Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
So often we talk about doing things different. As a matter of fact this month were talking about moving forward and not backwards. But the question remains is what can I do to move forward and not backwards.
Last week Paul reminded us to: Be careful of the company you keep, Put know confidence in the flesh and Realize that you haven’t made it yet.
You see it is one thing to have someone tell you what to do, but it’s another thing for someone tell you what they do from experience not move backwards.
So Paul reiterates that, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:
- he had not attained to perfect knowledge,
- was not come to the mark, had not received the prize, or laid hold on eternal life;
- though he had received so much grace, and such gifts, as had qualified him for an apostle;
- and he had been so many years in that office, and had so great a knowledge in the mystery of the Gospel,
- and had labored in it more abundantly than others, and with great success;
- and even though he had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard unspeakable words, not lawful to be uttered, 2 Corinthians 12:2,
- yet he had no such opinion of himself, as if he was perfect:
Paul say’s I’m not perfect! Can I tell you something? You’re not either.
But Paul goes on to say “but this one thing I do.” Doesn’t Paul make it simple for us? He say’s I just do one thing. Whatever gifts, graces, or honors I may have received from Jesus Christ, I consider everything as incomplete till I have finished my course, got this crown, and have my body raised and fashioned after his glorious body.
This statement means “EN” in the Greek and is translated one – primary thing. Paul is saying this is the concern, as it is the sole business, of my life. This one thing that I do encompasses three action steps:
Paul stars out by saying the first step is forgetting those things which are behind. Forgetting is a verb – present middle and it means to lose out of mind. We are not talking about precious memories here. We are talking about those past things that would hinder you from moving forward. Paul is saying my conduct is not regulated nor influenced by that of others; I consider my calling, my Master, my work, and my end.
The connotation is a race and you can’t win a race looking behind you. Looking back is sure to end in going back (Lu 9:62): And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Look at Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26) But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Because the children of Israel were looking back it took them forty years for a two week trip.
Paul’s second step is reaching forth unto those things which are before. Reaching – verb – present middle and it means to stretch (oneself) forward upon. I stretch with my all unto – Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
I’m reaching to those things – to perfection of knowledge, holiness, and happiness. The metaphor is taken from runners in a race, who did not stop to look behind them, and see what way they have run, and how far they are before others, but look and move forwards, and stretch themselves out to the uttermost, and run with all their might and main to the mark before them; and so the apostle did in a spiritual sense. With hand and foot, like a runner in a race, and the body bent forward. The Christian is always humbled by the contrast between what he is and what he desires to be.
In the last place Paul takes us to step three, he say’s “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul says I press, Can’t no body do this for me. To Press is to pursue something. In Paul’s case it was Christ. He said I am pursuing toward something. Toward gives me the aim.
The aim is Christ because in Him is the prize of the high calling of God. The allusion is to the white line, or mark, which the runners in the Olympic Games made up to, and to which he that came first received the prize; “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” the incorruptible crown; the crown of life, righteousness, and glory, that fadeth not away, That high calling is the heavenly calling.
We are all running a race to something or from something. The Christian race is running to Christ Jesus in which He receives us with open arms into the place that He has prepared just for us.