Friday, June 25, 2021

2021.06.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:18–19

Read Philippians 3:18–19

Questions from the Scripture text: Who walk (Philippians 3:18)? When has the apostle told them? What is he doing as he writes this now? As what do they walk? What is their end (Philippians 3:19)? What is their god? What is the true nature of that in which they glory? Upon what do they set their mind? 

The apostle has just set before them the example of Christian maturity: continually straining forward and upward to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of them. We must keep running after that holiness without which we will not see the Lord (cf. Hebrews 12:1–17). We have been saved to see Him and be like Him, and we press on toward a purity that has Him Himself as its standard (cf. 1 John 3:2–3).

But not everyone who claims the name of Christ perseveres in the pursuit of Him. So we have to be careful whose walk we follow (Philippians 3:17, cf. Hebrews 13:7). For many walk not after that for which Christ has laid hold of them (cf. Philippians 3:12) but at exact cross-purposes, as “the enemies of the cross of Christ.” That path doesn’t lead to glory; its “end is destruction.”

So, this passage gives us three indicators that one’s walk is not on the path to glory. When you see one of these in someone, don’t follow them!

Their god is their belly. That is to say that they go after self-pleasing and self-satisfaction. There are many who present Christ in this fashion: that He will grant them the sort of life that they enjoy. This is the opposite of recognizing that our enjoyments are corrupted and that part of sanctification is learning to find Christ Himself most enjoyable. Others view forgiveness as a “live for yourself free” card. Whatever the case, the apostle warns us elsewhere that if we sow to the flesh, we will reap destruction; the flesh has an agenda, and it is opposite the Spirit’s agenda (cf. Galatians 6:7–9).

Glorying in shame is the second indicator of a walk on the path of destruction. There are two ways that we can do this. One of them is more obvious, having to do with that which is outwardly sinful. There is great liberty in knowing that Christ is all our standing before God. But it is liberty from guilt, not liberty to sin. Yet, there are many in the churches who twist the gospel to glory in being able to sin with (as they suppose) with impunity. 

But a more sneaky way we glory in shame is by glorying in our effort. The apostle spent most of this chapter setting glorying in ourselves over-against glorying in Christ. Even that which in itself would have been good, if we glory in ourselves as having done it, becomes a shame to us. Watch out for those who glory in what they have attained, and do not imitate their walk.

Setting the mind on earthly things is the third and final symptom of destruction-ended walking in Philippians 3:19. To understand what the apostle means by setting the mind upon earthly things, it helps to look at another place where he uses almost the same language. In Colossians 3:1–6, he says to set our minds on things above, not things of earth, by putting to death fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness. 

The question for us is: where is my life? Is it hidden with Christ in God, so that who Christ is and what Christ wants determines how I will live on the earth? Or is my life bound up in enjoying myself in this world, so that Christ’s cross becomes a mental excuse for sin? It’s no wonder, then, that the apostle says that living this way makes someone an enemy of the cross of Christ. But when fleshly men encounter the gospel, they use phrases like “liberty of conscience” to mean not “do whatever Christ wants as I understand it from Scripture” but rather “do whatever I want, and expect that Christ will be understanding.” Watch out for those who are always agitating about their “freedom” to do as they please. Don’t emulate such “Christians.”

Who are some Bible teachers or ‘Christian’ personalities who discourage zeal for holiness? How are you avoiding following them? Who are some whose obsession with Christ Himself leads them to zeal for holiness? How are you considering and imitating them?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH429 “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

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