I’ve Come Too Far to Look Back
Philippians 3:13-14 – “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind (refers to things the Apostle had depended upon to find favor with God, and the failure that type of effort brought about [3:5-6]), reaching forth unto those things which are before (all our attention must be on that which is ahead, and not on what is past; ‘those things’ consists of all the victories of the Cross),
“I press toward the mark (this represents a moral and Spiritual target) for the prize of the high calling of God (Christlikeness) in Christ Jesus (proclaims the manner and means in which all of this is done, which is the Cross [I Cor. 1:17-18; 2:2]).”
During the Ministry of Paul the Apostle, there were many at that time who believed that they had achieved, what is known now as, “sinless perfection.” This means that they believed they were now at a stage in their lives where they were perfect, with no sin in their lives whatsoever. Of course, we know now that there is no such thing as “sinless perfection,” and that the Only Person that has ever lived that was/is Perfect is Christ. We were born in the state of original sin (Ps. 51:5), due to the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. As well, the Sin Nature controls every unsaved person, which is that inner bent towards that which is against God.
However, when we accept Jesus Christ, and His Way, His precious Blood washes and cleanses us from every stain, past, present, and future. At that same time, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ, where our old man has been crucified with Christ, and a new man has been resurrected in Newness of Life (Rom. 6:3-5), and because we are now in Christ, God looks at us as being perfect. Now, we must qualify this statement. We are not perfect based upon our good works, or upon what we have accomplished, but God sees us as perfect because we are “in Christ.” Christ is the Perfect One, and since we are in Him, God looks at us as perfect.
“I Count Not Myself to Have Apprehended”
Now, Paul would address this situation of sinless perfection in this Chapter, and he would tell these individuals believing this, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended,” meaning that I have not made it yet, or I have not attained yet. What he is saying is summed up in the previous Verse, “. . . if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus,” which speaks of Paul ever pursuing to be like Christ. In fact, the word “apprehend,” means “attained,” but it has a little more meaning than just being “attained.” It has the idea that when a football player wants to catch hold of his man, he not only wants to catch the man with the ball, but he also wants to pull him down. Likewise, Paul wants to make Christ his own, just as Christ caught Paul and made Paul His Own. To sum it up this way, we were not Saved only so we could miss Hell, but we were Saved to be made in the Image of Christ. We must never forget that. We were Saved to be conformed into this Image of Christ.
“Being Made Conformable Unto His Death”
Paul would say, “That I may know Him, and the Power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His Sufferings, being made conformable unto His Death” (Phil. 3:10). What Paul is saying here is that we are to conform to what Jesus did at that Cross and the Resurrection, not trying to do this ourselves, for we simply cannot. We are to accept the fact that He did this for us, not for Himself, for we could not save ourselves, and neither can we make ourselves Holy and Righteous by means of our works. We are to stop trying to do this ourselves and accept the fact that He did this for us, and we are to conform to His Plan, His Purpose, and His Path.
Let us say it again, we cannot attain a place of spiritual perfection based upon our own works, for if we try to attain this by what we do, we are placing ourselves in a position of self-righteousness. Trusting in our works and trusting in our own doings automatically places us in a position of self-righteousness, which means that we become righteous through what we do. If that is the case, then what Paul is saying here is useless, meaningless, and an outright lie. However, we know that this is not the case, and that we have not come to the place of attaining this perfection, but we are striving everyday to be more like Christ. This is what Paul is saying here, “I may not be there now, but that will not stop me from doing what I can to be more like Christ.”
His Death Equals Our Victory
Now, many know that we must be made conformable unto His Death for Salvation, but many do not understand what that means in regards to our everyday life and living. We must understand that Paul here is not talking about our Salvation, but he is talking about Sanctification, which is our everyday life and living. Everything that we receive from God, everything barring none, is wrapped up in the Crucifixion of Christ. Everything! That means our Salvation, our Healing, our Deliverance, our Baptism with the Holy Spirit with the Evidence of speaking with other Tongues, and every Blessing, has come to us on the basis of what Christ did for us at Calvary. In other words, His Death equals our Victory! I feel the Presence of God even as I write these words, His Death equals our Victory! Hallelujah! Praise God! You must get this into your spirit, His Death equals our Victory!
What He did at the Cross was so powerful, so magnificent that through His Death, He broke every shackle and chain that kept us in captivity to Satan. That problem, which has kept us bound, has been totally and completely defeated through His Death! That means that there is no problem that He did not conquer at Calvary! There is no struggle that He did not defeat at Calvary! As the song writer wrote many years ago, “Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near!”
Our Victory is found totally in Christ and what He did at the Cross, and we must look to that Finished Work on a daily basis for us to be “conformed unto His Death.” We are to place our Faith in the Cross of Christ exclusively, which allows the Holy Spirit to Work in our lives to take out the bad, and put in the good. The only way that we are to apprehend the victory needed in this life, is by reaching out to what Christ did at the Cross, and we are guaranteed that His Victory will become our Victory!