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     Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 ESV

     Paul, of all people, could have claimed that if perfection comes from the law, he would have exceeded every expectation. (Philippians 3:4-6) However, he makes clear that to be right with God, one must pursue Christ Jesus. Self-righteousness and the requirements of God’s law will never accomplish the ultimate goal, which is to be made right with God by being perfect and without sin. To put it more directly – to be HOLY. We live in a culture or society where the measure of perfection before God is not so much keeping the laws of God, but rather the law of comparison. We compare ourselves with others, making up our own value system as to what is good or evil. This system then determines in the individual’s mind whether or not they are good enough for Heaven. But Heaven is not obtained by this system of law any more than by following every jot and tittle of God’s law. If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:21b ESV  God’s law does teach what He expects, but not the means by which our sins are forgiven. (Romans 8:1-11…. Ephesians 1:7) May we do what we have read in the verses above to obtain the goal in our own lives.

     This is very important for the person who is going to move forward in Christ. I’m not teaching that we do not learn from the past …. just that we shouldn’t live there. Paul would never have moved forward, growing in his understanding of Jesus if he didn’t make Him Lord of his life by forsaking his own understanding of God. Paul had to put aside what he perceived to be service and acceptance from God by the law, and receive a new understanding of who God is through His Son …. Jesus. Being made right with God is never accomplished by the works of the law, but by relationship with God in Christ Jesus. The works and requirements of the law were accomplished by Christ upon the cross. For by the WORKS OF THE LAW no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 ESV …. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, NOT A RESULT OF WORKS, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV…Paul said it best in Galatians 6:14 ESV “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

     Paul described pressing on as straining forward. This phrase teaches us that living in grace is not a retirement from doing what God has called us to be, which is HOLY. As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV (Leviticus 11:44)  The Christian life is compared to an athlete running a race with endurance. This race is not physical but spiritual, and we are told to lay aside every weight of sin, that we might run with endurance. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Remember…… Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

     Continuing with the race analogy… Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may be able to obtain. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV  Keep this in context; this is not telling us we are working for our own salvation, but rather that this is how we should live as a result of salvation made possible by Christ Jesus. We are not to live aimlessly with no goals for living Godly. What should be the goal of every Christian? Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31b ESV  As Paul explained to the men of Athens in Acts 17 concerning the unknown God, may we this day live those words for all who do not know God… In him we live and move and have our being. (verse 28 ESV)  We also need to know how to dress for the race in order to win. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 ESV

     In a couple of days, Lord willing we will be celebrating a new year….. a new beginning. May we not dwell on the past which we cannot change, but look forward toward the future. As a blank page of life is before you not yet lived, live with goals to make a difference in your walk with God. I heard it said and have read somewhere…. begin with the end goal in mind. Let me give you one goal to consider…. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 ESV

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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