Moving Ahead

Originally preached Jan 6, 2013 by Pastor Jonathan D. Laye

“Brethern, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3: 13, 14 NKJV

Introduction

It seems that at the beginning of each New Year we think that it is necessary to make some resolutions to do better in the coming year than we have in the last one.  Many times these resolutions are only empty wishes which we soon forget.  We promise to quit eating cheese cake because we have discovered Krispy Kreme donuts.  Most of these resolutions have to do with self-improvement, but in this Scripture the Apostle Paul is dealing with our progress toward becoming a mature Christian who is pleasing to the Lord.  Paul is signifying that each day we should be growing in our spiritual walk and reaching and pressing toward a greater relationship with Christ.  We start out as babes in Christ, drinking the “milk of the Word”, and then continue to grow into maturity and fullness in our spiritual walk with Him.  Paul does not speak to us though he has already attained this mature walk but he puts himself on our level as one who is still striving to do so.  Thus he is encouraging us to do as he is doing so that we may attain also.  Paul seems to call our attention to four aspects in our journey to attain:

I. We Must First Consider Our Present Condition:

He says, “I do not count myself to have apprehended;”

  1. We cannot be indifferent to our spiritual condition.
  2. “I do not count myself” is to say,
    1. I have taken stock of myself.
    2. I have made a careful estimate of my spiritual condition.
    3. I have come to a conclusion about me, not his brother.
  3. He was dissatisfied because he had not yet apprehended perfection in Christ.
    1. Dissatisfaction here is good, because if one is satisfied they are not likely to desire more.
    2. Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, said, “He who thinks he has obtained everything, hath nothing.”
    3. If you feel like you have enough of God, you’re not likely to seek more of Him.
  4. For someone to say they are satisfied with their spiritual condition is usually bordering on self-righteousness.

II. We Must Place The Past Where It Belongs:

Paul says, “forgetting those things which are behind,”

  1. What are the things which we have left behind:
    1. Our previous sinful lifestyle, things that we enjoyed doing and were pleasurable.
      “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” Titus 3: 3 NKJV
    2. How do we put this sinful lifestyle away? “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”  Romans 6: 1 – 6 NKJV
    3. The trials of life, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”  I Peter 4: 12, 13 NKJV

III. We Must March Forward:

Paul says, “reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”

  1. Reaching forward to enter heaven, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13: 24 NKJV
  2. Reaching forward for the prize, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. I Cor. 9: 24 NKJV
  3. Reaching forward for spiritual gifts, “But earnestly desire the best gifts,” I Cor. 12: 31 NKJV; “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts,” I Cor. 14: 1 NKJV.
  4. Reaching forward to please God, “Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Tim. 2: 15 NKJV
  5. Do as Paul, he says, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 14 NKJV
    1. We must “press”, that is strive, pursue, work vigorously, not lazy or a slacker.
    2. We must have a goal, have a great desire to achieve.
    3. We must desire the prize, eternal life in Christ Jesus, when the trump of God sounds and calls His saints home.

Conclusion

If you have made resolutions to improve yourself this coming year, take a new look at what it is that you want.  Better than losing weight, or getting more organized, or being a better person, is to become pleasing in the eyes of God.  If you fulfill all these other resolutions and yet fail God, what has it gained you?  I charge you to: consider your present spiritual condition, forget the past, and march forward in God.  Don’t wait until March or September or even December of 2013; but do it now!