Philippians 3:12-4:1 | Press on Towards the Goal

Philippians 3:12-4:1 | Press on Towards the Goal

13Brothers 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, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

  • Already obtained all of what? – what he has just listed in verses 10 and 11: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead..
  • So we can say here that Paul describes the goal of the Christian life as knowing Christ, knowing his power, participating in his sufferings, dying to sin and self and living with the resurrection as our reality – living a holy and zealous life for God!
  • In fact, this is not just our goal, but it is also the reason why Christ Jesus took hold of us, meaning it is Christ’s goal for us – that we become like him in power & suffering.

13Brothers 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, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

  • Even despite Paul’s extraordinary ministry, service and suffering he does not consider himself to have taken hold of the Christ-like lifestyle he sees as his goal
  • Even more so, he forgets what is behind and presses on towards the goal of knowing Christ and his power, suffering and resurrection. Meaning that whatever ‘successes’ he has had in Christ or whatever fruit he had from his ministry, he forgets these things, leaves them behind and strives onwards towards Christ
  • It is a reminder to us that we should never rest on our accomplishments, no matter how noble and godly they are. For if we rest on them, we rest on the fact that we participated in them or made them happen, and this would be putting confidence in the flesh

15All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.

  • This might present quite a bleak picture that we can never really attain to anything in life since there is always more to strive towards
  • But Paul takes a turn and says that some can actually possess a maturity whilst we still strain towards what is ahead. Maturity when there is no maturity
  • As we grow from maturity to maturity and glory to glory, we can follow the example of others who are ‘further along’ than us in Christian maturity. Whilst their life is not a model of perfection and completion it is an encouragement to someone who is less mature
  • Without the practical examples of other people in our lives we wouldn’t know how practically to pursue holiness and Christian maturity. We would ask ‘what does this look like?’. This then is the importance of the body of Christ, that as each of us are growing in our own maturity, we encourage and set an example for each other
  • Our challenge then is to constantly keep growing in maturity and only live up to what we have already attained. That our spiritual graph should never dip, or that we should not rest on the ‘glory days’ of our youth

18For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

  • The difficulty of living in such a way (pressing on towards the goal) is that we live in societies and are surrounded by people with different values, and even our own bodies crave the things they crave
  • People live as enemies of the cross of Christ, because they will not worship or give glory to Him, in fact they seek to steal glory from Him
  • ‘Their god is their stomach’ – the ‘gods’ in our lives can simply be whatever we want or desire and this is what society tells us to pursue (e.g. hedonism, materialism)
  • We eagerly await a saviour who will transform our lowly bodies and release us from all our sinful and selfish desires which keep us living for ourselves
  • We stand firm against desires to settle back and live only for ourselves, to stand firm in our mindset to keep pressing on towards the goal, for which God has called us heavenwards in Christ Jesus

Summary

Because we seek to put no confidence in the flesh, we press on towards the goal, which is Christ Jesus. We deny that we can stop and rest on our current achievements and so we strain ahead into further ministry and maturity. Yet the road forward is not un-chartered, we follow in the footsteps and examples of those more mature than us.