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Principles of Christian Living


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Title: Principles of Christian Living

Principles of Christian Living
Lesson 8
Lesson TextPhilippians 312-14
Philippians 312-14 12 Not as though I had
already attained, either were already perfect
but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that
for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Lesson TextPhilippians 312-14
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have
apprehended but this one thing I do, forgetting
those things which are behind, and reaching forth
unto those things which are before, 14 I press
toward the mark for the prize of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Lesson TextPhilippians 315-16
Philippians 315-16 15 Let us therefore, as many
as be perfect, be thus minded and if in any
thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal
even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we
have already attained, let us walk by the
same rule, let us mind the same
Lesson TextI Corinthians 924-27
I Corinthians 924-27 24 Know ye not that they
which run in a race run all, but one receiveth
the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And
every man that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to
obtain a corruptible crown but we an
Lesson TextI Corinthians 924-27
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly so
fight I, not as one that beateth the air 27 But
I keep under my body, and bring it into
subjection lest that by any means, when I have
preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Lesson TextII Timothy 46-8
II Timothy 46-8 6 For I am now ready to be
offered, and the time of my departure is at
hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have
finished my course, I have kept the faith
Lesson TextII Timothy 46-8
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day and not to me
only, but unto all them also that love his
Focus VersePhilippians 313-14
Philippians 313-14 Brethren, I count not myself
to have apprehended but this one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are
before, I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Focus Thought
We are running a spiritually disciplined life to
win the ultimate prize of Jesus Christ.
I. Aspiring to Win
CULTURE CONNECTION Discipline for the Long Haul
The apostle Paul wrote of disciplining his body
But I keep under my body, and bring it into
subjection lest that by any means, when I have
preached to others, I myself should be a
castaway (I Corinthians 927). Evidently, he
recognized the temporal nature of life on earth
and the lasting value of eternity. Further, he
saw his life as a marathon rather than a
I. Aspiring to Win
He was into it for the long haul, and he
intended to win the eternal prize by the grace of
God. Coach Art Liberman of www.marathontraining.
com states, The long run is the most important
component of marathon training because it teaches
the body to both mentally and physically tackle
the challenges presented in completing the
26.2-mile event.
I. Aspiring to Win
Physiologically, the body must learn to tap into
and utilize energy reserves from fat storage
sites after the glycogen (fuel stores in the
muscles, converted over from carbohydrate food
sources) have been depleted. Through long run
training, the capacity to store more glycogen
within the muscles increases. An increase in
glycogen stores translates into the ability to
maintain ones pace during the marathon and
delay the onset of fatigue.
I. Aspiring to Win
Conversely, trouble is on the horizon when you
run out of glycogen, as your pace will
significantly decrease. Believers are involved
in the run of a lifetime. They are running the
race of life, and they will win the prize of
eternal life only if they live with discipline
and a vision for the long haul.
I. Aspiring to Win
Contemplating the Topic
Men and women of the world often spend years
honing their skills and disciplining their minds.
Physicians, attorneys, and other professionals
spend countless hours memorizing facts,
information, and processes. Why do some
Christians believe they can get by with any less?
R. Kent Hughes, in his book Disciplines of a
Godly Man, offers a list of men who
disciplined themselves and
accomplished great feats.
I. Aspiring to Win
Mike Singletary (perennial All-Pro, two-time
NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and a member of
the Super Bowl XXV Dream Team). In reviewing
films of games played by his opponents, he would
watch a single play fifty to sixty times. He
studied the moves of every player until he could
anticipate their every move. Winston Churchill
(prime minister of England during World War II).
He has been proclaimed the speaker of the
twentieth century.
I. Aspiring to Win
However, his speaking ability did not come
naturally. Hughes comments, Churchill wrote
everything out and practiced it! He even
choreographed the pauses and pretended fumblings
for the right phrase. The margins of his
manuscripts carried notes anticipating the
cheers, hear, hears, prolonged cheering,
and even standing ovation. This done, he
practiced endlessly in front of mirrors,
fashioning his retorts and facial expressions.
I. Aspiring to Win
Thomas Edison (inventor). Edison finally
produced an incandescent light bulb after a
thousand failures. Each failure drove him to try
harder. Jascha Heifitz (greatest violinist of
the twentieth century). From age three until his
death at age seventy-five, he practiced four
hours a day. Hughes concluded, An athlete
may be born with a strong body, a musician
with perfect pitch, or an artist with an
eye for perspective.
I. Aspiring to Win
But none of us can claim an innate spiritual
advantage. In reality we are all equally
disadvantaged. None of us naturally seeks after
God, none is inherently righteous, none
instinctively does good. Therefore, as children
of grace, our spiritual discipline is
everythingeverything! Considering how men and
women of this world dedicate themselves to their
individual callings, it seems a shame for a
Christian to have less passion for the greatest
calling in the worldthe call to serve
Jesus Christ.
I. Aspiring to Win
Searching the Scriptures Aspiring to Win
Paul was no average Christian. He continually
aspired to higher heights in Christ Jesus. He
wrote, I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus
(Philippians 314). As with successful authors,
inventors, musicians, and athletes, Paul knew
that greatness does not just happen.
I. Aspiring to Win
He wrote, I discipline my body and bring it into
subjection, lest, when I have preached to others,
I myself should become disqualified (I
Corinthians 927, NKJV). In the Expositors
Bible, Robert Rainy comments on the text from
Philippians It is, one may fear, a common
impression among us that we are fair average
Christians,a feeling perhaps not so cherished as
to make us boast, but yet so cherished as to
make us feel content.
I. Aspiring to Win
And, alas! the very meaning of Christianity was
to inspire us with a spirit that would refuse so
to be contented.
A. Forgetting What Is Behind
  1. Forgetting What Is Behind

Forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are
before, I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus
(Philippians 313-14).
I. Aspiring to Win
One of mankinds greatest challenges is the
ability and willingness to forget the pleasures
of sin left behind at an altar of repentance.
Throughout their forty-year journey in the
wilderness, the Israelites continued to look over
their shoulders, regretting what they had left
behind in Egypt. We remember the fish, which we
did eat in Egypt freely the cucumbers, and the
melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the
garlick but now our soul is dried away
there is nothing at all, beside this manna
(Numbers 115-6).
I. Aspiring to Win
Somehow, in their minds, they revised history and
remembered an abundance of food at no cost.
How quickly they forgot the sting of the whips,
the hours of toil, and the threats of death.
Their discontent eclipsed their appreciation for
deliverance. The miracle of Mount Sinai soon
became rules, regulations, and tablets of stone
to be carried around in a box. The pillar of
cloud and the pillar of fire became as
common as the sun and the moon.
I. Aspiring to Win
The daily provision of manna from Heaven became
tasteless, and they began to beg for flesh.
(See Numbers 114-35.) The apostle Paul knew
that Christians must forget what they had left
behind, or it would eventually track them down.
He knew every day would not be a Day of Pentecost
with thousands being converted, baptized, and
filled with the Holy Ghost. Paul knew there would
be days filled with the mundane. He knew the
potential of becoming complacent with the
blessings of God.
I. Aspiring to Win
Sooner or later, the eyes of the Christian
looking over his shoulder would fixate on the
pleasures of the past, and they would entice him.
In describing the members of the hall of
faith, the writer of Hebrews stated that each
one of those great men and women of God was
subject to the same temptation to turn back.
Truly, if they had been mindful of that country
from whence they came out, they might have had
opportunity to have returned (Hebrews
B. Reaching for the Goal
  1. Reaching for the Goal

It has been said that if an individual has no
goal, he is certain to reach it. Paul had a goal
and he pressed toward it faithfully (Philippians
314). Not only did Paul discipline himself not
to look back, but he fixed his eyes on the
future. He had a goal, and that goal was to win
the prize of eternity with Jesus Christ. With his
goal in view, Paul did not consider
early-morning prayer or late-night preaching
too great a sacrifice.
I. Aspiring to Win
He knew that once his feet stepped on streets of
gold, he quickly would forget the pain of
imprisonment with Silas or suffering with the
saints in Rome. Yea doubtless, and I count
all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I
have suffered the loss of all things, and do
count them but dung, that I may win Christ
(Philippians 38).
I. Aspiring to Win
An Isthmian athlete endured many hours of strict
training before winning the honor of being
crowned with a wreath. If it were not for the
goal of receiving the crown, the races and games
probably never would have occurred. In the
busyness of our contemporary world, it is
imperative that every Christian has the goal of
eternal life with Jesus Christ clearly fixed in
his mind. For where your treasure is, there will
your heart be also (Matthew 621).
C. Living in Victory
  1. Living in Victory

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained,
let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the
same thing (Philippians 316). In this
verse, Paul spoke of attaining and maintaining.
It is one thing to reach a certain level, but it
is still another thing to maintain that level.
I. Aspiring to Win
When engineers first developed the jet engine, a
pilot could ascend to a great height very
quickly, but he could maintain that height only
momentarily. It took years of engineering to
develop an engine that could rise quickly to an
elevation miles above the earth and maintain that
elevation. Paul spoke of a place whereto we
have already attained. A person often attains to
the level of an initial repentance quickly.
I. Aspiring to Win
A person may quickly repent when he is caught in
the act of sin, convicted by the preaching of an
evangelist, or while reading the convicting Word
of God. However, maintaining that state of
repentance is another matter altogether. The New
International Version renders Philippians 316
Only let us live up to what we have already
I. Aspiring to Win
In Peters concluding remarks on the Day of
Pentecost, he stated, Therefore let all the
house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath
made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,
both Lord and Christ (Acts 236). Not only has
God made Jesus both Lord and Christ, He also must
become both Lord and Christ in our lives. We who
attain to repentance and the new birth find Jesus
as the Christ, but that alone is insufficient to
maintain an altitude of victorious
Christian life.
I. Aspiring to Win
To live in victory requires not only that we know
Jesus as the Christ, but also that He become the
Lord of our lives. Both are essential to continue
in victory. For as many as are led by the Spirit
of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 814).
II. Running the Race
Running the Race
In I Corinthians 924-27, Paul utilized the
Isthmian games to illustrate the effort of
believers to gain an incorruptible crown of life.
The Corinthians were well acquainted with the
competitive games because the games were hosted
by Corinth. Everyone who participated in those
games desired to win.
I. Aspiring to Win
Paul used the illustration to instruct his
readers to put the same kind of effort into
striving for an incorruptible crown So run,
that ye may obtain (I Corinthians 924).
A. Running to Win
  1. Running to Win

In his Commentary on the Whole Bible, Matthew
Henry expounds on verse 24 as though he were
writing to the Corinthians So run that you may
obtain. It is quite otherwise in the Christian
race than in your races only one wins the prize
in them. You may all run so as to obtain. You
have great encouragement, therefore, to persist
constantly, and diligently, and vigorously, in
your course. There is room for all to
get the prize.
I. Aspiring to Win
You cannot fail if you run well. Yet there should
be a noble emulation you should endeavour to
outdo one another. And it is a glorious contest
who shall get first to heaven, or have the best
rewards in that blessed world. I make it my
endeavour to run so do you, as you see me go
before you. Even though all Christians may win
in the race to our eternal home, it is
imperative that we develop a mindset similar to
the runners of Pauls day, running as though
only one would receive the prize at the
I. Aspiring to Win
Jesus gave us the reason for running in that
manner Because strait is the gate, and narrow
is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few
there be that find it (Matthew 714). Certainly,
it is true that all have the opportunity to win
at the end of the day, but the One who can see
the end from the beginning solemnly declared that
few would find it. Strive to enter in at the
strait gate for many . . . will seek to enter
in, and shall not be able (Luke 1324).
I. Aspiring to Win
Modern Christianity seems to have adopted a
belief that directly opposes the warnings of
Jesus. It is as though all are going to slide
into home plate and the umpire is going to
declare them safe. R. Kent Hughes, in his book
Disciplines of a Godly Man, describes the church
at the present time There is a vast herd of
professed Christians who exist as nomadic
hitchhikers without accountability, without
discipline, without discipleship, living apart
from the regular benefits of the ordinances.
I. Aspiring to Win
To borrow from Cyprians idea, they have God as
their Father, but reject the Church as mother and
as a result are incomplete and stunted. The
tragedy of this perception is that the masses who
believe they will win, will lose ultimately.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord,
have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy
name have cast out devils? and in thy name done
many wonderful works? And then will I profess
unto them, I never knew you depart from me, ye
that work iniquity (Matthew 722-23).
I. Aspiring to Win
If Paul were still ministering on the earth
today, we would hear his urgent warning to the
masses sauntering along the broadways of life
Run that you may win the prize!
B. Going into Strict Training
  1. Going into Strict Training

Every man that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain
a corruptible crown but we an incorruptible
crown (I Corinthians 925).
I. Aspiring to Win
Before Olympic athletes can achieve a gold
medal, they endure years of arduous training.
While some competitors slept and others played,
the one who was to become the gold medalist arose
early, performed hours of strenuous exercise, and
spent years repetitiously perfecting routines.
Similarly, in Pauls day the athlete gave up
everything to win the prize. Using this
illustration, Paul described his own life as
pressing toward the mark for the prize
(Philippians 314).
I. Aspiring to Win
If one is to win the prize of eternal life with
Christ Jesus, it will require spiritual sweat.
In writing to the young man Timothy, Paul
exhorted, Exercise thyself . . . unto godliness
(I Timothy 47). The names of the athletes who
participated in the Isthmian games have been lost
to the corrupting influence of time. The
identities of those who brought home the gold
from the most recent Olympic games eventually
will be nothing more than names recorded
in history books.
I. Aspiring to Win
Further, the sleek, well-conditioned bodies of
those athletes will lose their strength and
condition, and eventually they will die. To
choose the pursuit of athletic competition may
bring momentary recognition and reward, but to
choose the greater pursuit of the Cross involves
temporary sacrifice to gain the lasting reward of
eternity. The fools gold of affluence has so
blinded the eyes and darkened the hearts of some
modern Christians that they are unwilling to
enter into the strict training necessary
to win the eternal prize.
I. Aspiring to Win
Jesus asked, When the Son of man cometh, shall
he find faith on the earth? (Luke 188). It is
one thing to call oneself a Christian, but quite
another thing to be a Christian. It is one thing
to stand in the crowds that line the streets
cheering on the runners, but it is quite another
to endure the training necessary to compete in
the race. It is time for all who have been
standing on the sidelines to enter the strict
training necessary to win.
II Corinthians 617-71
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the
unclean thing and I will receive you, And will
be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and
daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having
therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us
cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the
flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear
of God (II Corinthians 617-71).
C. Subjugating the Flesh
  1. Subjugating the Flesh

Paul knew that in order to spend eternity with
Jesus Christ, it was imperative he continue to
crucify his flesh. (See Romans 813 Colossians
35.) I discipline my body and bring it into
subjection, lest, when I have preached to others,
I myself should become disqualified (I
Corinthians 927, NKJV).
I. Aspiring to Win
In the Expositors Bible, commentator Marcus
Dods describes the willingness of the Greek
athlete to surrender his will to the will of the
coach Contentedly and without murmur he submits
himself to the rules and restrictions of his ten
months training, without which he may as well
not compete. The little indulgences which other
men allow themselves he must forego.
I. Aspiring to Win
Not once will he break the trainers rules, for
he knows that some competitors will refrain even
from that once and gain strength while he is
losing it. He is proud of his little hardships,
and fatigues, and privations, and counts it a
point of honour scrupulously to abstain from
anything which might in the slightest degree
diminish his chance of success.
I. Aspiring to Win
He sees other men giving way to appetite, resting
while he is panting without exertion, luxuriating
in the bath, enjoying life at pleasure but he
has scarce a passing thought of envy, because his
heart is set on the prize and severe training is
indispensable. He knows that his chances are gone
if in any point or on any occasion he relaxes the
rigour of the discipline.
I. Aspiring to Win
It is imperative that every Christian keep his
eyes fixed on the goal of eternal life. The
runners in this Christian race should submit to
the instruction and training of their pastor.
(See Hebrews 1317.) Commitment to a church and
submission to a pastor seem less desirable today
in our individualistic society. Holiness has
fallen into disfavor by some and is mocked
others. However, these vital disciplines help us
in our pursuit of the goal of eternity with
III. Finishing the Race
Finishing the Race
Before heading to Jerusalem, Paul foretold his
fate to his disciples. He saw prison and hardship
in the future, but that would not deter him from
completing the race set before him. His goal was
neither retirement nor the accolades of man. His
goal was to finish the course upon this earth
with integrity. (See Acts 2024.) Even though
he was arrested and imprisoned, he ran the race
well and was near the finish line when he
wrote to Timothy from prison.
A. Finishing with Integrity
  1. Finishing with Integrity

In his Psychosocial Theory of Development, Erik
Erikson names the last phase of life Integrity
versus Despair. As men and women come down to
the close of their lives, they look back either
with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment or
with a sense of regret. Paul declared, I have
fought a good fight . . . I have kept the faith
(II Timothy 47). With a clean conscience, he
looked back over three decades of
struggle, risk, and joyful
I. Aspiring to Win
Though trials were very much a part of Pauls
life, Jesus promised that His grace would carry
him to the finish line. At one point in Pauls
life, a demonic spirit (messenger of Satan)
tormented him. Paul sought the Lord for
deliverance from that torment, but instead of
delivering him, the Lord assured him of grace and
strength to overcome the enemy. And he said unto
me, My grace is sufficient for thee for my
strength is made perfect in weakness.
I. Aspiring to Win
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest
upon me (II Corinthians 129). Gods strength
is made perfect in our weakness. And in those
moments of weakness, when we put our faith in His
strength, we too will find the grace to make it
to the end. Then, in the sunset of our lives, we
too will look back on this life with our
integrity intact.
I. Aspiring to Win
Having learned to put faith in the grace of God,
Paul gave Titus a formula for living an
overcoming life.
Titus 211-14
The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath
appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present
world looking for that blessed hope, and the
glorious appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself for us,
that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and
purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of
good works (Titus 211-14).
I. Aspiring to Win
If we will recognize that Gods grace is
sufficient for every trial and learn to say no to
ungodliness and worldly passions, then as we
cross the finish line, we will look back upon our
lives with integrity and confidently declare with
Paul, I have fought a good fight I have kept
the faith.
B. Running to the End
  1. Running to the End

I have finished my course, I have kept the
faith (II Timothy 47). The Christian race is a
marathon, not a sprint. Further, the finish is
more important than the start. In a marathon, a
runner may slip or fall along the way, but the
most important thing is that he not quit. But he
that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be
saved (Matthew 2413).
I. Aspiring to Win
For Paul, the race had lasted many years and he
had endured many hardships. In defending himself
against false apostles, he presented his résumé.
II Corinthians 1124-27
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes
save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was
I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night
and a day I have been in the deep in journeyings
often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers,
in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by
the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in
the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils
among false brethren in weariness and
painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness (II Corinthians 1124-27).
I. Aspiring to Win
What did Paul and the early believers possess
that caused them to choose suffering and death
rather than to deny their faith in Christ in
exchange for life? First, they had a clear vision
of eternity, unclouded by the cares of daily
living. For we know that if our earthly house of
this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a
building of God, an house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan,
earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our
house which is from heaven (II Corinthians
I. Aspiring to Win
Second, the early church possessed a vibrant
appreciation for the grace of God. In writing to
the Corinthians, Paul let them and us in on the
key to living in Christs victory. By the grace
of God I am what I am and his grace which was
bestowed upon me was not in vain but I laboured
more abundantly than they all yet not I, but the
grace of God which was with me (I Corinthians
1510). It is not that Paul was never
I. Aspiring to Win
However, with the vision of eternal life clearly
burned into his mind and the grace of God
supplying his strength, he ran to win and he ran
to the end. In his book, Disciplines of a Godly
Man, R. Kent Hughes cites the following poem by
Annie Johnson Flint When we have exhausted our
store of endurance, When our strength has failed
ere the day is half done When we reach the end
of our hoarded resources,
I. Aspiring to Win
Our Fathers full giving is only begun. His love
has no limits, His grace has no measure, His
power has no boundary known unto men For out of
His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and
giveth, and giveth again.
I. Aspiring to Win
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day and not to me
only, but unto all them also that love his
appearing (II Timothy 48).
I. Aspiring to Win
Every believer should ponder when was the last
time he longed to go to Heaven. When was the last
time he dreamed of going to Heaven and awoke,
disappointed he was still in this world? Every
Christian should desire a renewed sense of
excitement like he experienced shortly after
receiving the new birth. Jesus knew the potential
for the child of God to become accustomed to life
in the kingdom of God on this earth and become
I. Aspiring to Win
Consequently, He gave us the parables of the ten
virgins, the homeowner who was instructed to
watch, and the talents. (See Matthew 24-25.)
These are to encourage us to remain strong in our
journey. In II Timothy 46-8, Paul had arrived
at the end of his journey upon this earth. Seeing
clearly beyond this life, Paul envisioned the
crown of righteousness awaiting him on the
other shore.
I. Aspiring to Win
More than that, he saw Jesus patiently awaiting
his arrival, crown in hand. We too have a life
and crown awaiting us beyond this life if we live
with discipline and run the race with patience
and endurance.