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Summary: PRESSING TOWARD THE GOAL IS THE ONLY WAY TO RUN THE RACE OF CONFORMITY TO JESUS CHRIST

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BIG IDEA:

PRESSING TOWARD THE GOAL IS THE ONLY WAY TO RUN THE RACE OF CONFORMITY TO JESUS CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

Walvoord: "On the one hand, discontent with one’s spiritual life can bring discouragement and unnecessary resignation to spiritual defeat. On the other hand, in overestimating one’s spiritual attainments, it is easy to become complacent with the

measure of transformation which has taken place. Either alternative is falling short of the scriptural standard. What Paul is teaching in this section is that absolute perfection, such as exists in heaven, or attainment of spiritual victory which makes defeat

impossible, is never achieved in this life. But there is the possibility of a high plateau of victory in Christ, of joy in the Spirit, and of the satisfaction of having served the Lord acceptably. It is this proper doctrine that the apostle is attempting to teach in this section."

I. THE GOAL IS CONFORMITY TO JESUS CHRIST

"in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus"

"the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus"

THE MOTIVATION OF A LOFTY GOAL:

A. Salvation is Just a Starting Point

B. Christ Jesus Sets the Standard

Rom. 8:28-29 = the purpose for which we have been called by God

C. The Prize is Worthy of the Effort

II. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE ALREADY "ARRIVED" YOU ARE OFF

TARGET

"Not that I have already obtained it"

"or have already become perfect "

"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet"

THE DELUSION OF PERFECTION:

A. Some People Feel They Have Reached the Spiritual Mountaintop

He had not received yet all that God has for him.

B. Some People Feel They have Arrived.He had not been matured yet to the point where he was like Christ.

C. The Reality is That We All Have a Long Way to Go

III. LOOKING AT THE PAST WILL SLOW YOU DOWN

"forgetting what lies behind"

THE PITFALLS OF THE PAST:

A. Weighed down by Sins/Failures of the Past (Heb. 12:1-2) / OR Complacent because of Past Spiritual Success

(Past Positive Performance is no Indication of Future Success --

cf. the warning on commercials for mutual funds)

B. Tainted by Bitterness and a Lack of Forgiveness / OR

Over confident because of the evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit

C. Resigned to Powerlessness / OR

Distracted from continuing to Rely on the Lord

Bruce: "A competitor in a race does not look over his or her shoulder to see how much ground has been covered already or how rivals are getting on: the runner keeps eyes fixed on the winning post."

(cf. my experience in sixth grade relay race)

Boice: "What is the nature of the forgetting then? I believe that it is the kind of forgetting that occurs when we cease to let things that are in the past overshadow the present, that lets the past be past, both the good and the bad, and that constantly looks

forward to the work that God still has for us."

IV. PRESSING TOWARD THE GOAL IS THE ONLY WAY TO RUN THE

RACE

"I press on"

"but one thing I do… reaching forward to what lies ahead"

"I press on toward the goal"

THE CHALLENGE OF PERSEVERING IN MAKING PROGRESS:


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