“I Can’t Help the Way I Am, I Was Born That Way. God Understands, Right?”

This is an all too common attitude voiced by Christians and non-Christians alike in an attempt to justify behavior they do not wish to address or correct. If the behavior we were born with were “understood”, that is to say acceptable, by God, we would have no need of a savior; God would simply accept us the way we are. However, this is clearly NOT the case. What does the Bible say about it?

1 Peter 1:14-16 (NASB)
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Colossians 3:1-2, 5, 8-10, 12-15, 17 (NASB)
1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. …
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. …
8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— …
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. …
17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

God is holy and expects us to be holy. This is more than simply accepting His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior. It includes being conformed to Jesus’ image in the newness of life we have received from Him. We are a new creature. We are expected to “put off” the old habits and behaviors and “put on” the new habits and behaviors; honoring, glorifying, and giving thanks to Him. We may have been “born that way”; but, once we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were “born again”. We are expected to live life His way (Romans 12:1-2). If we love Him, we will keep His commandments (2 John 6).

Running the Entire Race

Scripture

Illustration

When it was said to Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, “Thou art now an old man, rest from thy labors;” he answered, “If I have run long in the race, will it become me to slacken my pace when come near the end; should I not rather stretch forward?”

Hebrews 12:1 (NASB)
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Text

Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB)
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for your love, mercy, grace, and other blessings too numerous to count. Please bless the reading of your Word. I pray You have adequately prepared my to deliver your message as well as the hearts and minds of those You would have receive it. May the lessons learned bring us into a closer, more intimate relationship with You and assist us in bringing honor and glory to your name. Please forgive me of my sins. I pray these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Probing Question

How should Christians run the race?

Main Points

As Christians, if we are still breathing, we are still in the race.

Philippians 3:13a (NASB)
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;…

Paul expressed to the Philippians that whatever blessings, graces, honors, and gifts he had already received from Jesus Christ; he still considered everything incomplete until his earthly work was done and he was called home, receiving his resurrected, glorified body.

So how should the race be run?

1. Christians Should Run the Race With Purpose

Philippians 3:13b (NASB)
13 … but one thing I do:…

Paul recognized his most important reason for existing, his sole purpose for being, was to honor and glorify Jesus Christ by fulfilling the will of God in his life.

Philippians 1:21a (NASB)
21 For to me, to live is Christ…

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)
31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What is God’s will for our lives? That’s a subject for many other sermons; but, to name just a couple:

  • God wills that all be saved.

1 Timothy 2:3b-4 (NASB)
3 … God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  • God wills that the Gospel be given to all nations of the Earth.

Matthew 28:19-20a (NASB)
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;…

2. Christians Should Run the Race With Focus (i.e., Without Distractions)

Philippians 3:13c (NASB)
13 … forgetting what lies behind…

Paul recognized his conduct was not regulated or influenced by others; only his Master, calling, work, and objective.

Looking back is sure to end in going back.

Luke 9:61-62 (NASB)
61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

While others might mistakenly think they had time to linger, Paul knew he did not. Time was of the essence, eternity was at hand, and everything was at stake. Peter confirms:

1 Peter 4:7 (NASB)
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

3. Christians Should Run the Race With Effort

Philippians 3:13d (NASB)
13 … and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

Paul recognized he was not only running for life; but, running for his life. The race required all the strength he could muster.

Illustration

The story is told of the big lumberjack who bought a brand new chainsaw and was told it could cut down at least 100 trees a day. But on the first day he only managed to cut down 25 trees. The next day he tried harder and finally cut down 33 trees. The third day he started early, worked late, and even cut his lunch break short, but he still managed to cut down only 48 trees.

He went back to the store and confronted the manager with his complaint. He told him of his efforts and of the results. The manager couldn’t quite understand what had gone wrong, so he asked to take a look. He grabbed the starter rope and pulled hard, and the motor started with a roar.

The lumberjack jumped back in alarm and yelled, “Hey, what’s that big noise?”

4. Christians Should Run the Race With Integrity

Philippians 3:14a (NASB)
14 I press on toward the goal…

In Paul’s day, there were white lines, in the stadium where the races were held, which stretched from the starting line to the goal, upon which the runners would focus; for if they ran either to the left or the right or ran beyond the line, they violated the rules and were not crowned victorious, even if they were the first to reach the goal.

Paul recognized how we run the race is just as important as our running it. In one of his letters to the Corinthians he comments:

1 Corinthians 9:27 (NASB)
27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

5. Christians Should Run the Race With Encouragement

Philippians 3:14b (NASB)
14 … for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Finally, Paul never lost sight of the rewards that awaited him for faithfully serving God. This provided encouragement for him regardless of any trial or tribulation he had to endure.

Conclusion

Paul knew that as long as he had breath, he was to be in service to Christ. His service would not be complete until Jesus’ return or until the Lord called him home. Therefore, he would serve the Lord with all his being and rejoice at such time the Lord considered his work complete and called him home.

Philippians 1:20-21 (NASB)
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Make no mistake, we are running in a race.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Let us faithfully run it to completion to the honor and glory of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for your Word. May we meditate upon it and listen carefully as the Holy Spirit convicts us of those things in our life, which need attention. May You find us faithful and obedient to respond. May we sense the urgency in our Christian lives and run the race with a renewed sense purpose, focus, effort, integrity, and encouragement. We pray these things in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expectations for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

Contact Form






Jesus Is the Savior

Our failure to obey God – to be holy – places us in danger of eternal punishment.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 (NASB)
9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB)
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “for there is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In addition, we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That does not mean we are incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. However, we are utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own.

Romans 3:10-12 (NASB)
10 as it is written, “There is none righteous , not even one; 11 There is none who understands , There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside , together they have become useless ; There is none who does good , There is not even one.”

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That is hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others are. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That is why simply changing our patterns of behavior cannot solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy.

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ…died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).