by Rob Parlante
(Pursuing your Spiritual Goal Part 1)
Paul in the book of Philippians chapter 3 describes his spiritual journey from being a Pharisee to a becoming a minister of the Gospel of Grace. Paul describes his former life in Phil 3:5-6. He says he was circumcised on the 8th day of the nation of Israel; he was from the tribe of Benjamin, he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, and as to the Law a Pharisee. He goes on to say as for zeal, a persecutor of the church and as to righteousness which is found in the law, I am found blameless.
Paul, as I like to say, tried the law route to be accepted by God and to attempt to become holy. Imagine trying to keep the Law of Moses, and the additional Mitzvah’s. There are at present 613 Mitzvah’s (commandments) in the Jewish tradition. This is a great burden that no man can keep. Imagine the intense anxiety of trying to keep the law and 613 Mitzvahs. A law based system puts man into a performance based relationship with God. Perform up to the standard and you will be blessed, don’t perform to the standard and you will be punished. Despite all these rules, Paul was exceptional at keeping the law. Paul was the expert in knowing and trying to keep the law. Paul says as to the keeping the law, I was found blameless.
So what is the purpose of the law? Is it to keep us on our toes to perform morally? The law certainly describes what is morally right and what is morally wrong. The law clearly describes what a sin is and what sin isn’t. The law was instituted by God as a way to diagnose man’s problem. The law was given to highlight man’s dilemma. Man is spiritually dead and man needs spiritual life. The law can’t impart spiritual life. The purpose of the law is for man to discover he can’t keep the law and man needs another way to become spiritually alive. Paul the once great Pharisee couldn’t even keep the law. The best verse in the bible to describe the purpose of the law is Gal 3:24.
Galatians 3:24 (NASB) 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
The law is our tutor to lead us to Christ. The law tutors (instructs us and points) us to Christ. It leads us to Christ. It points us to the fact that we are made righteous (justified) by faith, not by works of the law. The law diagnosis our problem, but can’t solve our problem. It points us to Christ who solves our problem for us. By faith in Christ, we are made righteous. By faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, man becomes spiritually alive.
Paul goes on to describe all his self effort in trying to keep the law as a loss and counts them as rubbish. In other word, all the rules I tried to keep was a waste of my time. Paul states this because God has revealed to him the only way to be accepted by God is by faith in Christ.
Philippians 3:9 (NASB) 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
This brings us to the main theme of this blog. Right after Paul describes his law based effort as a waste of time; Paul states he has a new spiritual focus and goal. We see this in the beginning of Phil 3:10a. Paul new focus is to know Him. To know Christ.
Philippians 3:10a (NASB) 10 that I may know Him
The Greek word know is transliterated “ginosko”. This word carries the meaning of knowing intimately and knowing by experience. Paul made the focus of his life to know Christ intimately. To go deeper and cultivate his relationship with Christ. Paul wants to simply know Christ. To know Him.
I encourage you to follow Paul’s example and make your life’s focus the same as his and not get sidetracked by trying to keep the law. The law can’t justify a man, and the law can’t transform you to the image of Christ. Forget focusing on rule keeping and focus on knowing Him. Knowing Him intimately (the opposite of just knowing facts about Him) should be the top priority in life. A good start is to pray Christ reveals more of Himself to you. I guarantee He will answer your prayer. This is the first step into experiencing more of Christ in your life. This is the first step in pursuing your spiritual goal.
If you would like to learn more about the truths described here, come join us at Grace Christian Church, currently meeting at the Freehold VFW, every Sunday at 9:30.
Elder / Grace Christian Church