22 May 2010

Verse-by-verse through Philippians (3:20-3:21)

We saw last time that there are four things that are true of those people that the apostle Paul refers to as “enemies of the cross of Christ.” They were enemies of the gospel. The gospel is this: that man is wickedly sinful. You, me everybody. We spend our lives hating God. Yet God sent His Son to die on that cross, so that when the person sees themselves as being the sinner they are, they call upon the name of Christ, they turn away from their sins, they ask for forgiveness, and they follow Christ and obey Him. That is what it means to be saved. When that person gives up their sins, and they follow Christ and they die to their old self, that person is saved from the eternal wrath of God by the blood of Jesus Christ.

But these enemies of the cross are people who are either trying to make themselves look more “holy” by saying that Christ did not do enough to save us, and that we have to save ourselves and make ourselves worthy of being saved. None of us is worthy of being saved, and there is nothing we can do to make ourselves worthy of being saved. That’s what grace is for. If a person is saved, it is only because of God’s grace. Grace means that if we turn away from sin and believe in Christ—God forgives us even though we don’t deserve it. Then there are those who think that when Jesus died, that He saved the whole world—everybody’s going to Heaven. But that’s not true either. The person who says, “Well, yeah, I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, I believe He died on the cross and I believe He rose again—that means I'm saved!”—yet they still indulge in the same sins over and over again, with no thought of stopping, they don’t care whether they are sinning. That person is in danger of Hell. Do you think the demons believe that Jesus was the Son of God? That Jesus died on the cross and rose again? I assure you, they certainly do believe these things--they have seen them first-hand. So that means they're saved, right? WRONG!! Yet the demons fear God more than most people who claim to be Christians fear Him. James 2:19You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! The only thing that the enemies of the cross care about is what they can have in this life. But for those who believe in Christ as Lord and Savior and King—and they live like it—we know that this world is not our home.

Philippians 3:18-2118 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Verse 20. Our citizenship is in heaven. We all live on planet earth—temporarily. When we die, will we have a permanent new home? We’ll live in that new home forever. And even while we live on earth, we have a citizenship in one of two places—either here on earth, or in Heaven. Think of it this way: a young man from India comes to the USA on a student visa. He goes to UT to become a doctor. He is living and studying in the USA—but his citizenship is in what country? India. For those of us who worship and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, we may live here on earth—but where is our citizenship? And if we are citizens of Heaven, who is our King?

But Jesus is not only King of Heaven—He is King over—well, everything! Think of it this way: If you live in Knoxville, who is your mayor? Bill Haslam. Who is the Knox County mayor? Mike Ragsdale. We live in Tennessee, so who is our governor? Phil Bredesen. And we live in the United States, so who is our president? Barack Obama. We live on planet earth, so who is our King?

Most people don’t think that there is a king that rules over the whole earth. We’ll talk about them in a second. On the other hand, some people will look around at the world and think that Satan must be in charge. Not quite. He is the god--little “g” god--of this world. But he is not king. And when I say Satan is the “god” of this world I mean that most people serve Satan and if they had their way they would indeed have Satan rule over them. But even though so many serve Satan, he does not have authority over earth—Jesus does (Matthew 28:18). Now, if someone does not believe Jesus is King, does that mean He isn't King? They’ll say, “He’s not my king!” Yeah, He is. You just don’t want to admit it.

Hold your place and turn to John 18. Even as Jesus stood there, beaten and bloody, standing before Pontius Pilate, He was King! But He was not made king by any man--He was King because He was God! John 18:36-37“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king.” In other words, Jesus is King—He’s just not like earthly kings. He doesn’t get His authority because He had it handed to Him from another person. He’s King—PERIOD! Why is He King? Well, because that’s just how it is!

But here’s where the lost person has a problem. The lost person doesn’t want it that way. They don’t want to be ruled by anybody—let alone be ruled by God, who will demand that they give up their old sinful lifestyle. If you were to ask 100 people, “Who would rather have as king—Jesus Christ? Or…I don’t know…Snoop Dogg.” I think we know who most people would choose. They would choose the one who would celebrate and glorify all kinds of wicked, sinful, despicable behavior rather than choose Christ. That’s just the way we are. And we see that if we flip over to John 19:7. Pilate takes Jesus out onto the balcony, and takes a thief and murderer named Barabbas with him, and asks the people, “Which one do you want? Do you want this innocent man? Or do you want this homicidal criminal?” And of course, who did they choose? “Give us the vile, wretched, despicable Barabbas!” That is what a citizen of this world wants!

Look at the movies and TV shows that are popular. How many of them have a murderer or a criminal as the “good guy,” the “hero.” Dexter--a serial killer is the “hero.” That movie that just came out with Johnny Depp playing John Dillinger--a bank robber and murder is the “hero.” I could go on and on. Romans 1:32--knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, [they] not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Pilate is still under the assumption that he is the one in control. Just like the lost person thinks they are in control of everything. John 19:9-11--Pilate…said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” I don’t want to say that Jesus laughed at that statement--He may have at least rolled His eyes at such a silly and preposterous statement.

But I wonder what He thought when He heard Pilate say that. “I have power to crucify You, and to release You!” We would probably say something like, “Yeah, keep telling yourself that.” John 19:12Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” "**GASP!!** But I’ve got power from the Caesar!" So what! Caesar didn’t have any power but what God let him have. So now Pilate doesn’t know what to do, he cries out to the people, John 19:15, “Shall I crucify your King?” And how do the people respond? “We have no king but Caesar!!” There was a power struggle going on that day. There is a power struggle going on to this day. Has been for 6000 years. Who will we have rule over us? That answer goes a long way in determining where someone’s citizenship is. But when I say this is a “power struggle,” the ‘struggle’ is really only on one end. Does God have trouble understanding who is in charge of…well… EVERYTHING?

The struggle is in US, deciding who we are going to serve. We serve Satan with our flesh. That’s how we’re born. And we don’t want anybody to rule over us that is going to demand too much of us. We don’t want Jesus to be our King. We’ll let Him be Savior. “Hey, Jesus, save us from Hell, OK?” We’ll let Him save us. But RULE over us? “Oh no, we ain't having that!” That would mean we would have to SUBMIT to Him. Can't have that! So, we’ll put up with temporary rulers and earthly laws, just so long as we can live our lives how we want to, without thinking there are any consequences after we die. That is a citizen of this world.

But for the Christian, our citizenship is in Heaven. The word that means “citizenship” is one of those words that Paul had to “make up” to get his point across. It comes from the same Greek word (πολίτευμα, politeuma) that gives us “politics.” It means, “The form of government and the laws by which [a commonwealth] is administered.” The government and the laws that we Christians are to live by are not from this world—they were established by God. The reason Paul uses this word here is, the people who lived in Philippi, the people that Paul was writing to—they were citizens of the Roman Empire. And at the time, it was a Roman law that one must worship the Caesar—the emperor—as a god. And if you failed to do so, you were treated to the most horrific, the most terrible torture you could imagine. So you had a choice. You could either worship the Caesar—Nero, at the time—or you could worship Christ.

Same is true today. You can either obey your flesh and its lusts—or you can obey Christ. No matter what the government allows, that does not mean that it is OK with God. For example: back in 1973, the Supreme Court said, “If you want to kill your baby before he’s born—you go right ahead!” That’s a citizen of this world—one who only cares what the world thinks, and does not care what God thinks. But the one who lives by the laws laid down by God says, “No! God is the one who gives life, and it is murder to kill that child before they're born!” In Exodus, if two men were fighting, and they harm a pregnant woman so that she loses her child, guess what happened to those men? Exodus 21:22-23—and keep in mind, this is God speaking here—“If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished…But if any harm follows”—and that word “harm” literally means “death”—“if any harm follows then you shall give life for life.”

In other words, if you kill the child that is in that woman’s womb—you shall be put to death. That is how a citizen of Heaven thinks of life. That’s just one example, but I think you get the picture. Whether it’s stealing or whatever else God says is sinful—whether the US government allows it or not, the citizen of Heaven says, “NO! If God says it’s a sin, then it is a sin!” Adam Clarke said this about the people who are wrapped up in what they can get in this world, and don’t regard what will happen when they die—“[They] have no city but what is on earth; no rights but what are derived from their [earthly] connections; no society but what is made up of men like themselves, who mind earthly things, and whose belly is their god. We have a heavenly city, the New Jerusalem; we have rights and privileges which are heavenly and eternal; and our society or fellowship is with God the Father, Son, and Spirit, the spirits of just men made perfect, and the whole Church of the first-born. We have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts; and regard not the body, which we know must perish, but which we confidently expect shall be raised from death and corruption into a state of immortal glory.”
1st Peter 1:3-5Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Luke 10:20“Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Not “will be written.” They ARE written there. If we are saved—that is, if we see our sin as being sin, and we turn away from it, and we turn and follow the risen Christ, and obey Him—then we have an inheritance waiting for us. It does not fade away, it is reserved for us, it’s got our name written all over it—and God keeps us and guards us until we get there ourselves!

The person who is saved lives on earth on a student visa—but our true home is in Heaven! For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at the little phrase, eagerly wait. It doesn’t mean, “I'm just kicking back and chilling until He gets here.” NO! We’re watching, we’re looking, we’re waiting—in fact, we can hardly wait until He returns to rule on this earth, and put down any kind of power that dares to rise up against Him! The Greek word is used 7 times in the NT, and it always refers to the second coming of Christ (Romans 8:19, 23, 25; 1st Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28). And why do we eagerly await His return? Because when He sets up His 1000 year reign on earth, we will know that the end is near. After that 1000 years, He’s gonna let Satan out for one last time, and then He’s gonna CRUSH him. Stone cold CRUSH him. Revelation 20:7-10Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth…The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Then guess what happens! We get new bodies! For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Verse 21, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. These bodies are corrupt. Our flesh isn't good for anything but to serve itself. And until the person has given his life over to Jesus Christ, that’s all they're gonna do. They're just gonna serve themselves and whatever desires they may have. But if we follow Christ, and if He has put a new heart inside of us—we will kick ourselves off the throne, and we will see Jesus for who He is—our Savior, our Lord.

And when He makes all things new, He will take us, and makes us like Him—no pain, no guilt, no corruption, no sadness, no sickness, no death. 1st Corinthians 15:41-44There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is planted in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is planted in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is planted in weakness, it is raised in power. It is planted a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. And in that new body we shall see Jesus in all His perfection! We shall see Him seated on His throne where He shall reign forever and ever!

As Lord…and as King.

Jesus Christ is Lord.
Amen.


Shadrach Meshach Lockridge was pastor of a church in San Diego from 1953 to 1993. He went to be with the Lord in 2000. His most famous sermon is called “That’s My King!” and the video for it is one of the most popular ever at YouTube:

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