Key Verse: “Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”
THE APOSTLE PAUL IN today’s lesson urges all of the followers of Christ to unity of faith and purpose. Since we are being led by the same Holy Spirit under the direction of the Captain of our salvation, all the truly sanctified in Christ are closely united by our mutual faith, hope, and love. (I Cor. 13:13) Indeed, we have been taught in the Scriptures that the mark of character development that we are to seek after is that of perfect love—that is, love in the most complete and selfless sense. With this in view, we recall these words from our lesson: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:14
The bride of Christ is called to a high station. However, as prospective members of this class, we first must suffer with him, that we may in due time reign with him. We have the assurance that in every trial, and in every experience, whether it is joyous or sorrowful, and whether it seems heavy or light, the hand of our Heavenly Father is there to guide and direct. We know also that he will not permit us to be tested above that which we are able to bear. This makes it possible for us to say, even as David did, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”—Psa. 91:2
We are to strive to resist the things that would harm our spiritual growth, and to “hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14) The tools of the Adversary are many and powerful. Sometimes he comes as a roaring lion. This type of attack may be easier to spot and thwart in advance. Many times, however, he is more subtle, wily, and deceptive in his assault. Often he uses the weaknesses of our fallen flesh as the primary weapons of attack—tendencies such as envy, strife, hatred, pride, doubt, and even discouragement. We should dispel these with love, humility, righteousness, and faith.
As followers of Christ, we should have a keen desire, as Paul did, to attain to and stand as nearly as possible at the perfect mark of love. “And having done all, to stand,” Paul states. (Eph. 6:13) We cannot “stand” if we walk after the flesh, but can only do so by walking in the Spirit, and by having the pure law of love fully operating in us. “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts [desires], we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for … the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”—Tit. 2:11-13
We are to keep in mind that we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, through whom we can approach the Heavenly Father in prayer, seeking his grace and help in time of need. These and many other special favors designed to help us “stand firm” come from God, through “Jesus Christ the righteous.”(I John 2:1) Our future Bridegroom desires to have us walk in his footsteps, and keep ourselves separate from the world. He told his disciples, “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19) Let us therefore seek to stand before the Lord with sincerity, honesty, and humility of character, and as we stand, to fully display the fruits of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.”—Gal. 5:22,23