Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 2 July 19:
Philippians 3:12-16 – 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 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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Though justified (declared “not guilty”) once and for all in Christ, Paul was still being sanctified (separated from sin and conformed to Christ), which is a life-long process, often a frustrating one –
– Romans 7:21-24 — So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Sanctification starts with the new birth in Christ, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, when believers repent (turn around) from sin and are no longer under sin’s dominion but are rather ‘slaves to righteousness’ –
– Romans 6:11-18 — So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
From the point of spiritual birth in Christ, through the grace and power of God, we spend a lifetime growing up in Christ, being conformed into the image of Christ, as God progressively changes our desires from selfish, worldly things to Him and Him alone. In salvation, justification, and the beginning of our sanctification, we rest assured in the grace of God, in the power of God, and in the promise that He will complete in us the work that He started when Christ returns and we receive our glorified bodies (Philippians 1:6) –
– 2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
– Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
– Philippians 3:20-21 — But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
– 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 — What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect…” (Philippians 3:12) “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) In this life, we will not achieve perfection (1 John 1:8-10), but ‘resting’ and trusting in the grace of God, we still strive to realize what is already ours in Christ – “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10; also, 1 Thessalonians 4:4; Romans 8:13; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Peter 1:5-11)
Today, Paul gives us some good coaching on how to walk in the sanctification process: Don’t get frustrated. Acknowledge and never forget that you are not perfect but are being perfected through the power of the Holy Spirit. Press on! Don’t wallow in the past; learn from your mistakes, trust in God’s grace, and move on to what is ahead. Fail forward, not backwards. (vs 13-15) Find some good role models in the faith (but don’t idolize them) who can help you grow in your faith. (Philippians 3:17) And trust that God will do the work in you and complete the work in you (Philippians 3:21)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 July 19: Today, forget what lies behind, and strain forward to what lies ahead. Rest in God’s grace while striving for perfection –
– 1 John 2:5 — but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.
– 1 John 4:12 — No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.