I hope you all have been enjoying this Philippians Bible study! I know I have; I’ve especially loved hearing from all of you. If you haven’t been, be sure to check the comments after a few days- the discussion has been great!
We are in for a treat today, through another guest post. This week’s study is by Caroline.
“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.” Philippians 3:12
Paul continues in this journey of life, this race of fighting the good fight. He has not yet obtained the full resurrection, perfection, or received all of the gifts of complete salvation that he previously listed in verses 10 and 11 – those of which we cannot attain by our own works at any rate. But, he strains, pursues, aches to continue running towards Christ, the giver of perfection and salvation.
Paul demonstrates an essential act of living in faith. Our goals must not be our own, but instead, Christ’s goals. Paul presses on “to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (verse 12). The ESV says so beautifully, “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
Christ has called us, made us His own, and taken hold of us. All to live for Him, His glory, and to spread His love. Such beautiful, comforting love!
In verses 13 and 14, Paul leaves what is in the past as settled and behind him to forge on through the present toward the everlasting goal of life in Christ. This truth hits me every time I read it. I harp on the past, I struggle with it, I kick myself for failures and mistakes. But Paul says here to move past it. Let the past be in the past and strive on to what Christ has in store for us – in Him.
This journey, though, as Paul reminds us, hold struggles and obstacles. It will not be free of opposition. Paul tearfully writes to the Philippians in verse 18 that “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Paul then gives us characteristics to watch out for, perhaps not just in those who live as enemies, but in ourselves, as well. Verse 19 says of this opposition: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” This destruction is the opposite of life in Christ and His grace-filled salvation.
Yet I find myself focusing, worrying, about earthly things too often. I worry about the past. I fear the future. I stumble over my selfishness, pride, and mistakes. But Christ offers renewal to His purposes when I lay all my plans before Him in trust and reliance. He lavishes forgiveness, redemption, and citizenship in heaven through faith. Again, as God’s children, we press on to His purposes in Christ, not our own.
What are these purposes of Christ?
- We know that they are heavenward (verse 14).
- We know that His plans are greater than our plans.
- Christ will transform us to be like Him (verse 21).
What do we do while we are learning?
- We do not forget the past, but leave it behind us as the past to continue forward.
- We make His plans our plans (verses 12, 14). Proverbs 19:21 reminds us, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
- We “hold true” (verse 16, ESV) and “live up to” (verse 16, NIV) the truths we can comprehend now.
- We both follow the examples Christ and other Christians have modeled for us, as well as set our lives as an example worthy to follow because it is based on and flows from Christ’s abundant love (verse 17).
- Keep our minds and hearts on Him, rather than on earthly things (verse 19).
As Paul begins the next chapter, he summarizes that all these truths and words we’ve been reading are “how [we] should stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1).
What captured your heart as you read Philippians 3:12-21 this week? What truths did God impress on you?
Caroline is a wife, mother of a beautiful and charming toddler son, avid reader, and writer. She writes about living this grace-given faith authentically, family, and books at her personal blog (Under God’s Mighty Hand) and can be found on Twitter.