The Pastor's Desk Image
Press Toward the Mark
Philippians 3:13-21
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
 
 

 
Have you ever noticed amid the pressures of life you see a light at the end of the tunnel, and it turns out to be a train coming your way? What should we do when those days come, and we feel like we are being run over by a train? The Bible has the answer. In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul writes to believers and gives us some helpful precepts to follow.
 
1.  Realize you have not “arrived” in your spiritual development. Philippians 3:13a: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind.” Spiritual growth is a process, and just when we think we have arrived, something comes up to reveal our true state of growth as we battle the world, the flesh, and the devil. We need to rely on God as we continue our spiritual growth.
 
• Positional sanctification is given to us at the moment of our salvation. It is who we are in Christ. We are complete in Him through the blood of Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:10: “And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.” Hebrews 10:14: “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
 
• Practical or progressive sanctification occurs when we respond to the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction over sin in our lives. As we grow spiritually, He helps us to put off sin and put on Christ. 2 Corinthians 7:1: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Ephesians 4:11-13: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Galatians 3:3: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
 
• Final sanctification will not happen here on earth, but when we finally stand before God in heaven without sin or blemish. This will be accomplished via death or the rapture. Ephesians 5:27: “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” 1 John 3:1-2: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
 
2.  Press toward the mark. Philippians 3:13b-14: “And reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” What is the mark? It is Christ-likeness (verses 10-11) and a high calling, which is a divine calling for every believer. As a young boy growing up on the farm, I worked hard at learning new skills. At times, my grandfather would send me to get a needed tool. However, it was easy to get side-tracked and forget my errand. I would find out later that my grandfather had grown tired of waiting and went for the tool himself. As believers, we can lose track of time and what we are supposed to be doing and wander around making little headway in our spiritual lives. We must reach for spiritual goals. This can only be done by staying focused and following the godly characteristics of Christ. Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who liveth in me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
 
3.  Act in a mature manner. Philippians 3:15: “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.” We are to act our age spiritually speaking. How does a mature believer act? Our primary focus is to be on Christ and our relationship with Him. Colossians 3:1-3: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Paul continues in Colossians 3:4-15 with an excellent summary of expected behavior for believers. He lists things that are to be put off and things that are to be put on, not for our salvation but as a result of our salvation.
 
4.  Follow godly examples. Philippians 3:17: “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” Paul included himself. Be careful who you follow. There are no super saints. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. We can observe those who have weathered the storms of life. We can do character studies of great leaders in the Bible to find out what they did right (or wrong). We can imitate the good and avoid the bad. Paul tells us to mark out those who are good examples and avoid those who are not. He warns of those who creep into churches to gain control, often through legalism (Jude 4). Legalism is a misunderstood term and is used by some when they do not want to follow any guidelines or codes of conduct. For others, it is a concept that one can earn salvation by living up to a certain religious standard by redefining godliness and spirituality with such things as clothing, hair, jewelry, makeup, etc. Characteristics of the ungodly to be avoided are found in Philippians 3:18-19: “(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: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”
 
5.  Remember the Lord is coming. Philippians 3:20-21: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 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.” Christians are to be different and stand out from the world. Our allegiance is to Jesus Christ. He will take us home either in the rapture of the church or in death. He will transform our bodies to be fit for heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:51: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” Jude 20-25: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
 
Keep pressing toward the mark of Christ-likeness and remain faithful to the end.