Philippians 3:12-13a

In Philippians 3:12-13a Paul continues in describing how he is willing to give up everything for the sake of Jesus. He focuses now on the future of his relationship with Christ. “Not that I have already lobtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Paul wrote from such spiritual maturity and purity that we might expect he believed that he had conquered all of life’s spiritual difficulties and saw himself as having arrived at near perfection. Yet here he assured us that is not the case at all. There was no perfectionist attitude in Paul.

Unfortunately today, many believe they have made it and give the image that their life is perfected, which is not the case. Spurgeon addressed this attitude with his writing: “But while the work of Christ for us is perfect, and it were presumption to think of adding to it, the work of the Holy Spirit in us is not perfect, it is continually carried on from day to day, and will need to be continued throughout the whole of our lives.” None of us has arrived. No one on this earth is perfected. So Paul tells us that he pressed on as there was no turning back for him. He was committed to the journey of becoming all that God wanted him to be.

Paul pressed on for what Jesus wanted. His effort was put forth to do God’s will, not his own. Paul expresses the idea that Jesus Christ had laid hold of him. Guzik explains “This is an important idea; yet sometimes Christians react to that idea by being passive. They suppose, “Jesus got a hold of me; so that is it now. I am a Christian and I am going to heaven.” Paul showed a different attitude; he was determined to lay hold for that for which Jesus had laid hold of him. So one should ask, “Why did Jesus lay hold of Paul?”

  • Jesus laid hold of Paul to make him a new man (Romans 6:4) – so Paul would lay hold of that and wanted to see the converting work of Jesus completely carried out in himself.
  • Jesus laid hold of Paul to conform him into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29) – so Paul would lay hold of that and wanted to see the nature of Jesus within himself.
  • Jesus laid hold of Paul to make him a witness (Acts 9:15) – so Paul would lay hold of both the experience of Jesus and to testify of that experience.
  • Jesus laid hold of Paul to make him an instrument in the conversion of others (Acts 9:15) – so Paul would lay hold of the work of bringing others to Jesus.
  • Jesus laid hold of Paul to bring him into suffering (Acts 9:16) – so Paul would lay hold of even that work of God in his life, wanting to know Jesus in the fellowship of His sufferings.
  • Jesus laid hold of Paul that so that the Apostle might attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11) – so Paul would lay hold of that heavenly hope.”

Paul knew that Christ Jesus had made him His own. It wasn’t about something Paul did, but what Jesus had done for all of us. Our option is whether or not we will receive what Jesus did and make it our own. Paul didn’t just passively receive and follow. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.” He knew it was an ongoing pursuit. Wuest explains “He wants to catch hold of it and pull it down, like a football player who not only wants to catch his man, but wants to pull him down and make him his own.” Paul wants to tackle God’s will for his life and to walk obediently in it. This isn’t a part time or partial pursuit but a complete and life altering one!

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