THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
SCRIPTURE: PHILIPPIANS 3
AUTHOR: Joe Ligon
It is funny to me that Paul starts this chapter with the word “finally”. He not only has this entire chapter to write but he also has the fourth and final chapter of this letter to write. Like most preachers, when Paul says “finally” it is a rather relative thing. We preachers have a sometimes have a difficult time landing the plane when we are speaking.
As the chapter opens, he reminds the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. That is an important concept that will be developed in the next chapter. But we should at least remember today that our rejoicing is to be in the Lord not in our circumstances which are not always good nor in other people who are not always good. But the Lord is good. He is always good. So, we can always rejoice in Him.
From there Paul issues some rather distinct warnings. These warnings are about Judaizers who had a habit of coming into new churches and teaching a false gospel. Particularly they taught that salvation was not in Jesus alone but in Jesus and the Law. They taught that people would have had to follow the Law including the men being circumcised (“those who mutilate the flesh”).
Paul goes on to say that if anyone had a right to boast about what he could do on his own and in his own power, he had the biggest bragging rights. In verses 4-7, Paul actually lists his accomplishments “in the flesh”. But he quickly explains that none of that mattered. All of his accomplishments, all of his bona fides, all of his bragging rights were really worthless compared to what was available in Christ Jesus.
I want you to skip down to verse 13. In this verse, Paul makes an interesting statement. He says “forgetting what lies behind”. Now let’s be honest. When you compare that statement to his list of accomplishments that we just covered, it is obvious that he had not “forgotten” the things of the past. In fact, it seemed that he remembered them in great detail.
The solution to this apparent contradiction is what is meant by forgetting. Forgetting does not mean an inability to remember. We all remember our past, good and bad. And sometimes those memories come to mind in the weirdest of times. We can’t make ourselves stop remembering those things.
But we can make spiritual decisions that our past doesn’t matter. We are not going to live in our past. We are not going to let our past dictate our future. Instead, we are going to live with our focus on Jesus and eyes on the prize of the triumphant Christian life and a glorious eternity in heaven. That is a good way to live.