(Vs. 12.) I have not attained to perfect holiness, perfect knowledge, nor perfect happiness. Though my sanctification is perfect in Christ, it is not perfected in me. I know in part, sin dwells in me, my faith is imperfect, but I press on. I long to lay hold on that for which Christ laid hold of me. I want what the Lord purposed and purchased for me on Calvary - to be like him! (Eph. 1:3-6.)
(Vs. l3.) "Brethren, I don't claim to have arrived at perfection in doctrine, spirit, nor deed. I am not yet all that Christ would have me to be. I am not all that I would like to be, nor even all that I ought to be. Thank God, however, I am not what I used to be! One thing I do: I forget what lies behind me - my struggles and attempts at self-righteousness in false religion, my experiences and revelations in spiritual infancy, my works and labours since conversion, my recent growth and revelations. Now I reach forth for present and future blessings and revelations of his grace." The illustration is taken from runners in a race, who do not stop to look behind them to see how far they have come nor to determine how far they are in front of others, but they are concerned for what they are doing now and for what lies ahead.
(Vs. 14.) "My goal and aim is to finish the race and obtain the supreme and heavenly prize - the incorruptible crown of life, righteousness and glory!" (Ps. 17:15.) We look to Christ (Heb. 12:1,2). We follow and depend on Christ (1 John 3:1.3).
(Vs. 15.) "Let all of us who are spiritually mature (who are taught of God) have this same mind and hold these same convictions:
1. To count all heritage, ceremony, tradition and works of religion as rubbish that we may win Christ and be found in him.
2. To be willing to suffer the loss of all things for a knowledge of Christ.
3. To disclaim perfection in ourselves, but to aim for it.
4. To desire to be found in him, having his righteousness.
5. To desire above all things to be like Christ and press forward in perseverance to attain that incorruptible crown."
(Vs. 16.) Nevertheless, whatever degree of the knowledge of Christ and the truth of the gospel and the light we have received, let us walk therein! As we walk in the light that God gives us, he will give more light.
My spiritual growth may be slow, even discouraging. Sometimes I may feel that I am standing still. But I know that God has revealed Christ in me, and I know whom I have believed. I will hold fast to this until he reveals more of himself.
(Vs. 17.) "Follow me," Paul says, "as I follow Christ." Paul would not have any man follow him as the head of a party o, sect. He condemned others for that. He wanted them to have the same goal he had to win Christ and be found in him! "Also, observe others who live after this pattern I have set for you." Believers should encourage and be examples to one another in the pursuit of righteousness (Matt. 5:16; Titus 2: 10).
(Vs. 18,19.) "I have told you often and now tell you with great sorrow that many religious people walk a road which reveals them as enemies of the cross. They hold to ceremony and circumcision, not Christ alone. They glory in the flesh, making merchandise of you. They are more interested in converts than in conversions, more interested in statistics than in spirituality, more interested in gifts than in the Giver. They turn the grace of God into a licence to sin. Their end is destruction. Their god is not the living God, but their own desires and passions. What they glory in is really what they ought to be ashamed of; they are concerned for carnal, earthly, fleshly things." Someone said, "God created us to love people and use things, but sinful men love things and use people."
(Vs. 20, 21.) Our citizenship and interests are in heaven, not tied to this world. In Christ we are sons of God, seated in him, heirs of eternal glory and we patiently wait for his return. All we are, have and hope to be is in Christ. He will complete the work he has begun by changing our vile bodies into the glory and majesty of his own body, exerting the power which enables him to subject everything to himself (1 Cor. 15:51.55).