Do any of you remember a song from the past that went something like this, "United we stand, divided we fall, and if our backs should ever be against the wall, we'll be together you and I?" That is what Paul is stressing in Philippians 2-- unity! The church needs to stand together for the defense and promotion of the gospel.
We have spent 13 weeks studying Philippians, chapter 2. It has been an encouraging, convicting and very practical study. I think we have all learned a lot from chapter 2, but the danger in breaking it down and covering it over a long period of time is that we may lose its central meaning as we examine its parts. So, before we move on to chapter 3, I feel that we should go over chapter two as a unit. We really need to understand the central teaching of chapter 2 before we can understand what he is saying in chapter 3.
Philippians 3:1 (NKJV) Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
What "same things" is Paul referring to? What is he saying here that he has said before? Some say it refers to the subject of "rejoicing." That's possible. But I believe it refers to the warning found in Philippians 1:27-30, to stand firm against opponents. And the way they were to do that was to be united. They were to stand together.
The adversaries of Philippians 1:27-30 appear once more in chapter 3, but now explicitly named as the Judaizers, who Paul calls: "dogs, evil workers, and the mutilation!" They were teaching false doctrine, they were teaching a salvation by faith PLUS works. Philippians 1:27-30 tells us that unity is needed against an external enemy. Then in chapter 2, he deals with how to have unity--through love and humility. Now in chapter 3, he goes back to the external enemy:
Philippians 3:2 (NKJV) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
Three times in this verse he tells them to BEWARE! In the end of chapter 1, we have adversaries and in the beginning of chapter 3, we have adversaries and in between is chapter 2, that tells us how to stand against our enemies-- unity-- united we stand! Unity is a major subject in the New Testament. Let's look at the Picture, Priority, and Purpose of unity.
THE PICTURE OF UNITY--
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NKJV) For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
In verse 12, Paul takes the physical body and uses it to illustrate the characteristic of unity. The human body is not a pile of disconnected members, it is a unit made up of many functioning members. Without this unity the physical body doesn't function, or even exist. The hand detached from the body is useless. This is how it is spiritually with us as Christians, if we remove ourselves from the fellowship of the body we become useless. Verse 13 shows us that salvation is the initial point of our unity. We are brothers in Christ.
THE PRIORITY OF UNITY--
Paul was concerned with the subject of unity, he brought it up in every letter he wrote to a church. Disunity is always a lurking potential for disaster. Probably, there is no single thing so much insisted on in the New Testament as the importance of unity.
Ephesians 4:1-6 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
THE PURPOSE OF UNITY --
John 17:20-23 (NKJV) "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Do you know what will convince the world who Jesus is? The unity of the church! Our unity as believers is necessary for the advancement of the gospel.
Let's back up to Philippians 1:27 and look at this section as a whole. Let's put it together to give us a clear understanding of the warning in Philippians 3:1-3.
Philippians 1:27 (NKJV) Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
The Greek word for "conduct" here is politeuomai. The word politeuomai here is a verb and means: "to conduct oneself worthily as a citizen of a polis, or city-state." Paul is exhorting them to live as citizens of heaven. "You are to live your life and use your abilities and talents for the sake of the community-- the body of believers." They are to live "worthy" of the gospel-- this is integrity. This is much needed in the church today. We need to live out what we believe and preach. Our lives should model the truth of the gospel. Paul tells us that worthy behavior involves four things-- Standing, Sharing, Striving, and Suffering. The first three are found in verse 27.
1. STAND FAST-- "that you stand fast." This is a military term used of a soldier who will not budge from his post, no matter how intense the battle gets. There is to be no compromise in doctrine or practice.
2. SHARING-- "in one spirit with one mind." This is a call for unity. We must stand together, we are interdependent not independent. We need each other. I need your insights and wisdom and you need mine. Unity comes through spirituality. Carnality causes strife and division.
3. STRIVING TOGETHER-- "striving together for the faith of the gospel." The Greek word for "striving together"is sunathleo, from sun, which means: "together with" and athleto which means: "to engage in competition or conflict." This pictures a team sport or fighting together side by side. Listen carefully: Christianity is a team sport. I mean that reverently. God built the body to be interdependent. We need each other. We are engaged in a common struggle for the faith of the gospel. Our goal is twofold-- Evangelism and Edification, we are to reach and teach.
We must not fail to realize how crucial to the purpose of God is the behavior of his people. Evangelistic success, from our perspective, is dependent on the worthiness of the lives we live.
Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Paul not only tells the Philippians that they need to be Standing, Sharing, and Striving, but they also will be:
Philippians 1:28 (NKJV) and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
"Adversaries" is antikeima. It means: "to resist, oppose." So antikeimai is someone who resists you, or opposes you. We would say, "enemies."
Philippians 1:29 (NKJV) For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
"It has been granted"-- that is the Greek verb charizomai, which comes from charis, which means grace. So charizomai is grace. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, "Charizomai primarily denotes to show favor or kindness." We must understand this, suffering is a gift of God's grace!
If we are going to live the way that God intends for us to live, it will involve suffering. Whenever Christians will live as they ought to live in this world, when they live righteous lives and aggressively seek to spread the Gospel and make disciples, when they stand, share, and strive, the natural outcome will be suffering. Paul wants the Philippians to understand and expect suffering. And I want you to understand and expect it also.
2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV) Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Godliness brings suffering, in every age, expect it! If we understand and expect persecution for our faith, we won't be surprised by it.
Paul goes on to say:
Philippians 1:30 (NKJV) having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
The words "same conflict" are the Greek words "autosagona," it speaks of an athletic or gladiatorial contest, as in 1 Timothy 6:12 and 2 Timothy 4:7.
"Same" -- we are not alone in our struggle. The trials and persecutions that we face are not unique. "Which you saw" -- They saw Paul's persecutions when he first came to Philippi (Acts 16), when he was beaten and imprisoned for preaching the gospel. "And now hear is in me" -- They were also hearing about Paul's present persecutions. The persecution that the Philippians were battling with were the same conflicts that Paul himself was facing.
Worthy behavior for believers involves; Standing fast, Sharing, Striving together, and Suffering. We must have unity to stand against an external enemy, an enemy that will be defined in chapter 3. But first he gives us clear insight to how we protect our unity in chapter 2. Chapter 2 is all about unity and the ingredients that make it happen. We have an internal enemy (the flesh) that must be overcome if we're ever going to have victory over an external enemy.
Verse 1 of chapter 2 gives us four incentives, or Motives, to unity- Why? Verse 2 gives us four characteristics, or Marks, to unity- What? Verses 3&4 give us the instrumentality, or Means, of unity- How? Verses 5-11 give us the Model of unity. Verses 12-16 give us the Mandate to unity. Then in verses 17-30, we have three examples of men who model these principles that promote unity.
1. Motives for unity, or why pursue unity?
Philippians 2:1 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
"If" - not an expression of doubt, but of certainty. It is a first class condition which means: "if and there is." These truths should compel you. Because you have these, pursue unity. Paul is saying, "I beseech you, brethren, by every blessing, and by every privilege which you enjoy as a Christian to pursue unity."
A. "consolation in Christ" -- The word "consolation" is parklesis, which means: "to come alongside to help or support." Does what Christ has done for you through His sacrificial death encourage you? Then pursue unity!
B. "comfort of love" -- The word "comfort" is the Greek word paramuthion. It means: " the alleviation of suffering and misery." It is speaking of God's love for us. Does what God has done for you because of love comfort you? Then pursue unity!
C. "fellowship of the Spirit" -- Because of the fellowship you have with the Spirit, pursue unity! He gets the whole Trinity involved. If the work of the triune God in your life gives you any comfort and encouragement, then pursue unity.
D. "affection and mercy" -- Paul is appealing to the believer's experience of mercy from God. All believers have experienced His mercy. We deserve hell, but God gave us His tender mercy. Are you aware of these in your life? If not, they won't be an effective incentive. Because you have received all this, shouldn't you strive to preserve unity? We despise these blessings and are ungrateful when we don't pursue unity. An attitude of gratitude should motivate us.
2. Marks of unity, or what is unity?
Philippians 2:2 (NKJV) fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
A."by being like-minded" -- The word "like-minded" is from the Greek word phroneo, which means: " to think, here to think the same way." We are to have the mind of Christ:
Philippians 2:5 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
There are only two possibilities; we are either thinking with human viewpoint or the Divine viewpoint. If everyone's thinking is controlled by the Spirit, we'll have the divine viewpoint and there will be no conflict. The Divine viewpoint comes from the Word of God.
B. "having the same love," -- the word for "love" here is agape. This is not an emotion but a sacrificial act of service. This flows out of having the same mind. It means: "to love everybody the same." It starts with thinking and manifests itself in love.
C. "being of one accord" -- "One accord" is sumpsuchos. It means: "one-souled," used only here in the New Testament, it means: "one life." Your passions, ambitions, and goals are the same. We could say, "Soul-brothers."
D. "of one mind" -- lit. "The one thing minding" It's an idiom for: "intent on one objective" -- God's glory, the advancement of His kingdom. Not pursuing our glory and trying to advance our kingdom.
Paul is really saying the same thing in four ways. Unity is evidenced in a group of people who think alike, they are all controlled by the Spirit of God, and they treat each other in love. How do we live like this? The answer is found in verses 3&4.
3. The Means to unity, or how we have unity? This is how to have unity in your home, at work, at school, in church or anywhere else. Please memorize these verses.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Verses 3&4 give us five practical principles on how to preserve unity; three negative-- don't do this, and two positive-- do this. Let's look at them.
1. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition" -- The word "selfish ambition" is the Greek word eritheia. It means: "party spirit or strife." It is self-promotion that steps on others to lift oneself up. It is focusing on our own agenda-- my cause, my needs, my recognition. We are to do nothing through strife or selfish ambition.
2. "Let nothing be done through...... conceit".
The word translated "conceit" is kenodoxia. It means: "vainglory," or "empty pride." It is a state of mind that seeks personal glory. Eritheia (selfish ambition) is the symptom, but kenodoxia (conceit) is the root. Conceit is a mental attitude sin that leads to jealousy, which leads to selfish ambition and out of selfish ambition come conflicts and loss of unity. We all need to deal with our own selfishness.
3. "but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." The word "but" is alla, which shows a contrast. This is positive. Instead of being selfishly ambitious or proud, maintain a humble attitude. This is where unity begins- unity is born out of humility.
The words "lowliness of mind" are one word in the Greek, tapeinophrosune, it means: "humiliation of mind," i.e. modesty:--humbleness of mind, lowliness (of mind).
1 Peter 5:5-6 (NKJV) Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
The word "humility" is tapeinophrosune, it's direct relation is to God alone, it is a recognition of our creaturely dependence upon God and our true condition in His sight. Humility is dependence upon God. Pride is an attitude of independence that seeks to live apart form God.
Paul defines humility as esteeming others better than yourself. If you're humble, this will be easy for you.
The word "esteem" is hegeomai, it means: "to think, or regard." Referring to a belief that rests, not in one's feelings, but on the due consideration of external grounds on the weighing and comparing of facts. The facts are that what ever you have has come from God and you have no right to boast in it.
1 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV) For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
We are to esteem others "better" huperecho: "to hold oneself above, to excel; superiority:, higher, supreme." This could be translated "thinking of others as superior to yourself." Unity is destroyed where self-esteem prevails, rather than a higher esteem for others. If you think on this verse long enough, it will reveal just how proud you really are because you probably don't esteem too many people as better than yourself. There won't be any discord or division if we hold one another as worthy of more honor and respect than we do ourselves. The bottom line is what is more important in your life-- is it unity, which means God is glorified, or is it that you are glorified through self promotion?
4. "Let each of you look out not ONLY for his own interests." The word "look" is skopeo, it means: "to fix the attention upon with desire for, and interest in." We are to be looking out for others. Looking to meet the interests of others and not just ourselves. We need to hear this, we are so consumed with ourselves that we have no time for others. Are you concerned for others in the body of Christ? In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul said, "Love does not seek its own." Love seeks the interests and needs of others. Some of you may say, "Well I guess I don't have love then." Well, let me tell you that in verses 1-3 of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that if you don't have love you are nothing. Life minus love equals nothing.
5. "But also for the interests of others." If we esteem others as better than ourselves, we will look out for their interests, we'll be concerned with their needs.
The key to the Christian life is not self assertion, it is self renunciation, contrary to what psychologists tell us today, self love is not the key to happiness, but it is the service of one another.
Matthew 20:28 (NKJV) "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Christ is our example, we are to imitate Him. So, in verses 5-11, we are given the:
MODEL of Jesus Christ.
The act of the incarnation in which God became a man, the humble circumstances and suffering of Christ in life, and the supreme act of dying on the cross established Jesus Christ as the greatest illustration of one completely unselfish and entirely devoted to others. We are to have Christ's attitude:
Philippians 2:5 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
What is the mind of Christ? It is the attitude of condescending humility. Our unity comes when we have the mind of Christ, the mind of humility, and care more about others than ourselves. This means; no wounded egos, no stepped on toes, no, "I'm not speaking to so-and-so anymore." No, "That's the last time I'll do that." That is not humility-- that's ego. Christ never tried to maintain his ego.
Philippians 2:6 (NKJV) who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
The word "being" is the Greek word huparcho. It is a verb that stresses the essence of a person's nature, it is to express the continued state of a thing, it is unalterable and unchangeable. Paul said, "Jesus Christ unalterably and unchangeably exists in the form of God." This speaks of his pre-existence.
The word "form" is morphe. It has nothing to do with shape or size. Morphe is the essential character of something, the essential form which never alters.
When Paul uses hupareco (being), and morphe (form), he is saying something very specific; he is saying that Jesus Christ has always existed in the unchangeable essence of the being of God. Jesus Christ is God and always was. This is the heart and soul of the Christian faith-- Jesus Christ is God.
Verse 6 says that Christ, "did not consider it robbery to be equal with God." The word "robbery" is from the Greek word harpogmos which means: "to take by force, to seize." Our Lord did not consider the expression of His Divine essence such a treasure that it should be retained at all costs. He was willing to wave His rights to the expression of His Deity.
When he was spit upon, He just stood there; when he was nailed to a cross, He just hung there; He didn't say, "You can't do this to me, I won't tolerate it." The attitude of humility says, "If this means your salvation, your benefit, your blessing, I'll suffer because I only care about you."
How far does humility go? One could get trampled on. Paul said that we should care so much about others that we could care less about what happens to us:
1 Corinthians 6:7-8 (NKJV) Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
Let me give you a Curtis paraphrase of verse 6, "Who always being the exact essence of the eternal God, did not consider equality with God as something that must be demonstrated."
The word "equal" is isos and it means: "exactly the same, in size, quality, quantity, character and number."
He is saying that Jesus Christ is exactly equal with God. Is God omniscient? Then so is Jesus Christ. Is God omnipresent? Then so is Jesus Christ. Is God omnipotent? Then so is Jesus Christ. Is God the creator? Then so is Jesus Christ. Is God the beginning and end? Then so is Jesus Christ. But He did not consider His equality with God as a prize that had to be hung on to. He is equal with God in every way, but while he walked the earth he didn't look equal to God, he looked just like a man.
Pride says, "I want you to know who I am." Humility says, "My rights to express who I am are not important." This is where it starts-- humility begins with an attitude of willingness to lay aside our "rights." We talk a lot about our rights but you don't hear many people talking about their responsibilities. Do you know what causes disunity and conflict? Two people concerned about their own rights.
Philippians 2:7 (NKJV) but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men.
The word "reputation" is the Greek word kenoo it means: "to make empty." Figuratively, it means: "to abase, naturalize, to make of none effect, of no reputation." He emptied himself of the prerogatives of Deity-- glory and honor.
The word "form" is morphe which means: "essential nature." This is the same word as in verse 6. This is not a mask or Halloween costume, he didn't pretend he was a servant. In his essential nature, he became a servant. He took the essence of a dulos-- a bond-slave.
The word "likeness" is homoioma which suggests similarity but difference. Though his humanity was genuine, he was different from all other humans in that he was sinless.
Philippians 2:8 (NKJV) And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
The word "appearance" is schema-- "outer appearance." People saw him only as a man. He is the God of the universe but he appeared as a humble man.
The main verb is "humbled." How did he do this? By becoming obedient. That is the best way to become humble-- by obedience. There is no humility like that which is produced by obedience to the Bible.
The word "even" calls attention to the shocking form of death. When we think of "Cross," we think -- torture, but there are worse tortures. The point here is that the shame of the cross is worse than the physical agony. There was no greater way in which people of the first century could express their utter disgust with a human being than by crucifying him. In the first century the word "cross" was an obscenity.
Why did Christ go through all this? For others! He esteemed others better than himself. Paul told us to esteem others better than ourselves and then he shows us how Christ did this very thing for us. We are to have the attitude of Christ.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is God's response to Christ's humiliation-- exaltation! Christ was raised to the highest height. Paul says Christ was exalted and the implication is; "so will you be exalted if you humble yourself." This is a principle that is taught all through the Bible-- He who humbles himself will be exalted. Jesus taught this:
Matthew 23:12 (NKJV) "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
It is one principle with two sides. It is a promise of being brought low to those who exalt themselves, and it is a promise of exaltation to those who humble themselves.
You live out Philippians 2:3-4, and God will richly reward you as he did Christ. But if you disobey these verses, God will humble you. God hates and deals with Pride.
In verses 12-16, we have the MANDATE: You are to live like this for the sake of the gospel.
Philippians 2:12 (NKJV) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
The words "work out" are from the Greek word katergazomai which means: "to carry out to the goal." Salvation is used here in the sense of sanctification. We are to carry out our sanctification to its ultimate conclusion which is Christlikeness.
This is going to take effort, diligence, discipline. You won't become Christlike without work. Sin comes naturally, holiness doesn't. Just so we don't think we are to work in our own power he says:
Philippians 2:13 (NKJV) for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
You work at you sanctification trusting God to work in you. What means does God use to work in our sanctification? He uses the Word of God and providence. We are responsible to learn the Word and God brings situations into our lives to mature us. Suffering, trials, persecutions and all of life's situations are designed to help us mature.
Philippians 2:14 (NKJV) Do all things without complaining and disputing,
We are not to complain or dispute with God about his providential workings in our lives, they're all for our good.
The word "complain" is goggusmos it is the word used of the rebellious murmurings of the children of Israel in their desert journey. Do we realize how dangerous murmuring is? If we did, I don't think we would do it so much. Numbers 16 says, 14,700 people died because of murmuring. This is a serious sin.
Complaining is a symptom of a deep seated spiritual problem -- failure to trust God and failure to be submissive to His providential provisions. Remember, all complaining is against God who controls providence. Every complaint against our circumstances, every grumble about the weather, or about the way people treat us, or about our trials in life are all directed against the One who "works all things after the counsel of his own will."
Verses 12-13 tell us to work out our sanctification as God works in us and then in verse 14, we are given the attitude we should have as we work out our sanctification.
The Greek word for complaining, goggusmos, is always associated with rebellion. Complaining is a symptom of pride -- it's saying, "I deserve better than this, and since I don't have better I'm going to complain." If you and I could realize that we deserve nothing from God except judgment, we would stop our complaining and would be grateful for anything we have. If you want to see the depth of pride, look at all you have, all of which you don't deserve, and yet you continue to complain.
Let me show you the attitude called for in verse 14:
Job 1:20-22 (NKJV) Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
How do your circumstance compare with Job's? How does your attitude compare with Job's?
Job 2:7-10 (NKJV) So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" 10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
When we realize that God is the creator and we are the creatures, we bow in humble submission to whatever He does.
Please remember that complaining denies God's sovereignty and disrupts Christian unity. This sin is very contagious, it spreads like wild fire. You get one disgruntled complainer and it won't be long before it spreads to many.
In verses 15-16 we have CHARACTER AND CONTENT:
Philippians 2:15-16 (NKJV) that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
We are to live godly lives and hold out the word of life. We could sum up verses 14-16 like this; "avoid the sins of Israel." They complained, they lived ungodly lives, they were to hold out the word of life and they failed. They weren't the witnesses to the world that they were to be. The bottom line of our unity is our testimony. These verses speak of character and content.
Just so you don't say, "This stuff is too difficult, I can't live like this." Paul gives us three examples of men who fleshed out the message of humility serving others without complaining. These three examples are Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Philippians 1:27 calls for us to stand fast and fight together for the faith of the gospel. How? With one mind and spirit-- unity, which is only achieved by humility. In chapter 3:1, Paul says, "Let me remind you of the need for unity." Then in verse 2, he says, "Beware of the Judiazers." We'll never be able to stand against outside attacks if we do not have unity. James sums this up for us in:
James 3:14-16 (NKJV) But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
When strife/eritheia (same word as in Philippians) enters in, there is confusion. Strife opens the door for every evil work. It destroys our unity which destroys the gospel message.
How important is unity? Without it we're weak and vulnerable to attacks from without-- false doctrine. The message of Philippians 2 is that our unity is preserved by humility and destroyed by strife and pride. May God help us to have the mind of Christ, an attitude that esteems others as better than ourselves, that we may be a witness to the world. United we stand!
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