Summary: The goal of Christlikeness is truly a goal worth living and dying for that pleases God and brings glory to the Name of Jesus.
A GOAL WORTH LIVING FOR-- Philippians 3:12-16
Proposition: The goal of Christlikeness is truly a goal worth living and dying for that pleases God and brings glory to the Name of Jesus.
Objective: My purpose is to challenge people to make Christlikeness as their goal to live for by surrendering their all to Christ.
Illus: Dog racing is a popular gambling sport in some states. Greyhound racing is different from horse racing in that there are no jockeys, so they have to use some other means of keeping the dogs running in the right direction. The greyhounds are trained to chase a mechanical rabbit that runs on a little track. The remote-control rabbit goes just fast enough to stay ahead of the dogs. A few years ago at a racetrack in Florida, a funny thing happened. The dogs were all crouched in their cages, waiting for the start of the race. The starting gun sounded. The cage doors dropped open and the dogs took off after the mechanical rabbit. As the rabbit rounded the first turn, however, an electrical short caused it to explode and catch on fire. In seconds, all that was left of the rabbit was some black stuff hanging on a bit of wire. The dogs were so confused they didn’t know what to do. Most stopped running. Some of them just lay down on the track with their tongues hanging out. A couple of them went on around the track at top speed, but without the rabbit to chase they ran into a wall and broke several ribs. Several of the greyhounds just started howling at the crowd. Not one dog finished the race. People are a lot like greyhounds. We’re all chasing something. What would happen to you if your goal, your reason for running the race, suddenly caught fire? It is an important question for each of us to face.
It seems that the Judaizers, the Jewish teachers who, were plaguing the Philippian church about how to achieve spiritual perfection. All that they had to do was to be circumcised and keep the Law. When you reach a certain level of knowledge, you achieve perfection. Paul has a strong word for these that he called “dogs.” Paul quickly states, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward to Jesus. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision--you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” Paul pursued Christ-likeness with the enthusiasm and persistence of a runner in the Greek games. Here we meet Paul "the athlete" with his spiritual vigor, pressing toward the finish line in the Christian race. He is like a runner, pressing toward the prize. The Olympic runners in ancient Greece had to be citizens of the nation they represented. They were free men, not slaves. As Paul saw it, the Christian is the athlete of Christ.
I. THE GRASP (v. 12) “that I may lay hold”— Paul’s salvation experience had taken place about 30 years before he wrote to the Philippians. He had won many spiritual battles in that time. He had grown much in those years, but he candidly confessed he had not obtained all this, nor was he yet made perfect. Paul has a glorious object in view, and he made most strenuous exertions to obtain it.
1. Dissatisfaction “Not that I have already attained or am already perfected”— He knows that he has not obtained all that Christ has for him. The great prize still requires effort. The prize is at the end of the race. He never claimed to have received such a state of perfection; nor does he intimate any where that such a state is ever reached on earth. In these verses Paul admits that he has not yet become mature in his faith, he is not yet perfect. His maturity is marked by a realization of his immaturity. Jesus has a purpose for his life. Thus he presses on to realize that purpose. If not, Satan says, "What’s the use?" He knew that he had not reached his goal of spiritual and moral maturity. His conversion was a starting place, not a stopping place.
2. Determination “I press on that I may lay hold”— The prize would demand a lifetime of continued effort on his part. He presses on to make it his own. He was positionally perfect in Christ while being conditionally perfected in both character and conduct. In his position, Paul was striving to know Christ better. He is pressing on for he knows that one must push forward in order to achieve God’s best for him. He presses on with the hope that he shall lay hold upon the prize. The idea in the word “apprehend” is that of taking hold of, or of seizing suddenly and with eagerness; and, since there is no doubt of its being used in an allusion to the Grecian foot-races, it is not improbable that there is a reference to the laying hold of the pole or post which marked the goal, by the racer who had outstripped the other competitors, and who, by that act, might claim the victory and the reward.