Resolved to be a Christian in 2017
TEXT: Read through Phil. 3:12-14
It is traditional to make resolutions in the New Year. As you think about your life at the end of another year going into a New Year it is important that all of us have desire to live better than we did so far. You might make New Year resolutions to promote better living and better behaviour. Unfortunately, we all fail and we all have regrets.
This passage gives us hope. We need to be resolved to be better. This passage however teaches us that the most important resolution is to be good Christians. And being good Christians is being Christ-like. See Rom. 8:29; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Jn. 3:2
- IMPERFECTION MOTIVATES TOWARDS PERFECTION: 12a
In the preceding verses the Apostle Paul has spoken of his credentials in his own achievements. He then spoke of how these achievements were of absolutely no value in contrast to knowing Christ and being righteous through Christ’s righteousness. Paul knew that to be a real Christian one had to surrender pride and come as a sinner to Christ and only in Christ’s righteousness was there salvation. From that base Paul, earnestly desired to keep on knowing Christ and only Christ. That was his sole ambition.
It is about this desire of knowing Christ and being perfected in Christ that Paul says he has not fully attained. In saying this Paul is acknowledging his imperfections. If Paul had fully attained knowledge of Christ Paul would be perfect. Paul knew his own sinfulness. Paul was not sinless. He knew that he had a long way to go to be perfect. Perfection is being Christ-like. Paul knew he wasn’t Christ-like. He acknowledges this. The race toward Christlikeness begins with a sense of honesty and dissatisfaction.
It is not enough to acknowledge imperfection. Paul moves from acknowledging imperfection to the next step – an important step – of turning desire to action. He says that he presses on. He uses a word that has the idea of striving/struggling. Paul is not passive. He uses energy and strength. His desire is turned to action and he moves forward towards achieving his desire. The Gr. word was used of a sprinter, and refers to aggressive, energetic action. Paul pursued sanctification with all his might, straining every spiritual muscle to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Tim. 6:12; Heb. 12:1).
- IMPERFECTION FOCUSSES ON PERFECTION: 12b – 13
- What One Thing Christ Has Apprehended Me For?
It is perfection. Christian perfection is Christlikeness. Paul is clearly focussed on what Christ has saved him for. That is crucial. There is a purpose for which Christ saves the sinner. You need to ask and answer this crucial question: What is it that reason Christ caught hold of you? Why did Christ save you? Your salvation was not without purpose. It was not just to get you to heaven. Or to have your sins forgiven. Or to make you a better person. It was to make you perfect. Perfect, like Christ. “Lay hold” means “to make one’s own possession.” Christ chose Paul for the ultimate purpose of conforming Paul to His glorious image (Rom. 8:29), and that is the very goal Paul pursued to attain.
- What One Thing I Need to Do?
There is an emphasis from Paul that he has not achieved perfection. That’s an important admission. Having made that admission Paul doesn’t stay defeated. He has a focus and a determined one at that. He wants to be single minded in chasing after perfection. Paul had reduced the whole of sanctification to the simple and clear goal of doing “one thing”—pursuing Christlikeness (see 2 Cor. 11:1-3). For this he does several things:
- He is Single Mindedness About This
What Paul is emphatic about is this: this one thing I do!
- He Consciously Forgets What is Past
The believer must refuse to rely on past virtuous deeds and achievements in ministry or to dwell on sins and failures. To be distracted by the past debilitates one’s efforts in the present.
- He Consciously Reaches Forward
Look at Paul’s strong words: I press on … towards the prize …
- IMPERFECTION LOOKS TO CHRIST FOR PERFECTION: 14
Why did God call Paul or anyone else? There is a goal and that is perfection in Christ. That perfection is Christlikeness beginning right from the time of salvation (v12) and being ultimately realised in heaven (cf. vv. 20, 21; 1 Jn. 3:1, 2). The upward call: The time when God calls each believer up to heaven and into His presence will be the moment of receiving the prize, which has been an unattainable goal in earthly life.
What about you? Will you make this your life-long effort? Not just for today. Not just for 2017? Not something you will look back on at the end of December 2017 and regret. You will determine to stay on course and see this as the regular pattern of your life.