Pressing On Toward The Goal.

August 6, 2023 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: Philippians - Journey of a Joyful Life

Topic: Christian Living Scripture: Philippians 3:12–16

Paul the apostle has written this letter to the Philippian church to encourage them in their joy and progress in their pursuit of Christ.

So far in chapter 3, we have seen that the true gospel looks to Christ alone for righteousness. Paul warns the church of false teachers who distort this clear teaching of the bible.

Last week we saw the goal of the Christian life (3:10-11): To know Jesus Christ and to be like Him. Christianity is a developing personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus. In 3:12-16 Paul shows us how to reach this goal through the process of Christian growth.

  1. Paul's Resolve (v.12)
  2. Paul's Pursuit (v.13-14)
  3. Paul's Advice (v.15-16)

The Christian life is neither one of perfection nor of passivity, but a progressive pursuit of Christ and his likeness as we await his return and the consummation of all things.

When Paul acknowledges his spiritual imperfection in Philippians 3:12–14, he is assuming a theological category that is fundamental to the Christian life. The absence of perfection assumes the presence of sin. While sin’s dominion has been crushed by God’s regenerating grace (Rom. 6:1–14), and his law has been written on the heart, creating new desires (Jer. 31:33), there is a principle of remaining indwelling sin—what Paul often calls “the flesh” (Rom. 13:14Gal. 5:16–23Col. 2:23).

Sin has been dealt a deathblow in regeneration, but it dies a slow death. In many ways, it is still quite active. The passions of the flesh “wage war against your soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). This is a slow and lifelong war. Thus, hard work is assumed in Paul’s language of “pressing on” and “straining forward.” But progress is also assumed. The race is run in steps—often small (and at times backward!), but we pray and strive for “progress” (Phil. 1:25). Such growth isn’t gained through performance of the law (Phil. 3:2) but in knowing and seeking Christ. 

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