Philippians 3: 12 – 21

Verse 12 –

Remember that this verse comes right after the one in which Paul talks about the resurrection. When we go to be with the Lord we are fully perfect and complete.

  •  “Not that I have already attained or am already perfect.” (I do not have it made.) The Greek word for ‘perfected’ means mature, complete, or finished. It does not mean sinless perfection. You and I still have rough edges, flaws in our personalities, attitudes, words and actions.
  • “I press on (like a runner, a swimmer, a bicycle rider), that I may ‘lay hold’ of that for which Christ Jesus has also ‘laid hold’ of me.”

Jesus suddenly and dramatically grabbed hold of Paul’s life when he was on the road to Damascus and his life was never the same after that.

Paul was focused in ‘hot pursuit’ of his goal

  •  What has Jesus ‘laid hold’ of you to do??

In your personal life?

In your family?

In our church?

In your workplace?

In our community?

In the world?

  •  Are you ‘laying hold’ of it and pursuing those things?

Or are you ‘laying hold’ of you, your own agenda, your own pursuits, that have nothing to do with the Lord or His purposes? If that is the case, then I recommend that you take stock of your priorities, that you reconsider, that you repent and that you get on track with Him.

 Verse 13 –

  • “I do not count myself to have apprehended”; (I have not arrived. I am not an expert at this Christian walk thing. I am in process. I am a learner, a disciple.) Paul refused to let ‘his past’ get in the way of moving ahead towards all that God had for him in his life.
  • “one thing I do forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”,

I suspect that Paul wanted to forget his pattern in the past of being so self-righteous. Now He wanted to focus on Jesus.

I believe the kind of forgetting that Paul talked about does not mean that he wanted to forget the lessons that he learned along the path of life. Rather I believe that he is telling us that he wanted to forget the disappointments, the distracters and the things that have torn and worn him down, and instead press on full steam ahead with his mission. Plus he wants to forget the successes so that he doesn’t ‘rest on his laurels’. Paul wanted to press ahead today, a fresh start!

Verse 14 –

  • “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (like a distance runner, like a swimmer, like a bicycle rider – I am staying focused, fixed, concentrating on doing the best I can)

The ‘goal’ was the marker (finish line) at the end of the race (the finish line) that the runners intently fixed their eyes on reaching. 

Verse 15 & 16 –

“let us, as many as are (spiritually) mature, have this mind, let us walk by the same rule” (like disciplined soldiers who were walking forward in the same line, advancing – each in the proper position)

“let us be of the same mind.” (This is not group think or mind control. Rather it is being in agreement about what our most important goals are.)

Verse 17 –

“join in following my example (my pattern), and note those who so walk” In other words, imitate me and how I walk the Christian life.

Verse 18 & 19 –

“many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly (their obsessive compulsive physical appetites & sensuality that control them), and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” (NKJV)

 Here is how the Message (MSG) puts v18,19: “There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.”

Paul wept with compassion for those who were enemies of the cross. Unfortunately there are many people who are enemies of the cross, looking out for their own personal gain, seeking to take advantage of and control other people, to impress, or to build their own little kingdoms. 

“Their shame” – things in their lives that they should have been ashamed of were rather things that they were proud of. What has been bad in the past has been made to look good and what has been good in the past has now been made to look bad.

Verse 20 –

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

You and I have a higher allegiance than the red white and blue. We are 1st citizens of heaven, and 2nd to any other man made country.

Remember, we are in the world but not of the world. Plus what we eagerly desire is not earthly things, but the person of Jesus.

Verse 21 –

“who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body”

Paul does not say that He ‘may’ or ‘might’. He says ‘will’. Just like God raised Jesus from the dead, He will raise us from the dead. Just like Jesus has a resurrection body, you and I will undergo a glorious transformation so that our earthly bodies are like the resurrected body of Jesus. It will happen!


  • I will keep on keeping on, pressing on to ‘lay hold’ of that for which the Lord ‘laid hold’ of me.
  • I choose to forget what lies behind me and to reach forward for the prize.
  • Let’s be united in our forward movement as soldiers in His army.
  • We need to follow Paul’s example and not the example of the world.
  • We are citizens of heaven 1st, here 2nd. Do we act like it, or are we so invested in the ‘here and now’ that we think this is all there is?
  • Jesus will transform us completely and perfectly when we step into glory!
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