Phi 3:12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.
Phi 3:13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,
Phi 3:14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
In the Christian life three things are very important.
Let us think about these things for a few minutes.
In the Christian life we understand that we are not perfect and that we will never be perfect.
The Bible teaches us that if we say that we have no sin that the truth is not in us. (1 John. 1: 6- 10)
Even David, a man of God, committed heinous sin when he should have known much better. (Psalms 51) but we find that God is always forgiving and that God restored Him when he sought repentance from the heart.
As Christians we are all unique individuals, we all have our strenghts and our weaknesses.
We all have to fight these battles of things in which we are weak and overcome.
Christ knows that we are weak and that we fail at times. He was a man living on this earth too. He has been there. That is why He is our perfect high-priest. He is our perfect pleader before the Father. He can tell the Father how hard it is.
In our lives as Christians we sometimes look at ourselves with our own eyes and we will always get down as a result of that. When we look at ourselves we see our failures, our shortcomings and our sin. When we do so we will get down. When we look at ourselves we will loose heart.
In the Christian life we sometimes encounter people who think to much of themselves or, thinks to little of themselves. Both extremes have many problems.
One who thinks to much of himself will be proud, he will expect the unexpected of himself and of others. He will create many problems. He will never be able to bear with the scruples of others. He will never be able to accept himself for what he truly is, so he will live in a lie.
He will always think he is better then others. He will not see his sin, and consequently he does not see his need for Christ and for forgiveness.
The one who thinks to little of himself will always struggle and never come to accept himself as God has accepted him.
He will always feel that he needs to do more, he will always feel that he is not worthy.
This person will always focus on what he does not do, instead of looking at Christ and accept himself in spite of not being perfect.
Someone wrote: “God is not concerned about perfection in our lives, however He is profoundly concerned about our direction in life”. (Robert Shank)
See, God knows that we live in an imperfect world and we cannot be sinless, but we need to strive for it. We need to press on each time.
Paul was in a continual struggle against sin. And so we as Christains need to realize this too.
We have not yet obtained. We are not there and till we are there we are in a battle against sin.
But thanks be to God who will forgive us.
And so we have continual reason to be happy and joy in Christ.
He gives us reason in spite of the fact that we do fall short of what we are to be.
We need to look at ourselves the way that God does: Not yet perfect, but perfect in Him and covered through the blood of Christ.
So, in Christ, we have a way to deal with our sin and a way to deal with our shortcomings.
We do not need to get down when we fall short, we need to rejoice that he is willing to forgive when we come to Him. And so we find our joy complete in Him.
Forgetting is not always our best quality, however we need to train ourselves to do it.
God gives us a reason to forget, God is the best forgetter that we can find and so we need to do it also. (Isaiah 1: 16- 18)
If God can forgive and forget, how more important it is to us.
Let us not carry our past, it is to heavy to carry!!!
And it may be remarked in general, that a Christian will make more rapid advances in piety by looking forward than by looking backward. Forward, we see everything to cheer and animate us--the crown of victory, the joys of heaven, the society of the blessed-- the Saviour beckoning to us, and encouraging us. Backward, we see everything to dishearten and to humble. Our own unfaithfulness; our coldness, deadness, and dulness; the little zeal and ardour which we have, all are fitted to humble and discourage.
The Bible shares with us that we are never to loose heart. No, we have not yet obtained, we are not perfect.
Yes, we are weak, yes we do sin. But in all things we need to keep on going on.
The story is told of a boxer, who had won the world-championship, he was asked how he had won that title.
He told them: “Every-time I was knocked down, I stood up and I did that everytime I was knocked down”. And so I won.
And so are we to live our lives as Christians.
We are to put on the whole armor of God and fight our battles. (Eph. 6: 10- 18)
We also need to remember that God is fighting our battles for us.
Col 1:21 And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works,
Col 1:22 yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him:
Col 1:23 if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister.
We need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
We need to keep pur eyes on Jesus.
This principle is of utmost importance.
In our lives we are all haunted by memories of past actions, past decisions and past failures.
Remember that Paul wrote the words that we are meditating upon and he had these memories too.
When Paul wrote these words for us, he was writing from the standpoint that when he looked at his own life he had much to brag before God. He was the best of the best in Israel (verse 3- 7) So we need to remember that we do not seek our new life and identity in our past, whether good of bad, no we need to find our new life and new identity in Christ.
In verse 8 Paul wrote: “Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”.
So we understand that “all things” are to be forgotten in the re-birth.
When we are re-born we need to let go of our past. Good or bad
See, many people take pride in their education or their other achievements when they come to Christ.
Well, the only education that we need is Christ. So, we need to forget the achievements that we have made and not take that with us. In Christ we get new education and that is God's word. His revealed will tells us all that we need to know.
See, our fleshly minds need to be changed into Godly thinking.
Paul teaches this in Romans 12: 2 when he wrote: “......But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind...”.
Our thinking needs to be renewed when we are Christians. To many new Christians remain in their own and old thinking.
We need to transform our thinking.
We find then that many people when they come to Christ continue to struggle with this concept. Many are haunted by their past. Their past of failure, their past of hurt, their past of sin, their past of memories.
And as a result they can never live the full live in Christ. They remain crippled in their spiritual life.
Many Christians then start to read books on self-healing and things like that. Well, the Bible is the best book on healing that is available to us.
Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5: 17:
2Co 5:17 Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.
In Christ, all things have passed away. All things have become new.
When people become Christians they need to be taught these matters.
Many Christians walk crippled when it comes to these things and as a result they never become free and are a still being haunted by all the memories of the past.
In all our actions we need to focus on Christ.
Christ was able to endure “all things” by continually looking at the reward.
Heb 12:1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Heb 12:2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
When we look at the story of the prodigal son, he was given all that he did not deserve. However, he got it.
If he would have continued to live his thinking the old life he would have never enjoyed the new and good things.
He would have gotten discouraged, he would have gotten down and out, down and worn out.
His father would have said: “Son, why do you do this. I have given you so much, why do you not accept my gift”.
That is why we need to stand on our new identity.
Off course that is not easy, we need to focus on changing our thought-pattern and live in our new identity in Christ.