Philippians

Philippians 3:12-16 Sanctified Together-In Doctrine and Life.

Paul had just drawn the distinction between putting confidence in the flesh or the righteousness that comes by faith (3:1-11). Sanctification is a lifelong process. Paul made clear that he was not perfect, but he was also clear that this was his goal (v. 12 Cf. Heb. 12:23). He would continue to press on, despite the failures and shortcomings (vv. 13-14). If one is going to move forward one has to forget what is behind (Cf. Lk. 9:62). For Paul this meant his former way of life in Judaism, the religion which had made a covenant of works out of the covenant of grace (Cf. II Tim. 4:7). It also meant failures on a personal level. No doubt it also meant failures on an ecclesiastical level. Paul had to acknowledge that they as a group had not arrived either (v. 15). However, Paul wasn’t giving up here either. To the degree that they had already attained, they should strive to live by the same rule, to be of the same mind (v. 16).

It is safe to say that most people can readily see this determination to press on a personal level. If we are honest, and take the word of God and the image of Christ as the standard, we can all admit to falling short. However, how many view giving up on bad doctrine as part of sanctification? This is in fact what is involved, not only as individuals but also as a corporate exercise (Cf. Rom. 12:16; Gal. 5:10; 6:16; Heb. 6:1-3). It has to start, as Paul put it, with the “mature.” (v. 15 Cf. I Cor. 2:6) He also made clear that this unity of mind must come back to God’s revelation (Cf. Hos. 6:3). We need to fight the good fight of faith-that which we also committed ourselves to before many witnesses (I Tim. 6:12). Christ’s letter to the churches of Revelation shows that there is a corporate aspect to sanctification, in doctrine and life (Chps. 2-3). At the very least we need to strengthen those things which remain. However, the goal must be maturity, individually and corporately, in doctrine and life.

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