Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Philippians 3:17-4:1 Earthly versus Heavenly Mentors

KEY TEXT: Phil 3:17-20 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

KEY THOT: Paul exhorts the Philippians to imitate him and also those who “walk according to the example you have in us.” On the other hand, he calls them to reject the examples set by those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” whose "end is destruction, their god is their belly (stomach), and they glory in their shame". Such people will self-destruct because their minds are “set on earthly things.” Instead, as citizens of heaven, we are to be heavenly-minded, seeking for things that are invisible and eternal–like the kingdom of God, souls of unsaved and spiritual and social transformation of our society. Therefore, we must seek for mentors who are godly models and reject those who are just focusing on self-gratification of their appetites and engaging in self-exalting pursuits in this world.

It therefore behooves us who want to be mentors of others to be like Paul and his co-workers—heavenly-minded in vision, self-denying in appetites and cross-embracing in their lifestyle. In contrast, we are to reject carnal Christianity which teaches that “you can have it all” and do not need to carry the cross anymore. Such teachers are “enemies of the Cross” for they are telling others that Christians should not deny themselves their appetites but “enjoy life” to its fullest. There is no self-denying and cross-carrying in such Christianity—and they are therefore enemies of the Cross.

In order to become a church that is heavenly-minded, it has to be gospel-centred. But in order to be gospel-centred, it has to be self-denying and cross-carrying. The Lord Jesus himself said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9.23) and also "follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). The end result of following Jesus in a self-denying lifestyle is becoming fruitful "fishers of men", not debaters of doctrines.

Lord Jesus, You have called us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily to follow You. Grant us grace to obey Your call to a disciple's life through the power of the Spirit which You have poured into our hearts. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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