WHAT IS PAUL’S CONFESSION AND RESOLVE (Phil 3:12)? The mere statement of Paul’s overwhelming desire places the apostle in a stratosphere by himself. And we lesser mortals might imagine that Paul attained it over the amazing years of his epic life. What is Paul’s Confession? But Paul was quick to confess that this was simply not the case because he immediately interjected, Phil 3:12a “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect”. Paul was saying
“Not that I have arrived,” stressing the incompleteness of his spiritual journey. Here the Apostle Paul, the most spectacular Christian who ever lived, confessed that he had not arrived or become “perfect.” Paul admitted his own need to grow into maturity. We must understand that Paul’s prayer—
“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” is a prayer of humble dissatisfaction that opens us to the blessing of God. It brings on a life that knows more and more of Christ. Spiritual dissatisfaction is a blessed state. Jesus said, Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”. Do you long to know Christ better?
What is Paul’s Resolve? Paul’s humble confession “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect” brings forth something remarkable. It births a mighty resolve in Paul: Phil 3:12b “but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own”. A more literal translation from the original Greek, is tinged with violence: “but I pursue [it] if indeed I may seize [it], because indeed I have been seized by Christ Jesus.” Paul’s “language comes from the world of war and athletics”. In fact, in a battle report the ancient historian Herodotus used the same words Paul used to describe an army’s pursuit and seizure of the retreating enemy. Paul’s rough-and-tumble words explicitly pointed to his conversion on the Damascus Road where Christ seized him for his own. As Paul trod the road near Damascus, the mighty hand of Christ reached down, seized him, and set him on the path to Ananias’s house and then to Arabia and then to the Gentile world as its great apostle. Here Paul expressed his desire to “know” the risen Christ because he was in the grip of Christ’s grace! Christ pursued Paul. So now Paul wants to pursue Christ. The present tense Paul used (“But I press on to make it my own”) describes an ongoing, grasping, strenuous pursuit. It is a gritty, “I will not be denied,” Paul is involved in a rough-and-tumble pursuit of Christ.
This is how it was with John the Baptist when he burst from the wilderness clad in his leathers, fiercely heralding the kingdom. So it was with the paralytic’s friends when they tore through the roof in Capernaum to get him to Jesus . Gracious, but doggedly determined. If you have been seized by Christ and are in the grip of his grace, you must press on in your own hot, grasping pursuit of an ever-deeper knowledge of him.