Philippians 3C

Chapter 3:15-21

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  • Tonight, we come to the end of Chapter Three, where we have been discovering, according to our chapter breakdown, our reward comes from Christ.

    • Last week, we discussed that how joy in this walk of life can be snuffed out if we are constantly looking back to the past.

      • The enemy tends to utilize our past failures as obstacles of hinderance.

    • Paul’s primary focus was for the believer in Philippi to understand that our measly works pale in comparison to the glory of Christ and His work!

      • Paul stated that his works and ours as well are luck dung compared to what Christ has accomplished.

      • Therefore, as believers in the Lord Jesus, our primary aim is that we may “Know Him”.

      • And as we grow in knowing Him, we are able to behold the true prize and that is in being with Him.

    • Therefore, our joy in Christ is experiential and is fully realized when we learn to grow in Him, beyond just knowing about Him.

      • This reality helps believers in Christ walk through this life with a light grip on the things that we have and attain.

      • Because in the end our rewards are those that are incorruptible.

    • Tonight, Paul is going to further expound on this premise of growing in the second tense of our salvation.

      • That as we mature in Christ, our aims and priorities begin to shift from this world and on to eternal things.

    • If I were to outline our time through the text tonight, it would be the following:

      • 1. Attitude of Maturity (vv.15-16)

      • 2. Set your mind on things eternal (vv.17-19)

      • 3. Eternal Perspective (vv.20-21)

    • If I were to put a tag on our text tonight it would simply be: The Hope of Things to Come.

      • With that being said, I invite you to open up a copy of the scriptures and meet me in Philippians 3:15-16.

Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
Philippians 3:16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
  • Paul is starting to wrap up his point in these latter verses by emphasizing the need to continue striving for a level of maturity in Christ towards completion.

    • And in his encouragement to pursue this walk and lifestyle of maturity he mentions that this way of life requires having a certain attitude in mind.

      • This attitude in which Paul is speaking about is an attitude of daily striving to look more like Christ in every area of our lives.

      • In other words, our positional reality in Christ should produce in our hearts an appetite for knowing all that we can, experientially, in Christ.

    • Remember, joy is not circumstantial but rather it is experiential and the more that we experience Christ in our walk with Him, the more we become like Him.

      • And the reality is for some, this can become quite difficult because as mentioned before, everyone is on a different level of spiritual maturity.

      • This means that some will have greater difficulty in their walks than others, however, the grace that God provides for us all is the same.

    • So, this becomes the reason why Paul began these concluding remarks in Chapter Three verse 15 with the phrase, “Let us therefore…”

      • Paul wants the main thing to be the main thing!

      • Because, as we saw Paul state last week, we all should be “pressing toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

      • The idea of “pressing toward the goal” was that of an Olympic race in mind.

    • With anyone who runs in a tournament or competition, the only point of focus is not the person to your left or right, but the prize up ahead.

      • And in this case as we saw last week, Paul’s ultimate point is that Christ is our goal!

      • Christ is the one in whom we run for, strive for, and live for, because we are found richly in Him.

    • We also discussed last week: God in Christ began this work in us, sustains this work in us, and we will be glorified because of the work He has accomplished.

      • Therefore, even with the spiritual rewards that we are able to attain because of our losses in this life, the true prize to behold is Christ alone.

    • As one theologian notes: “Christ is the goal of our faith for a heavenly righteousness, the goal of our love for heavenly fellowship, and the goal of our hope for heavenly blessedness”.

      • So, although, in this life, as we serve Christ, there are rewards to be attained, know that the ultimate reward is being with Christ and knowing Him.

      • Therefore, our striving for maturity is not for the sake of rewards, just for reward’s sake, but to fully know Christ and to be with Him.

    • So, Paul continues on by mentioning that if there is one who has a different mindset apart from that of Christ, that “God would make it known to you”.

      • That is to say that where our focus on the pursuit of Christ begins to pivot, the ministry of the Holy Spirit will bring about revelation to see.

    • A few lessons ago, we came to understand, in a general sense, the roles of the Holy Spirit within the life of a believer.

      • And some of the roles that the Holy Spirit takes on is that of a teaching, convicting, and revealing ministry.

      • That because the Holy Spirit is also our teacher, as we submit in obedience to the Lord’s leading, our mindsets begin to be reframed.

    • As a matter of fact, this is in direct connection with what Paul mentioned earlier about having an ‘appetite for Christ’.

      • This means that as you condition your heart and mind to respond positively to the enablement of the Holy Spirit, so will your life follow suit. (Obedience)

      • So, you can’t expect to understand God’s will for your life on a day-to-day basis if you fail to make the time to know what His word says.

      • Because it is in His word that you will understand His will because you are seeking to understand His ways!

    • So Paul, in verse 16, makes a simple point which is: “Keep living” in a way that reflects positionally who you are in Christ.

  • The term “keep living”, outside of its use in the New Testament, was a military term.

    • It means to be in a row or in rank of position or to fall in line.

      • And the idea of the use of this word connotes obedience and submission.

    • Therefore, the only way by which one can continue in a manner of growth and maturity in Christ is through submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

      • So Paul encourages these already mature believers in Christ, to keep on putting on the mind of Christ and living in a way that reflects who they are in Christ.

    • The reality is, we are to put on the mind of Christ and adopt His attitude in all things and continue striving to know Him intimately.

      • And as a reminder, this striving that Paul was talking about was not a sense of striving for what we have already attained by grace.

      • But rather strive in obedience to know Christ even more so that we may grow in conforming into the very likeness of Christ.

    • And as discovered in a previous lessons in Philippians, this journey of Spiritual maturity is one that does not happen overnight.

      • The process of sanctification is a constantly ongoing journey that requires one to be patient, humble, and reliant upon the Lord every day.

  • In the present world we live in, everyone wants the quick path to success or the instant pathway to health, yet no one wants to put in the work.

    • The only way that a bodybuilder gets to the level of intense weightlifting that they do is starting off by first going to the gym.

      • And from there, they make up in their mind that they want to put themselves under the weight and pressure of the weights day by day.

    • Friends, in the same way, if you desire to see your growth in the Lord, you must get in the game, and at the same time be patient in the process.

      • This is why having healthy discipleship relationships is important.

      • Going to the gym to exercise is much more encouraging when you go and engage in a workout with somebody else.

    • You can’t expect to do this Christian journey of progressive sanctification by yourself, even more so with the mindset of independence rather than dependence.

      • A grace-oriented sanctification is one in which is ever reliant and dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

      • Whereas a legalistic approach to growth, rules on top of self-appointed righteousness, is a by-product of independence from God.

      • Well, we now come to see Paul’s use of the military term “keep living” worked out in verses 17-19. Check out the text.

Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Philippians 3:18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,
Philippians 3:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
  • As Paul continues in thought he transitions to a practical example of maintaining this way of living and appetite for Christ.

    • On the onset, it may come across as Paul boasting in his leadership as somehow being more mature than others – but that isn’t the case.

      • You may recall, Paul in Philippians 2 provided a list by which individuals should follow.

      • And in that list, he begins with Christ as the ultimate example in who we are to pattern our lives after. (Philippians 2:5-11)

    • Furthermore, it was in verse 16 that Paul used the military term for “keep living”, stoicheo, which means to “fall in line”.

      • So, when you put together what Paul is saying, his “MO” is not to follow him because he thinks he’s reached full maturity.

      • Rather, Paul is encouraging the Philippians and us to fall in line, get into rank as we, together, follow Christ!

    • As a matter of fact, the phrase join in following my example” is one word in the Greek.

      • It is the word symmimetes (sym-mim-etes) which means fellow imitator or joint imitator.

      • And the idea here is that of: “As I walk, you walk. As I obey, you obey.”

  • If you’ve ever watched any military shows, those in basic training are all in sync with one another.

    • And in their daily routine, there is a captain and then those who follow behind in rank and file.

      • And as the captain chants the statement of command, those behind follow suit:

      • “Everywhere we go…people want to know…who we are…so we tell them.”

    • In the same way, Paul is saying that Christ is the leader of this commanding line called the bride of Christ. Christ is the head.

      • And those who are composed of the body of Christ are to submit to the commanding instructions and call of God and follow suit.

      • Therefore, Paul is not boasting, but encouraging others to fall in line with Christ – don’t get out of sync with Christ and His Gospel.

      • And in this sense, because Christ is not physically present before the Philippians, Christ is at work within them. (The Spirit of Christ)

    • And being that the Apostle Paul is a good example of following Christ to these individuals in Philippi, he invites them to follow him.

      • Again, Paul stakes no claim as to have reached this sense of perfection in his maturity.

      • He is simply saying, join me in this pursuit together.

    • Paul continues by offering not just himself as an example in which the Philippians can observe, but he mentions there are those in whom the Philippians know as well.

      • It was in Philippians 2:19-30 that Paul mentioned two other men, Timothy and Epaphroditus who were worthy men to follow as well.

    • There becomes a sub-theme here of Practical Discipleship meaning that discipleship goes beyond just knowing information.

      • It requires that one observe the very life of those who live in a way that reflects the mind of Christ in their living.

      • That these individuals exercise wisdom in their lives so that they may be further conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

    • Please understand that listening to the teachings provided on the ministry app are one thing.

      • However, it’s a whole other thing to put into practice the truths that expository teaching and preaching provide.

      • Gospel transformation does not happen by osmosis, it happens through putting in the sweat equity through the enabling work of the Spirit.

    • There are many people that think simply being under sound expository teaching is enough to help them grow in maturity.

      • Sound teaching is a huge component, but it must be accompanied with accountability to apply what you have learned.

      • This is how you can have well-knowledgeable and learned people yet lacking the ability to walk out their sanctification well.

      • Wisdom, at its core, is applied knowledge.

    • Therefore, Paul’s encouragement becomes similar to what he shares with the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11:1.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
  • Christ is the goal! To look more like Christ in our lives, actions, responses, in our love etc.

    • And the way in which this is worked out in our lives, along with the fellowship of the Spirit, is the discipleship of godly men and women.

    • Food for thought: Who’s discipling you? Who do you walk alongside that points you to Christ, not just in word, but in deed?

    • This encouragement in which Paul gives also becomes a warning of sorts because depending on who you lend your ear to gives way to the direction in which your life goes.

      • There will either be a molding in your life that is being shaped into Christlikeness, or looking and sounding more like the world.

    • Notice, how Paul transitions to verses 18 and 19. He moves from the positive modeling to negative modeling.

      • And he desires that the believers in Philippi not give in to the way of negative modeling.

  • He begins by saying “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ…”

    • Paul’s affections and love for the Philippian church become demonstrated in a very real way, even to the point of tears.

      • His desire is that the Philippian church not be tricked by the deceptive teaching and lives of others who claim to believe the truth.

    • Paul’s address now seems to be targeting another group of individuals who potentially seem to be outside of the church yet are managing to have influence.

      • This group that Paul calls “enemies of the cross of Christ”, were none other than a group known as Gnostics.

    • Gnostics were of the belief that their group alone possessed “additional” secret knowledge regarding matters of salvation.

      • Therefore, this group’s antinomastic disposition led them to do what seemed right in their own eyes.

      • Ultimately, this led to the rejecting of the truth of scripture thereby granting license to sin.

    • Clearly, these individuals that Paul had in mind here were not within the church of Philippi but were misleading Christians elsewhere, and potentially the threat was getting closer.

      • In any case, it is certain that Paul was moved deeply to the point of tears in how believers were being misled by these false teachers.

      • And what this shows us, is that the Philippian church was held closely to Paul’s heart.

      • He wanted to guard them from this spiritual confusion and chaos creeping in and around the church.

    • So, like a father to a child, he writes with a heavy heart conveying the reality that these Gnostics were indeed, enemies of the cross of Christ.

      • The phrase “enemies of the cross of Christ” simply means individuals or groups alienated in the sense of hostility towards the cross.

    • Meaning, that where the cross of Christ meant dying to self, they saw this as a hinderance and an opportunity to indulge in their own personal delights.

      • That where grace was an opportunity of growth in the power of the Spirit, they would abuse the understanding of God’s grace as a license to sin.

      • So, what we find in verse 19, is Paul spelling out three characteristics of these particular people.

  • Notice, Paul begins by mentioning what the result of these individuals were – their end was destruction.

    • The use of this term within the New Testament would suggest that destruction in this context is regarding eternal destruction for the unbeliever.

      • And this seems fitting because as Paul mentioned earlier, if this “were a believer” engaging in this abhorrent lifestyle of sin, they would be convicted. (End of verse 15)

      • And the reason for this is because all believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit, therefore because we belong to God, He will deal accordingly with us. (Conviction, discipline etc.)

      • However, if there comes a point in the believer’s life where they have gone so far into sin where there is no return, there is what is called “sin unto death”.

    • This is where the believer’s sin has transpired to the “point of no return” (habitual sinning) resulting in pre-mature physical death as discipline.

      • Check out quickly what 1 John 5:16 states:

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.
    • However, within the context of these verses Paul is referring to unbelievers, their false teaching and their eternal end.

    • Secondly, Paul continues by saying, “whose god is their appetite”.

      • That the ruling of their desires because the things that they value and pursue above the things that are to be rightly sought after.

      • Paul speaks about such individuals in Romans 16:17-19. Check out the text:

Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
Romans 16:18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
Romans 16:19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
  • Thirdly, Paul mentions “whose glory is in their shame”

    • Simply put, the things that should naturally bring about shame becomes the very thing they revel in.

  • Gone are the days where one becomes shameful of disgraceful acts whether done in private or in public.

    • We live in an era now where wrong is right and right is wrong.

      • People desire to do what is right in their own eyes and expect others to endorse their sinful acts as if to condone it.

      • So, imagine that if Paul was dealing with this very thing then, what makes us think we wouldn’t see it now.

      • Paul’s focus is that the believer be able to rightly discern good from evil because friends there is a clear distinction whether the world wants to see it or not.

    • As we just read in Romans 16:19, Paul’s desire is that the believer be wise in what is good and innocent of what is evil.

      • That word ‘innocent’ in the Greek is speaking about being free from guilt and sin. (Avoid sin)

      • Meaning, this way of sinful living or lifestyle, can’t even be tied to you because you should always be mindful of how you are to live.

    • Friends, Paul does not want the Philippians to be fooled and I pray that you and I will not be fooled either.

  • Lastly, Paul mentions that these individuals set their minds on earthly things.

    • In other words, the temporal pleasure for these individuals becomes the prize they pursue.

      • For the unbeliever, they can’t have their minds set on eternal things because they do not know Christ.

      • However, Christians on the other hand do, and therefore, they should have they eyes on eternity and not the temporal things.

    • So, Paul provides this encouragement of following his example as he follows Christ.

      • And in the same breath, provides a loving warning to not fall into the false teaching of these wicked men.

      • He wants them to remain eternally minded!

    • For when we remain eternally minded, it is there where we are able to experience true joy in Christ that is untainted!

      • Paul mentions this fact in Colossians 3:2. Check out the text:

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
  • As we transition into verses 20-21, Paul is going to make mention as to why the believer should not only be aware of these things but should remain eternally minded.

    • Check out verses 20-21.

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
Philippians 3:21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
  • Paul reinforces the point of citizenship because we have a heavenly citizenship, therefore, our pursuits and values must be different from the world we presently reside.

    • Again, the use of the term citizenship brought about certain privileges for residents in Roman colonies, in this case those in Macedonia.

      • To say one was a citizen of Rome meant that they had certain privileges that others from non-Roman colonies did not have. (Crucifixion for example)

      • So, Paul parallels this idea of citizenship as a statement of heavenly privilege as well as encouragement to live in a manner that reflects their heavenly reality.

      • And this is all in juxtaposition to the previous verses regarding those who are unbelievers (worldly).

      • Paul says this in Ephesians 2:19:

Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,
  • In other words, although you may live in this world you are not of this world.

    • And with receiving this new citizenry means adopting the mindset and attitude of that country. (The Coming Kingdom and its King.)

    • This is why Paul has made mention about imitating him and others like him as they follow Christ.

    • Because their minds too were set on eternal matters!

    • Paul goes on to say that along with knowing we are not of this world that “we eagerly await the coming of Christ.”

      • He mentions that as citizens of heaven, while living here on earth, we anticipate and eagerly wait “for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”.

      • This anticipation is one of expected arrival!

    • This anticipation for the coming of Christ is for the dawning of the next stage of the first resurrection.

      • Meaning, that because Christ’s resurrection was the first, Him being the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20), we too will have a similar experience.

      • That when the Lord meets us in the clouds, we will be raised and receive new bodies.

      • This is what Paul describes in verse 21.

    • He says that the Lord Jesus will transform the body of our humble state (in the original – bodies of humiliation) and provide us with a glorified body like His.

      • This moment, at the Rapture, is where we will experience the third tense of salvation (glorification).

      • At that moment, when our bodies are raised and we are given new, glorified bodies, we will attain incorruptible bodies.

      • Therefore, removed from the presence of sin.

    • This further confirms Paul’s teaching of the imminency of the Rapture.

      • Simply put, Paul was very much anticipating the Rapture could take place in his day. That this event could happen at any moment.

    • This event is what Paul described as the moment in which every believer should anticipate with great expectancy.

      • So, in the meantime, in our present state, we wrestle between both our flesh (earthly condition) and our Spirit (heavenly reality).

      • And as we have mentioned before, these two are at war with one another.

    • However, understanding what is to come (at any moment) allows the believer to live in a way that we are always ready.

      • And what we can be confident about is knowing that the Lord is soon to return to remove us from this wasting wicked world to be with Him.

      • How do we know this and can be confident about this? Well Jesus mentions this to His disciples in John 14:1-4. Check out the text:

John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
John 14:2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14:4 “And you know the way where I am going.”
  • What was Jesus talking about here as He was comforting and preparing His disciples for His soon to be departure?

    • He was letting them know that He would come back for them again and receive them unto Himself.

    • Jesus coming for His Church is at the Rapture. And it will be there that we will be with Him and be like Him.

    • Paul makes this point to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Check out the text:

1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
  • What is the comfort in knowing those words?

    • The comfort is knowing that we will be caught up to the Lord with the saints who have died and will “meet the Lord in the air”.

    • And in this new glorified state, the text sates that we will always be with the Lord.

    • Lastly, notice how this amazing transformation will happen – with us transforming from these earthly mortal bodies to these glorified bodies.

      • Paul states that it is accomplished by the exertion of the power of the Lord Jesus.

      • The word exertion is the Greek word where we get our English word ‘energy’ from – energia.

      • This will be the very power of God, the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead will be the same power that transforms us!

      • And that same power of God will be demonstrated in which the Lord will subject all things unto Himself for His glory!

    • Friends, in this new glorified state, we will be made perfect as children of God!

      • And in His perfect Power the Lord will accomplish all things in which the Father has set for Him to be over – and that is all things!

    • What a glorious salvation we have in Christ! This friend should produce incorruptible joy because we know the end!

      • This reality should produce an appetite and a hunger to serve the Lord well in this life knowing that we will have an eternity being with Him.

    • And just imagine how much more we will be able to know the Lord Jesus in a perfect state beyond what we know of Him and how we experience Him in our imperfect state.

      • The best is yet to come for the believer in Christ!

      • May we live daily in the Joy of the Lord and the anticipation of the coming of our Bridegroom.

      • Let’s Pray.


  • Baxter, 6:193