How do you help someone who is feeling a little bit battered? You can sympathise with them and try to show by your sympathy that you care about them and their needs. But that is only a temporary help to them. They need to turn to God to find the help that only He can provide. Paul knew that the believers in Philippi had been given a bad time by false teachers who had come in to their fellowship and brought disruption. So in this chapter he urges them to get their focus back on God Himself and to be watchful for those who would be a hindrance to the enjoyment of their life with Christ.
1). REJOICING IN THE LORD. (But be watchful). (1) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Paul is urging them to get their focus right. There were false teachers around who were telling them that they are not real believers. These false teachers were telling them that they had to be circumcised and observe the Jewish rites and ceremonies to be real believers. Paul tells his readers not to follow them. They were wrong examples to follow. (2) Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
Rather they were to be like Paul who gave glory to Jesus. They were to rejoice in the Lord Himself not just in their faith. They were to worship by the Spirit and not be bowed down with man-made rites and ceremonies. (3) For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—. Christianity is all about Jesus the Creator, the Saviour, the Lord and giving Him all the glory in praise and adoration.
2). GROWING IN THE LORD. (Paul An Example Of True Faith).
How could they grow in the faith? There were three things they needed to do.
i). Letting Go Of The Past. Paul had a lot to boast about because of his privileged background. (4) though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:(5) circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;(6) as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. In other words he was saying that he was a true blue Jew! But then he met Christ on the Damascus Road and life was changed from that moment. He gave his life to Jesus and didn’t hanker after his past.
ii). Taking Hold Of Jesus. Jesus became everything to him. All his past now meant nothing. (7) But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.(8) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ(9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—. The things of his past meant nothing to him. Not only were they “loss” but they were as “dung”, worthless in comparison with the gain he had in Jesus.
He wanted to know Jesus more deeply. He desired a much deeper, more intimate knowledge of Jesus. He wanted to know Him more closely as a person. He also wanted to experience His resurrection power in his life, even though it might means sharing in the sufferings Jesus suffered, (10) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,(11) that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
iii). Letting Jesus Take Hold Of Us. In verse 12, Paul says that Christ Jesus had taken hold of him. It’s as though Jesus was saying, “I belong to Christ. I am His. He has claimed me for Himself. I’m giving Him all I am and have”. He expressed his desire in the response he was making to Jesus and he urged his readers to respond in the same way.
- Pressing on to what is ours in Jesus. (12) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Paul was saying in effect, “The goal of my life is fixed. It is Jesus.” He used three expressions to denote that commitment to Jesus. The first is “Press on” from the Greek διώκω (diōkō) which can be translated as “pursue” and “persecute” as we saw in 3:6 . Paul once pursued believers to persecute them. Now He was pursuing Christ and encouraging others to pursue Jesus and to follow Him too.
- Straining forward (reaching ahead) to a deepening future with Him. (13) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Forgetting the past means that Paul wasn’t focussed on the past and on all the status he had once enjoyed. He wanted more and more and more of what was his in Jesus. He was “reaching out” to take hold of Christ.
- Pressing on to achieve the goal God has for us in Jesus. (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.(15) Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.(16) Only let us hold true to what we have attained. There is a prize to be enjoyed. It is to enjoy Jesus in this life and then share in bliss with Him in glory.
3). WALKING HOME TO GLORY. The Jesus who meant so much to Paul would come again to take His people to be with Him for ever. In the meantime the believers had to walk in the right path, imitating the right examples.
i). Right Imitation (Paul). Paul wanted his readers to keep their eyes on those who kept their eyes on Jesus. (17) Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walkaccording to the example you have in us. As Paul wrote in 1Cor 11:1 in encouraging his readers to imitate his own example, Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
ii). Wrong Imitation. It meant not worrying about or focussing on the false teachers. God would look after them. (18) For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.(19) Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
iii). Result of right Imitation, living for Jesus in the present.
- We have a heavenly city in which to dwell. (20) But our citizenship is in heaven. We are all going home as believers, home to glory to the place Jesus has prepared for us, Jn 14:2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
- We have a heavenly Saviour who is coming back to take us to be with Him in glory. (20) But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day is a day closer to His coming for us.
- We will have a heavenly body. Jesus is going to transform our bodies into a heavenly bodies like His when He returns. (21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.
- How can all these things take place? Jesus is Lord of all. He does it by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
So there is the picture we see of Jesus in Chapter 3. It means that we can:-
1). Rejoice in Him, in who He is and in what He has done for us.
2). Grow into Him by,
- Letting go of the past.
- Taking hold of Jesus.
- Letting Jesus take hold of us as we offer ourselves completely to Him..
3). We are walking home to glory living for Him and waiting for Him to take us to be with Him in glory forever.
We rejoice in the Lord because of all these wonderful promises. But what about those who won’t be ready for Jesus when He comes? For them too, today is one day closer and they are still not ready for His coming. We need to pray for such people that God will open their eyes to see who Jesus is and open their minds to understand what He has done for humans. Praying too that they in turn would open their hearts to Jesus so that the wonderful promises we see in this Chapter are taken hold of by them as well.
Blog No.066. Jim Holbeck. Posted On Friday 23rd March 2012