What did Paul want us to understand from this passage? What does it mean to forget what is behind? How do we press on toward the goal? How can this become practical for us in our daily lives?
The goal is always to glorify God by how we live our lives. We do this in part by practicing holiness; pressing on toward holiness. Holiness is God’s standard for us, it is what He has made us in Christ. This is a positional statement, it is a state of being. We have been chosen to “be” holy as much as we have been chosen to “be” women. It is something God determined we would be before time began (Ephesians 1).
Since we have been chosen and have been made holy in Christ the outflow of that reality is that we live as though it is true.
Be holy as I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15
To live holy means we may have to eliminate things that are not going to reflect the truth about who we are. It could mean we have to eliminate things from our lives that lead us away from holiness. It could mean starting things like Bible reading and prayer, if these have not been a consistent part of our lives. These things will lead us to respond as one who is practicing holiness.
We live our entire Christian lives pressing on toward righteousness. We have been made righteous through Christ who is our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). This is another positional truth; and it means that when God looks on us He sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. The other aspect of righteousness is what we do as people who are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.
We live as people who understand that we are not bound to the sinful chains of the past when were non pase non pecare (not able not to sin). We recognize we have the ability in Christ to resist the pull and the urges of the sinful nature. We live as people who have been freed from the bondage to sin, and we are conscious of the great responsibility we bear in possessing the righteousness of Christ.
We also press on toward faithfulness. In Christ, God has given us the ability to be faithful in all things. It is during times of trial that our faith tends to wane the most. The truth is, knowing Jesus includes knowing suffering.
We say we want to know Christ, and be more like Him. Yet, when things comes into life that will help us to gain knowledge of Him on more than a superficial level we immediately begin asking God to take them away!
We are content with head knowledge about suffering and are quite willing to press on through the other side of the situation as long as it does not include much suffering, but we really don’t want application of the “pressing on” part. We struggle to understand that trials are faith builders not faith eliminators. Being faithful reveals belief that God is sovereign, and that He has our particular circumstances well in hand. It shows those around us that we trust God enough with all the details to keep going daily in spite of hardships we face.
I want to leave you with a few things to think about as I close today; would those around you say they can see your faith in Christ? When trials befall you are you strengthened by your faith in God? Do you really believe that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28)?
If you can see room for growth you are not alone! Spend time with Him today and ask the Lord for His help. He desires that you grow more and more, and He will be sure and present you with opportunities for practicing holiness, righteousness, and faithfulness.