Lessons from the Book of Philippians
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and enjoying the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In today’s article we will continue our study in the Book of Philippians. Over the past few studies in Chapter 3 of Philippians we have seen the Apostle Paul express his hearts desire which was to know Jesus Christ and make Him known to those around him. With all of the opposition to this and Paul’s persistence to it in spite of the opposition we can see the single mindedness of Paul.
Now as we continue our study we see that Paul continues along this line. In Philippians 3:14-16 he says, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”
Every culture has its own idea of what constitutes maturity. Some say that if you dress, talk, walk, or think a certain way then you are mature. Others say you must achieve a certain status or perform a particular act or deed to be considered mature. Interestingly enough, even within some societies such as our own, there are a variety of ideas and opinions that constitute what maturity is.
God’s Word, the Bible conveys a totally different set of standards of what constitutes maturity. It is not how manly or sexy you can look or what status level you can reach nor even what numeric age a person can become. Christian maturity has a greater depth to it than any of these. It has to do with character and integrity, how one acts and responds when things are not going the way they would like them to as well as how one acts (including what you listen to and watch) when no one is around. Simply put, it is a matter of acting like Jesus would act. The more a person responds and lives like Jesus Christ, the more mature he or she is according to God’s Word.
A person is going to act the way that they think. Solomon, the author of Proverbs said this in 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” All that we hear, read, and watch works to form our mind, how we think and act. I know the first 22 years of my life growing up as a so-called “free spirit” has taken its toll on my life over the years. I have found it far easier to act and live like the world than to be like Jesus. This is why Paul says in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Paul also tells us in our present text, “As many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” The context of which Paul says this is that of being single minded, having heart and mind set upon Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us this in Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. And Paul in Colossians 3:1-2, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Often times when I am talking with Christians that are seriously seeking God’s will being done in their lives and wanting to mature, they will express the concern of wanting to know if they are doing God’s will or not. I often take them to our present text to help them understand how God guides and directs. In Philippians 3:15 Paul says, “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” The point is this, if you are honestly seeking God’s will in your life, He is going to show you what it is. If you make what you think to be the right decision only to find out later that it is not, God will show you. He is not going to let you continue to go down the wrong path; God is always faithful to His children.
Then in the remaining verses of Chapter 3, Paul gives warning concerning living after the flesh. In Philippians 3:17-21, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
This serves as a real contrast to the mature Christian who sets his or her mind upon the things of God. Paul was one that was sold out to following Jesus Christ and could say without hesitation, follow my example of following Jesus Christ. It is good to have a mature Christian around you that you can see what it means to follow Christ. For as Paul warns, there are many (not a few) who walk contrary to Jesus Christ. Paul identifies them as enemies of the cross. This is not a term used to describe those that say they want nothing to do with Christ, rather it is those that claim to be Christians and may even go to church yet refuse to yield their lives to Jesus Christ.
It is known today as “easy believism”. This watered down form of Christianity is not Biblical, it is worldly, fleshly, and unfortunately all too common within the Church. It calls for no repentance form sin, no change of mind and life. It denies the very words of Jesus who said in Luke 9:23-26, “Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.”
Paul characterizes these who are enemies to the cross as those “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly (appetites desires, senses), and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things.” He contrasts this with those who are diligently seeking the Lord and have the hope of glory. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
I want to ask you something dear precious one, who are you serving, what is your focus, what or who is your heart set upon? Is it Jesus Christ or is it your own wants and desires? Who are you living for? These are questions that every one of us must ask ourselves for they deal not only with eternity but also with the quality of life that you will experience now. A life that is focused on self and having your own desires met is a shallow life indeed. Some time ago I came across recipe on how to be miserable. It goes like this: Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use “I” as often as possible. Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Be suspicious. Expect to be appreciated. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and the proper respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown them. Never forget a service you may have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others. Love yourself supremely. Be selfish. This recipe is guaranteed to be infallible.
On the other hand, if you want to know the joy of the Lord and have meaning and purpose to your life, it comes only through a surrendered life to Jesus Christ, the choice is yours. I do hope that you make the right choice today.
We will continue our study in the Book of Philippians next time, until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site to read all previous articles at www.calvarychapel.org/alpine/index.htm
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine