12 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. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will
transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
With experience, growth and an increase in knowledge, it is possible for the devil to convince you – that you are a completed work; that no additional progress or increase is necessary.
If you accept that lie, not only will your future spiritual growth stall, you will go backward. Your discipleship will be less effective and influential. Your influence will degenerate. Your zeal will dial back. And your relationship with God will become increasingly distant.
The apostle Paul carried a wealth of knowledge and experience – yet he said, “Not that I have already obtained.” One translation has it: “I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect,” (Contemporary English Version). If this was so of Paul, it is certainly the case with me and with you. We are not there yet! So long as we live, we must press on to make our lives closer to God through Jesus Christ. Once you give up growth, you stop growing and begin to decay in your devotion to the Lord.
“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” This is not (a) forget what you have learned, or (b) forget who you are, or (c) forget your earliest commitment to the Lord. Rather, forget what hinders, what corrupts your attitude, what keeps you from moving, what lures you back into sin. Dismiss all that so you can press on and keep growing and obtaining.
Don’t let mental baggage hold you back. Deal with issues and conflict with prayer and knowledge. When you have done all you are able to do that is right and pleasing to God, if disappointments and distress remain – forget it and move on.
This is the way mature people think and live. And, should anyone think otherwise, God – through the means He has chosen – will correct such subdued indifference.
“Only, let us hold true to what we have attained.” You cannot hold true to where you are if you stand still or let diminished motivation enslave you and stop you.
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” The example, the model of good people can keep us pressing on, growing and obtaining more and more in spiritual benefit.