Philippians 3:4b-6 NIV If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Paul tried to live his life by every rule and regulation that was expected of him as a Jew under the law. He was a Hebrew among Hebrews; one who lived what he believed to the fullest; passionate about his religious endeavors. He was a man who went after the life that he wanted to live with the fullest intent of doing everything by the letter of the law. But it was to no effort; he couldn’t know the Lord by keeping a set of rules. It was only as he had an encounter with the Lord Jesus that he was changed! It is the same with us. We must come to a life changing encounter with Jesus before we can be different. The difference that his encounter with the Lord Jesus made within him was that his wants and desires changed. He no longer wanted to hurt Christians, but instead saw them as brothers and sisters in Christ; members of God’s family, as he was. He no longer wanted to live by a set of rules and regulations. His desire now was to know the Lord Jesus intimately; not ritualistically but through a relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords. Paul’s heart was changed and it was reflected in his attitudes and lifestyle. He was a new man!
Philippians 3:7-11 NIV But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Nothing of his past made any difference to him any longer once He met Jesus. All that he had placed confidence in before now was considered rubbish. All he wanted was to know Christ and be found in Him. In other words, he wanted to have an intimacy with the Lord Jesus that comes from walking and talking with him and to be known as one who loves and follows Jesus Christ. He no longer cared about his former lifestyle; his desire was to please the Lord and be transformed into his image. If he had to suffer as Jesus suffered to attain that privilege, then so be it, he welcomed it because it meant that he was worthy to be counted as one like Jesus! Whatever he needed to do to be like Jesus was what he was determined to do.
This really touches my heart because as modern day Christians we try to get out of suffering or avoid things that might cause us discomfort. How many times do we say, “Lord, if I may but be like You, I would gladly suffer as You suffered”? We try to avoid persecution by pleasing the masses; conforming to what is “politically correct” instead of walking the walk and talking the talk!
Philippians 3:12-14 NIV Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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.
Paul kept pressing on towards all that God had given Christ Jesus to purchase for him through the cross! He realized he was not where he was meant to be and he wouldn’t get there by looking at the mistakes of the past, but as he focused on what was ahead in his walk with Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, he would be all that God had called him to be. The untapped potential within each believer is available to help us press on, to enable us to flow with the Holy Spirit in doing those things that we see as impossibilities. But it is in pressing upward and onward that we attain the prize!
Philippians 3:15, 16 NIV All of us 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. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Maturity is a growth process. It doesn’t happen through floating along. It comes through diligence in pressing in to the things of the Lord. We grow as we experience the trials of life and learn to overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit. No one wants to go through storms but they do come to all of us. It’s our response to those difficult times that moves us forward or backward. Loosing ground comes as we give up; look backwards and wish that we could go back to the way things used to be. Paul said he “pressed on” to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. He forgot about the difficulties of yesterday and pressed on to the prize of tomorrow.
Will you be a modern day Paul with the same mind as him? He said that those who are mature should have that same mind. I long to press into the things of the Lord that I might fulfill the call of God on my life! That comes with a price. How about you? Are you willing to pay the price?
Father, I thank You for all that You did for me by giving Your very own Son, Christ Jesus, to die for me. I pray that I may press into Him, attain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus for my life. I desire to do the same works that Jesus did in His earthly walk; to have an impact on people’s lives for Your kingdom and their eternal destiny. I pray for my friends who have that same desire, Father, that You will draw them to Your side and show them a glimpse of what You have in store for them as they press towards their prize in Christ Jesus. Thank You, Father, for keeping them from the evil one; for protecting them from the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. May we be the over-comers that You have planned and prepared for us to be. I declare that Jesus did not die in vain, but I will live and do what He has died to secure for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.