Scripture: Philippians 3:13-16
I. You grow up in Christ through effort.
A. Paul has already made it clear that there is no room for laziness in the Christian life. See Phil. 1:27, 2:12, 2:16. And we Christians are people who are straining (Phil. 3:13). Holiness and righteousness are expected of every Christian. Every Christian has to put in the work to grow up. Picture the runner doing everything she can to extend herself to win the race. She is exerting herself to the uttermost. And we Christians are also working for the same purpose.
B. We press on. This is the same word that Paul used in verse 12. We are pursuing a person on foot in a chase. And who are we pursuing? Jesus. We want to be righteous like Jesus is righteous. Paul was pressing on (vs. 14) to be perfect like Jesus is perfect. Romans 8:29: “For those whom (God) foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
II. You grow up in Christ through looking ahead.
A. Paul says in vs. 13 that he is “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” If he looked back, he would slow down. He would not grow into Christ’s likeness as quickly or as much as he should. So, what would he do? He would only look ahead. Don’t look back with guilt over your past sins. Instead, with Paul, remind yourself from Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
B. Other Christians look back with grief over their past. God used me in the past, but can God still use me? God is still God. He can still use me. He is not finished with me yet. Sometimes, we Christians can look back on our past with bitterness. We can become bitter with God over trials and tragedies. We can also become bitter with the way other Christians have treated us. Is Jesus bitter? No! In all things Jesus would say to His Father, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
III. You grow up in Christ through obeying what you know.
A. In vs. 15 Paul writes about being a mature Christian. The perfect people – the mature Christians – are the ones who know that they are not perfect yet. And how do we live as we seek to grow into a mature Christian? Verse 16, “Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” Growth comes through obedience. Be faithful to what you know about Jesus. Jesus said in John 7:17: “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”
Grow up into the perfect righteousness of Jesus.
The letter to the Philippians
Commentaries on Philippians by J.A. Motyer, Moises Silva, Steven Lawson & Walter Hansen
Sermon Discussion Questions
1) If we are saved by grace, then why do we need to work so hard after we are adopted into God’s family? What do you think are the goal and the prize which Paul writes about in vs. 14?
2) What are some of the dangers that come with looking back on the past? What are you looking forward to the most about becoming more like Christ?
3) Are you obeying what you know Christ has taught you? If you are living an obedient life, what will be some of the results of such obedience?