Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Gleanings in Philippians ~ Two Ways to Live: Phil 3.17-4:1 (Part II)

Last week, we said that the Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians to encourage them how to live the Christian life. We also said that Paul writes this because they have already been saved and now he tells them how they are to live in light of that.

He’s cautioning them against those who, calling themselves Christians, are concerned about the things of this world instead of the things of God and Christ. He gives them four ways to fight against the things of this world.

On Thursday we said that the first was to imitate Paul. In verse 17, Paul invites us to follow his example—and, interestingly, the example of those who follow his example. Paul holds himself up as an example of one who is not yet perfect, but struggling through this life to keep worldliness from getting a grip on his soul. And so, Paul calls us to – by the grace of God – struggle against worldliness.

II. Worldliness kills.
Look at verses 18-19:
“For many of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
He’s not talking about pagans, he is in tears because these are people who claim to love God, and yet they are so worldly that he can characterize them as enemies of the cross! Paul is saying they’re all wrapped up in this life. They want their praise here. They want their affirmation here. This is where they belong. This is where their reward is, and so their “end is destruction, their god is their belly, their glory is their shame, and their minds are set on earthly things.” They claim to be believers, but what they want most in life is here.

Now maybe you're thinking, this message here is all for somebody else, somebody really “worldly.” But, think for a moment about what your greatest cares are in this life, your greatest aspirations for this life are. And how might those differ from an unbeliever’s? And if you don’t have a real good answer for that right now, my guess is you may be struggling with worldliness. Because we ought to be different from people whose citizenship is here.

III. Homesickness helps.
Paul says to us all: ‘Christian, there ought to be in you a deep yearning and longing for home, and this ain’t home. You ought to be homesick for heaven. You ought to want to be in your Father’s arms. You’re to the point where you don’t care what this world says about you, you just want to hear your Father say, ‘Child, welcome home. Enter into the kingdom that I’ve been preparing for you from the foundation of the world.’

If you’re not heavenly-minded, if you’re not homesick for your home, if you’re not longing for something that this world can’t give you, you’re utterly vulnerable to worldliness. Because until that point you are vulnerable to believing that this world can actually give you something that can last.

IV. Therefore, stand fast.
Paul is saying the Christian’s resisting of worldliness does not just happen. It takes resolve. It takes a dogged refusal to abandon one’s citizenship, one’s calling, one’s standards, one’s identity, one’s belief. You don’t just resist worldliness by wishing to resist worldliness; it requires resolve.

And here’s Paul saying to you, ‘Friend, all that you have to do for worldliness to happen is nothing. You don’t have to go out and court worldliness, it’s looking for you. It knows where you live. It knows your street address. It knows your email, knows your cell phone, knows your heart. And unless you are resolved not to buy into the lie that’s all around you, you’ll be sucked in.

So how do you resist it?
You find a believer who’s acting like Paul, and you follow them. You remember that worldliness kills. It will put you in a box and cover you up with dirt, from which you will never recover. You cultivate that homesickness that this world is not my home, and so you live like this world is not your home. And then you stand fast. You strap yourself to the mast by God’s grace, and you say, “Lord, shut my ears; shut my eyes; shut my heart to all the things that the world wants to tell me will give me satisfaction, that will only make me value those things more than You.”

You know, it’s just like the garden, isn’t it? The serpent comes to the woman and says, ‘This piece of fruit…it’ll make you happy. It’ll do the trick. God won’t do the trick. This piece of fruit, it will do the trick.’ And worldliness does the same thing: ‘God won’t make you happy, but this? Oh, it’ll make you happy!’ And what happens? Does it make you happy? It brings you nothing but misery. And it causes your heart to grow dead to the only joy that has ever existed, and the only joy that will last.

And so Paul’s saying, ‘Dear, dear, Christian friend, don’t buy that bill of goods. Stand firm. Act like me, because this world is not your home.’

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