by Mike Ratliff
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– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11 ESV)
Despite the effort of the emergents to deflect the focus of Christianity from Christ and His Gospel to a man-made Jesus and his social gospel, the Word of God is still very clear that the promise to true believers is resurrection from the dead. Eternal life in Christ is our blessed hope, not the uniting of all religious beliefs into a front that will make this world a better place. No, we must go through each day and do all we do looking unto Jesus as the object of our faith and salvation.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
Our Lord proclaimed to us that the Holy Spirit’s work is to turn our eyes away from self to the Lord Jesus. On the other hand, our enemy’s work is exactly the opposite. He knows that he can defeat us and cause us much doubt and despair if he can distract us from looking unto Christ and, instead, look upon ourselves. He distracts us to seek some fleshly thing then when we are out of the light he pounces with his accusations. He will tell us that our sins are too great and that since we have committed the sin he tempted us into then our faith must be a sham. He will declare, “You must not be a genuine Christian since you have failed to repent of this!” He will insinuate that since we have stumbled here then it will be impossible to continue to the end. He will even point out those to whom we look to for guidance and examples and tell us that we fall far short of them. He will accuse us of being false disciples because we don’t continually have the joy the Lord and seem to slip into fleshliness way too often.
Please take notice that all of these things point us to ourselves. There is nothing in any of us that is good. There is not one thing in me that was the cause of God saving me. No, it is not to my account that I am in Christ. No, it is Christ and Christ alone. If we look within, we will become discouraged very quickly if we are truly regenerate. Only the unregenerate could possibly be continually pleased with themselves.
On the other hand, what does the Holy Spirit do? He turns our eyes away from self and points us to Christ (John 14:26). We are in the right focus when we understand what He is telling us, that is, that we are nothing, but our Lord Jesus Christ is our all in all. We are not saved by our hold on Christ, but we are saved by Him. As wonderful as saving faith is, even it, though is the instrument, it is Christ’s blood and merits that save us. Therefore, let us look not so much on our works, devotion, and faith in which we grasp Christ, but look more unto Christ Himself. We hope in Christ, but instead of focusing on it, focus on the source of the hope. Look not unto your faith, but in whom you have your faith, the author and finisher of it.
If we measure our faith and walk by looking at our prayers, works, and feelings, we will never find the center of our fulfillment there. No, our joy, contentment, and rest is found in Christ alone, not in what we are or what we do or what we feel. To remain in the race we are to keep looking to Jesus our Lord and Saviour. In this we will overcome our enemy and have peace with God. Forget trying to find fulfillment in the doings of religiosity, but rather keep your eyes on Christ, His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession… Let Him and all these things be fresh upon your mind. Remember, to run a race requires one to run, therefore, we must not only get into the race, we must actually run it. Therefore, let us look to Christ in all we do, when we lie down, when we awaken, when we work throughout the day, when we drive our cars, et cetera. We must look unto Christ in all we do. We must not allow our hopes and fears to come between us and Him either. This is the essence of following hard after Christ. If we will go hard after God, He will come hard after us and He will never fail us.
Soli Deo Gloria!