April 19, 2009

Philippians #17

Philippians 3:15-21

The Coming Change

We are at v. 15.

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

perfect... consummate, or bring to perfection human integrity and virtue. To be full grown, adult, of full age, mature.

Develop integrity and virtue. To be a mature Christian.

Hebrews 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

Let us therefore... Therefore and perfect attaches v. 15 with vv. 12-14, as well as to the Lord's command in Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Paul tells the Philippians that God apprehended or seized him for a purpose — to be perfect even as the Father in heaven is perfect — that is, mature in Christ. He says that he has failed in many areas, and that the only real thing he has learned is to leave the failures behind. Only then is he able to press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He has learned to forget the past, and to continue on toward the perfection to which he has been called.

V. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Paul admits that he has not yet attained to the high calling for which he was set apart by God. But he has left his failures behind, and presses on toward the mark for the prize of his high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

V. 15 is a call for all Christians, no matter how spiritual they may consider themselves, to honestly examine themselves. How are they doing as they press toward that mark? To those who really desire to obtain to vv. 12-14, the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, God will reveal where they fall short.

And if in anything ye be otherwise minded.... That is, if we have the sincere desire that Paul had, to be perfect even as the Father is perfect, the Spirit will reveal to us where we fall short. If in anything they are not Christ minded, God will show it to them.

Note here that in this context, Christian maturity involves being able to do vv. 12-14: That is, being able to leave the past failures behind, and continue uninterrupted in our high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

God shall reveal... It is not our responsibility to reveal to others where they are short of the perfection required of them by the Lord. If a person desires to please God in every thing they do, and they are searching the Scriptures daily with prayer, then God will reveal to them the areas that need attention.

We need to seriously ask the Lord to show us areas in which we are otherwise minded than the mind of Christ.

V. 15. I used this verse a little out of context as I used it to ask the Lord to show me where my doctrines were wrong: Dispensationalism, Israel, the Church, &c.

V. 16.

Paul urges the folks at Philippi to unite to a common goal. That is, to have the same goal of being mature in the Lord.

Also notice that the same rule applies to everyone, and that rule is to be a mature Christian. And in any area we are not mature, God will show us if we really want to grow up in Christ.

We must study His word with our mind in subjection to the word if we expect God to show us anything. Our sinful nature makes such study very difficult to do. We are always tempted to study it with a desire to find confirmation for our desires and beliefs.

Vv. 15, 16, certainly does not mean that we are to become so "heavenly minded that we are no earthly good." The mature Christian will be well rounded. His testimony in public and private will be the same.

Obviously, Peter, John, Paul and the other Apostles are good examples of Christian maturity, and they did not even have what is known today as the New Testament.

Though we have different talents and abilities, our goal is the same — that is, by God's grace, Christian maturity. Something we will not attain this side of heaven, but something we must be continually pressing toward.

Our common ground is the glory of God and the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth. Being individuals, we will certainly disagree in many areas, but in those areas we must do as one of my college instructors used to say: "As far as we can agree, we agree. In the areas we can not agree, let us agree to disagree agreeably."

Things are not always black and white and there is a middle ground. We need to learn to from God's word where that middle ground is without compromising.

Vv. 17-21

Paul says: LIVE AS I DO. FOLLOW ME. Can we say this as a parent, a husband, wife, child, a family member, a co-worker, a member of the community, a Christian, wherever we are and whatever we do?

V. 17. And mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

Take this with v. 18 and we see that there were two types of individuals in this church that Paul is witting to.

1) There are those following Paul's godly example — They renounced all confidence in the flesh, were now clinging to the finished work of Christ, and were pressing toward the same mark that he was.

2) Those who are pressing toward their self-centered mark. They are doing their own thing though they are professed Christians.

Paul does not condemn having human examples. Rather, he condemns having the wrong examples.

We are tempted to find someone respectable who is doing what we want to do and then use them as our example. I have heard men who desire to hang on to a nasty habit say, "Well, Spurgeon smoked cigars." They found those who was doing something similar to what they wanted to do, and used them as their example.

I know young men who are big into the reformation. Because many of the reformers smoked and drank beer, they see that as a conformation to do those things. As their children see them, they tell their children that those things are reserved for adults.

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Can we say with Paul:

2 Timothy 3:10,11 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

doctrine (it will be scriptural),
manner of life (above reproach),
purpose (to glorify God in everything we do. How much are we willing to get involved for godly principles in society?),
faith (they will keep going, no matter what),
longsuffering (our patience and self-control will be obvious when compared to the world around us),
charity (our generosity for the cause of the Lord will be apparent),
patience, persecutions, afflictions (how much are we willing to sacrifice for the Savior? How much are we able to put up with for Christ?).

Paul told Timothy that he fully knew all about him. Can we tell our family and friends that they should follow our example in our faithfulness to the word of God?

Others know us better than we know ourselves. Can we say FOLLOW ME, or must we say, "DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO."

Everyone looks to human examples. Paul says to watch and see which ones are walking according to the message and life that he lived, mark them and follow their example.

Philippians 3:17, 18 is also found in Romans 16:17, 18.

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

In Romans, Paul also tells the people of God to mark those who teach doctrine contrary to the doctrine that he had taught them. They lead astray the simple.

Paul's warnings to Timothy, to the Romans and to the Philippians are not about the unbelievers. In all three passages, he warns of professed believers:

1) Those who are seeking unity and Christlikeness
2) Those who are dividers seeking to satisfy their own desires.

His warning to the Romans and to the Philippians was to mark those who are dividers and self-seeking. They were to avoid close ties with them, regardless of their "Christian" claim.

In Romans 16:18, Paul uses the word simple. It means fearing no evil from others, distrusting no one. The word is only used one time in the New Testament. It refers to those who are trusting — they are easy led astray, as a child is easily led astray. HANSON is simple, trusting, and is therefore, easily led astray. It is so important to control who he is around.

Paul does use simple again in v. 19, but there it is a different word. It means pure, without mixture of evil, free from guile.

Paul tells us many times over that not everyone in the local assembly can be trusted. Everyone's actions must be examined in the light of God's word, and only the ones who follow after what Paul said and DID, can be followed.

I remember a church member in Louisiana. It was obvious that the reason he came to our large church was because he was in AMWAY. His membership gave him credibility in the community, and he used that credibility. He was not one to be followed. The pastor and I spoke of it many times.

We are warned throughout Scripture that we can be easily swayed by those we hang around with. We will imitate someone; we will look up to someone. We must be careful who that someone is.

Vv. 18, 19 go with

Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

V. 18, of whom I have told you often. Evidently, when Paul was among those at Philippi, he had warned the church about certain ones among them. They professed Christ, but their actions did not support their profession. They pursued earthly things, rather than the things Paul had put before these people.

Their doctrine was corrupt. Their manner of life was not Scriptural. Their purpose was self-fulfillment. Their faith was not in the right place. Their longsuffering, or patience and self-control was lacking. Their charity, or love for the brethren, was self-centered. Their patience in persecutions and afflictions was lacking.

Speaking of those among the fellowship of believers, he has strong words against them, calling them enemies of the cross of Christ. Though he had often warned the people about those enemies, he did it again. Did he call them by name when he was at Philippi?

The enemies were not people who denied God or denied that Christ died on the cross for the payment of sin. They were evidently good, moral people who were accepted as members of this church at Philippi. He does not rebuke the church as he did the church at Corinth.

Paul calls them enemies of the cross of Christ


The cross of Christ is a very popular piece of jewelry. A good number of women ware it around their necks even with very low cut dresses, which says, Look at me. Churches have it behind their pulpits, or on the front of their buildings. Churches use it as "worship aides." The Roman church makes great use of it to hold the people in bondage.

What is the true meaning of the cross of Christ?

The cross was the instrument of death for the Savior. Remember what He said in the garden just before His arrest? Nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done. Therefore, it is an instrument of death for His people.

Philippians 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

The cross represents death to the god of the belly. Thus, the cross is to represent death to our selfishness and that ever-present desire to have our own way. James tells us those desires lead to fightings and wars. 4:1-10.


Those who must always have the last word or always must have things done as they think is best or they will not be involved. Such a person has not experienced the cross of Christ. Rather, Paul identifies them as enemies of the cross of Christ. (Remember what our Lord said, He that is not for me is against me.)

Who were these enemies within the church?

1. It could easily have been the Judisers. Paul had dealt with them in every book, including this one.

2. Those undermining doctrines as explained and taught by Paul, such as sovereignty, grace and salvation by faith alone.

3. Those who were undermining the common spirit that was to prevail in the church — the glory of God and the advancement of his Kingdom on earth.

4. Those who had more concern for their belly, their own glory and minded earthly things more than their concern for the purity of the gospel.

A summation here is that it is the secret enemies within the camp that are the most danger to the cross of Christ.

V. 18 tells us that Paul wept while he sounded the warning again.

V. 19, tells us why he told sounded the warning again with weeping. Their end is destruction.

Hosea 13:9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.

Those people are destroying themselves. They live to fulfill their fleshly lust and their own self-esteem.

How many have we met who have told us of professed Christians they know who do not live what they profess? Paul would say to them, "You are right. Mark them and do not follow their example."

Inconsistencies do not make Christianity any less valid. The false does not invalidate the true, any more than counterfeit money would make the genuine any less genuine. Paul makes no attempt to cover up their hypocrisies or to make excuses for them. Rather, he tells these people to mark the ones who are doing right and follow them. In Romans, he tells them to mark the ones who are not doing right and avoid them.

Can we follow Paul's example and weep over those of v. 19?

1. they are in danger of destroying their own souls.
2. they are destroying their own family and loved ones. Many times, as James said, they are deceived and can not see that they are destroying their loved ones.
3. they are in for a disappointment when they face God one day.
4. they give cause for the enemies of God to speak against the gospel.

2 Sam. 12:14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

V. 20. Our conduct is to be as is becoming of citizens of heaven, and of loyal subjects of the King of kings. We are to be governed by the law of heaven, the law of God.

There are two law-systems fighting for our allegiance, the law of men and the law of God. Both law-systems are fighting to be applied to society. The child of God will not only resist the laws of men that violate the principles of God's law, but they will stand against them and refuse to obey them.

Proverbs 28:4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.

A cross reference for Philippians 3:20 is:

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Paul is not promoting some mystic experience that withdraws from society. He is clearly speaking of recognizing the only true king, King Jesus.

Acts 17:7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

Isaiah. 33:22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

Our judge is in heaven.
Our lawgiver is in heaven (Ja.4:12).
Our king is in heaven.
Our saviour is in heaven.

Again, this eternal hope that Paul is talking about, led to doing contrary to the decrees of Caesar whenever the two law-systems came into conflict. It is not at all talking about withdrawing from society, but contending with the ungodly society around them.

The commitment to the heavenly system will bring very heated conflict with the wicked here on earth. Let us not use this passage like so many do today as scriptural support to withdraw from society and turn it over to the wicked. As the saying goes, SO HEAVENLY MINDED THAT THEY ARE NO EARTHLY GOOD.

One of the authors that I use quit regularly said this, "It led them [the early Christians] to feel that earthly affairs were of little importance, as the scene here was soon to close." To say such a thing is to deny that Paul and these early Christians had any long term plans for Christianity and for the kingdom of God.

V. 21.

Certainly our hope is in the literal, visible return of Christ to this earth. At that return, our vile body will be changed, and we shall be like Him. This is a glorious hope that one day we will no longer have this body that is so subject to weakness and sickness. We will be totally free from all of the results of Adam's fall.

The same power that is used to subdue all things unto himself is the power that will change our vile bodies.

We are told here that faith that our vile bodies will be changed must include faith that he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

Psalms 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

This one of the most quoted passages in the New Testament. Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:43, Hebrews 1:13, 10:13.

We are told that Christ will not return until his enemies are made his footstool. How? By the sword of the Spirit; that is, by the preaching of the gospel. The church was firmly convinced of this doctrine until it was undermined in the early 1800s, and took over Christian doctrine world-wide after 1860.

It is the power that is able even to subdue all things unto himself that will change our vial body.

Paul ties the two hopes together. The confidence that all things will be subdued to Christ this side of the end, and the confidence that our bodies will be changed is the same power of God that is required to do both. Paul calls it the power of his resurrection in 3:10.

The resurrection of Jesus proves that he will return to judge the world in righteousness and truth.

Note v. 21. It is the spiritual power of the resurrection that changes our bodies. Therefore, Paul makes it clear that it cannot be a temporal power that subdues the world to King Jesus. If God does not have the power to subdue the world to Christ without the sword, He does not have the power to change our mortal bodies. It is the power of the Spirit of God which will accomplish both.

All of our hope lies in the power of God to work His perfect plan and purpose, not with a sword, but with His Spirit through His obedient people.

Why is it that we can quote Zechariah 4:6, yet we do not believe it? Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Where is our hope that the power of the resurrection can accomplish great and mighty things for the cause of King Jesus, even the subduing of all things to Him?

[Index] [Topics] [Philippians]