READ PHILIPPIANS THREE
Christian maturity is one of the marks of spiritual growth. As we walk with Christ in our daily lives, we are changed more and more into His image. Growing up, my dad would often say, “Wisdom comes with age; or, at least it should.” What he means is that we expect that we would grow in experience and wisdom as we grow older, but we can all name people who are older in life but have held onto youthful foolishness. When we see it, it’s obvious and a bit awkward because wisdom should come with age, and when it doesn’t it seems out of place.
The same true for you and I as we grow in Christ. Paul strains towards this Christian maturity, and invites us to do the same. In the final passage of chapter 3, Paul calls the Philippians believers to adopt the same mindset he has: forget everything you’ve put behind you and press on towards Christ.
Why do you think Paul says what he does in verses 15 & 16?
Paul doesn’t think that this notion of seeking out growth in Christ should be news to the Philippian believers! He says that all mature Christians will have this view. And, if they don’t? God will convince them of it. Then, Paul says this: Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
What do you think this means?
Paul is making it clear: you are already united to Christ – now live like it. Paul wants the Philippian believers to live out their salvation, to “work out” their salvation in daily practice, and to live into their union with Christ. Since their salvation is already attained, since they are already united to Christ, Paul says that it should be a given that they will grow in Christ.
Is this teaching hard for you? Why or why not?
How can we live this way – seeking out our own spiritual growth – while still relying on the grace of God, both in salvation and in sanctification?
Paul concludes by reminding the Philippian believers of Whose they are and Who they belong to.
Read 17 through 21. How does this relate to Paul’s exhortation to grow in Christ?
Paul, with great sorrow, expresses that there are those who are apart from Christ. They cannot live any other way that to serve their bellies. They cannot live in union with Christ because, right now, they are enemies of Christ. But, not so with the believers! They are united to Christ! Heaven is their ultimate home, and because of Christ they have been set free from the bondage of sin. They have a Father who, will transform them more and more by His power into His image. He will lead them, both now and ultimately, by His Spirit into His likeness.
It is only in this hope that we can seek out our own spiritual growth: knowing that it is God who has done the work and will continue to do the work to make us like Himself! The gospel is not just good news for our past or our future, but good news for you and me today as we struggle with sin and wrestle with our fallen flesh. As we are tempted to put confidence in ourselves, we have the Spirit of God inside us, Christ within us, reminding us that it is His grace alone that covers us. And it is His Spirit we can lean into, allow Him to convict us of sin, prompting us towards righteousness, and giving us the freedom to walk in Christlikeness.
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that He alone is your salvation. Thank Him that He has paved the way for you to be in right relationship with Him. Thank Him that He has given you His Spirit to convict you of sin and lead you in righteousness – and thank Him that He has set you free from the bondage of sin so that you might grow more like Him.