Philippians 3.16 — The Elusive Pursuit of Spiritual Maturity
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
THIS CHAPTER WILL BE RADICALLY RE-WRITTEN, BUT IT’S WHAT I HAVE SO FAR, SO PLEASE BEAR WITH ME.
We often have the conception of Paul as a super-Christian. We consider Paul to be the holiest man ever to live, second only to Christ Himself. We think of Paul as acting properly all of the time. In other words, Paul’s Christianity was one which we could only dream to have. We may struggle with the fact that we are not as mature Christians as we ought to be. We may wonder if there is something wrong with us because we do not see the Christian maturity that we desire. We may even become discouraged when we compare ourselves with the likes of Paul. Paul quickly diffuses such lofty conceptions of himself earlier in Philippians 3. As Paul writes his last letter to a church expressing his final words, one would expect the words to be profound and deep. The words of our text are actually very simple in implication. We must trust that Christ satisfies any gaps in our Christian walk.
In every group of Christians there will always be different levels of maturity. For example, in our church, there are new Christians. There are Christians who have been saved for a while but have not been taught some of the basic doctrines of the Bible. There are other Christians who have read their Bibles through several times and sat under the sound of solid, Biblical teaching for many years. They could debate doctrine on an intelligent level, refuting error when they see it. There are still others who have a level of maturity who could debate even the finest points of doctrine. Each week, I struggle with making the Bible apply to the new Christian as well as the Christian who has been saved for forty years. What Paul says in our text is the guideline for my applications. We must all mind the same thing. We must all mind the same pursuit of Christlikeness.
Christian, if you are not as mature as you wish you could be, do not despair. Trust that Christ will fill in the gaps were you are deficient. After all, isn’t that what salvation is? Christ did for you what you could not do for yourself. Christ bridged the gap between you and God. Christ also bridges the gap between your immaturity and His perfection. Because Christ bridges that gap, seek to be like Him. Make Him your pursuit. Make Him your goal. You will soon find a process of maturing, and you may find that process to be rather painful. Do not quit, no matter how painful the process may be. Pursue Christ, and you will be a mature Christian.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
Can the believer ever reach perfection in this life?
If the answer to the above question is ‘No’, then why should a believer pursue perfection?
Will a believer ever reach spiritual perfection? If so, when?