Too many Christians get wrapped up in “things” and lose the joy and peace they ought to have in Christ. They “mind earthly things” (3:19) and lack that spiritual mind of the dedicated believer. This post is part 2 of 2. See part 1 here.
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Sanctification: The Christian’s Present (3:12–16)
In v1-11, Paul is a “spiritual accountant” figuring his gains and losses. In this section he is a runner, pressing toward the prize. The Olympic runners in ancient Greece had to be citizens of the nation they represented. They also had to be free men, not slaves. The unsaved sinner is a slave, but the Christian is a citizen of heaven (3:20) and has been set free by Christ. Each Christian is given a special place on the “track” for his or her own service, and each one has a goal established by Christ. Our task in life is to “lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of us” (v. 13).
Sanctification is the steady process of growth & progress in Christian life.
How do we reach the goal God has set for us? For one thing, we must be honest with ourselves and admit where we are: as Paul declared. “Not that I have already attained” (v. 12). We must keep our eyes of faith on Christ and forget the past—past sins and failures, and also past successes. We must go forward in His power. The Christian life is not a game; it is a race that demands the very best that is in us: “This one thing I do” (v. 13). Too many Christians live divided lives. One part enjoys the things of the world and the other part tries to live for the Lord. They get ambitious for “things” and start minding earthly ambitions.
Our calling is a “high” and a “heavenly calling”; and if we live for this world, we lose the prize that goes with our high calling.
Glorification: The Christian’s Future (3:17–21)
Nothing will keep our minds spiritual more than looking for the coming of Christ. “Watch out for the worldly crowd!” Paul warns his readers. He expresses here great sorrow in a letter filled otherwise with joy. Paul is weeping over the professed Christians whose lives were bearing the fruit of worldly-mindedness. He describes them: (1) they mind earthly things, which means they think only of this world and what it has to offer; (2) they live for the flesh, for their god is their stomach; and (3) their end is destruction! These people are the enemies of the Cross of Christ. The Cross defeated the world and the flesh; the Cross speaks of sacrifice and suffering, yet these people live for the world and seek only to please themselves.
What an awful thing, to be an enemy of the Cross, yet a professed Christian!
We are citizens of heaven (v. 20). It is our birthright. When people become members of God’s family, their names are written down in heaven (Luke 10:20). They become citizens of heaven. This means that they live for the glory of heaven and not for the praise of this earth. Citizens should honor their own countries, and surely the Christian will honor heaven! The people in Philippi were governed not by Macedonian laws, but by Roman laws; likewise, the church lives by heaven’s laws. Philippi was a colony of Rome in Macedonia, and Christians make up a colony of heaven on earth. Many times the laws of heaven conflict with the laws of earth, but our responsibility is to obey God, not men.
What a blessed future the citizen of heaven has! Paul proclaims, “We shall be like Him!” This humble body (“vile” means “body of humiliation”) will be changed to be like His glorious body. Read 1 Thes. 4:13–18 to see what a happy event the return of Christ will be for the saint. Of course, this will be a day of resurrection and reunion, but it will also be a day of reckoning and reward. May we be found faithful to Him and not ashamed at His coming (1 John 2:28–3:3).
1) America is known for its lavish materialism.
What is the biggest danger of our consumer-based mentality to having a ‘spiritual’ mind? Why?
2) Write down all the action verbs in verses 12-14:
_____________ ______________ _____________ ___________ _____________
– What was Paul chasing & hoping to take hold of? Are you chasing it too?
3) According to v15-16, the mature thing is to keep moving forward (pressing on). We are all at different places in our spiritual journey. Mark the next steps you need to take in your walk with God:
__ Salvation __ Baptism __ Church Membership __ Giving __ Witnessing
__ Faithful Bible Reading __ Faithful Prayer __ Serving Others __ Other:
4) There are many ‘enemies of the cross’ that seek to undo our spiritual progress.
Where they will wind up: _________________________________________
– What they serve: ______________________________________________
What they take pride in: _________________________________________
What their focus is: _____________________________________________
5) If you are saved, you are a citizen of Heaven… already! (v20)
– How does that change your investment into ‘things’ down here?
6) The last phrase of the chapter gives us the best reason why things should not be able to steal our joy. What is it?
7) What is the main take-away for you out of this lesson?