Life In Christ
(Philippians study - Lesson 5)
In studying through Philippians, one realizes that Paul has a lot to say about the mind. Bible scholar, G. Campbell Morgan, feels that the central teaching of this letter is that it reveals to us the mind of Christ, and also the mind of Christian men and women.
Several posts ago, we studied the first part of Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timothy, Bondservants of Jesus Christ,”. . .
Moving forward we read, “To all the Saints, with the Bishops and Deacons.” It is worth noting that Paul mentions the church before he mentions the ministers. Mathew Henry notes in his commentary that the idea here is that the ministers exist for the church, and not the church for the ministers. Those who would minister are not only servants of Christ, but servants of the church of Jesus Christ, for His sake.
"TO ALL THE SAINTS" - Paul’s letter is written to all of them. Not just to those in authority, not just to the church leaders, but to all of them. Jesus Christ makes no distinction. All meet in Him, and His Bondservants must not make distinctions. All are included EQUALLY.
"SAINTS" - in this case, the word does not imply one who is entitled to special veneration for holiness. Rather, the root idea is one SET APART FOR GOD, one sanctified by His blood. The Greek word also implies a duty and a privilege. The duty involves purity of heart and mind. Take a moment and write down what you think it means to have a pure heart and mind.
The number one meaning of the word PURITY, is HAVING A UNIFORM COMPOSITION. BEING FREE FROM ADULTERANTS AND IMPURITIES AND CONTAMINANTS. There is ONENESS in purity. The mind and heart are not divided. There is total consecration to God involving purity of heart, mind, and conduct. It involves living life from the inside out. There are no masks worn. There is no pretense. What is on the inside is lived out as purity of conduct.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 is one of my favorite scripture prayers: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." Verse 23 gives us a picture of purity, of wholeness, of oneness, of a uniform composition.
So much for THE DUTY of the set apart saint.
THE PRIVILEGE lies in knowing that we ARE SAINTS ALREADY in the mind and purpose of God. This is a most powerful and exciting truth. A saint is already IN THE MIND OF GOD.
This is not the way I know myself today, but it is the way that God knows me. His promise is that one day “I WILL KNOW, AS I AM KNOWN.” One day I will see, I will know, I will experience, I will be all that God had in mind for me to be when he created me. 1 Corinthians 13:12 expresses this beautifully - “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Someday, I will know all that I have always been in the mind of Christ. Someday I will understand what it means to be a SAINT. For now, I am a saint already in the mind and purpose of God; one set apart for HIS SERVICE.
Paul goes one step further in explaining this, in using the expression "IN CHRIST JESUS". We are saints IN HIM. Here is our theme. This phrase is most significant and characteristic of Paul’s writings. Some have regarded it as the sum of his religion. We are, by God’s grace, IN CHRIST.
This phrase will appear eight times in Philippians. In Paul’s letters as a whole, the phrase “in Christ” appears 37 times; “in Jesus Christ”, 41 times; and “in the Lord”, 43 times. These phrases are original with Paul. By them, he means to describe the closest union that can be conceived between the believer and the Lord. For the true Christian, all plans, all purposes, all activities, all hopes are IN CHRIST.
In everyday terms we live out this truth through an attitude of faith and trust. "Lord, I don’t know what this day holds, but I know you hold the day. I live, and move, I have my being IN CHRIST." Nothing can happen in my life today that He does not know about. Nothing can touch me unless He allows it. IN CHRIST I find a place of safety. He knows what my tomorrows hold, and he prepares me for them.
Not long ago I picked up a magazine at the beauty shop, and one of the articles was entitled, “What makes women feel secure and insecure?.” Living out my life IN CHRIST, I find my place of security.
Next, we find an inscription: "TO ALL THE SAINTS, WITH THE BISHOPS AND DEACONS", and then a benediction: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Note: "FROM God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" - jointly, from them both, though in a different way.) Here Paul is writing; good is wished for you . . . grace and peace. "Grace" is the unmerited favor and good will of God; and "peace" is the fruit and effect of God’s grace.
Observe this, that there is no peace for us without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of God’s love and favor. It comes out of the awareness of belonging to God.
There is no grace or peace but from God our Father. He is the origin of ALL BLESSING. In James 1:17 we read that He is the “Father of lights from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift.” At the same time, there is not grace or peace from God our Father but through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the channel of all spiritual blessings.
"OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST" - This name holds a wealth of meaning for us. "Lord" is a title that denoted true diety; recognized by all who accepted Him as Master, and worshipped Him as the Son of God. LORD.
JESUS - the personal , human name of the Savior.
CHRIST - His official title as the “ANNOINTED ONE”, as the one who is empowered to accomplish salvation for all mankind.
We find our first glimpse into Paul’s mind here in verse 3, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
"I thank my God every time I remember you". Who was Paul remembering? The people who made up that Philippians church. First, Lydia, an Asian by birth, proselyte to Judaism, a successful businesswoman. The second person Paul had touched with the gospel was a Greek, a slave, a spirit medium, who had harassed Paul during his ministry, until he brought her physical relief from bondage to Satan, and spiritual relief as he introduced her to Jesus Christ. A woman from the very bottom rung of society.
Thirdly, he remembers the Philippian jailer and his family, the one who placed Paul in the stocks after he had been beaten. And what were Paul’s thoughts as he remembered these people? I THANK MY GOD EVERYTIME I REMEMBER YOU.
There were many bad things that Paul could have held in his mind concerning this group of people but when he thought of them HE THANKED GOD FOR THEM.
Stop with me for a moment, and write down quickly the names of three or four people that hold important positions in your life. Now, when you think of these people, what is your attitude? Do you thank God for them, or do you keep account of the wrongs they have done to you? Do you thank God for them, or do you review over and over again in your mind, the sources of your discontent with them. Every time you remember them, what do you think?
Whatever those relationships hold, our goal should be to move to a point where we can say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” This is our first glimpse of the mind of the Christian. This attitude firmly held, will transform your life.
To illustrate, I want to tell you about a woman with whom I took a Christian counseling class. She told our class that she had been very unhappy with her husband for some time. One night she was reading her Bible, and she read, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who despitefully use you.”
Those verses convicted her heart. She thought, “These verses speak to me about my husband, for he has truly become my enemy.”
She decided that she was going to start writing down every good thing she could find in her husband; every single thing that she could thank God for. She worked to find one thing a day. Finally she had a list of over 100 things that she could be thankful for.
One day, quite unexpectedly, her husband came across that list, and he came to her and said, “Is this all about me? Oh, how did you ever find so much in me to be thankful for?”
Love between them was resurrected; it came to life again as she chose to “Thank God” every time she remembered her husband. It has been said that the perfect wife is one who does not expect a perfect husband.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, "In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Give Thanks! Bloom where you are planted!
May a heart of thankfulness be central in each of our families, whether we are thinking in terms of our own family nucleus, our extended family, or our church family. . . a heart that is thankful and that remembers every single member of that family WITH JOY. Joy that is not the result of outward circumstances, but comes from inward strength, from a relationship with God.