"THAT I MAY KNOW HIM"
Introduction: In this verse, the apostle Paul expressed one of the great goals of his Christian life, a goal to which every believer should aspire and emulate. Although Paul seemingly never ceased to speak about his conversion experience, (Acts 9, 22, 25), he was not referring here to that memorable event when God dramatically changed him from a hell-bound sinner to a heaven-bound saint.
Paul's lifetime pursuit, as expressed in the above statement was the experiential knowledge of the Saviour, the complete Scriptural likeness to the image of Christ.
1. "That I May Know Him"—IN CONQUEST: "The power of His Resurrection." The literal power of Christ's resurrection was His victory over physical death. The grave could only temporarily contain his body for three days, and then the miracle of his actual physical resurrection occurred.
By what power did this historical miracle occur? In an obvious reference to the third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit of God, Rom. 8:11 makes it plain that this supernatural event took place via the "Spirit of him" who "raised up Jesus from the dead."
While Christ's resurrection assures believers of their own future literal resurrection if they die before the Rapture, (I Cor. 15:11-23), Paul was not referring here to the saints potentially future physical resurrection after death, but to our spiritual victory over (a) SIN via the power of the same Holy Spirit. Sin may be resident in every believer, but it does not have to be president over our lives. We may be not be sinless, but we can sin-less through submission and yieldness to God’s Spirit—Romans 6.
There is also the conquest victory over (b) SATAN. Like a roaring lion—I Peter 5:8—the devil sometimes viciously attacks us. According to Paul, we can conquer every antagonistic enemy who would seek to devour or defeat us. Through the Spirit's divinely endued power, we can overcome every foe that the world, the flesh and the devil set before us—Rom. 8:37-39.
We can likewise experience conquest/victory over (c) SOCIETY. In Eph. 2:2, Paul notes that the "prince of the power of the air" who once had dominion over us no longer maintains that dominance. Via the "blood of the lamb" and the "word" of our "testimony"—Rev. 12:11, we can experience victory over society’s evil forces. .
2. "That I May Know Him"—IN CONFLICT: "the fellowship of his suffering." This fellowship suffering to which Paul here referred was not Christ's sacrificial substitutionary suffering on the cross on our behalf. That suffering was an affliction that Christ alone could and did undergo for our sin[s]—Heb. 1:3, Heb. 10:12, I Pet. 3:18.
We can, however, follow his example in this suffering—I Pet. 2:21. We can become partakers of his earthly sufferings—I Pet. 4:13—as we experience the same type worldly opposition and religious oppression that Christ encountered during his brief earthly pilgrimage. As we take our stand with Christ, we will confront the same evil darts that were shot at Him.
Christ successfully endured all the Satanic temptations and despotic tribulations of wicked sinners—Heb. 4:15, and we can likewise overcome similar trials as we seek His help—Heb. 2:18—and strength—Phil. 4:13.
We can also come to know Christ better via the conflicts of the (a) sufferings of pain—II Cor. 12:7-10, the (b) sufferings of persecution—John 16:33 and the (c) sufferings of purgation—Ps. 119: 67 & 71, Job. 5:17 as God "hones" his human silver vessels—Prov. 25:4.
3. "That I May Know Him"—IN CONFORMITY: "being made conformable unto his death." Conformity to Christ is the ultimate goal to which Paul aspired, and which we must likewise desire. In Rom. 8:29, Paul declared that "whom he did foreknow, he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…"
The word conform means to "mould" or to "make the shape of." God desires that we would know Him via a conformity and transformation in our inner character that expresses itself in outer conduct, a character and conduct that is not molded by the ungodly secular culture of our generation—Rom. 12:1-2, but by conformity to the mind and will of Christ—Phil.2:5.
This death to the "old man" is not easily achieved, but not impossible. This crucifixion to the world—Gal. 6:14—comes as we "mortify" [put to death]—Rom. 8:13, Col. 3:5 the sinful appetites and desires, set our affections on heavenly matters—Col. 3:2, and live by the faith of the Son of God—Gal. 2:20.
With all his human attributes in harmonious conjunction, Christ displayed his greatest qualities of conviction, compassion, patience and endurance in death. As saints continually die to this world's aims and aspirations, we can manifest a similar continual spiritual harmony and victory.
Conclusion: In Rom. 6:8, the apostle Paul used a present participle that implies a continuous activity when he stated: "Now if we be dead with Christ we believe that we shall live with him." Knowing Christ: in conquest, in conflict, and in conformity should be and can be the believer's daily experience as we grow in the "grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—II Peter 3:18." DJ
Also in this issue:
|Editorial – October - November 2009 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.|