Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
- Philippians 3:12
Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.
- Philippians 3:12 (Amplified)
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
- Philippians 1:21
“Consider what Paul says in Philippians 3:12: ‘Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.’
“Why is Paul passionately pursuing Jesus? Why should we continue to pursue Him, even after our conversion? Because we are broken people. We are really broken.
“It is so helpful here that Paul says, ‘Not that I’ve already obtained this.’ It’s comforting, in an odd way, for him to say, ‘Not that I’m already perfect.’ Instead, he acknowledges that he still struggles, needs to grow in some areas, and must continue to follow Jesus, and he says this: ‘I press on.’
“Think about this verse in relation to your struggles with sin in the Christian life. Whatever your particular sins, the implication here is that there is a right way to struggle and a wrong way to struggle. The wrong way to struggle might be described like this: ‘Let me control this. Let me manage this.’ And the right way to struggle might be described like this: Push headlong into Jesus, and then keep pushing. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that it’s by beholding Jesus that we are transformed by degrees into the image of Jesus. Remember the words of the Famous hymn: ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus / look full in His wonderful face / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of His glory and grace.’
“The broken in Christ must keep pursuing Christ so that Christ’s power will break more and more areas of bondage in their lives. Going after this merely through behavior modiﬁcation simply won’t work.
“How do you beat sin? We beat sin only by pressing into Jesus, knowing Him, and chasing Him. There is grace upon grace to be had in Him. So much grace, you can’t use it all up. If we broken people will come to Christ in faith, we will receive an inﬁnite supply of grace. This is why we pursue Christ above all—because He is more than enough. He will always be enough.”
- Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Rev. Chandler mentions a beautiful song. Here is the Gaither Homecoming Crowd (with a duet by Allison Durham Speer and Steve Amerson) singing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
When we think of Jesus owning us, as being His own, the believer does not think of slavery, ownership, oppression. That is how we own things, at least when our sin nature gets involved. God calls us His own because we freely accept Him. We want to be more like Jesus because God changes that small bit of desire to want to seek Him. The more we gain from that seeking of God or becoming more like Jesus, the more we want.
And because God loves us, He will not steer us in the wrong direction. The world, however, ties a pretty bow around everything and makes things awfully enticing. People who call themselves Christians, often with good intentions at heart, claim that God has blessed them so much so what is your problem?
That one hurts, when people are claiming that their great success is from Jesus, and I have learned that great success in this world knits us into this world and we no longer desire more of Jesus. Of course, there are those rare souls who do not let riches distract them from loving others. If I had five million dollars, my wife would find six million people who are truly in need. But then, she’d want to buy a modest house down the street from the grandchildren… So, ridicule on one side and jealousy on another and failure after failure on another. We are either enticed into looking away from Jesus or we are shamed into looking away.
Yet, the song runs through my brain over and over, just as Rev. Chandler said,
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus / look full in His wonderful face / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of His glory and grace.”
- Helen H. Lemmel
We are His own (RSV and Amplified and some others). We are not slaves though; we are adopted sons and daughters.
Lord, guide me. Remind me to praise You each day because You call me Your son. Oh, Lord, nothing on earth is equal to that. In Thy Name I pray. Amen
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.