Philippians 3:20

 

 

 

The Bible says in Philippians 3:20, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “conversation” means manner of life, and it refers to the behavior that someone would have as a faithful citizen of a particular country. We are citizens of individual countries in this world, but if we belong to Jesus, then we are first and foremost citizens of heaven. The nations of this world may pass away, but heaven will never pass away. Our greatest allegiance is always to heaven. We look for a city whose builder and maker is God. If you are a believer then you are on a journey and your journey will end when you get to heaven. Our king is Jesus, and so we are reminded in this verse that He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We are also reminded that He is the Savior. If we believe in Him, then Jesus is the Savior of our soul. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Jesus Himself said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” When we believe in Jesus we become saved from the guilt of our sins, we become saved from a life blinded by spiritual darkness, and we become saved from a destiny in hell.

 

There are other great things that Jesus will do as Savior. At His Second Coming He will save the world from the catastrophes that would otherwise befall it. One day He will save Israel from all of its enemies. Philippians 3:21 reminds us that Jesus will even save our weak and lowly bodies. It says, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” The word “vile” comes from a Greek word that means lowly and of low estate. When we believed on Jesus our souls were saved but our bodies were not. Our bodies need to be saved because of the low estate in which they now exist. Our bodies are temporary. Our bodies are subject to disease, the weakening effects of age, and finally death. Our bodies live in this world subject to the same calamities that all humans share because of the failure of Adam. We inherited these bodies from Adam, but Philippians 3:21 is reminding us that we have something to look forward to in regards to our bodies. When Jesus rose from the dead, He had a new body, a glorious body: one that could do marvelous things and that could never die.        

 

First Corinthians chapter 15 is a great chapter in the Bible that goes into much detail speaking about the resurrected body that will be given to every believer. It says in I Cor. 15:53-57, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ

 

Those of us who believe in Jesus are being transformed into the image of Christ. Sometimes we may not be aware of the transformation, but God is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Through the Word and the Spirit and the confession of sin, He is transforming us. Romans 8:29 says; “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” In addition to being the Son of God, Jesus was also the perfect human. Adam was the fallen human, imperfect. We inherited from Adam the attributes of Adam. But once we believe in Jesus, Jesus becomes our head, and our destiny is now set so that we will inherit the attributes of Christ instead of Adam. One of the ways in which we will be made like Christ concerns our mortal body.

 

The reason that Christ will be able to change our bodies into resurrection bodies is given in the last part of Philippians 3:21 that says, “According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” This is one more of the countless places in the New Testament that ascribe omnipotent power to the Christ. We believe in a supernatural, miracle-working God. Christ can change our bodies because He can do anything. Our bodies being saved from their lowly sinful state is just one part of the work that Christ will eventually do to subdue all things to Himself. The consequences of sin still reign in many places and in many ways in the world, but the day is coming when in every way sin and its effects will be subdued and brought into submission to the Christ.

 

In thinking about such a wonderful future we have in waiting for Christ and looking forward to all these things that He is going to do for us, Paul wrote in Philippians 4:1, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” It’s a good thing to be loved. All humans need to be loved. God loves the world, and when a person turns to Christ, that person enters into the love of God in an even greater way. If you are a believer, in order to be more like God, you must learn to love the children of God. Evidently Paul had the grace to show love to the people of God and the followers of Christ. Twice in Philippians 4:1 Paul called these believers “my dearly beloved

 

Paul also called these believers “my brethren,” “my joy,” and my “crown.” They were his brethren of course because they were members of the same spiritual family. Everyone in the world who has been saved by Christ is a member of the family of God. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you forget that, then you are not like the Apostle Paul. Paul called these believers his brethren, and he also called them his joy. They were his joy because it caused him great joy to think about them. Paul had an important part in the Philippians coming to know Christ and becoming established in sound doctrine. Paul loved people, and it caused him joy to see good things happen to people. Nothing better can happen to anyone than to come to know Christ.

 

Paul said that the Philippians were his “crown.” Certainly Paul was talking about rewards that he would receive at the judgment. Once we believe in Jesus, one of the most important reasons that we are left here on the earth is so that we can influence others to believe and to increase in faith. Each of us have been given gifts so that we could use those gifts in the service to other believers. Christ came into the world to save sinners. After receiving Christ God works in our lives to conform us to His image, and He does much of this using us as His instruments. Depending upon what are our gifts and calling, to a great degree we know what our rewards will be and what our crown will be by knowing how much we have influenced and helped and taught others.

 

In Philippians 1:4 Paul gave these believers just one instruction. He said to them, “Stand fast in the Lord.” This means to remain faithful and to not give up. Paul hit this same theme in Philippians 3:16 when he said, “Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” Many people have gotten to a certain place in the Christian life, but not near as many have remained there. Notice that when Paul told them to “stand fast in the Lord,” he was giving them a command. The emphasis is on the fact that each believer has the potential and the possibility of standing fast in the Lord and remaining faithful. It’s what you want and how you want it that will determine the difference. Don’t underestimate the power of your own will, and don’t make excuses. You have been commanded to “stand 

 

Of course, you must stand fast in the Lord. If you stand fast in yourself and in your own strength, then you will fall because you are not near strong enough. If you stand fast in your own goodness you will fall, because only God is good. But if you stand fast in the Lord, then you will stand fast because He is merciful, and your relationship with Him is always based upon how merciful He is to you and not on how good you are. You will be relying upon His strength instead of on your own strength. The same teaching is found in Ephesians 6:10 that says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might     

 

In Philippians 4:2 Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi and said, “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” Paul makes another emphasis on the need for Christian unity in a local congregation of believers. Evidently there was some kind of problem between these two people, Euodias and Syntyche: some kind of division. We are not given the cause of the division, but we are given the solution. That’s probably because no matter what causes a division between believers, the solution is always the same. Paul said that they should “be of the same mind in the Lord.”

 

To be of the same mind means to have the same way of thinking about things and it means to have the same goals. What you think about is important. What you think about will determine what you go after and what you try to accomplish. Thoughts precede actions. Sow a thought and you reap a deed. Sow a deed and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a destiny. It all starts with the thought process. The Christian life starts and ends with the thought process. What you think about and how you think about other Christians will determine your ability to contribute to Christian unity. There is a great shame and a great sinfulness to many of the divisions and many of the quarrels that have existed among believers and that have kept them from working together. The problem has to do with what they think about. They do not think about things that contribute to unity.

 

Paul said to these two believers, “Be of the same mind in the Lord.” We do not know who caused the problem, but we do know what it will take to fix the problem between these two people. It will take both of them having the right attitude. It only takes one person to ruin a relationship, but it takes two people to make a relationship work. The same is true in a marriage. There are many different kinds of marital problems, but the solution often comes around to just one thing: both people getting the right attitude.

 

Paul said to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” The basis for Christian unity is the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work. The reason that born-again believers should be able to be united is because all believers are in fact equal in their relationship to the Savior. All believers are sinners. All believers are saved by grace. Jesus died for us all equally. Jesus loves us all equally. The great promises of God have been given to us all without preference or prejudice from the merciful hand of God. We all have the same destiny. We will be fellow-workers forever in the eternal kingdom of God. When Jesus was on the earth, He prayed that we would be united. In John 17:20-21 Jesus prayed to the Father, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me

 

In Philippians 4:3 Paul wrote, “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with my other fellowlaborers, whose names are in the book of life.” This verse makes it clear that the close bond that Paul had with the believers in Philippi was associated with the work that they had done together. And it was not just any work. It was work that involved the spread of the gospel. That’s the most important work in the world.

 

In this verse Paul mentioned “women which labored with me,” and he mentioned “other fellowlaborers.” The word that is translated “labor” in these two phrases is actually two different words in the Greek language. The second one is a basic word for labor or work, but the first one has a very specific meaning. It comes from the Greek word “aqletw” from which we get the English word athletics, and it refers to engaging in a contest and putting forth the kind of effort that a contestant would have put forth in the public games. The word is used one other time in the New Testament in Second Timothy 2:5 that says, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully

 

Of course, the spreading of the gospel does involve a contest: a contest between good and evil, a contest for the souls of mankind. Are you an athlete in the greatest of all contests: the work of the gospel? As you go through life, if your eyes are opened to spiritual reality, you will see that there is plenty of work for you to do in the spread of the gospel. Are you an athlete involved in this great contest?                         

   

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Copyright; 2001 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved