The Heavenly Minded Leader: Philippians Series #18
How we view ourselves in this life, often shapes our views and values. In Philippians chapter three, we find three pictures of what the Christian life is all about for us. In verse eight, Paul begins with the metaphor of an accountant, with “I count.” He is a bookkeeper.
The second metaphor is one of a runner. In verse fourteen, he says, “I press.” We are both bookkeepers and runners at the same time.
In Philippines 3:17-21, Paul provides the third picture. He pictures the Christian life as a traveler or a pilgrim. He says in verse 20, “We look for the Savior.” The Christian life is like an accountant, an athlete, and an alien. We’re just passing through this world onto our eternal home. Our pericope for this chapter is:
Brothers and sisters, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even as I weep, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who have their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our lowly condition into conformity with His glorious body, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Jesus used the picture of life as a journey. Jesus said that there are two ways to travel in the journey of life. He said that there is a broad way with a wide gate that leads to destruction and a narrow way and a narrow gate that it leads to everlasting life.
In this chapter, I am writing about how we mind earthly things, contrasted with how we manage heavenly things. One entails an earthly path, while the other entails a heavenly path. We read in verse 19, “Who mind earthly things.” They set their affections on earthly things.
Every one of us is on a journey and we are going somewhere. There is a destination for all of us. According to the Bible, we are either minding earthly things, you are putting your affections on the things of the earth, or you have your eyes toward heavenly things, and you are minding, you have set your affection on heavenly things.
I. Managing Earthly Things
Let’s begin with thinking about those who manage earthly things. In verse 18, Paul says, “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.”
He is talking about people who have made this earth the total interest of their life. They have put their focus entirely on things on this earth. They are living for the present. They are living for this world.
We live in a generation that is fast becoming a generation of earth-bound pagans, people who live with only this world in view, people who have put their minds only on what they can see and profit from in this life. Paul writes with tears, “weeping that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.”
I get the picture here of Paul in that Roman cell. I can almost imagine that as Paul is writing, there is a soldier guarding him. Tears begin to run down the face of Paul. The soldier says, “I don’t blame you, Paul. You are in jail. If I was in your terrible situation, I would be weeping too.” Paul says, “I’m not crying for myself.” The soldier says, “I understand, Paul. I’m sure that you are weeping for your family and hate to be apart from them.” Paul says, “I’m not weeping for my family.” The soldier says, “I understand. You are surely weeping because of what your enemies have done to you.” Paul says, “Yes, I am weeping for my enemies, but I am not weeping because of what they’ve done to me. I am weeping for the enemies of the cross.”
Sometimes we get the idea that everybody in the New Testament church was saved. Somehow, we idealize these New Testament characters and these New Testament believers. Yet, in I John 2:19, the Bible says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
Not everybody that has his name on the church roll has got his name on heaven’s roll. You may be a member of a local church, but I want to know if you are truly born again. What about you? Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? I want you to look at the three descriptions he gives here of those who are earthly-minded.
Every Life Has a Destiny
In Philippians 3:19, Paul emphatically writes, “Whose end is destruction.” He talks about their destiny. Every life has a destiny. Every life has a goal. Every life has an end. He says, “Who end is destruction.” These people are lost.
Let me ask you a question. What about you? What is your destiny? A hundred years from now where are you going to be? When it’s all over down here and the things of this earth have passed away, where will you be in eternity?
“Whose end is destruction.” The word “destruction” is a word that carries the idea of waste or lostness. It is a picture of a wasted life. It is a picture of a lost life. Jesus used the same word when He said, “Broad is the way that leadeth unto destruction.”
Where are you going when you die? Think about the terrible picture here that is painted of those who do not know Christ as the Savior. You say, “James, you seem to be a fairly intelligent, educated man. Do you believe that the Bible is correct and that there really is a hell?” I absolutely believe there is a hell.
Many people are so concerned about the right and the left. What we need to get concerned about is above and below. The bottom line when you die is not whether you are a conservative or a liberal or a Republican or Democrat. The bottom line is, are you saved or are you lost? Are you going to heaven or to hell? Everybody on this planet is either going to heaven or hell. Paul reminds us, “Whose end is destruction.”
You may ask, “James, are you trying to frighten me?” Absolutely. If you need it, yes, I am. I’m trying to scare you. There is nothing wrong with fear as a motive.
A traffic officer pulls a person over and says, “Man, if you don’t slow down this car, you are going to have a wreck and you are going to kill yourself.” He uses fear.
A person goes to the doctor and the doctor says, “If you don’t give up smoking or if you don’t lose 40 pounds, you are going to die as a young man.” It scares the person to death and gets you on a diet. Fear is not a bad motive. I’d rather scare you into heaven than lull you into hell.
Every Life Has a Deity
Next, Paul says, “Whose God is their belly.” What a picture! He talks now about their deity. He says these people who’ve got their minds on earthly things have a god. They have a deity, and their god is their belly. That same phrase is used again in Romans 16, verse 18. It says, “For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
He’s not talking just merely about physical appetites, though that is included. But he’s talking about living for the physical pleasures of life. It includes food, drugs, and all of the things that are the pleasures of life. Paul is stating that these things have become their god.
There are many people who live life like this. They have no eternal perspective in their life. They have no heavenly vantage point in their life. They are just living for the things of this earth. They are trying to make it through the week to get to the party on the weekend. They are interested in rougher parties and faster cars and more elaborate houses and looser sex. They are just living for the physical pleasures of life. “Whose God is their belly.”
There is more to life than the physical. You not only have a belly, but you have a soul. The things of this world will not satisfy the human soul. God has made the human soul so that it can only be satisfied by a relationship to God. You can try all of the pleasures of life. You can travel on every one of the roads of the material things that this life has to offer, and it is all a dead-end street. You will only find joy, satisfaction, and genuine pleasure in life when you develop a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Every Life Has a Depravity
In Philippians 3:19, Paul does not mince words with, “Who glory is in their shame.”
He’s saying that those who sell out to material and physical pleasures and live only from an earthly perspective eventually arrive to the point that their spiritual sensitivities are so dull, that they glory, they brag about the things that they should be ashamed of in life.
Is that a picture of the world in which you and I are living today? Think about the drunkenness of America, and yet people brag about it. Think about all of the immorality going on in our world, and yet our movies, our music, and our television programs brag about all of this immorality.
There was a time in our country when people blushed if they were embarrassed. Now they are embarrassed, if they blush. “Whose glory is their shame.” They make a game of shame. Here is a picture of what life is if it is lived only from an earthly perspective.
There is a story about a man who was flying on an airplane, coming back from a business trip to the city to where his business was located. As they were getting ready to land in his city, they saw a huge fire, with smoke bellowing into the sky. The man said, “Would you look at that. What a fire.” He thought it was rather humorous.
He landed, and he got in the car. The closer he got to his business the more he became aware that the flame was from his own business. He was laughing at that which was destroying his own business and livelihood.
There are many people today that are laughing at their sin. They are making fun of morality. They are glorying in the things that they ought to be ashamed of. What you are doing, if you do that, is glorying in the very thing that is destroying and wrecking your life.
There are untold numbers of people who are minding earthly things. Paul says that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. An immoral life on the part of a person who claims to be a Christian is a life that basically is in total contradiction to everything the cross of Jesus Christ intended for your life and for mine. Jesus didn’t die on the cross that we could just live any way. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could live immoral, impure, and boastful of sinful lives. Jesus died on the cross to give us power to live clean, pure, godly, dedicated lives.
II. Minding Heavenly Things
We are now moving to the management of heavenly things. In Philippines 3:20, we read, “For our conversation is in heaven.” He is talking about those who manage heavenly things, those who have come to understand that this world is not the only world there is and that there is a better world ahead of them.
Our Heavenly Homeland
You will recognize the word “citizenship” to describe where are real location is. It is used in the verb form in the first chapter of Philippines. In this chapter, he talks in terms of this whole matter of citizenship. He says in the first chapter that believers have a conversation or citizenship in heaven.
In Philippines 1:27, Paul admonishes us, “Only let your conduct (citizenship) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” What does it mean by your citizenship, is in heaven? The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. In those days, Rome had outposts in the western world. These cities were selected as Roman colonies. They retired Roman soldiers to live in those cities. They were governed by Roman laws. They wore Roman clothing. They spoke the Roman language. In every way, they tried to emulate the life of Rome. They tried to have a miniature Rome where they lived.
So, when Paul said, “Our citizenship is in heaven,” immediately they understood what he was saying. He was saying that we have citizenship beyond this world. We have a heavenly homeland. Jesus said, “You must be born again.” The word “again” can be translated as “from above.” Jesus was saying, “You must be born from above.”
Every saved person has a heavenly homeland. What a homeland we have! Did you know that our homeland has walls of jasper? Our homeland has gates of pearl. Our homeland has streets of gold. In our homeland, there are no jails. There are no prisons. There are no funeral homes. In our homeland, there are no asylums. In our homeland, there are no terminal clinics. In our homeland, there is no fighting, no war, no sorrow, no pain, no heartache, and there is no death. We’ve got a homeland and we are headed to that homeland. Our citizenship is in heaven.
We are moving toward heaven. We are not to go around with some kind of mystical look on your face, some far-off look in your eye, talking like you’ve got a steeple in your throat. It means that you take heavenly standards and heaven’s viewpoint and bring that to bear on your daily life.
When we were born again, we no longer belong down here. Your homeland is in heaven, so every day of your life, you apply heavenly standards to your decisions and lifestyle. With your business, you do it with your homeland in mind. Do your schoolwork with heaven in mind. With your family, you do it with eternity in mind. We should always be living with the awareness that our homeland is in heaven and we are to live like a heavenly citizen down here.
Jesus was what you might call “the heavenly man.” Jesus said, “I have come from above.” Everywhere, Jesus, was He brought a little fragrance of heaven to life. He just filled the atmosphere everywhere; He was with the atmosphere of heaven.
That’s the way it should be with us. We should live in such a way that people get a little glimpse of heaven. Our behavior and our lifestyle ought to be such that people are aware that our citizenship is in heaven.
Our Heavenly Hope
In Philippines 3:20, we read, “From which also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “look” is a combination of words put together that means to look away too. It is the idea of tip-toe expectancy. The Bible teaches us that while we are living down in this world, we are aware that we don’t belong to this world. Additionally, we look with anticipation for Jesus to come back to this world to take us.
In those days, the greatest event that would ever happen in a year’s time in the life of a city would be for the Caesar to come visit that colony. The announcement would be made, “The king is coming.” They would clean the houses, they would wash the streets, and would repair the roads. The city would be filled with intense desire and anticipation. All of the citizens were looking forward to Caesar, the emperor, coming to their city.
We have someone who is coming for us and His name is Jesus. The Bible says in Titus 3:13, that we are to live looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We should live every day of our life as if the Lord Jesus would come.
I heard about a man who was visiting a magnificent villa. In that villa, there was a beautiful garden. The visitor, talking to the man who tended that garden, said, “Sir, you are tending this garden as if your master would come tomorrow.” The gardener said, “As if he would come today, Sir.”
We should live every day of our life as if Jesus would come today. Wouldn’t it change your life, if you lived today as if Jesus were coming today? Wouldn’t it affect your behavior today? Wouldn’t it affect the decisions of your life today if you lived today as if Jesus would come today?
Our Heavenly Health
In Philippines 3:21, “who will transform the body of our lowly condition.” He is referring here to the frailty and to the failures of our human body. Every day of our life we come to understand more how frail these bodies are. Think about how frail the human body is, our body with all of its burdens, our body with all of its frustrations, our body with all of its limitations, our body with all of its humiliations.
However, soon and very soon, we are going to experience a glorious transformation. We read, “will transform the body of our lowly condition into conformity with His glorious body.” One of these days we are going to have a body like the resurrected, ascended, glorified body of Jesus Christ.
Think about it. Jesus could appear and disappear. Jesus, in His glorified body, could come in and out of a place and not be restricted by time or matter or space. One of these days we are going to have a glorified body. If you’ve got your mind on heavenly things, if you are looking with heavens values in view, give your life to Christ and He says that one of these days, “I’ll give you a glorified body.”
No doubt you have some loved ones whom you have placed in a casket somewhere and the last view you saw of them was a body of humiliation and a body of decay. Yet, that is not the end of the movie. There’s going to be a glorious resurrection day, one of these days. We ought to live every day of our lives in anticipation of the time He will transform our glorious body.
In Acts 26:8, Paul was talking to Agrippa about the resurrection. He said to Agrippa, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” He’s saying, “Why is it incredible to believe that God can cause us to live again when He has caused us to live in the first place.”
Have you ever thought about the miracle of life? Have you ever thought about all of the combinations of cells in the human body? Have you ever thought about the fact that into that human body God has breathed the breath of life?
Anybody that says that life just came into existence accidentally has got a screw loose in their head somewhere. Intelligent design. Absolutely, intelligent design! I know the name of the intelligent designer. His name is the Lord God of this universe. The same God who created you and gave you life in the first place, one of these days is going to give you life again but forever!
Look at the last statement of Paul: “by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
Trace in your Bible sometime the things it says that God is able to do. For instance, Hebrews 7:25, says, “Wherefore, he is able also to save them.” God is able to save. There is no one in the world that is impossible for him to save.
Think about Hebrews 2:18, where it says, “He is able to succor,” that is, to come to the aid of them, “that are tempted.”
In Ephesians 3:20, we read, “Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.”
There is nothing that God can’t do. God can save your life. God can give you joy. God can make you a happy person. God can give you victory over temptations that are plaguing you and are like a chain around your life.
We live every day as those who are pilgrims, who are traveling through the earth on our way to our heavenly home. Pick your road. Pick your destination. You can manage earthly things or you can mind heavenly things.