Living the Sanctified Life
by Jack M. Lane

We often think of salvation as being an event that occurs in one moment in time.  If we come to a point of “being saved,” or “being born again,” or being baptized, that is indeed a one-time event.  But we need to live the rest of our lives walking in this way of life.  That means that salvation can also be considered a process.  In this article we will look at aspects of living the life of a sanctified person.

In an earlier article we looked at the concepts of Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.  Reviewing briefly what that article says, justification, sanctification, and glorification, taken as a whole, amounts to a three-step progression to get us from where we were to where we want to be.  Where we were was in the world, and where we want to be is in the family of God, resurrected to eternal, immortal life, without these old, tired, broken-down bodies.  We want to put all this behind us, and have our glorified spirit bodies that don’t ever get tired or sore or hungry. 
Salvation is a process, but it can be subdivided into these three steps.   The first step, Justification, occurs when we repent of our sins and are baptized.  For most of us, that’s in the past.  We can consider that to be something that occurs in a moment of time.  We have been forgiven of our past sins, and we can go on from there. 
The third step, Glorification, takes place on the day Messiah returns from heaven in power and glory and resurrects us from our graves.   We can look on Glorification as something that takes place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.   
So there is Point A, in the past for most of us, and Point C, off in the future, when Christ comes.   
The second of these three things, Sanctification, is the period of time between Point A and Point C.  We could call it “Point B,” or “Pathway B”, or “Road B”, or “The Way,” or “living the sanctified life.”    Around our house we call it “Living the Way.”   
You remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV): 
13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
In the New King James Version, verse 14 says, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  In The Complete Jewish Bible, “but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  The New Living Translation says, “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
This is the road I’m talking about.  This is the Way.  This is the path we have chosen to walk. It’s a narrow road, a hard road, a difficult road, and only a few find it.  We have found that to be true, haven’t we?  As they used to say back in the 1970’s, “He never promised us a rose garden.” 
God has given us a road to walk.  It will take us from Point A to Point C.  All we need to do is stay on that road, and keep moving forward. If we start at Justification, and go down the road of Sanctification, we have every expectation of reaching Glorification at the resurrection.  If we stray off the road of righteousness, if we fall off the path, if we fall into one ditch or the other, if we grind to a halt – why should we expect to be glorified when Christ comes?  We’ve lost out on our salvation. 
Salvation is a process.  God starts the process by watching us, getting to know what kind of people we are, what kind of potential we have, seeing if we might actually respond to the call if He calls us.  Before He ever calls us, He looks us over, to see what we’ll do.  Then He calls us to an understanding of His plan and purpose.  Then it’s our turn.  We can respond to our calling by coming to repentance and being baptized.  We can then continue responding to our calling by living the sanctified life, and trying to live up to the awesome future God has invited us to have, until the day we die. 
And if we do our part regarding Justification and Sanctification, then Christ does his part by resurrecting us when he comes.  God starts the process.  We buy into the process by going down that road until we die.  Then we can’t do anything more.  Then God steps in to do His part by resurrecting us. 
But we want to remember that, even when we’re doing our part, we are weak and powerless to live up to God’s expectations for us.  We need His power and strength, through His Spirit, to give us the ability to overcome and even begin to live the sanctified life.  Even though it’s our turn, and our responsibility, we can’t do it alone.  We can’t do it without God’s help.  So He is still actively involved in the process.
We also want to remember that we are not earning our salvation.  There is nothing we can do to earn it, to deserve it, to obligate God to give it to us, to buy it from Him, or to bribe Him into giving it to us.  Salvation is a free gift.  Eternal life is a free gift.  Well, free to us.  God paid a dear price for it, so He could give it to us for free. 
Let’s turn to Matthew 5:48 and look at an important reference to the perfection we are to strive for in this life.
Matthew 5:48 (KJV):  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
First of all, what does “perfect” mean? The Greek word is teleios, which Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance tells us means “complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.).”  So we’re looking at being complete, having full mental and moral character.  We’re supposed to be that way, as our Father in heaven is complete and has full mental and moral character.  Then, it says to “be perfect,” or “be complete.”  The verb form of “to be” in that verse is translated virtually every other place it’s used in the New Testament as “shall be” or “will be.”  It seems Messiah is not saying “Be perfect” as much as he is saying “You will be perfect,” or “You must be perfect,” or, “You must be complete.”
In fact, most of the other translations I consulted carry that same meaning in this verse.  The New King James Version says, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  The New Living Translation says, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Today’s English version has it this way: “You must be perfect — just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  The English Standard Version says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  New Century Version:  “So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  God’s Word Translation:  “That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Revised Standard Version:  “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  New American Standard Bible:  “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 
There is nothing I’ve seen in the verb tense that implies “becoming perfect,” in a progressive tense.  Rather than “becoming perfect,” Jesus is telling us that we need to be fully mature and complete, as God is fully mature and complete.  That’s what our Father is!  That’s what we’re supposed to be.  
We have to be, we must be, we need to be complete.  The only way we can do that is through liberal doses of God’s Holy Spirit.
The way I was taught this verse years ago was that we needed to become perfect, over time.  We couldn’t really be perfect, but we had to be growing in that direction.  It was our goal.  Kinda reminds me of the “Ten Suggestions.”  It’s a goal.  But it really does say in this verse that we shall be complete or mature, or that we must be complete or mature.  It isn’t optional.  We need to grow up.  That’s pretty much what he’s saying.
Being mature is something we can do something about.  Maturity comes from age and experience.  We don’t have any choice but to age.  And experiences seem to come on their own, unbidden.  So, with enough time and enough experiences, we mature.  We learn our lessons.  We make better decisions.  We grow wiser.  We grow up. That’s why the practice of Israel, the Jews, the church, and most civilized societies through the ages, has been to look to the elders in that society for wisdom and maturity.  We can learn from the elders.  We can grow in wisdom and maturity.  And we can see this principle, of being perfect and mature and complete, involved throughout Matthew chapter 5.  
For instance, in verse 21, you can read it this way:
Matthew 5:21:
21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. 
Christ is saying, “You really should know better.”  You can just about hear him say that.  
In verse 23: 
23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
It’s just like he’s saying, “You really should be mature enough to do this without me having to tell you.”
In verse 27:
27 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'  
28 But I tell you that [you really need to be mature about this.]
In verse 43:
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 But I tell you: [You need to do better than that.] …
48 [You need to] [b]e perfect [complete, mature], therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect [complete, mature].
So if this is part of the salvation process, or a part of living the sanctified life, then it’s part of the thing that will make the difference between making it to Glorification or not making it to Glorification.  It’s that serious.
Let’s turn over to Mark 16, and look at this version of the Great Commission.  The three synoptic gospels look at the giving of the Great Commission slightly differently.  We most frequently look at the version in Matthew, and secondly we look at Luke’s.  But let’s look at Mark’s version of the Great Commission.   
Mark 16:15-16:
15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Unlike many missionary denominations, I don’t take this to mean that people will fry in hellfire forever simply because they haven’t heard the name that saves.   Rather, I take this to mean that there will be some who will hear the word, and maybe even respond to the call for awhile, but will ultimately make the decision that Jesus was a fake, the gospel is a fraud, the offer of everlasting life is a hoax, and to live this way is a higher price than they are willing to pay.  These are the people who will be in trouble when they stand before the throne. 
We know about the parable of the sower and the seed.  The seed fell on ground and grew.  But the different kinds of ground gave different results.  The upshot is that there are people who begin the salvation process, who begin to live the life of sanctification, but fail for one reason or another.  These are the ones who don’t end up believing, those who don’t make it all the way down the road of Sanctification.  They don’t make it to Glorification.  They don’t complete the process of salvation. 
When we grow weary of well-doing, when we get tired and worn down by the world, when the weeds grow up around us and try to choke us, we need to focus on what’s at the end of the road.  We need to see in our mind’s eye the goal we’re after, the reason why we walk down this road. 
What is the goal?  Do you know?  What keeps you on the road?  Is your goal only to make it to the resurrection? Are we in this only for our own salvation?  Or do we see a bigger picture? 
We have opportunities in this life to serve others, to help others, to be of service in helping to get other people down the same road.  We’re not on this road by ourselves.  There are others at various places along the road, moving at different speeds, starting at different times, but aiming for the same goal. 
What do you do when you see someone stalled at the side of the road?  What do you do when you see someone veering off the road and heading for a ditch?  The last couple verses of the book of James are very instructive about this. Let’s turn there. 
James 5:19-20: 
19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
We’re not on this road by ourselves.  We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters on the same road.  What should we do?  Lecture to them?  Preach to them?  Impress them with how wise we are? A little earlier in the book of James, this issue is being addressed.
James 3:13-18:  
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
There we are again, trying to become perfect, mature, wise.  
14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven …
Here’s the kind of wisdom we must have to be complete.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
What is our responsibility to a fallen brother? We want to make peace, first of all.  Anyone who has gotten started down the road, but who has gotten stalled, probably needs to be won back from their bad attitude, or their incorrect outlook, or their unhealthy religious practice.  How do we do that?  We need to talk to the one who has fallen aside in this way, as James tells us:  “peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  Then we need to be living a good life, as an example people can look at.  Then, from that place, we can be doing good deeds in humility. 
This is all wrapped up in this passage in James. And if we can win back one who has fallen away, we have won back a brother. 
We’re not on the road by ourselves.  And we’re not just in it for ourselves, either. 
But what if you try to help a brother, and he tells you to get lost?  What if you try one time and fail?  Have you fulfilled your obligation?  What if he or she rejects your efforts?  Do you just go away?  Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.  Just go away.  For awhile.  But don’t stay away.  Try again later.  Be there, living the right life, being the right example, letting your light shine. 
Sometimes you do have to just let go, so you can go on down the road.  There will be times we can’t win back a fallen brother or sister.  But I don’t think we should give up without giving them a number of chances.  After all, if God had called us, then given up after the first time we rebuffed Him, and said, “Okay, I called him once; that’s enough,” where would we be?  
Some people will argue about whether there’s a second chance.  I think I’m on my 400th right about now.  Maybe more.
On a related note, Isaiah reported on a problem ancient Israel was having.  They fasted, and they called on God, but God didn’t seem to come rushing to their side.  They wondered why. 
Isaiah 58:1-10:
1 "Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don't be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!
2 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
3 'We have fasted before you!' they say. 'Why aren't you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don't even notice it!' "I will tell you why!" I respond. "It's because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?
6 "No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 "Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer. 'Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply. "Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
People in ancient Israel were saying, “Hey, we’ve been starving ourselves, God.  How come you don’t hear us?”  God says, “You think that’s the kind of fast I like?  You starve yourselves into a pitiful pile of dust and ashes, and you think I must like it that you’re depriving yourselves.  Ha!  Here’s the kind of fast I like:  Changed lives!  Helping people.  Feeding the hungry.  Providing necessary things for people, out of a pure heart.  That’s the kind of fast I like.  It’s not about you.  It’s about what you can do for others.  It’s not about not feeding your face.  It’s about not feeding your vanity, your human nature.”
That’s what God is saying in Isaiah chapter 58. And I think that’s what James had in mind when he wrote his epistle, so many centuries later.  
Speaking of serving others, let’s turn to Philippians chapter 1.  
Philippians 1:9-11:
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
Paul is referring to “the Day of Christ” in the same sense he would earlier have referred to “the Day of the LORD,” or “the Day of YHVH.”  All these expressions mean the same thing:  The time, including the Millennium, when God intervenes in the affairs of men and sends Christ to rule the world.  That’s what those phrases mean – it’s the day God takes over!
Continuing in Philippians 1:11:
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.
Paul is saying that we can be pure, and blameless, filled with righteousness, through God’s son.  And that going through the son takes nothing away from the worship of God.  Paul says that looking to Messiah as the conduit of righteousness is to the glory and praise of God.  It takes nothing away from God’s praise and glory to honor the son.  
Now, as we go into chapter 2, we’ll see Paul setting up a beautiful word painting that tells us so much about the person of Jesus, and sets him up as an example we should all follow.  I’m going to look at this passage from a slightly different angle than we usually hear.  I’m going to look at this diamond from a different facet, turning it so it reflects the light a little bit differently. 
Philippians chapter 2:
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Interestingly, Paul doesn’t say we all have to be like-minded in our doctrines, and all the little details.  That’s good, because I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. He says we should have love, and be one in spirit, and be one in purpose.  He says that would make his joy complete. He’ll say something about doctrinal understandings here in a few minutes.  
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Here is what this passage says:  Jesus, the man, standing on the earth, was of the same nature as God.  God was his Father, so naturally the Son would have characteristics and personality traits of his Father.  Right?  We see that all the time.  But he didn’t think he should grasp upward to be like God.  Who grasped upward to be like God?  Satan.  So, rather than reaching up to try to become like God, or try to become God, instead, he humbled himself.  He had the same nature as God, but he took on the nature of a servant.  Instead of grasping up, he lowered himself down.
Jesus, the man, looked at himself and noticed that he wasn’t God in heaven; he saw that he was a human.  Sure, he was the son of God, but his mother was a human, made of the earth.  When he looked at himself, he saw a human.  So, since he found himself to be a man rather than God, he humbled himself.  And as a humble servant, he was able to say okay to God’s plan to make him the sacrificial lamb; the last Adam, who lived his life without sin; the doorway into God’s sheepfold; the way, the truth, and the life.  That’s what this passage says. 
So, we have Jesus, not exalting himself, but rather humbling himself.  What was the outcome of that decision?
Philippians 2:9-11:
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
God raised Jesus from the dead, causing him to become the firstborn son of God from the grave. There will be others later on – that’s us.  But this is the firstborn son of God, risen from the grave.  Because Jesus didn’t grasp upward, but rather lowered himself to be a servant, a slave, God raised him up to the highest height.   Jesus didn’t have to aggrandize himself; his Father raised him up and gave him the name above every name.   
Now the Father and the firstborn Son are both eternal spirit beings living in heaven.  The Son is currently on God’s throne with him, waiting to hear the word from the Father to go back to earth so the Son can sit on his own throne. 
Remember what Jesus says to the church in Revelation 3:21:  “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
But remember also what Paul says to the Philippians:  To bend the knee to the one whose name is above all names; to confess, or to make your confession, or to give your testimony; to preach the gospel, that Jesus Christ is Lord, is actually to the Father’s glory!  It brings glory to God!  And we spent years never hearing that.  
Peter writes, in 2 Peter 3:18:  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
We used to have a lot of good knowledge, back in that other church.  It wasn’t necessarily knowledge about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but it was good knowledge.  Over the years we’ve grown more in the concepts of grace, being graceful, being gracious, having the favor of God, and bestowing God’s favor on others through us.  We have been growing in grace and knowledge. 
Peter concludes by saying, “to him.”  “Him” is a pronoun.  The antecedent is “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  To our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be glory, both now and forever.  Amen.   
And that’s the end of the letter.
Peter comes right out and says our Lord and Savior is in glory, not only now, but forever.  He has gone on before the rest of us into glory. 
After his resurrection, Jesus said all power and authority in heaven and earth was given to him (Matthew 28:18).   
Peter told the Jews in Jerusalem, in Acts 2:36:  “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  This was better understood by the Jews as:  “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Adonai and Messiah”!   The Jews knew what this meant.  Jesus was the boss – the Lord – and the long-awaited Messiah.  I’m reading from Acts 2:36. 
This led to the question in verse 37:  “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’"
It got their attention.  It was very effective.  He spoke their language, and he spoke in terms they recognized.   He said, yes, this is the one we’ve been waiting for.  And the people said, what shall we do?  What can we do? Shall we burn a lot of animals, or what? 
IN verse 38, “Peter replied, ‘Repent [Change!] and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’” …
That’s beyond animal sacrifice.  Animal sacrifice covers the sin.  If you repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are gone!  That’s Justification – Step One.  
38 … And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call."
We are among those far off whom God has called.  We claim that promise. We have received forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit.   We’ve gone past the point of Justification.  We’re on the road of Sanctification that leads to Glorification.  
Let’s go back to Philippians.  Paul begins Philippians chapter 3 by warning against those who were preaching that you needed to become a Jew in order to become a Christian.   You may remember, that’s what the whole Acts 15 church-wide conference was all about.  Some said you needed to become a Jew in order to become a Christian.  This is one of the letters Paul was writing on that subject, and he’s addressing this concern here.  That included the need to be circumcised.  Paul says no, that isn’t necessary. 
Philippians chapter 3:
1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—
4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.  If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Now, those are some pretty impressive credentials.  Saul of Tarsus, the Jew, was very proud of his resume.  That’s why he was going to Damascus, in Acts chapter 9, to enforce the ban on Christianity and to arrest Christians.   But by the time he left Damascus, he was a changed man.  He was now Paul the Apostle. 
Continuing in verse 7:
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Paul says he considers everything loss.  Everything on his impressive resume, everything in his past, everything he built his life around, everything on which he built his self-esteem, his self-worth, his sense of valuing himself.  He says that’s all a loss to him now.  Especially when he compares it to this fantastic experience of knowing Christ Jesus his lord.   
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
That’s a powerful statement.  Do we want to know Christ?  Do we want to know the power of his resurrection? This is not just Christ coming back to life; this is all of us coming back to life.  This is the potential that everyone has of coming back to life in one of the resurrections.  That’s the power of his resurrection.
You know, Paul went through a lot of things.  God said to Ananias, in Damascus, “Go, lay your hands on Saul so he can get his sight back.  I’m going to show him the things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”  Paul went through a lot:  beatings, shipwreck, abandonment, friends turning on him, all sorts of terrible things, and he says here in verse 10: “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.”  
I believe he spoke to Christ personally.  When he was in Arabia for three years, he came back knowing a lot of stuff he didn’t know before.  There are a lot of folks who think that when Paul was way off by himself for three years, he was getting a lot of personal training.   
Paul says he considers his sufferings to be in fellowship with Christ’s sufferings.  They both, Christ and Paul, went through a lot for the sake of the gospel.  And “becoming like him in his death.”  Paul wrote about that in Romans chapter 6; talking about, when we are baptized, it’s likened to entering into Christ’s death; and when we come up, it’s likened to being in Christ’s resurrection; and by the way, you really will come up in the resurrection if you are buried with him.  This is all in Romans chapter 6.  And that’s what he’s referring to here.
10 … becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Then he says,
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
… moving forward down the road, staying on the path, living the sanctified life, living the Way …  
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature …
... and remember that Messiah told us we must all be complete, perfect, mature ...
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Here’s the place I was telling you about, where Paul seems to be addressing the existence of doctrinal differences, even if only for a fleeting moment.   If you and I think differently on some point, God will let us know which of us might be right.  Or He may let us know that we’re both wrong.  Or if we think one thing and the church down the street thinks something else, let’s be patient with each other, and wait for God to straighten it out.  He may not straighten it out in this life. 
So what are we to do?  “Let us live up to what we already have attained.”  Let’s strain toward what’s ahead, and press on, move forward, toward the goal.   
And what have we already attained?  We who have repented and have been baptized, we who have received the Holy Spirit of God as a down payment on eternal life, we who have tasted of the heavenly things, we who are children of God and living in the reign of God, have already obtained Justification.  That’s step one. 
We must go forward from being justified to walk the road of sanctification, living a godly life, learning about our hope and our heritage, moving down the road of Sanctification toward the resurrection. 
This is what we have attained so far.  We’re on the way.  We’re on the road.  We’re going. As long as we stay the course, as long as we stay on the road, and keep moving, our salvation is assured.  The salvation process will be successful. 
The third step in this process is Glorification, when we open our eyes in the grave and see our Savior calling us back to life.   When that happens, when we look up and see him calling us out, it’s going to be a great day! It’s resurrection morning!   And look who all is here!  Even that person you tried to bring back into the faith.  He did come back later on, after all.  And here he is, too!  And you can be all the more joyful, knowing the part you played in his being there.   
Finally, continuing into Philippians 4:1:  “Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!"