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  • Writer's pictureBy Pastor Andy Plank

Starting Over as the New You!

December 31, 2023

This time of year, there are commercials and advertisements everywhere that offer the opportunity to make “a new you”. How many times have you “started over”? You say “I’m going to be more organized, productive, and healthy”, just to find yourself “starting over”, over? It may be, the reason for so much “starting over”, over” is not the process, but rather the end game. What is it we are striving for? Are we aiming at the right bullseye? Paul tells us about a time when he found a successful way to “start over”. The good news is the same thing can happen to me and to you. Look at Philippians 3:7-12. Notice the radical change in Paul as seen in the way he calculates things. Verses 7 and 8 are a little section in accountant’s theology. Paul regarded the credits from his “previous” life, before Christ, as debits. He thought that he was a spiritual millionaire, but he came to realize that he was actually spiritually bankrupt. All he counted on as being accomplishments, were actually failures. Now, look at how he expresses it in verse 8. He says it in three different ways. First, I consider everything a loss. Second, I have lost all things, and third, I count them as dung. All those things Paul THOUGHT were profitable, he now considered them a pile of poo! Here’s a fellow who, in contemporary terms, had a wonderful home, a terrific background, a formalized education that was desirable by all. When he joined a religious party, he was able to attach himself to the all-or-nothing group, who were the most zealous Jews of all. All of these things he had viewed as significant, and all of those things had given him significance, BEFORE his life in Christ. What about us? What gives us significance? If we think about dying and standing before God, how do we plan to plead our case before God? Paul says, “If my former life is his credit, I don’t have any credit left. All I’ve got left is loss.” Paul considered it as loss for the sake of Christ, then he realized, he had actually lost it.” And finally, he understands, “I’ll go so far as to say that I count the whole mess a pile of poo! Why? that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Vss 8-9a). How? Well, look at how he explains it: “not having a righteousness of my own that comes [through] the law” (vs 9). Paul says, “I don’t come and gain Christ by presenting a righteousness of my own, but I present that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” What we have here is known as the doctrine of justification—God’s declaration about the sinner on the basis of the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Now, let me conclude with this thought: if we had spoken to Saul of Tarsus in those early days and said to him, “Saul of Tarsus, do you think you’ll go to heaven?” he would have said, “Without question I’m going to heaven.” Then we would have said to him, “So, WHY do think you’re going to go to heaven?” And he would have repeated verses 5 and 6.” If we asked him the same question now, he says, “I’m not going to heaven on the basis of that at all. In fact,” he says, “if you try and rely on that to get to heaven, you will be bankrupt, and you’ll never get to heaven.” What brought about this change? Two things: First, an encounter with Christ created a new person (Acts 9) second, an encounter with Christ gave Paul a new perspective, an ETERNAL perspective. That eternal perspective puts everything else into its proper perspective. Jesus + anything else = bankruptcy. Jesus + nothing else = everything! This perspective will help us in our “starting over, and I can’t think of a better time to start over than right now, as we head into 2024.

Be blessed and go be a blessing . . . Bro. Andy

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