Read Philippians 3:15-21
After giving an extended testimony about his past life as a Hebrew of Hebrews and sharing his desire to be found in Christ, in verses 15-16 Paul gives three commands to the Philippian church.
First of all, he again focuses on thinking. To be like-minded. He used this same word back in 2:5 in speaking of having the same mind as Christ.
As a matter of fact, this word “think” or “have the same mind” occurs at least 8 times in Philippians.
Why is it so crucial that we as believers experience this like-mindedness? What happens in the life of a church if there is not a unity or like-mindedness? Is there someone in the body that you know of right now that you disagree with? Or that you have an issue with? What is your responsibility to that person?
Paul is saying that a true sign of Christian maturity is to have this desire to obtain the prize of Christ. To know Him more fully. In other words, the true sign that you are growing as a Christian is that your passion for knowing Jesus more intimately is growing. You want to spend more time with Him.
Secondly, Paul issues a warning to those of the “perfectionist heresy” camp who believed that they could somehow attain sinless perfection in this life. He warns them that God will reveal to them the error of their ways in thinking that they can become perfect. Paul struggles as a believer. He strains toward the prize. He hasn’t arrived yet and he is issuing a warning to people who think that they can have a “sin and struggle free” Christianity.
Thirdly, Paul gives an exhortation in verse 16. What exactly is this encouragement?
The ESV translates it “hold true” while the NIV says, “let us live up to”. It literally means to march in a row as a soldier. To have a disciplined and orderly walk.
In the context of what you know about Philippians so far, what is that “which we have attained”? Remember to go back to 1:6 and 1:27
Read Ephesians 2:8-10. Verses 8-9 describe our salvation experience, but what does verse 10 teach us?
Verse 16 is an exhortation for us as both individuals and a corporate body of believers to hold fast to the gospel of our salvation. To be disciplined in our walk and not to be swayed by these false teachers who are trying to pervert the truth (3:2)
Think about how important this imagery of soldiers marching together in a row is such a powerful metaphor for how we are to live our lives together in community as Christ’s church?
In verse 17, Paul encourages them to imitate him. This may sound a little egotistical for Paul to tell them to imitate him. But yet, God has placed godly mentors and examples in our lives that we should emulate.
Ultimately, we are accountable to Christ and should follow Him alone, but He gives us models and those stronger and more mature in the faith to encourage and equip us.
Read 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 11:1 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9
In verses 18-19, Paul delivers his final blow against these false teachers that he started to elaborate on back in 3:2, and it is filled with emotion.
Why is Paul filled with tears for these Philippian believers?
Many people walk as enemies of the cross of Christ today. There are some who are ambivalent and disinterested in the things of Christ and don’t readily accept the message of the gospel. Yet, there are also those who are militantly against the gospel.
When we see the gospel of Jesus being opposed so violently in our world today it should also drive us to tears! As things get worse in America and there is more intolerance for Christianity, we will need each other more than ever to stand together and advance the gospel.
Tomorrow we will see Paul’s graphic description of these enemies of the cross, but for today, spend some time thanking God for the godly mentors and influencers in your life who have been models of godliness to you.
When I see so many enemies of the cross, I am moved to tears! It breaks my heart to see not only the sin in the world, but also the sin in my own heart. I am so thankful for the bloody cross. Thank you for bearing God’s wrath in my place and granting me absolute forgiveness from my sins. Please help me to continue to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel for Your glory alone!
In Jesus’ Name,