Before we look at those verses I’d like to quote verses 10-11, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (NKJV). The apostle Paul had one passion in life and it can be summed up in one word: Christ! Ever since he was saved on the Damascus road, Christ had been the focus of his life. That is why he said in Philippians 1:22, “For to me to live is Christ.” But even though he knew Christ intimately through all of the experiences he went through in life, he wanted to “know Him” BETTER, in an even deeper and more intimate way. He also wanted to experience what Christ did when He was here on earth, so he was willing to share in “the fellowship of His sufferings” (the sufferings by MEN for righteousness sake). His desire was so great to be like his Lord and Savior that he wanted to be “conformed to His death”; in other words, he wanted to die by martyrdom. And if he did die, he would also “attain to the resurrection from the dead,” which simply means he would one day rise from the dead just like his Savior had done. Many seek to “spiritualize” these verses and thus they say that the words sufferings, death, and resurrection are not to be taken literally, but I believe Paul meant what he said and was willing to follow his Master in these three things.

Now let’s read verses 12-14, “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” (NKJV). In keeping with what we saw in verses 10-11, Paul goes on to say that he hasn’t reached the state of being “perfected” yet. What does that mean? The word “perfected” means “completed” and thus Paul is referring to the state of being “completely conformed to Christ.” We had noticed that he wished to be like Christ in every way, including sharing in His sufferings, death by martyrdom, and the glorious resurrection from among the dead. But Paul knew that “complete conformity to Christ,” which would include a glorified body and a state of sinless perfection, was not possible on this side of glory. Knowing that he had not yet “arrived” at that state, he was determined to “press on” towards the glory with an intense desire to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus had laid hold of him.” In a word, he wanted God’s purpose in saving him to be fulfilled in his life. To repeat what we said before, Paul had one object before him, to be like His Savior which meant to be conformed to Him in every possible way. He wanted to be conformed to Him while he lived and conformed to Him in death and resurrection. This “one object” led him to say “this ONE THING I DO” and the words that follow show that he was not content to rest in the spiritual progress he had made (thus he found himself “forgetting those things which are behind”). He would continue to “reach forward to those things which are ahead” and “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Like a runner who has his eye on the finish line, Paul was ever looking ahead to the time he would cross that line in the glory and then, and only then, would he reach that state of perfection where he could be “completely conformed to Christ.” Dear fellow-believer, are you longing to be like Christ in every way; is your eye on the finish line?  (214.1)  (DO)