Paul that even money can't buy the satisfaction and contentment Christ can give you. It's rubbish. It's trash. Your résumé that you fit on one page, maybe two, is trash for the sake of knowing Christ.

For some of us it's our looks. It's external beauty. Ladies, I'm not trying to pick on you. This is just from one of our staff team, her makeup bag, but it's the same way for you men. You don't have this, but you've got your thing. I've been in some of the bathrooms of young adult men, and I'm like, "I didn't even know they had products like that."

Whatever you're doing with all this stuff… I'm not saying it's wrong in and of itself, but some of us allow it to distract us so much. Paul says, "No, no, no. It's garbage compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord." Your job, even your job, whatever you're putting your stock in…that corner office, that promotion…it's garbage for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Some of you are like, "But my education, man. I went to A&M." Did you not just hear Paul? He said, "I did Ivy with honors." Good for your A&M. It's garbage.

For some of you, your phone, your social media… It's garbage. And even my family. I know it. This is what God is trying to get every single one of you as a single to, that you would love him, and your love for him in comparison to your love for your family would pale in comparison. It would almost look like hatred, Jesus says. Marriage and family is garbage compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.

Some of you right now are like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, bro. That's an intense exercise you just did. I don't feel like all of those things are bad in and of themselves." They're not, but he's better. That's the purpose. He's better. You might ask, "Can these things not help me love Jesus more?" Yes, they can. My wife helps me love Jesus more. My kids help me love Jesus more. But here's the deal. Many times, those things become a distraction from the main thing, from your and my relationship with Christ.

This is where Paul is going in this text. He's pulling the Band-Aid off tonight, and he's asking you and me to do an inventory. C.S. Lewis said it like this. Our desire for pleasure is not too great; our desire for pleasure is too small. He's saying we pursue pleasure in the moment, but we don't hold out for ultimate pleasure. Whatever the fleeting pleasures of the day we give our mind's attention and our heart's affection to. I've done this. You've done this.

Let's run through some of them. "I really, really want to be married, but I want sex right now." "I really, really want to be married. I want to find the one, but I want to look at this naked girl, this two-dimensional image on my phone before I go to bed." "Hey, I really, really want to get married, but I want his attention more," when you know he's no good for you.

"I want God. I want a relationship with him, and one day I'll pursue that, because I know I need that before I die, but right now I just want to do me. It feels good what I'm doing." We pursue fleeting pleasures. One more. "I want to really serve God in my singleness, but my job has become an idol. I'm working 60 to 70 hours a week, but that paycheck that drops into my bank account is really nice." We pursue fleeting pleasures. We sell out for fleeting pleasures.

So, it begs the question…Why is Christ not your greatest desire? Why don't we pursue him like a first love, that everything else is garbage compared to that pursuit? Several years ago, I met my wife Cathy, and we started dating. She was living in Dallas, and I was living four hours away round trip. It was a hike to get to Dallas.

We came to this thing on Tuesday nights called The Porch, and we used to sit right back there behind the sound booth in the middle. I remember saying, "Man! That's a lot of hours of drive time." Four hours going to The Porch, and then we'd go on a date right after. I wouldn't leave Dallas until 10:30 or 11:00, and I wouldn't get back home until after midnight or 1:00 a.m., and I'd have to get up at 5:00 a.m.

Why did I do that? Because my love for Cathy wasn't just an emotion; it was devotion. This is what Paul is getting at. Our love for him pales in comparison to other things. Some of us say we love God, but it's no more than emotion that is fleeting and comes and goes. It's not this devotion that you'd do anything and everything to put him as the priority of your life.

Paul goes on in verse 12 and says, "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." Paul presses on (present tense) because Christ has made him his own (past tense). Paul's obedience to press on is directly correlated to God's ownership of him, of the gospel, of God saying, "No, no. You're mine, Paul. I've given up my life through my Son, my one and only Son, who hung on that tree so I could make you my very own."

So, Paul's obedience to press on is correlated to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel says that God loves you and there's nothing else you can do to earn that love. There's no amount of résumé building. He came on a rescue mission over 2,000 years ago. Christ left the comforts of heaven for a cross here on earth to pay for the sins of humanity.

You and I are bankrupt without Christ. There's no one who will cross over from death to life apart from putting their faith and trust in Christ. Anyone who repents of their sin and believes in what Christ has done for them will be made right with him, and Jesus says, "You're mine." I liken it to my little girls. I have two little girls, Camille and Isabella. I love them so much, and anytime I can share what true love really is, I try.

I was tucking them into bed last night, and I said, "Hey, girls, I love you," to which they always say, "I love you too, Daddy." It's the cutest thing ever. It dawned on me… I was like, "Man! I wonder if they know why I love them." That's a question that came up in my mind. I said, "I'm just going to ask them." "Hey, girls, do you know why Daddy loves you?" To which they said, "Because we obey you." I said, "Oh." "And then you take us to Tongue in Cheek Ice Cream." That's really what Camille said. I said, "Not quite."

I leaned over, and I put their faces in my hands. They were looking up at me and smiling…those eyes that pierce my heart every time I look at them. I said, "Daddy loves you because you're mine. God has given you to me to steward, to help raise. He has given you to Daddy and Mommy to love and to care for, not because of what you do for us but because you're mine."

I share that story with you because isn't it nice when someone's love for you is not contingent upon what you do? So it is with the love of God. It's not contingent upon you. If you could get to heaven based on your résumé of good works, what was the point of Jesus dying on the cross? He says, "You're mine" for everyone who puts their faith and trust in him.

It's also helpful here that Paul says, "Not that I've already obtained this." It's comforting for us to hear this. "Not that I'm already perfect." He's acknowledging that he still struggles and needs to grow. I love the honesty and authenticity in Paul. He says, "You must continue to follow Jesus," so he says, "Press on." Think about this in relation to your own sin, your own struggles, whatever that is.

Kylen said last week if we put all of our struggles back here on the screen, it would make us blush. We would just walk out and get out of here. But think about this in the context of whatever sin you're struggling with today. Here, Paul is saying there's a right way to struggle and a wrong way to struggle. The wrong way to struggle is to describe it like this: "Let me control it. Let me manage my sin. Let me kind of do my own thing over here and act like it doesn't exist." The right way to struggle is to press into Jesus.

My story of coming to Christ is one of real struggle. I had some things happen in my family growing up that produced a lot of heartache in my life. My parents divorced at a young age. I just remember growing up in that environment I was part of… It produced two things in me. There was some generational sin. There were two things I really struggled with. One was anger, my temper, and the other one was lust that turned into a porn addiction for a decade of my life.

I remember when the light bulb turned on, when the veil was removed from my eyes. I was playing college baseball at the time and thinking I had everything, the world at my fingertips. I remember God revealing to me my sin in light of who he is. I cried out to God and said, "God, I need you. I can't go along anymore without you." I remember repenting of my sin and trusting in what Christ had done.

Then I remember thinking, "Well, surely my temper is going to go away and my lust is going to go away. I'm not going to struggle anymore," but that's not what happened. There were still struggles I had to work out in my faith. This is what Paul is saying. The way we struggle well, the way we keep going, the way we press on…

He says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 it is by beholding, by seeing Jesus that we are transformed from one degree of glory to another into the image of Christ, that you and I would grow in our character in Christ, that we would look and say, "What in my life is inconsistent with Christ's character?" and we would begin to repent of that and see Jesus more in light of our sin and understand his grace even more.

It wouldn't cause us to run from him; it would cause us to lean into him, because you can't out-sin the grace of God. If you've truly experienced his grace, then it causes you to lean in all the more. How do we beat sin? We beat sin by pressing into Jesus, knowing him, chasing him. He knows our struggles. It would be crazy for us to try to hide that. I always say that the power of sin is in secrecy.

Like Kylen said last week, the freest people in the room are those who no longer have to hide. We come to Christ with everything we are and all of our hang-ups and all of our sin, and we just say, "Here it is, God. Take it. Go to work," and we get honest with ourselves. This is what Paul is saying. Paul is reminded of his tainted past filled with his own horrific sin. He used to persecute and kill Christians, but he knew the grace of God in his darkest hour of life.

This is why he says in verse 13, "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own." "I haven't arrived." I always say on this side of eternity, Christians never arrive. We keep pressing in. We keep knowing more and more about God. "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

So, what do we do? You see that phrase one thing. What is this one thing Paul is telling us to do? Don't miss it. He's saying, "Press on toward the prize." What is the prize? It's Christ Jesus. How do we do this? We forget what lies behind, and we press on, we strive to what's ahead. Those are the two things.

First, forget what lies behind. Paul is not saying we forget totally what's behind us. That's crazy. All throughout the Scripture, God says, "I want you to remember what I've done in your life. I want you to remember the goodness and the power and the things I've helped you overcome." All of us come into this room with something hard.

Throughout the Christian life we've experienced various wins, but Paul is saying, "Be careful that you don't feast on old manna." God wants to give you new manna today that's for today, new grace today that's for the struggles today. In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul warns us. He says, "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall."

Be careful not to put too much confidence in your flesh, because those of us who have too much confidence in our flesh will surely fall, but that we would be dependent on God. Don't live off the victories of yesterday. Yesterday's grace is inadequate for today's struggle, Paul is saying. Today comes with a grace of its own. His mercies are new every morning. This is what it looks like to press on, to pursue Christ. Forget past sins. Don't let them define you.

The other thing Paul says is not to be defined by shame. I remember when I first came to Christ asking, "How do I not define myself by shame?" Someone looked at me and said, "Well, if God doesn't condemn you, if God doesn't shame you, if that was put on the cross when he died, why would you put that on you?" God is reminding us in this moment, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Some of us have had things done to us or have done things we can't even mention or talk about. In the last several years of ministry, I've seen people heal from the prison of their secrets. God is in the business of restoring and making new. Paul is saying, "Forget what's behind us," but not this idea of forgetting in a way that you just suppress it and don't address it.

No, no. Paul is saying, "Don't let this own you." He doesn't say, "Don't own up to it," but he is saying, "Don't let it own you." When you confess it, receive the grace. Whatever your sin is, receive the grace so you can take that same grace and give it away and forgive others. Why? Because forgiven people always forgive people.

We also see that God's grace for our sin can actually be rooted in this incredible fact that when we see God's grace, we now can boast about our weaknesses. Paul says it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9: "I can boast about my weaknesses, because when I'm weak, he's strong." He also says in 2 Corinthians 11:30, "If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness." Why? So that the power of Christ can rest upon you.

If you always come into this place with a résumé, like, "I'm good. I've got this. I don't need anybody. Everything is good," you never experience his power, because his power is given to the people who have a humble and contrite heart. Do you have that tonight? Is your heart humble and contrite?

Second, strive forward to what lies ahead. I'm straining forward, and I'm pressing onward. I'm pressing on like he's the only prize there is. Paul uses this language all the time. I love this language. He says in 1 Corinthians 9:23-27:

"I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

Paul is saying that nobody runs a race to lose it. He says, "No, we run to win." How do we do this? We have to train. We have to strive. We have to discipline ourselves if we're going to win against sin and the things that are coming after us every single day. "Isn't this contrary, Josiah, to grace, talking about all this striving and toiling and training and disciplining ourselves?" No.

Dallas Willard says it like this: "Grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning." One of the best ways for us to get grace wrong is to believe it means we don't have to work in the Christian life. Nobody just stumbles into godliness. Nobody just shows up a powerful person of God because they didn't discipline themselves; they didn't train themselves in God's Word and to memorize Scripture.

If we truly believed we're saved from our work, then we would work harder purely out of gratitude. If we really believed there's nothing we can do to get to God and he has done everything, that we don't work for our salvation, then you and I would work from our salvation out of gratitude and worship because of what Christ has done for us. Is that true in your life?

John Calvin said it like this: "We are [saved] by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone." Every time you see faith in someone's life, it's always accompanied by works. James says it like this: "Faith without works is dead." Wherever there is faith in Christ, good works will surely follow. So, what are those good works? There's a change that happens in a person's heart. It happened to me in my junior year of college.

I never desired to get in God's Word and read it, but then I couldn't stop putting it down. I had no desire to fight against pornography, but I couldn't stop putting up guardrails to not give myself access to look at it, because I knew that when temptation and opportunity intersected, I was surely to fall. I was not going to put any confidence in my flesh, so I said, "No more. Where there's an opportunity, I'm cutting it off." I didn't have that desire.

Memorizing Scripture, connecting with other believers in community, guys who didn't look like me, dress like me, have the same hobbies I had, or like the same music I listened to… But do you know what they had? The commonality of Christ, and I needed them. They held me accountable, and they asked me the hard questions. I didn't have any desire for this apart from the Spirit of God that sealed me at the moment of my salvation and began to change my desires and renew my mind.

We do these things so we passionately pursue Christ. The prize is Christ. The prize we strive for is Jesus. So, the one thing I want you and me to do when we walk out of those doors, get in our cars, and go home tonight… This is the one thing. Are you ready for this? Press on toward the prize which is Christ Jesus.

How do we do this? Forget what lies behind. Address your stuff. That's not what I'm saying. Address it. Go to counseling, get in community, whatever you have to do, but don't live in it. Don't dwell in it. Forget about it. Let God heal you. And this is what we do. We strive forward to what lies ahead. He's not done with you. Do you know that? He's going to use your mess and make it a message, and that message is going to go out to the whole world if you let him.

This is what he does. He takes the prisons you used to sit in, and he gives you a key called the gospel and your testimony, and you begin to share that with other people who are sitting in the same prisons you used to sit in. When you share it, it unlocks the prisons people are sitting in in your office places, in your neighborhoods, in your apartment complexes, at restaurants, and God begins to use you in a way you've never been used before. What else do you want to give your life to? Let me pray that you would tonight.

God in heaven, would you help us see the overwhelming truth of the gospel tonight? Would we see that compared to the infinitely perfect holiness of God our righteousness is absolutely garbage. Would we see that Jesus laid aside anything he could have hung his hat on because he loved us. Philippians 2:7-8 says Jesus emptied himself, taking the very form of a servant, and he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.

Christ has counted all as loss to make us right with him. Would we believe that, God, not just intellectually but from the heart. Would we believe that Jesus isn't asking us to do something he hasn't done himself. He has emptied himself. He gave up his entire life so we may become one with him.

So, would we count everything as loss compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, and would you help The Porch and all of the other locations that are meeting right now around the nation to keep pressing on, to pursue the prize, which is Christ, forgetting what lies behind and striving toward what lies ahead. For your glory, our joy, and the world's good, it's in Christ's name we pray, amen.