In Philippians 3:13-14, we finds these words written by the Apostle Paul: “13) Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
From this passage, let’s focus today on the phrase “forgetting what lies behind.” But before we do that, let’s be clear about the “it” Paul is referring to when he says, “I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet.” Paul is not referring to his inheritance of eternal life in Christ. The overwhelming weight of Paul’s testimony throughout his letters is that he was chosen by God (Eph. 1:4) and that God will complete the work He started in Paul (Phil.1:6).
The “it” that Paul is speaking of is the fullness of spiritual maturity in Christ. More specifically, it is the three things he identified in verse 10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings . . .”
Now, with that behind us, let’s consider what Paul is getting at when he says, “forgetting what lies behind.” From the context, one must conclude that whatever Paul is referring to must be forgotten, because it is holding him back from reaching what lies ahead – “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v14). But what is it that Paul must forget?
As we find so often in scripture, God gives us enough to get the principle, without giving us so much that we might say, “Well, that example doesn’t really describe me.” For example, when we read about Paul’s thorn (2 Cor. 12:7), the scripture is not clear as to what it might be. It is very inclusive, leaving open the possibility that Paul’s thorn could be very much like my thorn. Ouch! Continue reading