The Bible says in Philippians 3:15, Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. In verse 12 Paul said that he was not already perfect. Here in verse 15 he uses the same word and indicates that he is perfect. How do we account for that? We must understand that there is a difference between our position in Christ and where we are from a practical standpoint. This chapter had some very good things to say to us about imputed righteousness, the righteousness which is freely accredited to our account, because Jesus earned it for us. Perhaps to make sure that we understand very clearly how great is the salvation that Jesus has provided for us, we are told that we are perfect.
Why is it that we are called perfect? We know that we are all sinners. We know that as far as our life on earth is concerned we must come to the same conclusion that Paul came to in verse 12 and say that we are not already perfect. But for those of us who have repented and turned to Jesus, we have been made complete in Christ. Its based upon the same thing by which in the Bible all believers are called saints. We are the holy ones of God because our garments have been washed white by the blood of the lamb. As far as our spiritual standing is concerned, God sees us as if we were perfect.
Paul was used of God to write these epistles, and then God preserved them so that every generation of believers could benefit from them. In some miraculous way God inspired the writing of the scriptures, and in some equally miraculous way God also preserved the scriptures. From a human standpoint one of the reasons that Paul wrote each of his epistles was to correct and instruct the believers to whom he had written. He knew that they needed certain improvements in the way that they looked at certain things. As far as attempting to instruct someone and then seeing them change their mind or attitude on a given subject, notice what Paul said in Philippians 3:15. He said, If in anything you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
In order for someone to believe something that is true, it must be revealed to them by God. No matter what you or I say, and no matter what even the Apostle Paul has said, in order for someone to grasp spiritual truth, it must be revealed to them by God. One of the problems with the world is the vast spiritual darkness in which so many lost souls are held to their own destruction, except they come to the Light before it is too late. Jesus is the Light. But Paul was not writing to unbelievers who are held in the grip of darkness. He was writing to believers who had already come to the light. The truth is that after believing on Jesus, there are many other things that believers need to come to know, and those things can only be known if God reveals it to them.
One of the problems with some Christians is that because they are right about a few things, they think they are right about many things. In fact it just may be that with some of the things that they emphasize, they could learn a thing or two. No one has arrived. No one has learned everything they need to learn about the infinite God. Thats one of the great things about following God. The truth is never stale. There is always some better way of looking at something that is yet to be discovered. There is always some new revelation from God to bless our hearts that we have never seen before.
The emphasis that Paul made was an expression of confidence that God would reveal to these believers more truth should it be the case that they were not already in agreement with him. Paul said, If in anything you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Paul was confident that God would eventually reveal to these believers what needed to be revealed to them. Thats what God does. Thats what God is doing in each of our lives. After we are saved, the work of God in each of our lives is to make us more like Christ. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. My responsibility is to teach what I think is true to the best of my ability, but I am powerless to change anyones mind or anyones opinion. But God can, and He will when He chooses to reveal to their hearts anyplace where they are otherwise minded.
The Bible says in Philippians 3:16, Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. In this chapter Paul spoke of looking forward and striving to become everything that we can become as far as our future plans are concerned. Something else that is just as important is mentioned in this verse. Paul spoke of what we have already attained. One of the challenges of the Christian life is to hold on to what you have already attained. Once you have reached a position of strength, it may be even harder to retain that position than it was to get there. The enemy of your soul has many devices. In talking about the spiritual warfare Ephesians 6:13 says, Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. In the battle of evil against good, you will face much opposition in the quest to reach a position of strength in some matter. Once you reach it, you will face even more opposition to try and drag you down. With the word of your testimony and with the blood of the Lamb you shall be able to withstand in the evil day.
Once again in the book of Philippians Paul reminds believers of the importance of unity. He said in Philippians 3:16, Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. In speaking of Christian unity we are told to be united both in what we do and in what we think. There is a direct relationship between what someone thinks and what someone does. If what you think about certain issues comes from the will of man instead of the will of God, then what you do will not be the will of God. Its very important that church organizations have statements of faith and doctrinal statements that they ask all potential members to agree to. In order to have Christian unity we must walk by the same rule and mind the same thing.
Paul wrote in Philippians 3:17, Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as you have us for an example. This is a fairly bold statement. We know that Jesus is our example. As we attempt to follow Jesus, we have one other example: Paul the Apostle. Paul is an example of someone who believed on Jesus and then followed Jesus. Be careful whom you use as an example. When you follow another human being, you might be picking up their bad points instead of their good points. If you follow the wrong example, then you will end up going wrong. You cannot go wrong if you use Jesus, and if you use the Apostle Paul as a follower of Jesus.
Everyone is an influence on those around them. The more people that know you and see you, the more that you are an influence, and one day you will be judged for the influence that you have and for the example that you have been. Many people in the Hollywood film and television industry face a terrible judgment because of the ways in which they have failed in meeting this responsibility. When Paul wrote to us to find the proper example, he said mark them which walk. To mark means to carefully observe and to evaluate someones actions and behavior. This is not judging. This is evaluating. If they do not measure up to the example that Paul gave of following Jesus, then do not follow them.
We have talked about Christian unity in this passage of scripture, and we have talked about following the examples of others. As important as Christian unity is, and its very important because Jesus died not only to save us but also to bring us together as one in Him, but we should never let down our guard against false teachers. Warning against the false teachers, the Bible says in Philippians 3:18-19, For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
When you think about Christianity and your desire to teach or to be taught, just as much you should think about the fact that there are false teachers out there. Beware of false teachers. Paul said that he told the Philippians often about the false teachers. Some people have not been careful enough to watch out for false teachers and to watch out for false teachings, and thereby have fallen under the control of that which is false and untrue. Paul said five things to describe the false teachers. He said, they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
The first thing that Paul said about the false teachers is that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. Of course, the central point of all spiritual truth is found in Christ and His cross. You must understand the cross of Christ and its significance if you are to understand the most basic and the most important truth that has been given by God to the world. If someone claims to be a teacher of spiritual things and does not teach the true meaning of the cross of Christ, then beware. Beware of the enemies of the cross of Christ.
The cross of Christ tells us that God loves the world. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Anyone who claims to be a spiritual teacher and who does not give the proper amount of emphasis on the love of God is an enemy of the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ means God loves the world.
The cross of Christ also means that human beings are sinners who need a Savior and who cannot save themselves. Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Anyone who teaches salvation by the good works of man or the efforts of man is an enemy of the cross of Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
This difference between salvation by faith and salvation by works is exactly what Paul was talking about earlier in this chapter when he wrote in Philippians 3:2, Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. Beware of those who teach that salvation is by works. Beware of the enemies of the cross of Christ. If you love God and if you love the truth, beware. There are those who claim to be spiritual teachers, but who are false teachers. Beware of them.
Jesus said concerning false teachers, If the blind lead the blind, then both shall fall into the ditch. Thats exactly what Paul was talking about when he said about the false teachers, Whose end is destruction. There are people in this world who think that what they are doing will take them to heaven, but they have been deceived because they listened to teachers who were enemies of the cross of Christ. They have believed a lie, and unless they turn to the Christ who died for them on the cross, they will end up in the place of destruction because that is the final consequence of the teachings that come from those who are enemies of the cross of Christ.
Paul spoke of the false teachers and said, Whose god is their belly. This is a statement that makes it clear that such false teachers are not worshippers of god. They are not teaching another way to get to God. Their god is their belly. In other words they are consumed by selfish motivation. The desire for power or personal advancement is what motivates them. Often they are ego-maniacs. If they were true worshippers of God, God would reveal to them the truth and then they would teach it. If they teach that which is false, then thats all the evidence that you need in order to know that they have not gone to God to ask for wisdom.
A true worshipper of God wants to glorify God: that is, to hold Him in high esteem and to honor Him and to praise Him. Paul describes the false teachers as having glory in their shame. Their shame refers to the false teachings, doctrines, rituals, and legalistic requirements that they put on people. Just like Jesus said, they laden people with heavy burdens that they themselves cannot bear. These are the false teachers of the world. Instead of glorifying God, they glorify the false systems and false religious activities that they establish.
Finally, Paul described the false teachers saying that they mind earthly things. Do not be deceived by appearances. False teachers do not think about God or heaven or spiritual things. They are entirely earthly and material in nature. Look at them closely. They are motivated by the desire for material things such as wealth and power and position, just like other people on the earth who do not serve the one true God.
Copyright; 2001 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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