Playing for Keeps

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” (Phil. 3:13b–14).

- Philippians 3:12–16

Our study of Hebrews 12 has shown us that in the midst of adversity, we must press on toward the goal we find in Christ Jesus. We must look to Him in the midst of suffering and in the midst of discipline if we hope to finish the race (vv. 1–2). We must strengthen ourselves so that we will persevere and not stumble (vv. 12–13).

This admonition to press on is not unique to the book of Hebrews but is found throughout the Bible. God’s Word continually calls us to grow to maturity and to live by the Spirit so that we will be able to press on toward our heavenly calling. However, while we love to talk about the need for spiritual growth, sometimes we do not have a balanced idea of what growth means and how maturity is achieved. In order that we might better understand spiritual growth, the devotionals for the next two weeks will be based on the teaching series Keeping in Step with the Spirit by Dr. R.C. Sproul.

When we become Christians, there is real change. Our desires are realigned so that we want to obey Jesus. However, because the consummation of redemption will not occur until Christ returns with the new heavens and the new earth, we still have to deal with the effects of the Fall. We have to fight our old fleshly nature so that our new desire to obey Christ manifests itself in actual obedience (Rom. 7).

The Christian life is not for the faint of heart. It requires real effort. It requires real battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. In these battles we will suffer defeat and experience great victories. At times we will be exhilarated, and at other times we will become discouraged.

Whatever our situation might be presently, we must never give up. The final victory over Satan won by Jesus at the Cross has already decided the war. Victory is ours already, though it must slowly work itself out in our lives and in the rest of creation.

Today’s passage calls us to forget what is behind us and press on toward the goal. Paul knew that His reward was guaranteed by Christ. Yet, he also knew that he would never receive it unless he pressed forward, working out his salvation with fear and trembling just as Christ was working in Him (Phil. 2:12–13). This is the reality of spiritual growth. Our final victory is guaranteed by Christ, but we only know that it is ours if we press on away from sin and toward Jesus.

Coram Deo

When we place our trust in Christ, we are trusting Him for the long haul. He calls us to take up the cross and follow Him, dying daily to our sin and becoming renewed after His image. He calls us to fight the good fight of faith. In prayer, ask the Lord to sustain your commitment to Him and strengthen you for the battles ahead.

Passages for Further Study

Ex. 20:1–3
Prov. 3:7–8
Luke 9:23
1 Cor. 9:24
1 Tim. 4:7

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