“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14.
This is a very encouraging passage for Christians. So often we are tempted to dwell on past failures and how we have failed to measure up to God’s standards of holiness and become discouraged. This verse exhorts us to not look back on our past failures but reach forward to our sanctification which is ahead. If even Paul had failures in his Christian walk (read Romans 7) we certainly should not be surprised at our failures. This is not to make an excuse for our sins but to encourage us to “press on”, day by day, toward Christlikeness even with our failures along the way. We will never obtain it perfectly in this life, but we should always be pressing on. The Geek word for “press on” was used of a sprinter, and refers to aggressive, energetic action. We should pursue our sanctification with all our might.
Romans 8:29 tells us that God predestined those that believe in Him to be conformed to the image of His son. This is what He has laid hold of us for – to become like Christ. Our transition to Christlikeness is an ongoing process, not complete until we enter eternity and obtain the prize of the upward call, eternal life, given to every believer that perseveres and the Christlikeness that accompanies it. In the meantime, let us not despair when we fail but pick ourselves up and press on.