Note: This message was preached on 3/30/2008 at Bible Baptist Church, Beaver Dam, WI. This message was the second part of two messages, with the first part being preached by Chris Finch (who preached Phil. 2:1-4 the same evening; and did a good job, you want my personal opinion).
Having the Mind of Christ
Unity comes through humility. That was Chris’s point. This whole point is developed- as Chris stated- from the concept of our Heavenly citizenship (1:27-30). Paul is going to continue this thought in verses 5-11. He does this through theology. You see this passage is an application of theology so that these believers will be able to live rightly. Paul makes the point here that right theology leads to right living. Wrong theology leads to wrong living. You have to think rightly about God in order to live rightly for Him.
God wants us to see much from this passage. Ultimately, God wants us to have the mind of Christ (v. 5- mind = attitude or thought pattern). Two thoughts we will explore from this passage is that we can only have the mind of Christ when we are humble. We can also only have the mind of Christ when we are honest.
First, we have the mind of Christ when we have humility. This is Paul’s first exhortation to the Philippian believers in this passage. Not only does he encourage them here, but we must realize that this is a command, also. "Let this mind be in you..." is an imperative statement. We must do this, Paul says. How do we do this? He shows us through the ultimate example of humility- Jesus Christ.
As Paul begins this discussion in verse 6, we see Jesus Christ- who was God- and “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” This phrase here is sometimes misunderstood, so let me tell you what it means, and then I'll illustrate it for you. The idea here, a better way to word this in modern english would be- "He thought equality with God was not something to be grasped." Two illustrations for you that help us to understand this. Say, ladies, that you are walking down the street in Manhatten, NY. Some jerk decides he's going to take your purse. So, what you do? You wrestle him for it! You don't just let him take it; you make the wanna'-be thief fight for it, like a wide receiver trying to make that big play with the ball in his hands. That's the idea here. So often, we have menial tasks that we think our beyond us. Like scrubbing toilets. We're above that. But, we're not, in reality. You see, Christ didn't just leave heaven and come as God to this earth to bring salvation. He came as a human being, just like you or I; though He was still 100% God, He was also 100% man. In other words, Christ was not so proud that He was willing to redeem us, but unwilling to do it by becoming a human like us. We know that because that's exactly what this passage tells us He did.
Verse 7 continues the thought further. Not only was He humble by simply becoming a man, but He was humble in how He chose to be born. Let’s not forget, Jesus SHOULD have been born with a King’s birth! Joseph was the rightful heir to the throne of David! Jesus could have chosen to have been born to any parent on earth, and He chose parents who were so poor that when it was time for Mary to give her sacrifice for purification 40 days after Jesus’ birth, two turtle doves was the best they could do. Last I checked, that wasn't exactly the way I pictured kings living. Yet, that's exactly what Christ did. He could have picked any parents on earth, and He chose them, knowing full well that He would work long hours and days as a carpenter and that He would sweat and stink just like the rest of us.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, in verse 8 we see that Jesus Christ- The Messiah, King of kings, Lord of lords, Heaven’s Promised Hope for All Mankind- died my death, taking my shame and my blame on my cross.
Perhaps you've been there, maybe you haven't. But, if you've seen any pictures or watched The History Channel or anything like that on Arlington Cemetery, you can picture what I'm talking about. The cemetery is an interesting place. It was originally the plantation home of General Robert Lee before he defected to The South during The Civil War. His house, when you stand on the porch, looks down a hill right into the heart of Washington D.C. It's a beautiful sight. Unfortunately, how it became a cemetery was due to some bitter northern troops (on this, I don't know specifics; could have been some generals, not sure) deciding that- to get back at Lee for defecting- they buried on his land the bodies of northern soliders who died fighting The Civil War. They knew that even if The South won, they would have their vengeance as Robert Lee- being a Christian- would have respect for the dead there and would be unable to disturb those bodies once they were given a soldier's burial. The sight there is amazing. Apart from the Kennedy graves and a few other odds and ends, the sight is something else. It's very beautiful. It's also awe inspiring- and convicting. As you stand on the porch, looking out from the house towards D.C., you can see line, after line, after line of white crosses- the graves of all men since the Civil War who have been buried while in the service of our military. You see, the freedom that we have in this nation has come at a high cost. The lives of a lot of soldiers. However, though their sacrifice has insured our freedom in America, what they have done pales in comparison to the work of Christ on the Cross of Calvary. Freedom is never free, ladies and gentlemen. Our freedom through salvation came at a great and high cost- the price of Christ's precious blood being shed as He took the full brunt of God's Infinite Wrath during that finite amount of time on the Cross. I'll never fully understand it- not in this life, at least- but I'm greatly thankful it. So, how can we- who know that we are saved by grace, live so proudly- knowing that we have nothing to be proud of save the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? How can we sit here in sin and do nothing about it? Why would we wait to take care of it when we can have the blessing and joy of walking with Christ now?
That leads us to our second point. Having the mind of Christ also requires honesty. We see this in verse 9. We see as we continue in the text that Christ- after being raised from the dead- has been given a name which is above every name. Not just some names, but all of them. The point Paul is making is that Jesus Christ is to be the supreme importance in our lives. We are to love Him with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our minds, and with all of our might. So, if we’re going to have a relationship with Him now, we have to be honest. You can’t have humility without honesty. Though you can have honesty without humility- recognizing a problem exists, but not doing anything about it- you can’t recognize you’re nothing and act like it, unless you’re honest about your condition.
As we read verses 10-11, I want to take a just as a small side note here. The side note does relate to the passage, but it will take a second to explain. A thought comes to my mind as I consider how there is a day coming in which every knee will bow and all tongues will confess that He is God to the glory of God The Father. I can’t help but ask, why am I here? Why am I in church? Why am I preaching? Why do I shake someone’s hand and make it a point to ask them how they’re doing? Why do I read my Bible? Why do I take notes while someone’s preaching? Why do I do what I do? Do I do it simply because I must, or do I do it because I love God and my love for Him and for other people motivates me to do these things? There are three stages of Christianity- disobedience, duty, delight (stage 1, self explanatory; stage 2- isn’t found in Scripture- though not wrong, it’s still dead worship; stage 3- where God desires us to be- Psalm 37:4, Psalm 40:8, Phil. 3:1, Phil. 4:4, 1 Thess. 5:17). Let me illustrate it this way: Wives or husbands- your spouse comes in the door, they've been at work, or maybe they've been away on a business trip for a couple of days, or maybe they just got back from a run to the grocery store and they come in, and hug you and kiss you first thing seeing you after walking in. Then you ask, "What was that for?" Now, if your spouse responded with, "I did that because that's what I'm supposed to do," how would that make you feel? Wouldn't you suddenly feel very cheap and unimportant? Ladies and gentlemen, when we obey God's commands simply because it's our duty to do so, how much more do we cheapen Christ's death and resurrection?
Now, this all connects together back to verses 10-11 because Paul tells us we must have the mind of Christ; we must delight in Him above all else as one day we will delight in Him perfectly. There is a day coming in which every knee will bow regardless of how we've lived this life. Why would you wait to bow the knee when you could do it now and have the joy of obeying God because it's your delight, rather than another chore on your list?
In closing, I’d like to use a biblical illustration. So, turn with me if you would to John 21:15-17. We all know the scene, but let’s turn there, anyways. Using our sanctified imagination a bit, we know that Peter- after John whispers to him that the man standing on the shore who just helped them to make the largest catch of fish in their lives is the resurrected Jesus- takes off his outer garment and jumps in the water swimming to shore in his normal zealous fashion, wanting to be where Christ is. The other apostles, thinking a bit more practically, haul in the fish and bring the boat into shore. What they find when they get on shore is that Jesus already has breakfast prepared for them. As Charles Swindoll said when preaching on this passage, we can almost imagine that Jesus called the fish to come onto the shore and on they did come and jumped right into the coals of the fire to cook- cause He's their Creator, so He could do that and they would listen to Him. What we find in verse 15 is amazing, though. Often, we're really quick to pick on Peter here- I'm just as guilty of it- but Christ wants us to see something else. We see The Apostle with the Footshaped Mouth (as John MacArthur calls him) for once not making a perfect circle between his foot and his mouth. Christ asks him, "Do you love me?" The word used is agape. It means to make someone else the supreme object of your affection without any consideration for what you might get in return. Peter responds with, "Lord, you know that I love You." The word Peter uses is phileo. In other words, Peter said, "I'm fond of you." Now, before you go ripping on Peter for that, don't forget that this is the Peter who- when Christ told him he would deny him and forsake him- told Christ that he would forever love Christ above all else and would never leave Christ's side. We're looking at a different Peter now. We're looking at a Peter who understands his human weakness. He understands now that though it is his desire to have agape love for Christ, he knows that apart from Christ's help, the best he can do is phileo love. But notice that Christ didn't rebuke Peter for his response; He gave Peter a job to do. You see, God wants to use us, just like He used that broken Apostle as he was humble and recognized his frailties before God. But, you have to be willing to be humble and honest.
Do you have the mind of Christ? Maybe, you got something you need to take care of tonight. One person put it this way, “The invitation is open to every heart that has been broken.” What are we doing? If we choose not to get right with God, we sure aren’t fooling God. We’re only fooling ourselves. Let God break your heart. Let God break up your fallow ground. Bust your pride on God’s altar tonight and let Him have everything so that you can live the mind of Christ.