Brothers and sisters, 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 heavenwards in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)
Paul teaches us that to follow Christ is a whole new life. The old foundations are not relevant any more. In Christ, every believer becomes a new person: God’s child. Forgiven – and free. But how does it change our lives? Paul teaches us about two simultaneous processes in our lives. In Ephesians 4:17, he calls it putting off our old self and putting on the new self.
The first signal of change in this new life is a process of releasing what is behind us. I am released from the sin of my past. Everybody has a history: every one of us has made mistakes along the path of life. When we are in Christ, we have already been forgiven, Romans 5:1 teaches us. Jesus came to heal broken people. He helps us to heal from the hurt of our past, with his mercy, we are being restored. He helps us to loosen the bonds of sin that have captured us – Hebrews 12:1-3 expounds on this. We are set free from our old way of thinking – of negative thoughts about ourselves and others.
But the new life in Christ is not only about all that we must stop doing. It gives us a new destination, a new goal in life. Paul uses an image from athletics. We are busy running the race of life, and we are heading towards the goal line. We are reaching out towards growth, towards life, and towards healing relationships. We are reaching out towards a life where we use our gifts, our time and our opportunities to the glory of God. We strive to finish well in the race of life.
The new life in Christ requires us to forget everything holding us back to live to his glory. It is to give your all – reaching the goal – to run a good race. It is celebrating victory over our failures, leaving mistakes behind. It is living with fresh grace every morning. It is a life of adventure in the Spirit, living and growing with Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you came to set us free from our past. Thank you for the grace of forgiven sins, of our hurts being healed and relationship being restored. Help us to forget things in our lives that do not glorify you, and to reach out to everything worthy of your glory. Help me to run a good race in life, to persevere until I reach the goal you set for me. Amen