12 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. 13 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, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14, NKJV)
Paul had not yet won the prize to which he aspired. He was pressing toward it, chasing after it as one runs to the finish line to win the crown (1 Corinthians 9:24). The prize he sought was “the resurrection of the dead” unto eternal life (Philippians 3:11). Not many years later, he wrote, “I have finished the race…finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day…” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul did not believe in the impossibility of apostasy; He believed in the possibility of faithfulness. He had been forgiven of his past sins – God remembered them no more (Hebrews 10:16-17). So, he would not be hindered by them in his quest. He was “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” – he did not yet hold the prize, he was not “already perfected.” But, he pressed forward, knowing that his crown of righteousness was certain in Christ, as he remained loyal to Him (Philippians 3:8-10). Are you faithfully running your race to attain eternal life? If you will do so, you will be victorious in Christ Jesus.
You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4, NKJV)
For centuries, armies used banners or flags to identify and distinguish themselves from their enemy on the battlefield. The raised banner was a rally point for combat, giving assurance that the cause was advancing on the field of battle. God has raised the banner of His Christ as the rallying point for salvation from sin, and as our signal to advance against the enemy, the devil (Isa. 11:10; Rom. 15:12). The cause of truth is identified by, and advances under, God’s banner. It does not fly for the sake of “vain parade or ostentation; it was not to be unfolded in an unrighteous or unjust cause” (Barnes on Psa. 60:4). The banner of the cross is unfurled by all who fear God and work righteousness (Acts 10:34-35). The cause of divine truth will be victorious. Christians, who march according to the authority of Jesus Christ, advance to victory (1 John 5:4; Rev. 17:14).
17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. (John 19:17–18, NKJV)
“December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy—.” So began the address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the United States Congress after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in which 2,403 Americans were killed, and another 1,178 wounded. Seventy-five years later, we still shudder at that unmerciful disruption of lives and peace. An even greater day of evil was the day the sinless Son of God was murdered – crucified like a criminal. Yet, God turned that day of darkness into the magnificent day of triumph over sin (Isa. 53:10-12; Rom. 5:6-11). Victory over Japanese aggression came at a great cost of American blood and treasure. Victory over sin’s aggression against humanity came at an even greater cost, the blood of the Son of God. As we honor the price paid to defend freedom, may we also and especially remember to honor the One who paid the price that frees us from sin’s oppression and death (Matt. 20:28).
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4–5, NKJV)
The whole system of evil that opposes God and tries to overwhelm the children of God, is deposed and defeated by our faith. The victory of faith is not merely some future anticipation, it is the victory that “has” overcome the world. The world has already been defeated by Christ, and that defeat continues to be felt to this present hour (1 Jno. 3:8). Our faith in Jesus as the Son of God destroys every effort of the devil (the god of this world) to overthrow those who are “born of God” (1 Jno. 5:1). Christians love God and one another by keeping His commandments (1 Jno. 5:2-3). This is faith that Jesus is the Son of God. The person with this faith “overcomes the world.”
13 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, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14, NKJV)
Some people seem to think all their spiritual struggles should end the moment they become a Christian. Others have trouble letting go of their past, allowing past sins to envelope them with shame, guilt and a sense of abiding failure. Neither of these viewpoints are healthy – or scriptural. The respected apostle Paul still had daily spiritual struggles (1 Cor. 9:27). But, he would not be immobilized by his past sins of which he had been forgiven in Christ (1 Tim. 1:12-16). Christians press onward and upward to seize the prize of victory. Paul remained faithful to God’s call, confident of faith’s triumph in Christ Jesus. He would not be disappointed (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Like him, let us strive daily with the full energy of faith to press forward in the cause of Christ, ever-diligent, ever-faithful. The eternal prize is before us. Victory in Christ is assured.
13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13–14, NKJV)
The Christian must be spiritually alert every single day. The enemy is always stalking his prey, and he intends for you to be his next meal (1 Pet. 5:8). Like soldiers guarding a stronghold, we must not waver as we strive “together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). Moral courage is essential, and when added to your faith it helps you attain to the spiritual strength you need to battle the adversary (2 Pet. 1:5). The most striking part of Paul’s call to arms is the directive to do all things with love. Being steadfast in your faith and undeterred by the devil’s attacks is accomplished by loving God, His truth, your brethren and your enemies in all you say and do. The fight is on. Thanks be to God, “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9, NKJV)
Peter has just assured us that the Lord constantly cares for us as we cast our cares upon Him (1 Pet. 5:7). While doing so we must be sober-minded and watchful. The devil is stalking us. Every temptation to sin must be met with the stiff and steady resistance of faith. The devil continues to look for the weak lamb and the straying sheep. We must constantly be on guard lest he slip up on us and overtake us. It helps us to know that our brethren in other places face the same kinds of threats we face. Resistance is not futile; Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 Jno. 5:4).