Learning How to Walk

Philippians 3:17-21

Tom Pennington  •  November 7, 2004
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Well, I encourage you to take your Bibles this morning and turn back to the book of Philippians. We took a week off last Sunday morning to look at the issue of God's providence. This morning, I want us to return to finish up this great third chapter of the book of Philippians.

You've probably had or many of you have probably had the opportunity that I've had to travel several times to New York City. As they say, it's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. I love going into the heart of the city and just seeing the incredible pulse, the sort of heartbeat of the city and the energy that's sort of constantly there - thousands, millions, in fact, of people always going somewhere else. It's fascinating if you stand back in the middle of all of that teeming mass of humanity and just watch people. You ever done that? You ever watch people and just sort of observe what's going on?

One of the things that's fascinating is how much you can learn from just watching how people walk. You ever thought of how many words there are in English for walking and the different nuances of meaning that there are? Here are a few of them that I had jotted down. Each word paints a little different picture. There's the word for swagger, stride, pace, stroll, saunter (which is what your kids do when you want 'em to do something in a hurry), shuffle, plod, slog, stagger, strut, slink, and tiptoe. What's interesting about those words to me is how they illustrate a person's character. Often the way a person walks reveals something about that person's, at least their current state of mind, maybe their values, and sometimes the way they walk even tells you something about their character.

Paul loves to use the analogy of walking to describe our day to day conduct as Christians, our behavior as believers. In Ephesians 4:1, he says: "I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." He says, [Walk, order your life, your step by step progress in a way in keeping with who you are in Christ.]

Weeks ago, when we were here in Philippians, we looked at verses 12 - 16. And in these verses, 12 - 16, Paul tells us how to keep the big picture of the Christian life in front of us – that is, knowing Jesus Christ and being like Him. In verses 17 - 21, the verses we're going to look at today, Paul takes the next step, and he explains how those high, lofty, wonderful goals of knowing Christ and being like Him must be translated into everyday life. You see, it's not enough to say that you want to be like Christ. That desire, that ambition must effectively change your next step and the step after that and the step after that. Here, Paul leaves our mindset and comes to our behavior. He comes to how we walk.

Let me read it to you. You follow along. Philippians 3 beginning in verse 17.

"Brethren, 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 weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."

Let me remind you of the flow of this great chapter. We began in looking at the first nine verses, we saw the reality of our justification. We saw that if we are in Christ, then God has declared us to be forever right in His sight, forever just in the courtroom of heaven. In verses 10 and 11, Paul says, 'As a result of that justification, there has, there have been some huge paradigm shifts in my thinking.' He says, 'I don't live for the same things I used to live for. My ambitions are different now.' And in verses 10 and 11, he tells us what those ambitions are. He says, [I want to know Christ and I want to be like Him and ultimately, I want to be with Him.] And he said, [That is what drives me. Those are my ambitions in life.]

Then in verses 12 - 16, we learned how you and I can cultivate the same mindset that Paul had, how you and I can begin to sort of imitate Paul in our thinking. And we too can have the same ambitions in life of knowing Christ and being like Him and ultimately even being with Him.

But in verses 17 - 21, the verses I just read, Paul tells us how to translate the mindset of verses 10 - 16, that kind of thinking, how to translate the thinking into actual behavior, how to translate the ambitions into action. He moves from mindset and attitude to action and behavior. You see, being a Christian is more than embracing certain doctrines. It's more than praying a prayer or walking down an aisle. It's more than filling out a card or belonging to a certain church. Genuine Christians walk a certain way. Genuine Christians live a certain kind of lifestyle. If verses 10 - 16 sounded good to you as we went through them, but they were a little bit hard for you to get your arms around, a little bit hard to picture, then this paragraph is for you because in this paragraph, Paul gives us three simple, basic and yet profound instructions that will help us translate a Christ-centered mindset into a Christ-centered life: translate attitude into action.

Let's take a look at these basic instructions that Paul gives us here in these verses. The first one is found in verse 17. He says follow the right examples, follow the right examples. Notice verse 17, "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us." 'Brethren' – he's talking now to all of those who are a part of the Philippian church, all the believers that have gathered there. And he says, literally he says, [I want you to be fellow imitators of me.] Join together [he says in imitating me.] The word for "follow my example" is the word from which we get our word "mime". He's saying, [Mimic me. Copy me. Let me be the example to you.]

There is in the apostle Paul's words here the clear implication that truth is not merely taught, but often it's caught. You see, learning how to act by imitating others is a part of human life. Children watch and mimic their parents' behavior. If you don't know that, people watching your children do. Young people mimic their peers.

Just before we left California in the year or so leading up to that time, there was a trend that swept the young people of California, and I can see a little of it here, but it was exaggerated there as you might expect. Everything there, culturally, seems to be exaggerated. The young people, a trend caught on among the young men to wear pants that (I'm not making this up) were made by Omar, the tentmaker. They were like twelve, fifteen, twenty sizes too large. I don't see how honestly they were even able to get around in them. And, and I have to be honest. It was sort of laughable. And it, on first appearance, seemed to sort of lower the appearance of IQ by about thirty to forty points. That wasn't true, but it certainly appeared that way.

We all did that. You know, I was trying to think of an example of how we dressed when I was growing up. And I asked Sheila if she knew of one and she said, "Well, well no. I mean, we never dressed ridiculously when we were growing up." We all think that way, but we all imitate our, we imitated our peers. That's what we do. And you, you adults are laughing, but let me tell you. You're guilty of the same thing. Where do you think the phrase 'keeping up with the Joneses' came from? We tend to watch others' behavior and imitate them.

The point is this. Whether it's family or our peers, one of the primary ways we learn behavior is by watching and imitating others. Paul says in verse 17, "Follow my example. Follow the pattern you have in us." This was a consistent message of Paul's. In fact, he, he comes back to it in chapter 4. Notice verse 9 of Philippians 4: "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things." He says, 'Listen. What you've heard me teach and how you've seen me live, I want you to copy me. I want you to practice those things.'

In Corinthians 11:1, he says, "Be imitators of me as I also am of Christ." In 2 Thessalonians 3:9, he says: "we offered ourselves as a model for you [a model for you], so that you would follow our example."

But you know, Paul, as wonderful a model of the Christian life as he was, couldn't be everywhere even then. And of course you and I have never met Paul. I look forward to the day in heaven to approach Paul and to thank him for how God has used him through these letters he wrote in my life, and I'm sure you do in yours as well. But we haven't seen Paul. We haven't seen how Paul lives. We've seen certainly what he tells us about how he lived.

So instead, notice what he does. He urges the Philippians and us to look around the church for examples, for other faithful, mature Christians. Notice again verse 17: "observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us." The word "pattern" is an interesting word. The Greek word describes the imprint left by a blow. Paul says, [When we were there, my life and my teaching left an unmistakable imprint.] And he said, [I want you to imitate, I want you to mimic those who bear the imprint of my life and teaching.] Notice he says "observe" – that is, mark and follow those who match the stamp, the imprint I left.

Now undoubtedly, this refers to the leaders of the church. Back in chapter 1:1, he begins by talking about the elders and the deacons who were a part of the church in Philippi. Undoubtedly, he means look to your leaders. This is a theme of the New Testament. Turn to Hebrews 13. Hebrews 13:7. The writer of Hebrews says: "Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." Imitate their faith.

Peter, writing to those who were scattered abroad in the diaspora in 1 Peter, says in 1 Peter 5:3 to the elders, he says I want you "to be examples to the flock."

What kind of examples are the leaders of the church to be? Well, Paul gets really explicit in 1 Timothy 4:12. He talks to Timothy, who's in leadership in the church in Ephesus. And he says, [Timothy, I want you] "in [your] speech [how you talk], [in your] conduct [how you live], [in your] love, [in your] faith and [in your] purity, [to] show yourself [as] an example of those who believe."

Listen. I and the other elders and the deacons and those who lead at Countryside Bible Church are to so live as to be a model for you to imitate. That doesn't mean we're perfect. We're not. We're flawed models, but guess what? Paul wasn't perfect either. You go back earlier in chapter 3 and what does he say? "I haven't arrived." You go to Romans 7, he says, "I struggle with sin." But nevertheless, he was more mature in Christ. He could serve as a model for people to follow and the leaders of the church are to be models for you to follow - not perfect models, flawed models, but models, nonetheless.

But notice back in chapter 3, Paul doesn't restrict these good examples just to the leadership of the church. He essentially says this: "I want you to imitate anybody in the church who is imitating me." Here's the bottom line. We all, everybody under the sound of my voice this morning, we all model ourselves after someone. There are no exceptions. So, Paul says, "Make sure you're following the right model, the right example. Follow good role models, good Biblical role models."

Well, the first question that comes into my mind is, so where all can I get those good role models? There are several places. First of all, you can get them right here in the Scripture itself. These things were written, we're told, for our instruction, for our admonition. Go to the life of Moses. Go to the life of David, the life of Deborah, the life of Joshua, the life of the apostles. Learn from their example. That's what Scripture urges us to do. We get to Hebrews 11, and he wants to tell us, the writer of Hebrews does, about faith. And he teaches about faith, but then he tells us what faith looks like in human flesh, and he shows us all these examples of, of faith through the biographies of men and women of the Scripture. Look to the Scripture for those good role models.

But you can even go to other places to get good Christian role models. Look to the heroes of the Christian faith: men like Augustine and Luther and Calvin and John Edwards and Martyn Lloyd-Jones in more recent years. The heroes of the Christian faith – again, not perfect men, flawed, but men who stood for God and for His truth, men who knew God. How can you learn and follow the example of people who are dead? Read Christian biographies. Let me say it again. Read Christian biographies.

Listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I love this. He says,

Is there anything that can be of greater practical value to the Christian who is anxious to truly live a Christian life than to follow such good examples? Is there anything that so helps us in our endeavor to attain unto that ultimate goal than to read the lives of God's saints, the biographies of good and godly men and women? [Lloyd-Jones goes on to say,] Speaking for myself, I can certainly testify that I have found nothing of greater value and encouragement. You see the truth in practice. You see it translated from the realm of pure teaching and put into operation. [He finishes by saying,] To me, it is one of the saddest features of the life of the church today that so often people are ignorant of the great saints of the past.

Listen. If you've never read and benefitted from good Christian biography, let me tell you where to start. Go over here to our bookstore and get William Carey's biography by S. Pearce Carey. It'll change your life. You'll see how a common, ordinary shoemaker was transformed into the man who began modern missions. Read how God has worked in the lives of people.

But good role models aren't confined to the printed page. They aren't just dead guys. Follow the example of Christians in your life, Christians in this church around you. Look around you. There are no perfect Christians, but there are those who are more mature in the faith than you are. They provide a goal for you to pursue, a target to hit.

Paul urges us to identify good Christian role models, good examples, and then to walk like those Christians walk. Live like they live. Let me just bring it down to the brass tacks. Choose someone who's more mature than you are and imitate their faith.

But this section cuts both ways. Not only are you to be looking for somebody to follow, but you are to be becoming someone who's worthy of being followed. All of us are called to set a standard for those who are coming behind us, who are younger than we are either in age or in Christ – they're younger. You are to set an example for them to follow.

Let me ask you. In your home, when your children see your Christian life in the home, do they see a model to follow? Do they see something worthy of imitation? What about in your marriage? Do your children see in the relationship that you and your spouse have for each other a model of Christian marriage? Not a perfect marriage, but a marriage where there's genuine love and the roles that are laid out in Scripture are respected, where there's a self, self-sacrificial love for one another, do they see that model?

Do you model what a Christian should be in how to study the Bible and in your regularity and faithfulness in doing it? Is your prayer life a model? Is your evangelism, how you spread the gospel, a model? Are you a model of self-discipline in pursuing all of these things? What about when you go through life's troubles? Are you a model in how to face difficulty? Some of you have the very real possibility that you are facing death in the future because of something going on in your body right now. Are you a model of how to face even the darkest valley of the shadow of death as we're told? Are you a model to others of how to die? Are you a model of how to grieve, of how to trust, how to disagree with another believer without becoming argumentative?

Let me ask you a question. And I hate to ask this because it could happen. What if the next reality show that you read about in the paper - you know, I'm kind of tired of picking up the newspaper and reading about some hair-brained idea that somebody had to get in line with everything else that's on television. And what if the next reality show were about Christians and being a Christian, and you were signed up and the cameras followed you twenty-four hours a day? Would those who watch see a Christian life worth imitating? We're to be examples. We're to be models.

You know, this is so important. I remember when I was growing up, (I'm from a large family as most of you know, I'm the last of ten children. And I remember) there were times when, you know, clothing was short. In fact, I didn't know you actually went to the store and bought clothes until I was probably a teenager. And I remembered my mom making clothes at times for my sisters. She'd go to the store, and unfortunately, because I was the youngest, I had to go with her to the sewing store which was not the most exciting part of my week. And we'd go in there, and she'd pick out this pattern, and she'd bring it back home. And I still remember her laying fabric out on a flat surface of some kind and then taking out of this envelope these pieces of paper, this pattern, and laying it out on that piece of fabric and then cutting along the lines. And what she was left with was a piece of fabric that, when married to the other fabric that she had purchased and cut, made a pattern or formed a dress or a, whatever she was making. Patterns are so important.

Ladies, when you cook, you use a pattern, you use a recipe. Some of you know that I enjoy oil painting. And when I learned oil painting, you learn by copying the masters, by literally taking your brush and repainting their painting on your canvas because that pattern is an amazing tool at learning. You know what Paul is saying? He's saying, "Listen. Find an example. Find a pattern that's worthy of imitation and lay your life as it were on that person and then cut along the lines."

Paul tells us that some around us make excellent role models and we should imitate them, but sadly he goes on in this passage to tell us that there are others who do not provide good role models. That brings us to his second instruction – not only follow good examples, but secondly watch out for false claims, watch out for false claims. Notice verse 18,

For many walk, of whom I have often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

Notice verse 18 begins with the word "for". This is the reason we should be careful to walk like Christians, to imitate those who live like Christians (why?) because there are enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul is deeply concerned here about the influence of many who are connected to the church who behave in a way that's diametrically opposed to the pattern that his life and his teaching provided. Literally, he says "of whom I often was telling you."

Now remember, Paul was only with the Philippians a few short times in the ten years since the church was founded. But he says, [In the times I was with you, I was often telling you about this.] It was a constant, serious concern to Paul – must be important for us too if it was so important for this church in Philippi. He says, "… and now [I'm going to] tell you [again] weeping." The Greek word "weeping" is an interesting word. It's a word of intense emotion. It's the kind of weeping that would occur at the death of a loved one. Paul feels this deeply. He's terribly troubled about it. He says, [I tell you weeping that there are enemies of the cross of Christ.]

Now who are these people? Who are these enemies? Well, they're not outright unbelievers. They're not outright pagans because the problem that Paul's addressing here is these people are a potential model for the Philippians to follow. And he doesn't want them to follow their example. He doesn't want them to imitate them. So it has to be someone that the Philippians would be tempted to imitate in their Christian life and experience.

These enemies of the cross unfortunately are professing Christians. They're shown to be enemies here not by their doctrine as back up in verse 2 of chapter 3, but by their behavior. Listen to the renowned commentator, F.F. Bruce. He says, "Those who deliberately indulge in sin and repudiate the will of God deny all that the cross of Christ stands for." He says, [Listen. These are people who by the way they live spurn the cross. They may claim the cross. They may claim Christ, but by the way they live, they spurn the cross and prove themselves to be its enemies.] You see, there are many who claim to be Christians who don't walk like it. That's the point he's making. And that's a terrifying position to be in.

Listen, this is a constant message of Paul's. Let me just show you several passages. Turn to 1 Corinthians 6. Writing to the Corinthians, he's just corrected them for tolerating terrible sexual immorality in chapter 5 and the first part of chapter 6 for tolerating lawsuits between believers in the church. So, in verse 8, he says this at the end of verse 8:

… you yourselves wrong and defraud, [You do this even to] … your brethren. … do you not know that the unrighteous … [will] not inherit the kingdom of God? … [Don't] be deceived [in other words, don't be deceived by profession, don't be deceived by what someone claims]; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [that is, effeminate by perversion, nor homosexual], nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, … [will] inherit the kingdom of God. … such were some of you; but you were washed, … you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Turn over to Galatians 5. You see this same message. Galatians 5:19. Paul writes,

Now the deeds of the flesh (that is, here are the actions of unredeemed humanness, the deeds of the flesh) are evident (they are? Here they go, this is not a good list): immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing [and then he says and this isn't the whole list] and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as [I have told you] I have forewarned you, that [those whose lives are characterized by such thing, that is] those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5, notice what Paul says. Ephesians 5:5. He says,

I want you to know this with certainty [in other words, you can take this to the bank], that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words [in other words, I don't care what they claim, he says), for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. [Paul wants us to be clear that what we profess and what we do are intimately connected. They cannot be separated.]

Now back to Philippians 3. Who specifically are these enemies here? We know they're professing Christians that aren't walking like Christians. Well, it may be that they're antinomians – that is, they had taken the wonderful doctrine of justification Paul has just taught in the earlier verses of this chapter to their extreme. They've basically said, "I'm now free and forgiven and so I can live however I want" - a lot like the person in the Middle Ages put it, and this is a quote: "The world is remarkably well arranged. I like to sin and God likes to forgive sin."

It's like those Paul quotes in Romans whose response to justification that he taught in those early chapters of Romans – in chapter 6:1, they say, "Oh, great! We can sin so that grace will abound!" Jude 4 speaks of those who "turn the grace of God into licentiousness." They take God's grace and they twist and pervert it into an excuse for sin.

Now verse 19 back in Philippians 3:19 gives us a description of these enemies in four simple phrases. Notice what they're like.

Number one, their end is destruction. These enemies of the cross, these who claim to be Christians but who are in reality enemies, their end is destruction. Their destiny is destruction. This word "destruction" is commonly used in the New Testament, in fact, almost always used to refer to the eternal damnation of those who are outside of Christ. Whatever their profession, these people are not real believers.

You know, I read this, and it reminds me of Matthew, Matthew 7: 21 at the end of the Sermon on the Mount - one of the most frightening passages in all the New Testament to me. Matthew 7:21. Christ said, [Now everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord']

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven [will enter]. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' [He's saying, 'Listen, there are going to be a lot of people on the judgment day (many, He says) who are going to be claiming to know Me, who are going to have a, who are going to claim Me as Lord, who are even going to claim to have done a lot of ministry in My name.'] But verse 23, "… I will declare to them, 'I never knew you [I don't know you, who are you?]; DEPART FROM ME (and here's the reason) because YOU … PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS." [You claim to know Me, but there's no life of obedience to support the reality. It's not that we're saved by works. It's that works always follow true faith. That's what Christ is saying.]

And He goes on, by the way, to give a parable of the two houses. Two people build identical houses. They both look like the real thing. One of 'em builds on the sand and one of 'em builds on the rock. Your, your temptation might be to say, 'Well, the rock is Christ.' No, read the parable again. In the parable, the only difference between the two houses is the foundation. And the only difference in the story is one of them hears Christ's words and does it and the other hears Christ's words and doesn't. You see, the foundation is obedience to Christ. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."

Go back to Philippians 2, Philippians 3 that is. He gives us the next characteristic of these people. Not only is their end destruction, but their god is their appetite – literally, their god is their belly. Their present bodily desires have become so important that they've become their god. These professing Christians are, in fact, idolaters, worshipping the god of their own desires. This is how we used to live. Look back at Ephessians (Philippians) 2. Paul says in verse 3: "… we … formerly lived in the [cravings] … of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind…." This is what we were. This is who we were.

Over in chapter 4 of Ephesians, verse 17, he says, "Stop walking like the Gentiles walk. Stop living like they live." How do they live? Verse 19, "they have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness (they just want more, verse 20). But you did not learn Christ in this way." Their god is their appetite, their belly.

Romans 16:18 speaks of those, listen to this, who are not slaves of our Lord Jesus Christ, but are slaves of their own appetites.

The third way he describes them back in Philippians 3 is they glory in their shame. They live as they choose. Their moral practices are absolutely shameful. But instead of being ashamed, they glory in their freedom, in their liberty. Their values are completely distorted. What they really value is what they ought to be ashamed of – reminds you of the, what Isaiah says in chapter 5 when he says, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness."

And finally, in verse 19, he says these enemies of the cross are those who set their minds on earthly things. Notice it's not that they focus only on wicked things. It's that all their goals and all their ambitions are set on what belongs only to this world. They live for the present. No part of their soul breathes with the passion of Paul to know Christ and to be like Him. Instead, their minds are absolutely tied to the world. They "set their minds". It's an interesting expression. It describes a basic mindset, a basic disposition, a choice of the will, a mental outlook. They set their minds on the things of this earth.

It's not that they simply think about things of this earth. We all do that. It's that they've chosen to set their minds on these things. It's what consumes them. Paul describes this in Romans 8, this same group. Romans 8:5. He says, "For those who are according to the flesh [that is, unbelievers] set their minds on the things of the flesh [that's what they do, they choose to focus all of their attention on themselves, their satisfaction, their desires], but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is eternal life and peace [with God], because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to God's law, it can't even do it, for those who are in the flesh cannot please God." They set their minds on earthly things. What an amazing description.

Listen. Do you know people who talk about the cross of Christ and say that Jesus died for them, and yet they live lives of abject disobedience to the clear commands of Christ? More importantly, do you do that? Listen. Your conduct can prove you to be an enemy of the cross regardless of what you profess. That's what Paul is saying. Titus 2:14 says that Christ died "to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." That's why Christ died. If instead, you're living a sinful, worldly, carnal life, you may well be an enemy of the cross of Christ.

Lloyd-Jones puts it this way:

"It is possible for a man to make a whole series of intellectual assertions, but if he lives his life altogether in the other direction, it is proof positive that his faith (is not the) has not the slightest value and is indeed not real faith at all."

As you've heard me say many times before and you will hear me say many times in the future, behavior always betrays belief. You can tell what you really believe by how you live.

Paul gives us one final instruction for walking like a Christian in verses 20 and 21. "Set your mind on heaven's glory." Set your mind on heaven's glory. Verse 20, "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 humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." The parallel passage to this - we don't have time to turn there, but you can look at Colossians 3:1 - 3. "Set your mind on things above," Paul says.

How can we do that? How can we set our minds on things above, on heaven's glory? Well, he tells us right here in Philippians 3. Notice the first part of verse 20. Remember where you belong. Remember where you belong. Your citizenship is in heaven. This is the second time Paul has reminded them of this concept of citizenship. He did back in 1:27. "Live like citizens," he said there. Now he says "your citizenship is in heaven." Remember back to our study when we first started Philippians. Octavian, the Roman general, had granted Philippi Roman colony status back in 42 B.C. He had said, "This is like a little piece of Italy in Macedonia." Paul says the same is true for us. Wherever the church is, it's like a little piece of heaven here in the world. Christians should never see themselves, first of all, as citizens of any earthly country – the United States, Canada, Zimbabwe, doesn't matter. We are first and foremost citizens of heaven.

Recently, I was planning a trip, or I am planning a trip to Russia. I'm going to be teaching Expository Preaching Institute to a group of Russian pastors for a week in February. Why I'm going to Russia in February I don't know, but that's when it was scheduled so, by the folks there and so that's why I'm going. But I was looking at my passport and it's, it's expired and so I was getting it renewed. And I, as I flipped through the pages, I was recounting, I, because I was a part of an organization that had a number of international ministries, I was counting, and I think I've been to thirteen, fourteen, fifteen different countries over the last number of years.

And when you travel internationally, and some of you have, there are two things that are always in the forefront of your mind. One is I don't belong here. And the second is soon I'm going to get to go home, and I'm going to be back with my family. That's how we're to think about heaven. We don't belong here, and soon we're going to really be home. We have a different king. We live by a different law. We have different rights and privileges. Can I put it this way? We're only here on a green card so don't get too attached. Remember where you belong.

The end of verse 20, Paul says remember who you're waiting for. Remember who you're waiting for – "from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." This "eagerly wait" is a word Paul regularly uses of the second coming. He's talking about Christ coming back and we're to be eager for it. He says this often too. Second Timothy 4:8, he says, "I want you to love His appearing." Titus 2:13, "look for the blessed hope". Hebrews 9:28, "eagerly wait for Him". What I want you to see is we're not waiting for an event. There are a lot of people that are so caught up in prophecy, they're waiting for an event. Hey, we're not waiting for an event. We're waiting for a person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul describes Him here as Savior. It's interesting because that's a common title for Caesar in ancient, in the ancient world. He was called, Caesar was called the savior of the world. I think Paul chooses it as he's writing to the Philippians to remind them that their loyalty, their allegiance is not to any earthly sovereign, but to the true sovereign, the Lord Jesus Christ, who soon will return.

We are waiting for a Savior. Remember where you belong. Remember who you're waiting for. And finally, verse 21, he says remember what you'll become, remember what you'll become. "Christ will transform the body of our humble state." Remember that the next time you look in the mirror. It refers to the fact that our bodies are in a condition of humiliation because of sin. They're characterized by decay and indignity and weakness and death. It's a play on words. Paul's saying, "Christ was made in the form and likeness of men (back in chapter 2) and when He comes back, you and I who know Him are going to be made in His form and His likeness."

Notice what we're going to be like. It's going to, we're going to have a body like "the body of His glory." You see, Christ's present existence is in a glorified human body. For eternity, Christ will have a glorified human body: always God and always man as well. That body is described as having flesh and bones, as resembling His pre-glorified body. He was able to eat. He was able to walk. He was able to speak. But He also was able to do some remarkable things. He was able to disappear from one place and show up in another. He was able to walk through a wall. You and I are going to be like Him.

Now let me make it clear. You're not going to stop being human and start being a little god. Some people sort of get that in their minds. No, we're going to be like Him in two ways. Romans 8:29 says we're going to be like Him in our characters, we're going to be conformed to His holy character.

And secondly, we're going to be like Him, we're going to have a glorified body like His (Philippians 3:21). How can He do that? Well, look at the end of verse 21. He's going to do it "by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." It'll be no problem. It'll be no problem at all.

Paul says in these verses if you're a Christian, then walk like one. How do you do that? Well, you follow good examples. You watch out for false claims. And you set your mind on heaven's glory.

Years ago, I read the account from the life of Alexander the Great that's told after one of the famous battles. Alexander was in his military tent continuing operations and a young deserter was brought to him. The typical penalty for desertion in Alexander's army was execution. This young man was brought in, one who was new to battle, who undoubtedly in the terror and the horror of war had fled from his post. And he fell down before Alexander, and he begged for mercy, begged that his life would be spared. And he promised that if spared, he would never again flee his post. He would always stand in the face of battle.

Alexander felt pity for this young man, and he said alright. He said, "But make sure that it never happens again, never happens again." And as the young man turned to leave the tent, as the story's told, Alexander asked him to wait just a moment. And he said, "Young man, I want you to tell me something. What is your name?" Well, the young man's lip began to tremble, and he barely got it out, but he said, "My name, sir, is Alexander." There was a long, pregnant pause in the tent and Alexander said to this young man, "Young man, you change your ways or you change your name." That's what Paul says to us. Change your ways or change your name. Walk like a Christian.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for the way Your Word cuts us to the heart. Lord, thank You for the practical admonitions of how to walk like a Christian. Lord, help us to follow the mature Christians around us. Help us to imitate their faith. Lord, help us to avoid those who claim to be Christians, but live like enemies of the cross and to beware of falling into that trap ourselves of being self-deceived. And Lord, help us to live having set our minds on heaven and on what's coming to us from there.

Lord, I pray for the person here this morning who claims to be in Christ, but You have opened their minds this morning to see themselves as You see them – as an enemy of the cross because of how they live. Lord, help today to be the day that they get alone with You, that they cry out to You repenting of their sins, asking Your forgiveness, asking You to give them a new heart, to adopt them into Your family, to declare them righteous because of Christ and all He's done. Lord, may this be the day.

We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.