Text Philippians 3:12-17 “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
Within our text is probably some of the most memorable and powerful words spoken by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost! Writing to the believers at Philippi, Paul declares his spiritual activity. Unlike his writings in II Timothy 4, at the present, there is yet much spiritual territory to be occupied and he is busy about possessing it! While others may quit short of the finish line, not the Apostle Paul. Paul’s spiritual activity is marked by an assessment, “I count” (vs.13). The idea is that of taking inventory; Paul doesn’t want to be guilty of deceiving himself. Secondly, it’s marked by an awareness, “that for which also I am apprehended of Christ” (vs.12). God has not only a purpose, but a specific purpose for his life. Lastly, it’s marked by an attempt, “I press toward the mark” (vs.14). The word “press” means to pursue or move forward to such a degree that it appears as the persecution of self. Paul has taken the time to set forth what is transpiring in his life as a child of God.
Within the text, we can see not only the apparent spiritual activity, but there is the subtle manifestation of spiritual accountability in at least two areas. We see Paul’s spiritual accountability to the Beloved. There is a word that Paul uses several times in the text that clarifies this truth; it is the word “apprehend.” The word means to take eagerly, to seize or to possess and it comes from two words that project the idea of pursuit for the purpose of taking down or taking possession of! Mindful of his Damascus road experience, Paul sees himself as one that God has pursued and taken possession of so that he might fulfill a divine purpose. Paul knows himself to be “a chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15); one that is accountable unto to God; “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).
The second aspect of spiritual accountability is to the body. On two occasions within the text Paul makes a subtle reference to the body by using the word “brethren.” In Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, Paul emphasizes that while we are many members, we make up one body! As a member of the body we are accountable for our projection, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (II Corinthians 3:2). How the body is perceived by the world is directly related to what they see being projected from the lives of individual believers. Writing to the saints at Rome, Paul reminded them; “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7). We are to be held accountable for our participation; “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Corinthians 12:18). Paul reminds us that there is no member of the body that is not necessary. If the body of Christ is to accomplish its purpose in the world it demands the participation of every member of the body; “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary” (I Corinthians 12:21-22).
With the Scriptures as our directive, and the Spirit as our discerner, let’s do an assessment of our spiritual activity. Having gained a spiritual perspective from God point of view and being made aware of our spiritual accountability to the Beloved and the body, are there some changes that need to be made in our lives?