Today's Bible readers have many advantages that were not available to previous generations. Dictionaries, concordances, encyclopedias of Biblical information abound, not to mention the many modern translations which we have available to us.
For this reason many of you are already familiar with the definition of the word we will be discussing in this article. It is the New Testament word for "sin," a Greek word that literally means "to miss the mark." Often when considering the context in which this word is normally used, we tend to think of "the mark" in this instance as moral and spiritual perfection.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul seems to affirm this thought in the statement: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23).
The issue of sin continues to plague many today. We might either live under the fear that we will sin, the guilt that we have, or in denial that we even partake of it at all. But today I hope we can deal with this subject in a very positive light, which is of course, the Light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!
The mark of which we speak, the moral and spiritual perfection which we desire, is actually Jesus Christ Himself! In other words, to sin is mainly to "miss Christ."
Listen to the heart's cry of the great apostle Paul in Philippians 3:7-8:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Paul speaks here of winning Christ, as though He was some sort of prize! But how could this be? Let us continue reading:
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness,
which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ,
the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Taking this a bit further, he now deals with knowing Christ. His desire is to experientially know every aspect of Him, His righteousness, His faithfulness, His power in resurrection and even His suffering in death! He also very candidly reveals his own condition, and the process which he was then going through:
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this
one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The question that we need to ask ourselves today is: "Are we working very hard at not sinning, or at winning Christ?" And even if we are not seen by many to commit obvious sins, could we still on a regular basis be actually missing Christ?
Paul believed that the possibility existed for born-again believers to fully experience the resurrected Christ while still in these bodies! He saw how every day is filled with opportunities to share in both Christ's sufferings and triumphs, and to know His righteousness, His peace, His joy and love!
He confidently proclaimed that there is no law against the following: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith and self-control! Why? Because these are all attributes of His nature and character! When we "win Christ" we win all of these! Or shall we say, as we walk in the Spirit, producing the fruit of the Spirit, we are truly "winning Christ!"
Are you pressing towards the mark? Are you pursuing Christ in your daily life? You may say, "I have too few opportunities. You don't realize how many responsibilities I am laden with. I am not able to devote the time to prayer and Bible reading that others are."
But wait. I submit that your responsibilities themselves afford opportunities to win Christ! They also present the possibility of missing Him as well! If as unto the Lord, you work hard for your employer, producing the highest quality work of which you are capable, you are actually winning Christ!
But on the other hand, if you slow down when no one is looking, or allow substandard results, you could very well be missing Christ, who is the personification of moral excellence!
Should you feel guilty or shamed by these words? I would rather you feel as though you have cheated yourself and the Lord. The nature, power, glory and presence of Christ is your reward, your prize. But you yourself must pursue Him!
As long as we are pursuing Christ, our attention will not be on ourselves, our weakness or our strengths. We now understand how even in our trials and sufferings we can experience Him!
When we are lied to, misused, misunderstood, or rejected, we have a choice. We can react to these injustices, or we can pursue Christ. When we give the normal human response, we usually miss the mark of expressing His life at this time. But by repentance, committing ourselves unto Him, trusting in His power and love, we can obtain the confidence that the next time will be different! We are in practice! We are not practicing to miss the mark but to reach it!
Our relentless pursuit is for Him! In this race we may trip, stumble and fall, but with our eyes upon Him we will get back up! If we have to even crawl for a season our advancement will continue. We are all pressing towards the mark! That mark is Him, His light, His grace, His power, His righteousness, His love!
The next time will be different! We will begin to feel as He feels, think as He thinks, act as He acts. We have received great and precious promises by which we are made partakers of the divine nature! It is becoming natural for you to express the nature of the Son of God to this world!
You have been begotten of that incorruptible seed, the Word of God which lives and abides forever! That Seed remains in you and you cannot practice sinning any longer! Your heart, your hunger is for more of Christ. You live by every Word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God!
You have set the goal before us -- the very life of Jesus your son. Help us to fix our gaze upon Him. Cause us to continue to behold His glory, His grace, His kindness, His holiness and perfection, and so become transformed.
Continue to save us from our sin, our missing the mark of His excellence until that Day when we are found in Him, not possessing any good thing that is our own. For He alone can satisfy our hearts desire! In Him alone we are fulfilled and able to give You true pleasure.
May we follow our front runner with patience, seeing that same joy which was set before Him. And in the end may all the glory and honor and praises go unto Your wonderful Name.
For Jesus sake,