Pressing Towards The Goal
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, 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, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
What is Paul saying here? Well, if we look back at verses 10 and 11 we see that Paul is telling us that the goal of his life is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, to share in the fellowship of His suffering, and to become like Him so that he might attain to the resurrection from the dead.
You see, in life...we like to set goals right! We’re in a new year, and many like to make, “New Year resolutions”. Eating healthy, smarter decisions, change of lifestyle, financial goals, and so on. We al have done it at one point or another. Because that is what everyone else is doing every New year. It never changes. But what happens? Is the goal met? Every resolution that we make, did we finish it?
As you can see from our text, the Apostle Paul wanted none of that. He didn’t care about worldly things. His mind was set. “I want to be like Christ”, that was his goal for his new life.
“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”. You see, setting goals, requires the person to persevere. He/she, pushes itself to get to the goal, whatever it is. “Pressing Towards The Goal”. Because that is what the heart desires.
“I have to do this, I have to finish”. “I have set a goal for my future, I can’t fail”.
Basically, Paul is saying he wants to be made Christ-like. He wants to know Christ personally and intimately so that through the power of Christ’s resurrection he might be made perfect in Jesus.
Now he tells us in verse 12 he hasn’t reached that goal yet. He’s not perfect but he presses on toward that end.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, 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.
The price of salvation in its fullness has not yet been won, a point Paul makes against ideas of being perfect. This is the Apostle Paul here church. As good and as faithful as he was, he never claimed to be perfect, in his life in the flesh.
Believers do not yet fully experience all the benefits of redemption, for we all await our glorification, at which point the Lord will remove us from the presence of sin. Yet the saving process for every believer will be revealed in the day od Christ and the resurrection from the dead has already began. Therefore, Paul has said, believers presently experience the power of Christ. This salvation will surely be consummated for all who have put their faith in Christ alone.
To get there he says he forgets what is behind him, the past, and he strains forward to what lies ahead, the goal of winning the prize of the upward calling of Christ. In other words, eternal life, and resurrection from the dead, where he will finally be made perfect and be able to enjoy the kind of relationship God intended for us to have with Him.
I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of things in my past that I wished never happened. I have a lot of regrets. Why can’t we just erase our mistakes? Why can’t we just delete them from our minds like we do with our texts, emails? Sadly, that is the reality of life. Those mistakes, the pain, the sufferings that went with it, came with a lesson. But our past, should never determine our future.
You see…if we continue to live our lives, by re-living our past, then we will never make it to the finish line. We will never make it to our goal. It is like living in this life carrying a bunch of heavy luggage on your shoulder. The weight of it can wear the person down. Let them go, put them down, and never pick them up again. Its just too heavy and pointless to run a race with a heavy baggage.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18
7 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
This is what it means to have this new life. Let us live in this life, pressing towards the goal that God has set. Lets never pick up those, heavy baggage again, they have done their job as a lesson learned. And continue on what Christ has laid in advance. Again, our past should never determine our future.
Paul spelled out his focus and that was the prize set before him at the finish line of life. In order to gain the prize, we have to be moving toward it.
There are many Christians who are content to live in what used to be. They are content to dwell in safety and not take risks for the Lord. In their walk with God they feel it is much easier and safer to preserve what they have than to reach out for more that God has for them.
For example. Imagine with me that life is like the 110M hurdles. The runners start the race with their gaze straight ahead toward the finish line. When the gun goes off the runners takes off like a bullet, flying down the track. After a few steps, this thing pops into their consciousness, and they think, “Whoa, I’m going to have to hurdle over this obstacle to continue the race.” So, they jump over the hurdle and continue running. Then what? You got it, another hurdle, and another, and another.
Now the runners don’t stop after making it over the first hurdle and proclaim, “I’ve made it!” Of course not. The runners keep going, jumping over all the obstacles till they finish the race. The goal is not to clear the first hurdle, or the 2nd or the 3rd. The goal is to finish, and hopefully win, the race. That must be our goal, as well.
Paul indicates that there is one major threat to us achieving our goals of the future, and that is our past. Paul says, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.” Our pasts, good or bad, can cause us to miss out in the future. But we don’t want that to happen. So, like Paul, we have to forget our pasts and keep our focus ever on the future.
Many people in churches today are simply preserving spiritually. They are holding on to the past and by doing so are forfeiting their future. They are forfeiting the possibilities of what could be because they can’t let go of what has been.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. His Word is unchangeable. But we are changeable, and we should not be the same today as yesterday, and especially not in the future. I don’t want to just preserve my relationship with God. I want to progress in it daily, because if I’m not progressing, Then… I’m not growing.
We won’t make it to the prize if we are preserving. We have to be moving forward! We should be continually striving to be, and to become, all that God wants us to be. In our walk with God, if we are going to progress, it’s all about action. Notice the action words Paul used to describe his pursuit of his goal. “but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”.
Paul had a passion about knowing Christ and it was not a passive thing, it was very active. In order for us to progress in our walk with God we have to be doing the same thing. We have to be active spiritually.
If you are satisfied and have no desire to go on further with Christ, to be more holy, to pray more, to study your Bible more, and to do more for Christ, my only conclusion is that you must already be like Him (Perfect) or you just have no appetite for Him.
You know what it means when you have no appetite? It means you’re sick. Paul is insinuating that if you don’t have this type of appetite for Christ that he has described, then you’re spiritually ill and you don’t even know it. If that’s the case, then you need to consult the Great Physician for a critical heart surgery.
But you know it’s not only good experiences in our past that can rob us of reaching our full potential in the future, here is where things may get painful to hear, but hear it we must. Or else, moving forward will be impossible. it can, Often, sin and past failures that hold us back. Maybe you find yourself stuck in a spiritual sense today, You… feel unable to move forward spiritually because you are still living in sin.
No one has ever reached Christian maturity until they were able to deal effectively with their sin. We all have things in our past that Satan would like to continually remind us of in order to hold us back from progressing spiritually.
This forgetfulness can only occur through confession of your sin, correction of your life, and restitution. You’ve got to come to God and tell Him that you’ve sinned, you’ve got to correct the problem in your life and repent of it. Then you have to make things right. Restitution is making right whatever you can that you’ve done wrong in your past.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And again, another great reminder from the Psalms…
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
That’s how God deals with the sins we confess to Him. He discards them where they can never be retrieved, and He remembers them no more. So…why should we! We have to take God at His Word and believe He does what He says He will do. Otherwise we are calling Him a liar and showing our lack of faith in Him.
Usually it is harder for us to forgive ourselves than it is for God to forgive us. If you confess your sins to God, they are under the blood of Christ and they have to be forgotten. God dealt with them on the cross of Christ, they are history… so we have to let them go.
If we don’t forget it, it will remain a bitter memory that will destroy what God wants to do in and through us in the future. So, let’s not be historical about our forgiven sins. Let us not… keep a record of our faults and failures, let them go and forget about the past, it’s a lesson learned, so… that we can progress toward the prize that awaits us at the finish line of life’s race.
As we press on, we will have goals to complete and hurdles to overcome. We can’t stop after clearing our first hurdle or become satisfied after accomplishing a goal and we can’t quit running just because we may have tripped along the way. We have to keep, “Pressing Towards The Future”, lest we get left behind.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
We need to remember that the race is not over. God is not through with us yet. We aren’t perfect, we’re just forgiven. We will have many more goals set before us and we must keep pressing on toward the goal of the heavenly calling of God. What is the goal? To be like Jesus. And the only way that can happen, is if we continue to run the race.
How could we ever even hope to reach that goal? Think, of the 110M hurdles. Therein lies the secret to moving from where you are to the character of Jesus. The runners know that they can’t get over all those hurdles in one leap. No! They must take one hurdle at a time, as they get to them, moving ever closer to the finish line. God puts all of these goals (or hurdles) in front of us to lead us in the same direction – toward becoming more Christ-like.
Let me end with this illustration that I learned from watching, “Francis Chan”.
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.
Video message is now available in YouTube as of Jan. 2020