In Quest for Christlikeness (Part 1)
Phil. 3:12 – 14
To explain to the Philippian believers, Paul uses the illustration of a runner to describe the Christian’s spiritual growth (1 Cor. 9:25-27; Heb. 12:1-3). The believers have not yet reached the goal of Christlikeness but he must continue to reach it. Christian life is a process not an event.
Illustration: To Be Like Christ
When the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson told him that a newspaper article likened him to some of the apostles, Judson replied, “I do not want to be like a Paul or any mere man. I want to be like Christ. I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Spirit, and place my feet in His footprints. Oh, to be more like Christ!”
I. Human Imperfection (v. 12)
A. No Christian is perfect and no one will ever be while he is still in the flesh, even Apostle Paul. He had not reached his holy ambition set in verse 10. He was still in his pursuit for the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ. It has been years since his conversion but he knows he is still very far.
B. That I may Apprehend (seize or take eagerly, possess, take hold) that for which also I am Apprehended (laid hold, taken hold) (v. 12). It was Jesus Christ who suddenly apprehended him, while on a persecuting expedition (Acts 9). He still longs to know and to carry out to completion the whole purpose of His Lord in saving him. Many are satisfied because they are already saved. They have no concern as to the work the Lord has saved them to do. Saul was very practical and reasonable, for as soon as he knew Christ, he said: “Lord, what will Thou have me to do, “and he made it his life’s business to do that will. “For me to live is Christ” is the faithful Christian’s battle cry.
We are saved to serve but many Christians are contented to just go on with their lives, contented of just going to church every Sunday. You need to grow, and you need to serve. There is always room to grow for Christlikeness and there is always room to serve. Servant hood is one of the keys to growing in Christlikeness. Jesus said: “For the Son of man also came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).When we give Jesus Christ His rightful place as Lord of our lives, His Lordship will be expressed in the way we serve others. Therefore, one of the best ways we can demonstrate our love for God is by showing love for our fellow man. We demonstrate love for others by helping them, by sharing their problems, and by doing what we can for them.
Illustration 2: The True Church
H. W. Beecher says that “some churches are like lighthouses, built of stone, so strong that the thunder of the sea cannot move them . . .” The light that shines from these churches is the light of
Christ shining through his believers. Sinners are not reached solely through the church’s ceremony,
pomp, beautiful music or largeness—they are reached through the Christlikeness of its individual
II. The things behind and the things before (v. 13)
A. Paul does not consider himself to have reached his final destination in his spiritual growth as he “count” it or according to his calculation. In his “spiritual accounting” he used the term “gain” and “loss”. According to his assessment, he has not arrived at the point of full maturity.
B. Paul forgets the things that past. We Christians should not live on the past. We may have achieved something and done good things worthy of praise but we should not dwell on them. Sins and failures should be put behind our back and lets look forward
for what lies ahead and for what we can do for Christ now. Paul was like a runner who just look at the front (Heb. 12:1-2, Lk. 9:62). A runner who looks back will slow down.
It takes a strong faith to forget and never to do the same sin again. Paul was an accomplish to the murder of Stephen (Acts 7:58-59) and a persecutor of Christians. It takes a strong faith to forgive and
forget what others have done to you. How good are you in forgetting? Forgetting your failures and the failures of others, takes courage also. Some people grieve over the past, as if it just happened
yesterday. The Lord says in Hebrews 10:17 “I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more. “Let’s look at the future and forget the past.
II. Spiritual Striving (v. 14)
A. Press toward expresses the idea of pursuit after or follow earnestly. He does not allow anything to hinder him in reaching his goal.
B. The devil will try to distract us in reaching our goal
C. We will get the prize when we reach the goal. We look at Jesus words in Matthew 25:21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
D. The Bible lists five possible crowns which a believer may receive when he meets the Lord. In Rev. 4:10-11, the saints cast their crowns at the throne of Jesus. Will you have a crown to cast before His throne?
E. The high calling here is when the Lord calls us up which is the rapture at the end of this age. “Come up hither” (Rev. 4:1). , and we are caught up…to meet the Lord in the air”. (1 Thess. 4:17).
Christlikeness or Godliness should be our goal in life. Christ’s lordship in our lives is expressed on how we serve Him and others. Like a runner we must keep pressing on without looking back. Wonderful prizes awaits us if we remain faithful.