I press on to grasp my mission
12: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15: Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16: Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17: Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18: (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20: For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Paul says I have not attained to the realisation of Christ’s power in my life that Christ has called me to, but l press onward to actualise the knowledge of Christ in my life. Because it was for this reason that Christ took hold of me. Oh that we might know Christ and his power and the fellowship of his suffering in our lives too. Let us press on to lay hold of this for which Christ laid hold of us. Paul humbly states l have not achieved this yet! I’m still struggling on I’m still trying to know God in my life. This is my only objective my only goal. It is the one thing l do. (Take notice of those men who have only one thing to do!) What a wonderful image. In those days the runners in the Games ran naked. They forgot their Swiss army knife, they forgot their coat. They ran laying aside every weight. They left everything behind to strain every muscle and sinew to reach the mark so that in the end they might be called to a higher place (The podium) that they might receive the prize. Paul says Christ has called me to know him is the resurrection power and in the suffering of his name that the reality of his death might be actualised in my life and ministry. That is the goal. Is there another? Paul states categorically that all mature believers should take the same view as him in this matter. However, he says if you think differently then God will reveal your error to you. He says what ever you do live up to the progress that you have made in your spiritual lives. Is there progress spiritually? Yes of course we are to seek to actualise the standing that he have in Christ in our daily lives. We are to live out more and more the truth of the Gospel. Will there ever come a time when this will be perfectly lived out? No not this side of heaven. But our joy can increase and our service for God can be more blessed. What a great man of God. He says follow me – follow my example. This is the sort of leaders we need. Often people say, ‘Don’t follow me follow Christ’, but that is a cop out. We need leaders whose lives are genuinely able to be copied. Paul says join the club of those who live as l live. And take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. A pattern is something that can be repeated which always comes out exactly the same. When l was young people used to say, ‘don’t copy so and so’. ‘Don’t preach like him; don’t think like him or live like him’. But we learn from example and we naturally copy to learn. What a short cut! Paul says ‘live according to how you see me live’. Because l am following Christ. What sort of examples are we? Paul describes these false teachers who he mentioned in verse 2. He mentions four things about them. 1. They live as enemies of the Cross of Christ. - These Jewish teachers cannot comprehend the truth that their Messiah was crucified and thereby cursed by the Mosaic Law. The cross is their great stumbling block. Therefore they deny the very Work that Christ came to do. And by denying his atoning work and blaspheming his messianic signs they continue the rejection of Christ. They are enemies of the Cross of Christ. 2. Their destiny is destruction - The ultimate destination of these religious men is the destruction of the Lake of fire. How sad. No wonder Paul weeps. He says they devote themselves to religion, they try to keep the 313 commandments of the Mitzvah, They have great missionary zeal, but they are found to be like Paul before his conversion an enemy of Christ. Stephen said of these men, ‘You do always resist the Holy Spirit’. There doom is certain if they continue. Yet Paul is an example of how God resists the proud and brings judgment (blindness) in order to save them. 3. Their god is their stomach - These men are men of the flesh. They are absorbed with the thinks of the flesh and seek in like to gratify the fleshly appetites. They are gross. 4. Their glory is in their shame - The very thing that they glory in is the very thing they should be ashamed of. What did they glory in? A number of things - circumcision for one. This glorious symbol of the Mosaic Law has become symbolic of a return to Judaism and therefore apostasy. They also glory in their law keeping yet it is the very thing that should bring to them conviction of sin and poverty of spirit. They glory in Sabbath observance without realising that Christ is now the Sabbath of his people and that by keeping this ‘queen of commandments’ they deny Him. They very things that they glory in are the things they should be ashamed of. Paul says this in contrast to the Legalists who were citizens of Jerusalem. He says Us Christians are not primarily citizens of earthly cities but we are already citizens of heaven. Paul’s emphasis on this point is emphasised a number of time, especially in his letter to the Ephesians. He says that our blessings are in the heavenly places in Christ. That our names are written there (Another expression of citizenship) that we are seated with Christ already in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That he has gone to prepare a place for us in the Fathers house. And that one day Christ will come to call us to heaven to be with him. So let’s not be so bound to this sad old earth. Lets lift up our eyes not to the hills but to the heavens for their our Saviour is coming. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.