Philippians 3:13b – 14
Introduction: Paul said that he was “pressing on” but there were two things he needed to do to accomplish that task.
I. “Forgetting what lies behind.” [v 13]
A. Paul obviously remembered the past:
1. Paul remembered past accomplishments. [3:4 – 6]
2. Paul remembered bad things: shipwrecks, imprisonments, and beatings. [2 Cor. 11:24 – 25]
3. Paul remembered bad people: warned Timothy (2 Tim. 4:14), handed people over to Satan (1 Tim. 1:20).
4. Paul remembered his bad behavior: crimes against the church (Gal. 1:13)
***** Paul is saying that he did not allow the past to effect or hinder or alter the direction he was going.
B. The past can hinder us!
1. Preference: to NOT try something new.
2. Preference: to play it safe and keep to the known.
3. Preference: to AVOID or STAY AWAY from possibilities.
4. Sometimes we are motivated by fear or comfort or shiny distractions.
***** “That’s not how we do it here.” Is this the death mantra of dying churches?
Transition: Paul focus away from the past (good or bad) and fixes his energy on what is in front of him.
II. “Straining forward to what lies ahead.” [v 13]
1. “Tyranny of the Urgent” (Charles Hummel) – confusion between what is important and what seems urgent… “jumbled priorities.”
2. Reality check: Most of us are motivated by circumstances and feelings, NOT by what we THINK believe.
3. Attention to what seems to be urgent (needed to be done) can cause us to lose sight of what is important. (e.g. Husband/wife… earn money, take care of house… wake up strangers)
4. The truth about PRIORITIES: ultimate we do what we want (value, believe)
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” [Phil. 3:8 ESV]
1. Belief: “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”… BECAUSE NOTHING is more important.
2. Choice: “I have suffered the loss of all things” … BECAUSE they are “rubbish.” (KJV = “dung”)
3. Goal: “that I may gain Christ” … BECAUSE Paul did not hold his ministry or eternal destiny lightly.
“So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” [1 Cor. 9:26 – 27]
4. Value: The actual perspective… “Christ Jesus my Lord” OR “rubbish?”
Transition: With those things in place Paul is now free to move forward.
III. “I press on” [This is the Greek word for “persecute”… as in pursue, chase]
A. Paul puts all the zeal and energy he used to persecute the church into his pursuit of Jesus.
1. We don’t see this in English but the emphasis of v. 14 is on the “goal.”
2. Reaching the goal assumes a “prize.”
B. Paul feels the pull of “God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” [CEB]
1. NOTHING is more important than Jesus.
2. This single pursuit is compelling to the point of obsession.
“In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. 10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead. 12 It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose.” [Phil. 3:9 – 12 CEB]
Put another way:
“Because Christ Jesus has made me his own” [Phil. 3:12b ESV]