The New Life in Christ

by Doug Schermerhorn


I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).


My Christian life began when I trusted Christ to save me. I did not really know much else other than that Jesus died for my sins and that I was incapable of doing anything to save myself. I did not know there was anything more to the Christian life, so I just trusted him for salvation and continued to live my life as I thought best. I did not understand what it meant that Jesus wanted to give me an abundant life which would be different from that which I was living. In ignorance, I tried to be moral in everything I did, but I always knew deep within my heart that I was failing. When I sinned, I justified it by saying Christ has saved me so that sin is forgiven. I thought that even though I often failed, because I wanted to do what was right, that was sufficient. Now 50 years later I am just beginning to understand what salvation brought to me but that I never grasped.


The Beginning


Genesis 1:1 is a very important verse in the Bible. It is foundational to understanding all other doctrines found in the Scriptures. It is often read only as the introduction to God’s creation of the world but there is something very important that we should understand from it. That is that God already existed in the beginning. He is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega. He is eternal, meaning that he was alive before the beginning of this world and will always live. He cannot die because he is the source of all life. Without him there is no life. Plants, animals, and humans would all die and cease to exist without him. Both people that believe in him and those that do not believe in him live because he gives them life (Acts 17:24, 25).

God created man and gave him life to shower his love upon him. He wanted to have a loving relationship with mankind. But we know that Adam the first man rejected God and began thinking that he was the owner of his own life, master of his own destiny. Because of that decision by Adam, we who are his descendants have that same disposition to reject the God who gives us life. That is why today many people still believe they are the owners of their own life and masters of their own destiny. That belief is what makes it easy for people to become atheistic or agnostic. They do not realize that it is God who has given them the life they have and also maintains their life here on earth. They are physically alive but are spiritually dead which means they are relationally separated from God, the giver of life. They do not have the new life that God gives to those who trust in him (John 3:16).

God in his mercy and grace wants to give new life to those that will trust in him. In Scripture it is spoken of as the new man (Colossians 3:10), the new birth (John 3:3), the abundant life (John 10:10). God wants to bring people back into that loving relationship with him that he had purposed in the beginning. And because mankind cannot achieve that new life on their own, God in his mercy and grace provided a way so that they could receive that new life. That way is through his Son Jesus Christ.


The Resurrected Life


We speak much about the death of Christ. We rejoice because his death freed us from the wrath of God and the punishment we deserve (1 Peter 3:18). But while speaking of his sacrificial death, we often only mention his resurrection from the dead in passing. We consider that his resurrection was just to show his power and victory over death. And it did show his victory over death (2 Timothy 1:10). But when speaking of his resurrection we sometimes do not realize the full significance of it. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is what guarantees us the new life, the new birth, the abundant life that he promised to those that believe. He has provided it and we who believe what he has said and in what he has done now have it (I John 5:11-13). Notice in these verses it says those who believe have life in Christ, not will have life in Christ. It is not something we need to wait for, it is something we can experience today. In this world, we will not experience a new and resurrected body, but we can experience the new resurrected life. The problem we face is that instead of living the new resurrected life that he has provided, we continue to live the life we previously lived. So how can we live the resurrected life he has given. It comes through knowing Christ and trusting him (Galatians 2:20). It is not reliant on human effort which is bound to fail.

When Jesus died on the cross, he died to this world. He no longer was a part of it. Then when he returned to life, his life was different. He was no longer under the power and limitations found in this world. He had a new life. That is the kind of life he gives and desires that those who trust in him live.


Do I want the blessing or the One who Blesses?


For many people, salvation is their ticket to heaven and nothing more. They trusted Christ for salvation and now are waiting for their promised heavenly home. They are anxious to see their loved ones that have gone on ahead of them. They are not concerned about whether God is there or not. They just know that they will be finished with all the pain and sorrow that is endemic to this world. They know that sin will no longer control them. However, if you were to ask people what they first want to do when they get to heaven, many would answer that they want to see their mother, father, spouse, or child. Only a few will answer that they are anxious to see Jesus their Savior. Most are willing to settle for the blessing of being in heaven and not concerned about meeting the One who blessed them with their heavenly home.

Exodus 32 tells the story of the Israelites worshipping the golden calf at Mount Sinai and its aftermath. Then Exodus 33:1-4 tells of the bad news that the Israelites received because of that incident. They were told that they would receive the promised land, but that God’s Presence would not go with them, only an angel would accompany to help them. For some, that may have seemed like a good deal since they were going to receive the blessing of the promised land. But many realized that life without God, even though they would receive a material blessing, was really not the best. Moses did realize that and pleaded with God to go with them to the promised land. It was only after Moses pleaded with God to accompany them, that God granted that request (Exodus 33:13-15).

The Israelites could have received the promised land without God accompanying them. They could have received the blessing without having the One who was blessing them accompany them. But they realized that was not a good deal. They realized that having God, the Giver of Life and the One who was blessing them, accompany them was the most important thing that could happen. Without him, possessing the land was of little value.

This is an example for us. Many people want the blessing of salvation without the One who gives it. They receive the blessing of eternal salvation and that is sufficient. That is why they continue to live their earthly lives apart from a loving relationship with God the Savior and think that is the way it has to be. But that is not God’s desire for them. Jesus promised an abundant life and that life can only be lived if it is lived in close communion to him. That is where many people fail. They do not go on to live the abundant life because they do not know that it exists, what it is, or how to live it. They are stuck with the mentality that they must manage their own life and control their own destiny in this world apart from God. They also replace the abundant life, the one lived in communion with the Giver of Life, with rules and regulations that have an appearance of a new life (Colossians 2:16-23). Yet they sense that something is not right. They have failed to see how the abundant life is achieved.

A believer who is content to only receive blessings without knowing and enjoying Jesus, the One who is blessing them, will never really experience in this world the abundant life that Jesus offers. He must be content with less than what he could experience by living the new, abundant life.


The background and struggle of the early church


In the time of Abraham, God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would be his special people and through them the whole world would be blessed. Those promised descendants became the Jewish nation. So even before the Jewish nation existed, God had chosen them as the conduit through which he would provide the Savior for the entire world to bring them back into the loving relationship he desires to have with them. And he completed his promise through them. Jesus, who was born a Jew, died and was resurrected from the dead to offer forgiveness of sin and a new abundant life to all that trust in him and what he accomplished when he died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead.

Because God’s plan to bring salvation to all people began with the Jewish nation, it is no surprise that the first church was made up of only Jewish people. And those first believers mistakenly understood that only Jews, or non-Jews that had submitted to the Jewish rituals (proselytes), could become part of the church. God had to remove that misconception that they continued to believe. That is why in the book of Acts we find the Jewish believers were surprised when God saved Cornelius, a non-Jew, and gave him new life (Acts 11:17-18). But even then, many Jewish believers still thought that Jewish rituals were necessary for non-Jews to become Christians (Acts 15:1, 5). So the apostles and leaders in the Jewish church met together to clarify this issue (Acts 15:6) with the resulting conclusion that non-Jews did not need to submit to Jewish rituals (Acts 15:24). Their faith in Christ as their substitute sacrifice was all that was needed for salvation.


The experience of the Apostle Paul


Paul was Jewish. He was raised and trained in the Jewish religion with its accompanying rituals, and he completed those rituals with vigor. Paul knew about, and perhaps was even present in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. He, without doubt, denied that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. That is why in the beginning he did not believe that Jesus was the promised Savior and he proceeded to persecute the early church that proclaimed Jesus to be the promised Messiah. He mistakenly thought that by doing so he was protecting God and God’s Word. But one eventful day as Paul was travelling to Damascus, Jesus revealed himself to Paul and Paul became a believer (Acts 9:1-8). At that point in time, Paul no doubt carried some misunderstanding about the salvation and the abundant life Jesus had given to him. Perhaps for that reason, after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, Paul was absent from the scene for several years (Galatians 2:15-18). It was during that time of separation from everyone that Jesus taught Paul the deeper truths of the gospel and the new abundant life. And those truths Paul wrote out in the many epistles that he authored.


The Apostle Paul explains the new life in his epistle to the Philippian church


In Philippians 3 Paul explained some of what needs to happen to enable each believer to live the new abundant life. He relates it from his own experience and probably many of us have much in common with his experience. We just have it in a different cultural context.

Philippi was a roman colony. Very few Jews lived there which is indicated by its lack of a Jewish synagogue. There had to be at least ten married Jewish men in order to form a synagogue in any one city. Since the number of resident Jews was insufficient to form a synagogue in Philippi, the few Jewish people that did reside there met for prayer beside the nearby river. It was by that river that Paul first preached the gospel in Philippi, and it was there that the first people of Philippi trusted in Jesus.

Since most of the Philippian believers were Gentiles, they did not observe Jewish rituals. That caused an issue for some Jewish believers that did not yet understand that God accepted non-Jews on the basis of their faith in Jesus. Those Jewish believers still thought that non-Jews had to observe Jewish rituals in addition to trusting in Christ. Even though the early church and apostles had declared that unnecessary (Acts 15:24-25), those Jewish believers of limited understanding tried to enforce those outward acts on non-Jewish believers. And that was confusing to the non-Jewish believers because they realized that through the Jewish nation God had provided their salvation. Therefore, some began to think that Jewish rituals were truly necessary for non-Jews to follow. The Jewish ritual of circumcision was the main point of contention of which Paul continually had to address throughout his ministry.

Paul knew that no ritual or any other point in which one placed their confidence could save someone. He also knew that none of those things made a believer more acceptable to God, nor did they make the abundant life possible (Philippians 3:1-4). That is why he warned the Philippian believers about those that promoted circumcision or other Jewish rituals. He knew that if they added those things to their faith in Christ, they would not enjoy the abundant life Jesus had promised them. He knew that confidence in those things only resulted in a defeated life. He knew that well because he himself at one time had much confidence in those things. Only after Jesus revealed himself to Paul did Paul understand the truth.


Understanding the things that at one time Paul thought made him acceptable to God


In Philippians 3:4-6 Paul enumerates the things he did and the character traits he possessed that would seem to make him acceptable to God. He wanted the Philippian believers to know that if works, rituals, and character traits were what made someone acceptable to God then he should have easily passed the test.


  1. Circumcised the eighth day. – From birth, Paul had been raised according to Jewish law. No one could say he had not been brought up a good Jewish man. His parents had circumcised him on the eighth day as was required by the Mosaic Law. He did not begin to follow Jewish laws later in life. From birth, he had fulfilled all the rituals required by the Mosaic Law.


  1. Of the stock of Israel – The nation of Israel was God’s chosen people. Through them he promised to provide a Savior for all people. Paul was a member of that nation which God had chosen out of all nations to be his people. He knew that it was a special privilege to be able to call himself an Israelite.


  1. Of the tribe of Benjamin – Paul’s family lineage was not only of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. He was also of the lineage of Benjamin. Being of the tribe of Benjamin was extra special because God gave the Benjamites the city of Jerusalem as part of their inheritance in the land of Canaan (Judges 1:21). Jerusalem was also the city where God chose to have his temple built and where he would dwell among his chosen people Israel (2 Chronicles 6:6). Because of that, Paul knew that he had an even closer relationship to God’s temple than other Israelites since it was in the land that belonged to his family lineage.


  1. An Hebrew of the Hebrews – Aramaic was the everyday language spoken by the Jewish people in the time of Paul. In comparison the Hebrew language was spoken and understood only by Old Testament Jewish scholars. The common people did not speak it or understand it. They relied on the scribes to interpret the Jewish scriptures to them in Aramaic. However, Paul was a very educated man and could speak Hebrew. He was able to understand the Hebrew scriptures without having them interpreted for him. That is why he calls himself “an Hebrew of Hebrews.” He was pointing out that he was one of a very special group of people that understood the Scriptures without an interpreter and thus was less likely to be led astray by false teachings.


  1. As touching the law, a Pharisee – Paul maintained orthodox theology. He was careful to teach only what was in the Jewish Scriptures and was not influenced by contemporary cultural ideas. He studied diligently to make sure that what he believed and taught was correct. In modern terminology, he might have been called a “Bible Thumper.”


  1. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church – Paul was zealous to do what he thought God wanted. Before he had his encounter with Jesus, he thought that the church was blaspheming God. He did not believe that Jesus was God, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, nor that Jesus resurrected from the dead. He thought the church was trying to do away with the truth about God. That is why he persecuted them. He thought he was protecting God and God’s Word by persecuting the church.


  1. Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless – There was nothing that people could say that Paul was not doing as far as the Mosaic Law commanded. He maintained impeccable moral standards in his daily life and was conscientious to fulfill all his religious duties. His prayer life and study of the Scriptures were impeccable. He was a person that other Jews looked up to as an example of how one should live.


Today the things that Paul mentions may seem unimportant to us. But because they come from a Jewish worldview, we as Gentile believers do not understand the importance that Jewish people placed on those things. In Paul’s day, those things were highly esteemed and considered extremely important when talking about one’s relationship with God. Even though those things may seem unimportant to us, they correspond very closely to things today in which many people place their confidence as they talk about their relationship to God.

For example: Today some people trust in their completion of church rituals. They think that because they were baptized in the church, they are acceptable to God. Likewise, some people think that since they were born into a Christian family, and that family has always been active in the local church, they are acceptable to God. Also, some people think that because they belong to the biggest church or the first church in their city, they are special in God’s eyes. Their church may have a large budget with weekly offerings to sustain it. It may have a beautifully designed church building, have a growing youth ministry or any other number of things. They think that those blessings from God show that they are special in God’s eyes. Others think that because they read and study the Scriptures daily, have memorized portions of Scripture or may even be able to read Hebrew and Greek that they have an especially close relationship to God. Others may be out sharing the gospel, thinking that makes them good Christians. And still others may be highly respected by the local community and proclaimed to be an example of what a good person should be. All those things correspond closely to what Paul considered a special relationship with God before his encounter with Jesus. But after his encounter with Jesus, he proclaimed those things as worthless as far as making himself acceptable to God (Philippians 3:7-8).

When Paul said those things were worthless as far as making him righteous in God’s eyes and bringing him into a relationship with God, he did not say they were not good things. He recognized their value and did not say that they should be abandoned. For example: A shovel is a good thing when used to dig holes. However, it is worthless when used to sweep floors. We do not abandon shovels because they are worthless for sweeping floors. We use them for their intended purpose. Today many people think that if obeying God does not make us righteous in his eyes, we do not need to obey him and should just live however we want. That is far from the truth. That is like saying because I cannot sweep my floor with a shovel, I will throw out my shovel. Paul taught that obeying God is good but that it does not place anyone in a righteous standing with God or give them a close relationship with him. Paul’s contention was that obeying religious laws did not make people righteous in God’s eyes rather that coming into a close relationship with God would cause a person to live righteously.


Righteousness by Faith


In Romans 3:20, Paul wrote: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.” He clearly stated that the law God gave to Moses only showed that no one could meet up to God’s standards. Often people will say that since they try to follow the law, that is good enough and God will consider them righteous and acceptable. They think that because they may only fail a little bit, God will overlook that small shortcoming. But that is far from the truth. Trying is not good enough. To be justified by the law one would have to obey it perfectly 100% of the time. But we know that no one is capable of doing that. Even though no one can be made acceptable to God by trying to obey the law, Paul did not say that the law was useless. He said the law was good because it showed our sin and helpless condition before God. And until we realize we are in a helpless condition, we will not seek out the remedy for that condition. Even though Paul said the law showed us to be helpless, he did not leave us hopeless. In Romans 3:21 Paul proclaimed that without the law God can accept people as righteous and acceptable to him. Paul said that way is through faith in Jesus Christ, believing that Jesus has made us acceptable and righteous in God’s eyes through what he did, not through what we are doing or trying to do.

Genesis 15:6 is a very important verse in the Bible. It says, “Abraham believed in the Lord, and He (God) counted it to him (Abraham) for righteousness.” Belief was what made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes. What did Abraham believe? He believed that God would give him many descendants, including the One who would bless the whole world (Genesis 12:3). Abraham did not doubt God. He did not think God was lying to him. He accepted what God said as truth and did not waver in that. Even though he was childless, he trusted God at his word. Now this all happened before the law was given through Moses. Therefore, we know that Abraham did not complete or even try to complete the Mosaic Law since it did not exist while he was living.

If we look at the life of Abraham, we may be astounded that God considered him righteous. Abraham was married to his half-sister Sarah (Genesis 20:12). He also fathered the child Ismael out of wedlock with Sarah’s servant Hagar. He first lied to Pharaoh (Genesis 12:13) and then to Abimelech (Genesis 20:2) about being married to Sarah. When he lied to Pharaoh, he had not yet been declared righteous but when he lied to Abimelech, God had already declared him to be righteous. Abraham’s actions do not always seem to be the acts of a righteous man. Yet God considered Abraham righteous, not on the basis of what he did but on the basis of his faith and trust in God. Faith not actions were what made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes.

Returning to Paul’s experience that he relates in Philippians 3:7-9 we see that Paul no longer looked to what he did or who he was to make him righteous in God’s eyes. He saw those things as rubbish or dung as far as making him righteous. He did not say they were bad things, just that they did not make him righteous before God. He realized that only faith in Christ could provide him with the righteousness that God demands.

Philippians 3:9 is the verse that was a turning point in my life. When I realized that my actions were not why I was acceptable to God, I was relieved. I no longer had to perform or make justifications for my shortcomings and sin. I no longer had to say I am trying the best I can. I knew that God considered me righteous because of what Christ had done for me. And what Christ did was perfect and cannot be done away with. My righteousness before God depends on what Christ did for me, not what I do for God, not upon how well I perform in my life, nor any other thing I might plead to God to accept me as righteous. Trusting Christ is the beginning and the end of righteousness before God. Apart from faith in Christ there is nothing that can be done or anything that can achieve that righteousness. What a relief to know God counts me righteous on the basis of what Christ did for me which was perfect, not on the basis of what I do which is often failure.


Living the new abundant life


In Philippians 3:1-9 Paul first explained how the new abundant life was not obtained. Until believers come to understand that their righteousness before God is not obtained through their actions, they will never come to understand how it is obtained. They will continue to try and sweep the floor with a shovel instead of a broom so to speak. Even if their actions are good and their characteristics without fault, they need to see them for what they are. They need to stop relying on them to bring them into a loving relationship with God. And only when someone comes to that realization are they able to come to know Christ (Philippians 3:10).

Paul realized that nothing that he relied on previously could give him the new abundant life. So, what could? Knowing Christ was the answer. Christ is what superseded everything else. That is why knowing Christ became the focus of his life. Everything else became useless to him in regard to being proclaimed righteous by God.


Knowing Christ


What does it mean to know Christ? It means more than an academic knowledge of him. There are unbelievers today that have studied the history of Jesus and know all about what happened to him. They may even present the facts of his earthly life to those who try to claim Jesus to be only a myth. But while they know about him academically, they do not know him personally. Example: Most of us can claim knowledge of past presidents. We might even be able to relate what they did while holing office. But most of us never met those presidents and do not understand their character or anything else about them. We only know what we have read or been told about them. So even though we know them by name, we really do not know them personally.

In Philippians 3:9-11 Paul said to know Christ begins with rejecting all our false ideas about our “good” character traits and “good” actions. We need to see them in light of what Christ has done for us. Then we need to know him personally, not just intellectually. Only then will we be able to enjoy the new abundant life in Christ. Knowing Christ is a daily process. Just as we get to know our friends closely by interacting daily with them, getting to know Christ is a daily learning experience.

I interject a personal experience here. When I was 20 years old, I was standing in an auto parts store waiting to purchase oil and oil filter. I noticed on the wall a fuel filter and into my mind came the thought that I should change my fuel filter. I ignored that because I was in a rush to get my oil changed since I was about to leave on a trip, taking some other people with me. About five hours into the trip my Chevy pickup sputtered and stopped, thankfully within 50 yards of a Chevy dealer. I walked down to the service department and they came to look at my pickup. They never said anything other than it would take five minutes to fix it. They went back to their garage and brought a new fuel filter to replace the old one and the pickup started right up. An older man was seated beside me in the pickup as we resumed the trip. I said to him, “I saw a fuel filter in the parts store yesterday and was thinking I should change mine.” He looked at me and said, “Next time you will better understand when the Lord is speaking to you.” That taught me a big lesson. Even though I studied my Bible regularly, I still was not hearing God’s voice. I still did not know him well enough to recognize his voice. It takes time to get to know him.

In Philippians 3:10-11 Paul speaks about several things we need to know about Christ and experience with him to enable us to enjoy the new abundant life found only in him. Let’s examine each of them and how they play a part in living the new and abundant life in Christ.


Knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection


We need to know the “power of Christ’s resurrection.” If you are a grammatician, you recognize that this phrase is in a genitive construction. Therefore, it could mean one of two things, depending on how you interpret it. One would be that we need to know or experience the power that God used to raise Christ from the dead, or it could mean that we need to know or experience the power that Christ gives by means of his resurrection from the dead. Whichever interpretation you believe to be the correct one, it does not change the outcome. It still comes down to one thing. The power to live the new abundant life does not come from within ourselves. We cannot change ourselves or will ourselves to live the new life. It is a work of God. The new life can only be lived by the power of God. And that power is great because it is the power that enabled Jesus to resurrect from the dead and live a new life at the right hand of God. Every believer needs to experience that power to be able to live the new life.


Knowing the fellowship of his sufferings


We know that Christ suffered throughout his lifetime. Many people rejected him, laughed at him, and falsely accused him of doing wrong. He ultimately suffered great pain while being crucified and rejected. But there is one suffering I think we need to look at that affects each of us deeply and to what we need to submit ourselves. After the Last Supper, Jesus went with his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. This incident is recorded in Luke 22:39-44. It says that as he was praying, he was in agony and sweat like drops of blood fell to the ground. No doubt, knowing what was about to happen was agonizing, but probably rejecting his own will and submitting to what God had prepared for him was another great source of agony. He had just prayed “Father…not my will be done but yours.” I can think of nothing more difficult than to accept God’s will for my life over my own. That is agonizing to do. Remember, as Adam’s descendants we want to be the owner of our own lives, the master of our destination. We don’t want God’s will unless it is pleasant and is in step with what we want. The problem is that we seldom want to submit ourselves to God and his purpose for our life. So, we remain stuck in the old way of living by refusing to reject our own will and submit to God’s.

When Jesus walked this earth, many people came to him, saying that they wanted to follow him. But when Jesus told them what was required, most did not follow. They were not ready to put down their own will and submit to God’s. Mark 8:34 records Jesus’s words that many refused. He said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Rich men refused to leave their riches, others refused to leave their homes, others refused to follow Jesus because it would be a hard life. Denying our own will is hard. It can be painful. It can be uncomfortable. But without denying our self-will we cannot enter into the new abundant life that is given by God, the giver of all life. In spite of the internal struggle that is painful, we must be willing to suffer by denying our own will just as Jesus denied his own will.


Being made conformable unto his death


When Jesus, being perfect, died for us, he paid the price of our sin to do away with it (Romans 6:6). Even though he never sinned while in this sinful world, in death Jesus was no longer subject to the temptations of this world. He was dead to the world and all that is in it. When a person trusts in Jesus for salvation, he becomes united with Jesus. Therefore, just as Jesus was no longer subject to this world in his death, a believer no longer needs to be subject to the control of sin in this world. As believers experience the power of God in their lives, they are able to be conformed to the death of Christ. That means they are able to live without sin controlling them. They are free from the control of sin by being united to Jesus in death. Sadly, however, some believers never go on to experience that unity with Christ in his death. They continue to remain under the control of sin even though they do not need to be. They think that is the way it has to be in this world. They still need to experience the power of God in their lives that can conform them to Christ’s death which frees them from the power of sin in their daily lives. For many, the idea of death is fearful. But death with Jesus is not to be feared because it liberates us from our past lives to be able to enjoy a new abundant life even while we remain in this world.


Attaining unto the resurrection of the dead


In Philippians 3:11 Paul talks about “attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Some may think that Paul was in doubt about whether he was worthy enough to be resurrected from the dead and taken to heaven. Some may think that Paul was saying that knowing Christ, experiencing the resurrection power, and being conformed to his death are prerequisites to be resurrected into our heavenly bodies. However, we know that Paul had no doubts about his future resurrection. So, what was he speaking about here when he talked about attaining to the resurrection from the dead?

I think he was talking about living the new resurrected life here in this world (Romans 6:4-5). That is why he spoke about attaining to the resurrection in Philippians 3:11. He knew that he had yet to arrive to the point in this world where he was living the resurrected life in its entirety but that is what he wanted. He knew that the resurrected life was life completely free from sin and lived totally in a loving relationship with God.

Paul was not content to live in subjection to the present world controlled by sin. He also knew that he could not force himself to live the new resurrected life which Jesus also called the abundant life. He was aware that only through knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection would he be able to die to self and thus enable himself to live the new resurrected life.

In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul clearly stated that he had not reached the point of fully knowing Christ and the power of Christ’s resurrection. He knew that he had a long way to go to become perfect. But he also knew that every day as he learned more of Christ, he was becoming more like him (1 Corinthians 3:18). The apostle John also spoke of that in his epistle (1 John 3:2). They both knew that one day they would become completely conformed to the image of Christ. That was what Paul considered to be God’s high calling and for which he desired to attain to even in this present world.

Paul did not become discouraged with his own failures. He did, however, recognize them as failures. But he did not dwell on them, he had his mind dwelling on Christ. He knew that his failures were his own doing and only by knowing more of Christ would he defeat the failures and sin in his life. He did not say that is how I am and how I will be until I die. Nor did he say I can overcome this on my own. He looked to Christ and the power Christ could give him to live the abundant resurrected life that Christ had promised him. That is the life Christ desires for everyone that has trusted in him.




What is the abundant resurrected life that Jesus Christ promised to give to all that trust in him? It is the life that is lived in communion with him. It is a loving relationship with the giver of life. That life is not dependent on ourselves. It is dependent on the One who gives it. However, we can never experience it as long as we are content to live as we always lived before trusting Christ for our salvation. To be able to live the abundant life that Christ promised, believers must first do away with trusting in their actions and character traits to become righteous before God. They must understand that Christ declared them righteous when he died on the cross for them. Then they must learn of Christ on a daily basis, experiencing God’s power in their lives to enable them to live the abundant life that Christ promised to them. They must die to their self-will, giving up control of their life and submitting to Christ control. They must not dwell on their failures, but have their minds set on knowing Christ. Only then can they begin to experience the abundant life which is fully dependent on Christ and his power.