“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call (holy life) of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” [NASB]
In the first eleven verses of this chapter, Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians about not amassing things and striving for higher status in society. Those things would not give them salvation and perfection. Paul said only being in a relationship with Jesus Christ and accepting the salvation He gives will give them an eternal relationship with God, give them eternal life, and make them heirs with Christ. Nothing they did or earned would save them or give them eternal life.
In the next five verses, verses twelve through sixteen, Paul urged the Philippian Christians to continue on the path toward Christlikeness. He used himself as an example and said he had not obtained resurrection from the dead (he was still alive on earth) or perfection (completeness in Christ). Paul did not earn his salvation from his sins by anything he did and he was not perfect yet either. He said he pressed on toward that goal. That does not mean when a person is a Christian any wrong he or she does can make him or her lose their salvation. This verse means we must continue to work out our salvation as Paul stated earlier in the chapter. This working out of our salvation leads us into a deeper relationship with Christ so we grow more like Him. Our whole lives are a process of becoming more perfect, Christlike.
In addition, Paul said he had not yet attained to the resurrection from the dead. This only happens when our physical bodies die on earth and we are taken to heaven. Knowing this was in the future did not stop Paul from reaching for it. His hope came in Christ and His love for humankind. Paul’s trust came from the hope Christ put into his heart through the Holy Spirit assuring him he would have eternal life with Christ in heaven. Christians do not die and eternal death.
This hope for the future did not make Paul rest and not strive forward. He strove towards perfection, completion. Perfection as a Christian is a becoming more like Christ – more holy and walking a holy life. Paul said he had not attained that yet. He kept striving forward that goal. Paul chose to have the attitude of being like Christ and seeking to grow more like Him. He called this the upward calling to a holy life.
Many people accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive the salvation from their sins and hope of eternal life with Him. Some people let the matter rest there without working to grow their relationship with God, for which God allowed Jesus Christ to die and be resurrected. God wants a relationship with every person. When a person accepts Christ’s salvation and allows Him to enter his or her heart, a love relationship begins. When a person loves another, they want to grow in their relationship with each other. They want to meld their lives together so when another person sees one of them they see the effects of the other person in that one. That is relationship. That is what Paul spoke of in verses twelve through sixteen. He said, “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ (a relationship).” We grow in relationship and our relationship grows with the person. In Paul’s case here, he spoke of his relationship with Christ.
What then was Paul’s challenge to the Philippian Christians? He said it this way, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” Have this attitude to grow in your relationship with Christ. Have the attitude of Christ who chose to die for your sin to be in a relationship with you. Do not stop seeking Christ, but in growing in your relationship with Him, become more and more like Him. Know, too, if you have a different attitude, choose not to continue your relationship with God, and stop growing more Christlike, God will reveal it to you. Mostly though, keep living by the standard Christ died to give you. Keep growing more like Christ – more holy, more perfect, more complete in Him each day.
That is our challenge today, too.
- · If you are a Christian, are you still in a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ? How long has it been since you read your Bible, meditated on what God said to you through it, and prayed to God? How long has it been since you heard God tell you to do something and you obeyed. Maybe it has been so long you do not even recognize His voice anymore. The time is never too late to open the door to re-starting your relationship with God. He waits for you to come to Him.
- · If you are not a Christian, the question is: Do you want to be in a love relationship with God? Do you want to receive His forgiveness and become a child of God? Do you want to know you will have eternal life with Him? You each get to decide for yourselves. If you want to talk about this with me, write me through this media site.
What will you do?