This is a very important verse to remember. It is one of the most famous and well known verses among Christians today. It is an awesome reminder from the Apostle Paul that the Lord is constantly working on us and that we should press on in Christ despite the difficulties of imperfection in this fallen world!
In chapter three of Philippians Paul is explaining that he puts no confidence in legalistic righteousness. There is nothing we can do to work our way to Heaven. That is, we cannot justify ourselves before God through good works. Paul also makes this very clear in chapter two of his letter to the Ephesians. Let’s read the verses before and after Philippians 3:12 to better understand the context Paul is talking about.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is explaining that he has thrown away his old way of life of trusting in his own good works following the law, and he only finds his righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ! We are not perfect on this earth and we never will be! We are a work in progress and thank God we don’t have to work our way into Heaven! That is a mighty blessing! Any good works we do after we accept Jesus Christ were prepared in advance by God and all the glory goes to Him! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
If you stumble and fall in your walk with the Lord, which happens to all of us, just get back up, turn away from the stumbling block, and keep going! The Lord loves and forgives you and He will keep leading you to those good works that He prepared for you to do! We are not working our way into Heaven. It is God who is working in us to spread the light and love of Jesus to the world!
Yes, this world is imperfect. We are imperfect. Everything here is imperfect! We know this all too well! How glorious it will be when the imperfect is made perfect in the end!
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”
Forget what is behind, strain toward what is ahead, and press on toward the goal of Heaven! We will be perfect at our last breath when Jesus raises us up! Amen!
Grace and peace to you all!