“… let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” Philippians 3:16
In Philippians chapter three Paul encourages believers to pursue in life the future perfection that will be realized when we reach heaven. He says of himself, in Phil. 3:14,15, “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.”
In other words, Paul’s example for us to follow him (v.17) is that we do not allow both the good and the bad of our lives to hinder our progress in Christian maturity. What I mean here is - our sinful pasts can be Satan’s tool that bends our minds into thinking that God’s grace is sufficient to do little more than just saving us! Simply put - “I’m too bad, or to ordinary to be a faithful, useful servant for God.” That is a lie of the Devil. Look at Paul!
Then on the other hand, an even more subtle attack on our progress in the Christian faith is our resting on the laurels of God’s past goodness in our lives.
Too many believers are satisfied and lay around content with God’s grace in delivering them through faith, unto salvation. D. A. Carson wrote in his book, Basics for Believers that “Christians should never be satisfied with yesterdays grace.”
God’s grace in saving us is a gift to be personally built upon, not something that should attract slothfulness and smug satisfaction. Paul “pressed on toward the goal” He built upon God’s grace, he kept on living out God’s grace. He pursued to the end of his life the ultimate prize of God’s grace - “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He kept “living by the same standard to which [he] attained”
Joseph Stowell in his book ‘Fan the Flame’ gives an excellent illustration of this. The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.