Today we have arrived at Philippians 3:16 in the Three Sixteens series. Let’s start by looking at the verse in a few different versions:
But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. NLT
Only let us live up to what we have already attained. NIV
In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Holman
At first glance it seems this 3:16 has little content to grab hold of and provides little encouragement. But if you think on it a while, possibly the reverse is true! There is huge encouragement here, as Paul points us to what we already have in Christ, urges us to keep hold of it – and live up to it!
So what have we already attained?
In verses 8-11 we find out what Paul is referring to as he urges us to “hold on” and “live up to” the privileges we have IN Christ:
“. . . 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 9 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. 10 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, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Knowing Christ surpasses all else. If we are in Christ we are secure, we are united with Him in his sufferings, death and resurrection. We are not self-righteous, but we have the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith! We are right with God, we are holy and acceptable to Him because we are IN Christ. A great analogy for this is being clothed in Christ’s “robes of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10, Revelation). We are wrapped up in Christ’s perfection, our sins are completely covered. When God the Father looks at us He sees the righteousness of Christ his perfect Son.
What great progress we have made – if we are found IN Christ. Let’s live up to it! We don’t have to attain or achieve anything. This is pure grace! I love what the Holman translators have done with the verse: we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. We should live up to the truth that we have the righteousness that comes from God – so let’s live in a manner worthy of what we have attained. Let’s be “killing sin” as John Piper puts it, by the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word).
Blessings to you as you seek to live up to Christ’s righteousness today. How will you go about that?
“Come as you are and He will cleanse you. You are guilty; your pardon is of God” –Charles H. Spurgeon