A Study in Philippians 3:10-14
I’ve heard about an odd phenomenon in the military. When people were drawing close to retirement or their discharge date, their whole demeanor changed. They started dragging to the formation. Their PT efforts became lackluster. Their work grew sub-par or average at best. Now to be fair, it most likely wasn’t their fault. They had an STD, which in this case stands for “short-timers’ disease.”
Do you ever feel like you’ve short timers’ disease in life?
Do you ever feel like, why even make the effort?
Maybe you’re just going through the motions.
Just maybe the Scripture cited in this blog will give you a new attitude: about your past, present, and future.
First, Paul’s words advise us to…RELEASE THE PAST
In verse 13, Paul uses the phrase, “Forgetting what is behind”.
Is he asking us to suppress those troublesome memories we’ve accumulated over time? I don’t think so. Paul is talking about letting go of things that still have a hold on us.
Not releasing the past, two things will get us into trouble:
- Past Failures
- Past Successes
Past failures have the tendency to make us think we’re a failure.
Paul could certainly recall his failures: He supervised the death of the first martyr of the Church, Stephen. He could have carried a lot of GUILT for his persecution of Christians before his salvation. But he didn’t.
He said we need to release all of that to God.
God can forgive your GUILT if you give it to Him.
God can FORGIVE ALL the woulda/coulda/shoulda decisions you’ve analyzed to death!
1 John 1:9 (AMP)
 IF we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
We need to forget our FAILURES, and by the way, our SUCCESSES too.
If we concentrate on them too much, we’ll rest on our laurels and never want to do more.
One thing I learned over the years I was in business, the biggest threat to future success is past success. That’s why companies keep reinventing themselves.
In marriage seminars, it’s often said, “Being married is like riding a bike: It takes some work, some peddling. If you’re coasting, you’re always going downhill.”
In the first part of the chapter, Paul mentions the successes that were under his belt.
He listed his pedigree as a learned Jewish scholar and Pharisee, trained by the best. Yet, he said, compared to knowing Christ all of his Ivy League know-how was garbage (verse 8). The actual word there is “DUNG” (Strong’s Greek; 4657), or “manure pile”- Luke 13:8; 14:35.
ALL OF OUR EARTHLY EFFORTS AMOUNT TO NOTHING COMPARED TO KNOWING CHRIST.
The image of poop is a vivid reminder not to let those past success go to your head!
I’m not saying the past isn’t important. We need to learn from the past.
But I find life is like driving a car: Most of the time you want to look out that large front windshield; every now and then you need to glance back through the tiny rear view mirror. Too much looking back will get you into trouble.
LEARN from the past.
Make PEACE with the past.
CELEBRATE the past.
And LET GO of the past so that you can be…
Reaching toward the FUTURE.
Paul says in verses 13 and 14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. [In other words, “I haven’t arrived yet!”]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul pictures here the sprinter straining forward to cross the finish line. You can’t worry about what’s behind you. You need to lean into the run and give it all you got, keeping your eyes fixed on the finish.
And what a finish it will be!
What is our goal? What is the prize?
It’s the heavenward calling of God in Christ Jesus!
A couple of weeks ago now, I began this study in Philippians [STUFF Happens In Life, So What’s Next?].
In the introduction, we looked together at Paul’s life mission when he said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
He pointed out that the STUFF–the things we face in life is temporary. We have one foot in eternity and one foot on earth. Earth is our temporary home. We’re just passing through.
And in God’s perfect timing, He will bring us home to our glorious future.
When we can remember that, we can press forward in the race of life, running every day in serving God, leaving our worries in the past.
Romans 8:31 (NIV) says “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift…”
I borrowed that quote for my blog-title from Master Oogway from the movie Kung Fu Panda. Actually, the author is unknown yet many claim it. And to be accurate, I left out of the title an important finishing line: “That’s why it’s called the ‘present’ “.
As we yield our past and our future to God, we’re left with the PRESENT.
We run the race, a race that’s never over until it’s over. As long as we have breath, we need to PRESS ON! Stay with it!
Follow Christ, love Christ and know Christ Jesus.
That, my friends, is what we do now: We release the PAST, we reach toward our FUTURE, and we grow closer to Jesus every day.
Paul says, over and over in this chapter, his number one ambition is to know Christ.
The word “KNOW” doesn’t refer to head knowledge. He doesn’t want to know more about Jesus. It’s the word used to describe how a parent and child know each other, or how a husband and wife know each other. It means to KNOW in the context of RELATIONSHIP, to know more intimately, to grow closer and closer.
This is Paul’s goal; every day, to know Christ more! Paul said, “I want to know Him in two ways.”
In verses 10 and 11, Paul said,  “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]. and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]  That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].” (Amplified Bible)
Paul starts by saying, to KNOW CHRIST means to know “the power outflowing from His resurrection.”
Think about the POWER found in our greatest atomic bombs or our largest hydroelectric plants.
RESURRECTION POWER is so much more!
How much POWER does it take to reverse death and decay?
All the blood loss and tissue damage done to Jesus’ body, all the muscles ripped apart by spears and whips and nails, and the weight of hanging on the cross–
God reversed all of that, restoring Jesus not only to a healthy human body, but to the very first resurrection body, and a body that would never age again!
We could use that kind of POWER in our world today.
When the cruel words cut into our hearts, when our mood darkens, when the prognosis isn’t good, when tragedy strikes, when the loss is devastating…WE NEED THE RESURRECTION POWER OF CHRIST!
And we have it as we get to know Jesus better and better!
Paul talks about having that POWER now, in his first phrase (verse 10).
Paul also talks about how that RESURRECTION POWER and the participation in His sufferings arrives completed in the FUTURE…
Becoming like Him in His death, and so “somehow…” (“if possible” – AMP.) “attain to the resurrection out from the dead.”
I like the words, “if possible”.
Some have wondered, does this mean Paul had doubts about this? I don’t think so. Paul doesn’t strike me as a guy who was unsure what he believed.
I think, with the words “if possible”, or “somehow”, Paul was implying to the mystery of the final resurrection. The Bible describes how the dead in Christ will rise first, followed by believers that are still alive, as we join Jesus in the air, (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
But what a mystery! Our minds cannot conceive it. It’s simply too great to imagine!!
But Paul wasn’t content to know only the power of Christ’s resurrection. He also wanted to participate “in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”
I don’t know about you, but I would rather have His resurrection power than want His sufferings.
But Paul did!
Paul knew that if you were to know Christ Jesus, you were to know suffering. And Paul suffered!
- He was arrested on false charges
- He was beaten on several occasions
- He was run out of cities
- He was slandered
- He was shipwrecked
I don’t have to tell you there’s a lot of SUFFERING in this world. Ask the citizens of Las Vegas. It seems the news headlines are non-stop lately, from one hurricane to another, from earthquakes to mass murders. And here around us, in our own backyards, many are suffering in various ways that don’t capture the news’ headlines–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
When you suffer (Not “IF”, but “WHEN”), draw closer to Jesus in His sufferings.
He knows what it’s like to SUFFER, so He knows what you’re going through right now. None of us have suffered to His extent, but He knows our situation quite well. And He promised us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus can and will bring perspective and meaning to your suffering if you’ll let Him.
C.S. Lewis, the Christian writer, suffered several losses throughout his life. He wrote a book called, “The Problem of Pain”. There he said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Let your suffering bring you closer to Christ in His sufferings.
Release your past to Christ, all the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Reach toward your glorious future, living with one foot in eternity, as you remember where you’re heading in glory.
And then, every day, seek to grow closer to Jesus. Make it your daily ambition to get to know Christ more and more.
Epository Dictionary Of Bible Words by Stephen D. Renn
The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
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Video: The Resurrection of Jesus -The Passion of Christ – YouTube
Bible Translations: Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Bible (NIV) unless noted.