Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PERFECTION
- Paul did not count himself as having yet attained; he was not perfect. We are not perfect and our righteousness is lacking in many different areas of our lives. We are continually striving toward perfection and toward living a righteous and holy life. For many perfection is hopeless; righteousness is hopeless. Holiness is just not going to happen. That is because those individuals are relying on their own ability and strength to be perfect and righteous before Christ and it is definitely not going to happen. If we could be perfect and righteous on our own merits, Christ would not have had to go to the cross.
- No person ever achieves perfection on this earth. That fact is so obvious to the thinking of a honest man that it is actually ridiculous to even think about being perfect. But, at the same time, too many are so closed minded in their thinking that they seldom grasp what perfection really is.
- Consider the brain and the mind. It has been estimated that man only uses one-tenth of one percent of his mental capacity. Imagine how far short this is of perfection.
- Consider the body. What would a perfect body be like? A body that never desired, thought, or did wrong; that never came up short; that never aged, deteriorated, died or decayed?
- The examples could go on and on. But, in the beginning, the creation stage of this earth, we find that man and woman were created in the image of God. He and she had the perfect body and mind because God created perfection. It was mankind’s desire to be wise as God that brought about the imperfection that we have in our lives and in our world. Look at the creation story in Genesis. Every time God created something, it states over and over “And God saw that all was good.”
Romans 7:18-20 – “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. (I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.) For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do are what I am (ever) doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it (it is not myself that acts), but the sin (principle) which dwells within me (fixed and operating in my soul). The Amplified Version
2 Corinthians 3:5 – “Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God. The Amplified Version
PAUL’S EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW
- Paul followed after perfection. When Paul was saved on the Damascus Road that was just the beginning. He had been saved to live for Christ and to serve Christ. He was saved to follow to pursue, like a runner in a race, that perfection that Christ desires in all of us. Paul was going to do all he could to help the Lord in the Lord’s great task of perfecting him. Paul was going to do all he could to lay hold of perfection – the perfection for which the Lord had laid hold of him.
- There is no such thing as a genuine believer sitting still after he has been saved. The believer must not become comfortable, complacent, lethargic, or lazy. The believer should neither waste time nor opportunity. He should not begin to think he is safe and secure forever. The believer can not begin to do what he wants to do and give in to his own desires. The believer must follow, run, and press after perfection – the perfection for which Christ has saved him. The believer must be active in living for Christ.
- START WHERE YOU ARE
- USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
- DO ALL YOU CAN!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but (only) one receives the prize? So run (your race) that you may lay hold (of the prize) and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we (do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness) that cannot wither. Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But (like a boxer) I buffet my body (handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships) and subdue it for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit (not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit).” The Amplified Version
Galatians 5:7 – “You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the truth? The Amplified Version
2 Corinthians 4:7-8 – “However, we possess this precious treasurer (the divine Light of the Gospel) in (frail, human) vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. We are hedged in (pressed) on every side (troubled and oppressed in every way), but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair.” The Amplified Version
Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth), let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection). He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” The Amplified Version.
WHAT MUST WE DO?
- Paul worked at forgetting the past. If we are going to have a good future, we must now, in the present, forget the past. We must burn bridges if necessary. We must sever relationships if necessary. We must change jobs if necessary. For us to live like Christ intended for us to live, holy and righteous and striving toward perfection, we have to make a change. The first change must be to bury the past. Leave the stinking, rotten actions and memories of the sin of your past and never resurrect it again. If Christ forgave you of wrong doing and does not hold it against you anymore; then who do you think you are resurrecting something that has been forgiven? It’s over. It took you down the wrong path the times you were involved in it, and it will again if you resurrect it. The one thing we must do is forgive ourselves and go on and live our life in Christ to the fullest.
1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are (even here and) now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be (hereafter), but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall (as God’s children) resemble and be like Him just as He (really) is.” The Amplified Version