Paul had credentials and he set them aside. Although he used them in ignorance and caused a great harm to many Christians, Jesus saved Him and Paul's transformation was absolutely astounding.
Here's a man that would call on his team to cast away, persecute and even kill people for the sake of his cause to eventually become a man whose life revolved around Jesus and His sufferings. Philippians 3:7-14
He counted his status, his rights and his national identity a thing to not be thought of as gain. That's a hard pill to swallow for many of us nowadays. I have rights you know, I'm an American and I have an education.. you can't refer or talk to me that way.
Paul counted his national identity and his religious pedigree as loss.. not only that..
He goes on to say he counts ALL things as loss. But he says that because he has something to gain right? It's like the examples we've heard of people that will give up a spouse or their children or their citizenship for a certain amount of money?! Crazy huh?! Unthinkable.
Paul counts all things as loss to knowing Christ. And when we look at it from a natural perspective it may seem a bit odd. Count everything as a dung heap to know Jesus through whom and because of whom I've lost everything? What?! This is a great eye opener. Jesus is the Word incarnate. He is the very definition of life and love and goodness. And the way to know Him is by way of His word. Proverbs tells us that we seek him as a treasure. Peter says that His promises precious and that His knowledge is like obtaining fine gold or precious stones. And it is in these truths that we obtain what I think is one of the greatest truths of all…
that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
This truth is: I can be declared perfectly right with God not based on my own merit! Furthermore I can be declared as righteous as the innocent Son of God by His doing! All I have to do is believe. Let me read it to you in the NLT. (7-9)
This first part of verse is constantly quoted: knowing Jesus and his power, but what’s really hard is the second part and this goes along with what we'll touch base at the end.. we do desire to know Jesus. Paul's desire is to know Jesus: this word is used in many ways but also used in a very intimate way, like that of knowledge between a relationship between a man and a woman. So to know Him intimately, involves His sufferings and knowing what it means to partake of His death. This is tough, humanly speaking. But ironically speaking death is the means by which God used to destroy death so the way of death in God's economy is the way of life.
Hebrews 2:9 NKJV — But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
(Romans 5:8-16 read)
Paul emphasizes that is thru this intimate knowledge of Christ that leads us to suffering and death that will ultimately result in a glory that cannot be compared to.
Our suffering and death to self leads us to unimaginable glory.
Paul's statement here is sobering. He states that he has not yet attained. In essence he's saying that he hasn't yet made rank or appropriate for himself some sort of tribute or to claim some sort of notoriety due to the suffering he's already endured for the sake of Christ… Paul, if anyone (in my humble opinion) could have some weight to say “I've suffered and learned of Christ and the way of His love and discipline”. He has a good dose of godly restlessness, to say more Lord! I want to know you in such a way the purpose and reason for your call in my life and to expend myself towards that.
We have a good understanding scripturally of what that is generally.
1 Thessalonians 4 NKJV - 1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
So walking in purity, abounding in obedience to God's word are God's will for us.
Peter also speaks of doing good generally to all men to be the will of God as well.
Living for God's kingdom is God's will according to 1 John.
So generally we have a lot of information about what it is that God's will is for us. We also know that through all these things God brings each one of us to fulfill His specific will for each of lives in our service to Him. I recommend reading Found: God's will by Johnny Mac. It's a good resource and starting point.
Again: I've not yet arrived… do you see this pattern?
V 12 not attained, not perfected
V13 not apprehended
This is so important as a Christian to remind oneself so that there is this good unrest.. Paul states that he has not yet achieved, arrived, appropriate or take possession of the life of Christ in him in its fullest sense yet: this is so convicting to me, because we all know that at this point Paul is basically writing this as his eulogy.
He does not take the time to reflect or to remember, literally to Paul gives these things over to oblivion- what things? The glory days or the good old days or his past achievements or victories. And may I add: it's a good thing to not focus either on our past failures and disappointments and missed opportunities. I'll be honest with you I struggle with alot of my past failures but when I focus on these things I notice that I it's easier for me to regress and to get discouraged. Instead we're instructed to reach forward. Paul's demise is inevitable, his death lay in wait. He looks forward to what might happen and how he might Glorify God even in his death.
Finally, please notice with me v14
He's staring at death in the face knowing that what is awaiting him will bring Him the greatest prize: that of seeing and hearing His Savior welcome into heaven. Knowing that all his efforts were not in vain. Knowing that his mistakes and sins were erased by Jesus.
Death is the means by which God uses for us to be more like him. I think that is why it states in the gospel according to Matthew:
Matthew 7:14 NKJV — “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Because how many of us want to follow the path of death to self? But in the end is a far greater reward that we could ever imagine.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.—Matthew 16:25