Philippians 3:10-16 ESV
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”
Now, if we truly believed in Jesus with genuine faith, we should have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self should have been crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness (Romans 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
But when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we do not instantaneously become spiritually mature. Our salvation is a process of sanctification which continues all throughout our lives provided that we continue to die with Christ to sin and to walk in obedience to his commands, steadfast in our faith until the very end. So we should always be growing and learning and changing and being conformed to the likeness of Christ.
And that is what Paul is talking about here. He is certainly not suggesting that he is “struggling” with sin addiction, as many have accused him of such, for if he was, he could not have taught what he taught and told people to follow his example and that he wished they would be like him other than his chains. Yes, Paul was human. But Paul walked in holiness and righteousness, in obedience to the Lord, and that is why he suffered as he did.
So, we should never take this passage of Scripture as carte blanche to continue living in deliberate and habitual sin, claiming, “I’m not perfect.” Lack of perfection is never to be used as an excuse for continued, willful, deliberate, and habitual sin against God and against others, fully knowing that our sin is doing others harm. We are without excuse if we choose our sin over faithful obedience to our Lord and loving him and others.
I Press On
As well, pressing on doesn’t include the cycle of habitual sin and abuse. We aren’t pressing on if we keep repeating the same sins over and over again without genuine repentance. And repentance involves making a spiritual U-turn with our lives. We were going one direction, and now we go the opposite direction. Yes, we may fail from time to time, but we should keep moving forward, keep growing, and keep changing, for that is progress.
If we don’t change, and all we do is keep recycling the same habitual patterns of sin, that is not pressing on. It is more like driving around a round-a-bout over and over and never getting out of it. So we aren’t forgetting what is behind because what should be behind isn’t truly behind. It is still in the present. Our past isn’t our past if we haven’t moved past it and if we are still living in the past in our old habits and life patterns.
So, if you are living in habitual sin, in addiction to sin, you can’t just ignore the fact that you are living in habitual sin by claiming you are forgetting what lies behind, because it isn’t behind. I mean, specific incidents may be in the past, truly, but the sinful patterns from your past are still there, so they aren’t in the past, and ignoring that fact is not going to make you free. You have got to die to that life you have been living in order to be free.
Jesus had to die first in order to be resurrected back to life, and we have to die to our old lives of living in sin and for self if we are to be resurrected with Christ to walk in newness of life in him. But this death we must die isn’t just once like it was for him, for we still live in flesh bodies. We must die daily to sin and to self and follow Jesus in obedience if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God (Luke 9:23-26; 1 John 1-3).
So, if we are to truly forget what lies behind, it needs to truly lie behind and not be who we still are in the present. And the only way that takes place is we have to die to sin, be changed in heart and mind, and now walk in newness of life in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And we must allow the Spirit of God to convict us and to change us and to make us more and more like Jesus.
For God’s grace instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. For Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14; cf. Ephesians 2:10).
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
You are Loving and Forgiving
An Original Work / February 19, 2012
Based off Psalm 86
You are loving and forgiving,
Jesus, Savior, King of kings.
You provided our redemption.
By Your blood You set us free.
You are gracious; full of mercy.
No deeds can compare with Yours.
Great are You; there is none like You.
Glory be to Your name.
Teach me Your way, and I’ll walk in it.
O Lord, I will walk in Your truth.
May I not have a heart divided,
That Your name I give honor to.
I will praise You, O Lord, my Savior,
For great is Your love toward me.
You have delivered me from my sins.
Your grace has pardoned me.
You, O Lord, are full of compassion,
Slow to anger, bounteous in love;
Faithful to fulfill all You promise;
Glory be to Your name above.
Hear, O Lord, and answer Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.
Turn to me and grant Your strength to me.
You are my comforter.