A very good morning to you my precious family and friends
Philippians 3 verse 12 -14 says “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
No born again Christian is perfect, not even the apostle Paul. He had not “attained” his life ambition set out in verse 10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
Paul was still actively pursuing the knowledge of Christ. He had grown over the 25 years, but he still had some distance to go to reach his goal.
The Christian life is a process, not an event. In verse 12 Paul reminds us “Not that I have already attained”
The word “attained” means to receive, grasp, appropriate, lay hold of. We use the word “arrived” today. Paul did not want to give the impression that he had arrived in his pursuit of the excellent knowledge of Christ. Many of us want to give the impression that we are “super-saints.” We want to make the impression that we have arrived. By doing this, we delude ourselves into believing we do not need to grow anymore.
As long as Paul was alive, God had a purpose for him. Whatever purpose Paul remained on the earth, it was not completed yet. He knew that God would keep him on earth until He was finished with him or as he says “am already perfected”.
There are three levels of the sanctification of the saint.
First, the saint is sanctified positionally. They hold the same status that Jesus holds before the Father. This sanctification can never improve. It was given to us entirely at the point of salvation. We stand perfect in our status, not in our experience. In experience, we sin. Our status in God’s eyes is perfect because of our Lord Jesus’ work on the cross.
The second level of sanctification is progressive, experiential sanctification. If all things are equal, every day, we grow to be more like the Lord Jesus. When we stop growing, we become static. When we are stationary, we become stagnant. When we stagnate, our Christian life smells!!
Our lives should be a beautiful aroma, but instead, we give out a stench. Some of us have not grown much in the last few years. We have little appetite for the Bible. We are temporally dead in our spiritual life and are in a spiritual rut.
The third level of sanctification is the ultimate sanctification. In eternity we will be free from sin and the sin capacity. This is the level Paul was talking about in the phrase “am already perfected.” This is the perfection God gives the believer upon his arrival in heaven.
We cannot “arrive” spiritually in this life on earth. There is always much room to grow to be more like the Lord Jesus and be conformed to His image. Every Christian should say that we are not what we once were and that they are striving to grow to be more like our Lord Jesus.
Paul wanted to represent his Lord wonderfully this side of eternity so says “But I press on”
The words “press on” mean pursue. Paul was pursuing the “prize” of verse 14.
Heaven is not that prize. We do not earn or deserve heaven. Heaven was given to us by what Christ earned and deserved. Paul was after the “smile” of Christ on his life at the end of his days. God still had a purpose for him. He had confidence that God had a plan for him as long as he was alive.
He says “That I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” = spending eternity with his Saviour
Paul wanted to grasp hold of his life’s pursuit. He tried to get such a good grip on it that he would not let go. He did not want to disappoint Jesus.
When we please the Lord Jesus with our lives, we will not receive His frown but His smile when we meet Him. He will say” Well done good and faithful servant”. We need to ask Him to help us to be His representative on earth until He calls us to be with Him.
Let us pray:
Father God, thank You for the privilege of being Your child. Help me to live my life the way that You planned it, and run the race that You have set before me. Help me to press on towards the goal of my calling in our Lord Jesus, trusting in Him to overcome every problem, disappointment and challenge I may face, to Your praise and glory, AMEN
Much love in Christ from Maurice and Margaret