Lesson 13


Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:13 Brothers, I don't regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, think this way. If in anything you think otherwise, God will also reveal that to you. 3:16 Nevertheless, to the extent that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. Let us be of the same mind.


Today's Lesson  

Paul had written to the Philippians that above all else he wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Paul did not feel as though he had already achieved this. Paul, just as you and I, had a strong sense of his own imperfections and his own faults. He even repeats himself at the beginning of this section saying that he did not feel as though he had yet taken hold of everything that God had to offer him. But this sense of his own imperfections did not prevent Paul from striving to achieve what God would have him to accomplish.

 

Paul writes, "Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." What we have been in the past is not important. God has made of us a new creation. We are blameless and perfect in his eyes in Christ. We may not feel like we are blameless, but God sees us as such. When we understand this by faith we are freed to reach toward the high calling of God. Let us never settle for what is within our immediate reach. We must stretch forward to the things that are beyond our reach.

 

Paul encourages all that are in Christ to think this way, "as many as are perfect." We do not experience our perfection except by faith. Only through complete trust in God's promise can we call ourselves "perfect." This faith is the central theme of the Christian life. Through faith we experience the promises of God just as Abraham did so long ago. Only through faith can we experience the unity that God is achieving is us. "If in anything you think otherwise, God will also reveal that to you."

 

Through faith I do not have to make sure that everyone believes exactly the same as I do. I can have faith and trust in the active revelation of God to His people. If I am wrong about something, I can trust God to reveal it to me. If you are wrong about something, I can have faith that God will reveal that to you as well. I do not need to be the keeper of all truth or the guardian of the true faith. Those are roles that the Spirit of God is immensely more qualified to fill than I am.

 

In fact, Paul goes on to say that what we must do is to walk by the revelation that we have already attained. I am responsible to God for walking by the revelation that He has already given me. There is so much truth that God has already given each one of us. We should all strive to want to know God more fully, but even the revelation that we have already been given is enough to lead us toward perfection. God has already opened His heart to us; we have just been too callous to listen. When we begin to walk by the revelation that God has already given us, He will lead us into more truth.

 

Walking by the revelation we have already been given will also lead us into harmony with one another. That is Paul's purpose with this passage. "Let us be of the same mind." When we live up to the revelation we have been given, we will be of the same mind. We will be united and strong because we are all seeking a common revelation of God. God does not demand something radically different of me than he does of you. We are all bound by the common obligations of love and humility, of sacrifice and obedience.

 

Let us live up to the revelation we have been given. Let us walk in unity and peace with one another.

 

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