Philippians 2A

Chapter 2:1-11

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  • Within our time in Chapter 1, we came to understand that our purpose is to live for Christ.

    • And in understanding that purpose, we can better understand how we are to accomplish/actualize that purpose.

      • That the way to live like Christ is to see things the way in which Christ sees it.

      • And we can see things the way in which He sees things because He has provided access for us to do so in a ‘positional’ sense.

      • Meaning, because He has saved us and reconciled us to the Father, we have been enabled to walk, live and respond like Him by the Spirit.

      • And this reality is realized through what He alone accomplished in His death, resurrection, ascension and glorification.

    • Tonight, we move into Chapter 2 where we will learn how to think like Christ.

      • It’s one thing to be in Him, but it’s a whole other thing to think like Him.

      • And this goal is achieved when we learn to put on the mind of Christ and abandon the mindset of our ‘old man’ (sin nature).

    • If I were to outline our time tonight, we are going to see the following things:

      • 1. Live Like Christ (vv.1-5)

      • 2. Christ, the Ultimate Example of Humility (vv.6-8)

      • 3. Christ’s Exaltation by way of demonstration (vv.9-11)

    • If I were to put a tag on our text tonight, it would be: The Way of Humility: Christology in Practice.

      • With that being said, I invite you to meet me in Philippians 2 and we will begin by reading verses 1-4, together.

Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
Philippians 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
Philippians 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
  • Paul begins this section of the text with the transitioning word, “Therefore”.

    • And for any bible student, you should always ask the question, what is “therefore” there for?

      • In doing so, we find that Paul is connecting his previous statements with these “if” clauses in verse 1 as he continues this singular thought.

      • And that thought begins in verses 27-30 of Philippians 1.

    • It’s in those preceding verses that Paul summarized how the life of the believer should be reflective of the grace demonstrated towards the believer.

      • In other words, because Christ has made this life available to you by way of His service, by grace, we should live in such a way that brings attention to that great grace which brings Him glory.

      • So, it’s His grace that provides the believer the ability to live ‘in a manner worthy of Christ’, because we have been justified through His work!

    • You might recall, the phrase “conduct yourself in a manner worthy” is one word in Greek which means to “live like a citizen.”

      • And this citizenship has moved us from death to life and provides us with a new outlook and mind which is fully realized in Christ.

    • However, as Paul’s letter brings to light, there seems to have been some issues within the church of Philippi which warranted correction.

      • And one of the issues that has been raised is this issue of humility and unity within the body.

      • And this internal schism is personally addressed by Paul in Philippians 4:2. (Euodia and Syntyche)

      • So, in the meantime, Paul is going to remind them that because we are in Christ our motives and mind-set should be Christ-focused and not self-focused.

    • Therefore, Paul transitions from the previous statement in verses 27-30 into verse 1 with the believers’ “positional reality” in Christ.

  • He tells the Philippians in verse 1, that because you are in Christ and have encountered this gracious gift by which you are a new creation, live according to what you have received!

    • And Paul makes this point through the use of these “if” clauses.

      • Notice that Paul uses the word “if” four times in verse 1 alone.

    • This “if” clause is in what is known as a first-class condition which simply means that Paul’s use of the word assumes each statement is true.

      • Plainly put, all these things in verse 1 are fully yours and possible, because you are in Christ.

    • So, another way to read verse 1 would be:

      • “Therefore, [because you have] encouragement being united in Christ, [because you have] comfort from His love, [because you have] common sharing in the Spirit, and [because you have] affection and compassion in Christ…make my joy complete…”

    • All of this is fully expressed by Paul because as he mentioned in verse 29 of Chapter 1, this life has been “granted” or graced to us.

      • In other words, the grace in which the Lord has made us new creatures in Christ is a work that Christ alone accomplished.

      • His work alone sufficed for us to be reconciled to God and not any meritorious efforts of our own.

      • Therefore, Paul is saying that there is no room for the believer to respond in arrogance, pride, dissension or with a lack of humility toward one another.

    • So, because you are saved, you should function in unity amongst one another and in submission to Christ in your behavior.

      • The reality is, these things would be impossible to accomplish if we were not saved, because we were dead in our sin.

    • Prior to coming to Christ, we had no desire to live in such a way!

      • It’s this grace-oriented reality that makes possible the ability for the believer to be grounded in Christian unity, joy, humility, and submission.

    • So, Paul says in verse 2, “make my joy complete” by doing, meaning “walk in this way”.

      • Plainly put, your living well in Christ will bring me (Paul) great joy in the process.

      • It’s like a parent who has raised a child from childhood to adulthood and they have grown to become a productive, God-fearing individual.

      • That parent or grand-parent will beam and burst with pride – and this is Paul’s sentiments!

    •   Paul mentions that his joy would be made complete when the Philippians pursued the following descriptions that they positionally possessed:

      • 1. Being of the same mind (to be one in intent and disposition – single-mindedness)

      • 2. Maintain the same love (the agape self-sacrificial love that Christ showed)

      • 3. United in Spirit (literally, one-souled)

      • 4. Intent on one purpose (having our lives directed toward a single aim)

  • Being of the same mind is much more than simply thinking in general, rather it is setting our mind to think similarly.

    • Within the original language the phrase “being of the same mind” is autos phroneo.

      • Autos meaning “same”, Phroneo meaning “setting one’s mind to”.

    • So, Paul is saying may your thinking be in complete alignment with Christ and not your flesh.

      • We will see Paul express this juxtaposition in verses 3-4 regarding how not to live, a little later.

      • But know that Paul is expressing how we must choose to allow our Spirit to dominate our affections rather than our flesh.

    • And the question the believer will have to face in every area of our lives is: “Will I choose to respond in the flesh or respond by the Spirit?”

      • In other words, will my response be one of spiritual maturity or spiritual infancy? (1 Corinthians 3) (Slide)

      • Check out what Paul says about this distinction of mind and behavior in Romans 8:5.

Romans 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
  • As Pastor Steve has mentioned in his teaching of Romans, “Which dog in the fight are you going to feed?”

    • “Will it be the flesh, which produces fleshly responses, or will it be the Spirit, which produces Christ-like responses?”

    • Your response matters and will either bring Glory to God or stain to your witness of Christ!

    • Paul is concerned with the believer’s response in all things, from external pressures especially the rising internal pressures from within the body.

      • Yet, in all things, Paul implores the Philippians to act according to the grace they richly possess in Christ!

  • Growing up as a child, before my sister and I would go into a store that would have a lot of delicate items, my mom would always give us “the talk”.

    • And she would tell us, “When we go into this store, don’t touch anything, don’t breathe wrong, and don’t take a wrong step.”

      • “Act like you know who your mother is!”

    • This firm moment is what Paul is doing for the church at Philippi. He’s saying in few words, “Behave like you know the grace that you have been met with!”

      • And this reality is what leads Paul to caution the believers in Philippi in verses 3-4.

    • He says in verse 3, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves;”

      • Notice that Paul expresses the Christian virtue of humility in both its demonstrative sense as well as opposing sense (selfishness).

    • He provides the Philippians with what it looks like when the believer responds in a manner that lacks the Spirit’s influence.

      • That where the Lord desires regarding one another’s needs more highly than our own, we seek our own self-interest and agendas.

      • That rather than serving the needs of those around us, we see their needs as a hinderance.

    • Moreover, Paul provided us with an example of what this looked like in those who were preaching the gospel with ill-motive, in the previous chapter.

      • For those individuals, Paul’s suffering became more advantageous for their personal ministry pursuits and agendas.

      • Understand that the motive for those ministers were not centered on making Christ known.

      • Rather, at the heart of what they were doing was self-promotion rooted in envy.

      • The reality is, within our natural state as human beings, it is easy for us to focus more on ourselves than it is the needs of others.

    • However, Paul is saying that the effort of the believers should be more focused on the needs of others, more than themselves.

      • As one person once said, “Love finds a need and meets it.”

    • It’s this type of love that is experienced in Christ and as believers in Christ, we have been graciously gifted to pursue service to others, in Him.

      • Paul says the following in Romans 12:10 regarding our spiritual service of worship which demonstrates the will of God!

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
  • This type of devoted love that Paul is talking about is familial love.

    • That because we are one in Christ, we should love one another in such a way that we desire the best for one another.

    • It’s this sense of “good-will” towards the interest of others in loving service.

    • And anything outside of that is seeking our own personal interest, and is reflective of our sin nature. (v.4)

    • And this very nature originated from Satan, Himself! (Isaiah 14:13-14)

Isaiah 14:13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.
Isaiah 14:14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
Isaiah 14:15 “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.
  • So, Paul’s view of humility is rooted in mutual service which confirms their unity in Christ.

    • In fact, this very sense of service and humility is mentioned by Christ when the sons of Zebedee sought their own personal agendas.

    • Check out what Jesus tells His disciples in Mark 10:45 addressing their misunderstanding of greatness in the Kingdom.

Mark 10:42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.
Mark 10:43 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;
Mark 10:44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
  • So, Jesus burst their bubbles and explains that the way to greatness is a way of humility and submission.

    • That to go up requires one to be brought down. And this reality was not the norm in society in that day or even today!

  • For Roman individuals in the 1st century, the word humility was a troublesome word even before the New Testament era.

    • As a matter of fact, humility was a virtue that was greatly looked down upon.

      • The word humility was often connected to that of the mentality of a slave.

      • It often spoke to someone being unfit or being of no value.

    • So, with Paul using this word to describe the necessary position of the believer in a society that thought much of themselves, this was counter-cultural.

      • Understand what Paul was NOT saying.

      • He wasn’t saying for the believer to devalue themselves or think of everyone as better than them.

    • Rather, Paul is saying consider the needs of others more than simply looking out for you. (Leviticus 19:17)

      • And Paul will expound further by using a perfect example of humility in the person of Jesus Christ. Check out verses 5-8.

Philippians 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Philippians 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
  • Paul says here that we are to have the same mind (phroneo) of humility, service, and unity of purpose amongst one another as Christ had in His 1st coming. (Condescension and Humiliation)

    • Paul provides us with a very clear Christology regarding both Jesus’ Person and His Purpose!

      • And Paul moves on to how Christ, through His work and mission, through His own humility, accomplished the Father’s plan.

    • Paul says that Christ who has always existed with the Father, at a certain point in time in human history, added to His Divinity, humanity.

  • The word ‘form’ in Greek is morphe which simply means nature or being of the same essence.

    • In other words, Christ who is fully divine, when He took on human flesh did not take away from or relinquish His divine attributes or nature.

      • Rather, He simply added humanity to His deity to become human, therefore the Godman is 100% God and 100% Man.

    • John properly identified this glorious reality, wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ when he wrote the following words in John 1:14.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • John says that the very Glory of God was ‘tabernacled’ or ‘dwelt’ among the people because the Second member of the Trinity put on flesh.

    • In other words, the Son of God stepped into His very creation so that He could make peace between us and the Father!

    • What humility it was for Jesus, who is of the very nature (morphe) of the Father to condescend and die?!

    • This means of humility, Paul adds, was accomplished because Christ “emptied Himself”.

      • The word for “emptied Himself” in Greek is the word kenoo which is where we get the word Kenosis from.

    • It is the idea that Christ did not surrender His divine attributes as God, rather He voluntarily restricted their independent use.

      • This means that the Lord Jesus chose not to use His omnipotence to curtail His mission and purpose of His coming – to become a ransom.

    • John Walvoord in his book, Jesus Christ Our Lord, made this statement regarding the Doctrine of Kenosis as it relates to Philippians 2:

“The act of kenosis as stated in Philippians 2 may therefore be properly understood to mean that Christ surrendered no attribute of Deity, but that He did voluntarily restrict their independent use in keeping with His purpose of living among men and their limitations.”
  • Notice that in both verses 6 and 7, Paul uses the word ‘form’ (morphe). And in both instances, He speaks to both Jesus as God and Jesus as Man.

    • For to deny Him of one or the other is to err in sound doctrine!

    • Therefore, Jesus wasn’t just a good teacher, or just a good man, or simply just God, but Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

  • We see throughout the Gospels both natures at play. For instance, Jesus walking on the water in the Sea of Galilee.

    • This was not accomplished simply because He was indwelled by the Holy Spirit – this was possible because He is Creator God!

      • We also witnessed Jesus being able to both forgive the paralytic man of his sins and cause him to walk. (Greater to the Lesser)

      • The reason why this was such an issue for the religious leaders is because no man could forgive sins but God alone!

      • Yet here we see Jesus being able to do both. This is because of His divine nature.

    • And at the same time, we witnessed Jesus become hungry, get tired, be tempted, yet without sin.

      • One of the best illustrations to see is Jesus, after He has been baptized, is thrusted into the wilderness to be tempted by satan.

    • And in being tempted with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, He overcomes each one through the power of the word!

      • What we see at work within Christ’s example is that through His humiliation, submission, and voluntary nonuse of His divine attributes, is He demonstrated true humility to the point of death!

    • This type of death that Jesus underwent was not a simple death, but this was the worst type of death one could undergo.

      • To die by crucifixion was excruciatingly painful, humiliating, and at times greatly disfiguring.

      • He was pierced, beaten to the point that He was unrecognizable, with a crown of thorns pressed against His brow.

      • Spat on and cursed, mocked, and abused.

    • All of this, the Son of God took upon Himself so that we would live eternally and be reconciled to God!

      • Interestingly enough, the author of Hebrews records that Jesus’ mind was fixed on the greater reward in the end.

      • Therefore, He could have joy as He endured the torture of the cross.

      • Turn with me to Hebrews 12:2-3:

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
  • Both Paul and the writer of Hebrews seem to come to an understanding that through Christ’s humiliation came exaltation.

    • That when we examine the life of Christ, His goal and purpose was clear – in that He came to accomplish the will of the Father.

      • And it would be through the gruesomeness of the cross that there would be greater reward and honor in the future.

    • It is this example of like-mindedness in which Paul says the Philippians need to put on and adopt!

      • It is through patterning oneself after the humility of Christ in recognizing that our single joy and focus should be the service to one another!

      • It’s not by coincidence that after Paul says Jesus emptied Himself that Paul equates it to Christ being a bondservant (slave).

      • That whatever the Father desires, that is what I will do!

    • So, the only way that we can truly live to Christ and experience joy in every season, no matter what comes, is to put on the mind of Christ and humility of Christ.

      • Secondly, our ability to be service-oriented with our lives brings about greater joy in our mission in life.

  • When we realize that our spiritual gifts are to be used to build up and serve the body of Christ, it changes how we see serving.

    • When we understand that our gifts don’t serve ourselves for self-aggrandizement, but rather, they serve to encourage our fellow believers in Christ!

      • One of the things I remember while serving as an Associate Pastor under Pastor Steve is his protection and guarding care for the pulpit.

      • One thing he told me was, “Wesley, you have to make sure that you guard the sacred desk and don’t allow anyone to preach just because they can speak well.”

    • Because often what people are looking for in ministry is an opportunity to have a platform!

      • And they will use their gift of gab or administrative skills to seek opportunities to accomplish their goal.

      • However, when it comes down to matters of the Gospel, there is no room for personal agendas and self-promotion – only Christ and Him alone!

  • I remember being 13 years old and sensing the Lord calling me to ministry.

    • One day, I met with my Youth Pastor at the time and shared with him this calling that I felt.

      • My youth pastor then proceeds to tell me, “Praise God that the Lord has been calling you – let’s start with this, and proceeds to hand me a broom.”

    • He did that to let me know the call to ministry is never about a microphone or a platform, but it is a service unto the Lord to teach the body of Christ about our Great God!

      • This is what Jesus had to address with James and John in the Gospels. True greatness is not in being seen, but rather in serving others!

      • For when we can serve with humility unto the Lord, with a mindset like Christ, we find that it is God alone who rewards!

      • And in the end it is rewarding to see the progress!

      • Check out verses 9-11.

Philippians 2:9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Philippians 2:11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
  • It would be the result of Christ’s incarnation, humiliation, and death, through His perfect obedience, that God the Father would “highly exalt” Him.

    • This phrase “highly exalted” means to give exceptional honor beyond what is usual and to place someone in a high position.

      • So, Paul expresses that it was through Christ’s humility and submission to the Father’s plan that gave way to this glorified position.

    • That Jesus’ exaltation (resurrection, ascension, and glorification) was a response to His prayer and obedience to the Father during His High Priestly prayer in John 17:4-5.

      • Here is what Jesus prayed:

John 17:4 “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.
John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
  • So, because of Christ’s obedience, from the incarnation to His death, in full obedience to the Lord, He requested His pre-glorified state with the Father.

    • To put it a simpler way, “Dad, I’ve done what you’ve asked…I’m ready to come home.”

    • And in the Father’s response to the Son, Paul tells us the reward bestowed upon Christ.

      • Not only is Christ given a name that is above every name, but He is given an exalted position by which all will be under Him.

    • Not only will all believers respond to this majestic name and authority and power of Christ, but even those that rejected Him MUST acknowledge Him.

      • Every creature will bend the knee to the soon coming King!

    • This does not mean that every person in the world will become a believer!

      • This simply attests to the fact that even in the rejector’s state of condition, they have no choice but to acknowledge.

      • That where, at one point they willfully rejected Jesus, His grace, and His sacrifice, they will now by force admit who Jesus always was and will forever be.

  • This reality, through the example of Christ and His glorification should become a joy and comfort for all believers in Christ!

    • That although it may seem like delayed gratification, in the here and now, it will all be worth it in the end.

      • That as we serve humbly without the need for applause or recognition, but serve as unto the Lord, our reward awaits us too in the future.

      • And what a glorious reward it will be!

    • We may be tempted to give in and at times seek the easy route, yet as Christ led by example, He obeyed to the very end and so should we.

      • When we look to Jesus, you will find that He leads the way.

      • When you spend time with Jesus and put on the mind of Christ, you will see growth in your walk with Him.

    • That the closer you walk with Him, the more you will look, think, act, and respond like Him.

      • May I encourage us all with this famous hymn:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace
    • Let’s Pray.