Pressing Toward the Goal

Everyone who has ever participated in competitive sports knows how important the mental attitude is an athlete’s performance. Paul knew this, too. I personally believe he was at the very least an avid sports fan and possibly even a competitor at some level. Otherwise, he would not have made extensive use of sports metaphors. (See 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Tim 2:5 & 4:7-8; and Hebrews 12:1-2. [Yes, I believe Paul wrote Hebrews and this sports reference is one reason why I believe so.]) He also uses the athletic mentality to express how we should live our lives as Christians in Philippians 3.

We must run the race set before us (Phil 3:7-11 & Heb. 12:1-2) without hindrances. Paul saw everything in his past as just that – in his past. And he encourages us through his writings to see things the same way. We need to lay aside those things that would stand in the way of us following the commands of our Lord. Me must rid ourselves of the things that slow us down in our Christian walk.

We must run the race set before us by pressing forward toward the goal. (Phil 3:12-14 & 1 Cor. 9:24-27) We press on to receive the prize of the high calling of Jesus. And all along the way, Jesus is encouraging us, empowering us, and giving us all we need for godly living so that we can, in fact achieve the goal He has set before us.

We must run with victory in mind. (Phil. 3:15-21) We must set our minds on things above – not on earthly things. (Col. 3:1-3) We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:1-2) We must take every thought captive. (2 Cor. 10:5) But it’s not just a mental exercise – a positive thinking mantra that will see us through to victory. It is a total focus on Jesus while totally blocking out the things of the world. It’s fixing our eyes on Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb. 12:2)

If we don’t set our minds on Him, then we will be swept away by cultural thoughts and ideas. If we don’t set our minds on Him, then the transformation that He wants to bring about in our lives will never happen. If we don’t set our minds on Him we will be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will be swayed when people try to trick us with lies that sound good to us. (Eph. 4:14)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 23, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at:

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