“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Paul admitted here that he was far from perfect. He was still growing in his relationship with the Lord. He had not attained the full righteousness of Christ. He also had not reached the full measure of what it meant to partake in Christ’s suffering and he certainly had not achieved the resurrection of his body from the dead. Yet he was not discouraged. God had called him to a purpose, to be like Christ. The Lord was molding and shaping him into that image. Paul knew he still had to press on for he had far to go.
If we take a good look at ourselves and evaluate our present state in the Christian life, we would acknowledge that we have not reached the goal of perfection in Christ Jesus. We are flawed people who often behave in an unrighteous manner. There is no shame in admitting this. We are still in this body of flesh and prone to sin. No one has achieved that state of perfection in this life, although many false teachers and gurus who claim to be God’s anointed assert that they are incapable of sinning which is itself the sin of pride. People who we think came the closest to perfection, like Paul, would be the very ones who would make no such claim for themselves. In their humility, those we deem to be righteous and godly are so focused on Christ, that they can see only how far they fall short. No matter how close one comes to Christ, there is always an infinite gap which cannot be bridged. Full knowledge of God, full perfection, total righteousness all await the resurrection from the dead when we shall be like Him for then we will see Him face to face.
For now we press on. We have the Spirit of God who helps us to persevere and prevail despite obstacles. We are righteous but not yet. We are perfect, but not yet. The righteousness of Christ and the perfection of His Spirit are guaranteed as our inheritance, but we still must run this life before we enjoy them fully in the next. With God’s help we will push on to the goal with faith and perseverance.