Summary: 1)PURSUING THE PRIZE REQUIRES A PROPER AWARENESS 2) MAXIMUM EFFORT 3) FOCUSED CONCENTRATION 4) PROPER MOTIVATION 5)PROPER RECOGNITION & 6) PROPER CONFORMITY.
The Olympics are coming soon to Vancouver British Columbia. Athletes all over the world are preparing for their various events. They of course train in such a way as to be the best of the best. Their goal; an Olympic Gold Medal, and hearing their national anthem playing while their flag is raised and they stand atop the podium as ‘Olympic Champion.’
Have you ever heard of someone saying: ‘I want to be an Olympic Silver or Bronze medalist.’ or, ‘We’re here to lose!’, or how about, ‘What AM I doing here?’ What would we think of a coach who said something like, do whatever you like, I’m sure it will be fine. There are specific rules for competition and exact sciences in body mechanics, nutrition, training and equipment. Each athlete knows that they have not arrived and must have a specific objective and train. (adapted from Steven Buhr http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=141022&page=0)
The Judaizers taught the Philippians that spiritual perfection was attainable through being circumcised and keeping the Law. There were also heretics (forerunners of the second-century Gnostics) who taught that spiritual perfection awaited those who attained a certain level of knowledge.
As followers of Christ, should we set our sights any lower than the prize for which we all strive for? What is that prize? What is our goal? Are we in a race of some kind that we need to win?
In Philippians 3:12-16 Paul sets forth six necessary prerequisites for effectively striving for the prize of Christlikeness. The effort requires from the believer a 1) Proper Awareness, 2) A Maximum Effort, 3) A Focused Concentration, 4) A Proper Motivation, 5) A Proper Recognition, and finally 6) A Proper Conformity.
1) PURSUING THE PRIZE REQUIRES A PROPER AWARENESS. (PHILIPPIANS 3:12A)
Philippians 3:12a 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). (ESV)
All that believers are now positionally in Christ and will enjoy forever in heaven is eternally fixed by God’s gracious purpose (cf. 1 Peter 1:4). That spiritual reality and promise cannot be improved upon, but believers’ virtue in this present life can and must be. Knowing that we are not now what we should be, and what we someday will be in glory, must not produce apathy and laziness, but a zeal for moving in the direction of the prize. That is the Spirit’s work in us (2 Cor. 3:18) and the longing of the regenerated soul. The awareness of the need to improve one’s spiritual condition is a necessary prerequisite to pursuing the prize of spiritual perfection.
Paul had that awareness, and expressed it in the two words that begin verse 12, not that. He had not yet obtained (from lambanô; “to receive,” “acquire,” or “attain”) the prize he pursued. The twice-repeated word already indicates that Paul was still imperfect when he wrote this epistle.
Despite the rich blessings that were his in Christ, the apostle knew that he was not perfect. His knowledge of Christ was still incomplete (1 Cor. 13:12).