Everything is loss without Christ, as John Piper made clear in his 2014 sermon titled “Preparing to Know Christ Deeply Through Suffering.” There he addressed Philippians 3:8 where Paul says we should count all things loss. So how do we do this? How do we count all things loss?
Jesus said in Luke 14:33, “No one of you can be my disciple who does not renounce all that he has” (my translation). Period. No one. I will say it again. This is Luke 14:33: “No one can be my disciple who does not renounce all his possessions.”
Now, you have clothes on. You probably have a car out in the snowy parking lot. You might have an apartment or house and other possessions. You probably have an iPhone or computer. So, you own things. And this text says you can’t be a follower of Jesus if you don’t renounce those. You can check out different translations on that word. Wouldn’t that be the same as Paul saying to count them as loss (Philippians 3:8)?
“Counting all things as loss means whenever I must choose between anything and Christ, I choose Christ.”
So, this coat is mine, right? I think my wife bought it for me. This is mine. This is my preaching coat. And I should count this as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus. What would that mean? What would that mean practically to regard everything in your life as loss compared to Jesus for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus?
Let me give you four things that I think it means, because that is what you should be asking right now. You say, “Okay, I hear the words. I am supposed to renounce everything I have, and I am supposed to regard everything as loss. I am supposed to have this reversal of values. Just practically, I am going to get in my car. I am going to eat the food in my fridge. I am going to put on my shoes and slippers. Practically, what does that mean?” These are just bullet points that you can think about. They are worth a chapter in a book.
1. Choose Christ over All Else
Counting all things loss means that, whatever I am called upon to choose, whenever I am called to choose between anything and Christ, I choose Christ. And it doesn’t happen for everything in your life. You don’t have to choose between Christ and everything — but if you do, you have in your mind, “If I must choose between car and Christ, computer and Christ, wife and Christ, life and Christ, the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life. I choose Christ.” That is the first thing it means. That is a resolution in your mind. You have written “loss” over everything in the sense that, if you must choose, you choose Christ.
2. Draw Nearer to Christ Through the Gifts of the World
Counting all things loss means I will deal with all the things in the world in a way that draws me nearer to Christ through them, or I won’t deal.
How are you doing with videos? Spending? “I regard everything as loss in comparison with Christ.” I wear my coat, drive my car, watch a video, deal with all this in a way that draws me more to Christ, not less to Christ. If the video undermines the pure, sweet fellowship with Jesus rather than enhancing it, stop watching them.
“Use everything to enhance your enjoyment of Jesus. If it doesn’t enhance it, don’t do it.”
I am appalled at what Christians do for entertainment by taking it for granted that if it is in the theater, it should be watched. I am appalled, not because I am a prude — I have my favorite movies — but because I am ruined by certain scenes. I won’t watch certain good movies because of that scene. I will not because Christ is dishonored in my soul, and my mind is contaminated for months — and he is more precious than the pleasure of the other 124 minutes.
Come on. Let’s be Christian through and through. Let’s get ready to suffer. If we can’t deny ourselves a little bit of entertainment that the world assumes we must have in order for us to know and admire sweetly and more deeply enjoy constant fellowship with our Jesus, how are we going to face the stampede of horses when they come? That’s number two. Use everything to enhance your enjoyment of Jesus. And if it doesn’t enhance it, don’t do it.
3. Show the World That the World Is Not Your Treasure
Counting all things loss means that I always deal with things in the world in a way that shows the world they are not my treasure. How do you do that? Well, figure that out. The world is watching you at work for what your treasure is.
Read 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul talks about doing business in the world and being married and other ways, as though we were not. That is pretty provocative. Be married as though you were not. Do business as though you were not doing it. Buy things as if you had no possessions (1 Corinthians 7:29–31). This is crazy, wonderful Christianity. Use the car, use a coat, use a computer in such a way that people around you assume that is not your treasure. He uses it and he has treasures, but that is not his treasure.
4. Be Willing to Lose All Things
Counting all things loss means that I will lose any or all things that the world can offer without losing my joy. If by force or by circumstance or by choice any precious thing is ripped out of my hand — person or product — anything ripped out of my hand, it will not destroy my joy, because Christ is my all.
Those are the four things I think it means to renounce all that you have, to count everything as loss, to experience this reversal that prepares you to suffer well.
Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”