Philippians 2: The Battle for the Mind
Now Paul has revealed the secret of joy in unfavorable circumstances in chapter 1: it is the SINGLE MIND. He was always looking for God in whatever situation and circumstances he found himself. When unfavorable circumstances come into our lives, we must develop the same single mind Paul had developed. Whatever situation Paul found himself in- he had learned to be content. Paul had developed the single mind which always looked for God in whatever unfavorable circumstances he found himself. In jail, in an earthquake, shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and lashed- Paul was always looking for where God was working and what God wanted him to do.
Listen to what Jesus said and the unfavorable, life-threatening circumstances that prompted these truths found in John 5. “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath (healing a paralytic man), the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them: “My Father is always working to this very day, and I, too, am working.” Now listen to the action this provoked on the part of the Jews: “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. “
“ Jesus then gave them this answer: “ I tell you the truth, the son of God can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son does also. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” (John 5: 16-20) The single mind- the mind focused on things above is the secret to joy in unfavorable circumstances. *Therefore, we press on believing we are being trained to be overcomers unfettered by circumstances.*
Now Paul reveals the secret of joy in spite of people who would steal your joy and ‘rain on your parade.’ The secret is a submissive mind. In the first chapter, it was Jesus Christ first. In this chapter Paul is telling us it is others who come second. We are called to be soul winners and we are also called to be servants.
In verse 3&4 Paul tells us things not to do and things to do. Things not to do: do nothing through selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interest of others.
Then Paul proceeds to give us our ultimate example of humility in our Savior, the Lord Jesus. Paul instructs us thus: “Let this mind (attitude, NIV) be in you who was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself no reputation, being in the form of a bondservant, and coming in the form of man.”
*SIDE NOTE: Gina was recently asked this question concerning the Trinity- God in three persons. The person asked her is Jesus was God, why did he not know when He would return? Good question. The question comes from the comment Jesus made in Matthew 24:36. When asked of Jesus’s Second coming, Jesus replied: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Understand when Jesus spoke these words to the disciples, he did not possess the knowledge of the date and time of His Return. Although Jesus was fully God, as John writes in John 1: 1, 14, when He became a man, Jesus voluntarily restricted the use of certain divine attributes. (Phil 2:6-8) He did not manifest his divine attributes unless directed by his Father. (Miracles, raising the dead, healing, forgiving sins) He demonstrated his omniscience on occasions- he knew what was in the hearts of men (John 2:25); he told Peter he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed.
He restricted his omniscience in the days of his humanity to only those things God wanted Him to know. The date of his 2nd coming was evidently one of those things God did not reveal to Him while he was here on earth. However, we know Jesus prayed to His Father hours before the crucifixion- “And now Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17: 5) After Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven Jesus resumed his full divine knowledge.*
Paul continues his description and our example of humility with verse 8: “And being found in appearance as man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death- even on a cross!”
Jesus though of others before Himself. He came to save us and serve us not to rule over us. In his 2nd coming He will come to rule over us.
The NIV uses the word ‘attitude’ in place of mind. Attitude can be described as your outlook on life, self and others in general. Know this fact: Outlook determines outcome. If your outlook is selfish, the actions you take can be divisive and destructive. James said the same things in James 4:1-10 and said this selfish outlook causes the quarrels and fights among you.
- THE SUBMISSIVE MIND: Thinks of others, not self.
The KJV tells us these facts about Jesus the God-man, which take us back to eternity past. “Who being in the very form (nature, NIV) of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” In fact Jesus said He and the Father were one. Form means the outward expression of the inward nature. In eternity past, Jesus was God- or as Paul says- ‘equal with God’. John writes ‘in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ In eternity past, Jesus, God the Son did not need anything, He had everything. He created and ruled over the universe. But this is the amazing truth- Jesus did not think of Himself, but thought of others. He had compassion, mercy, unconditional love, an unbelievable unselfish concern for other. Have not read- what concerns you – concerns your Lord?
Jesus is saying I will not use my privileges as God, but will lay them aside and pay the price necessary to redeem mankind. The test for us in a submissive mind and attitude is not how we handle our responsibilities as Gods’ children but how we use our privileges for the sake of others.
Let’s contrast how Jesus responded to His privileges and how Lucifer dealt with his. The contrast will provide the clarity of how to handle privileges God’s way.
Satan/Lucifer was created as a beautiful angel. He is described as the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Every precious stone was his covering. The workmanship of his timbrels and pipes were prepared for you the day you were created. Lucifer was the cherub who covered. He was close to the throne of God. He led the choirs of heaven in worship. But Isaiah 14- tells us he lusted to make himself like God, the Most High. Lucifer led a rebellion to overthrow God and lost. He and his co-conspirators, the fallen angels we refer to as demons were cast out of heaven. Satan, the name which means adversary, set up a counterfeit kingdom in order that he might rule as ‘god of this world. ‘Lucifer was given great privileges and they fueled his pride and led to his downfall. Lucifer said “I will” – five times in Isaiah 14: 13& 14 Jesus Christ in the Garden said, not my will, but THY WILL.
- THE SUBMISSIVE MIND: Serves. Jesus came to save and serve not be served.
Paul describes Jesus as taking the very nature of a bond servant. Let us be clear about the meaning of a bond servant. During the time of Jesus in first century church, as much as 1/3rd of the Roman population were slaves, and another third had been previous slaves. It was common for free born men to work alongside slaves. A bondservant often was in this position due to financial hardship. Unable to care for his family, he would offer his labor for no pay in return for the master to provide the needs of his family, food, clothing, shelter, etc.
The rules and laws governing this process for the nation of Israel, who had been under slavery in Egypt were clearly laid out in the laws given in Exodus 21: 1-6: “ If you buy a Hebrew servant , he will serve you six years, and the seventh he shall go free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall leave with nothing, if he comes in married. Then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has born him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he will go out by himself. But if the servant says plainly, “I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out free.” The his master will bring the judges to hear his declaration. “He shall then pierce his ear with an awl and he will serve him forever.”
Jesus came to save and serve and explained the attitude of the submissive mind in the following way: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 43-45)
Paul, James, Peter and the disciples all referred to themselves as ‘bondservants of Christ.’ Meaning they served him out of their love and they became his servant of their own free will. In fact instead of becoming slaves, they found in serving Christ they experienced real freedom. All they had to do was serve their master and He would supply all their needs. And He is so very, very generous.
- THE SUBMISSIVE MIND: Sacrifices. Many are willing to sacrifice to serve others if it pays well and costs them nothing. But if there is a price to pay, they suddenly lose interest. Jesus became obedient even to death on the cross. His death was not the death of a martyr, it was the death of a Savior-Servant. It has been said, ‘ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.’ Salvation is free. But it costs God everything. It is one of those paradoxes of Christian living which goes against the conventional wisdom of this world but the bottom line is the more we give, the more we receive. The more we sacrifice, the more God blesses. And this is the mystery and wonder of it all- the submissive mind leads to joy and makes us more like Christ. Here is the hard question for us today: is it costing you anything to be a Christian?
- THE SUBMISSIVE MIND: Glorifies God. This is the chief end of man- to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Paul warned us in verse 3 of this chapter about selfish ambition and vainglory. If it is vain- it is empty. King Solomon wrote about vanity of all vanities. Vanity, Solomon discovered was the emptiness of trying to find happiness apart from God. Jesus emptied Himself for others even to death on a cross for our sake and the sake of the world. When Jesus humbled himself for others, it brought glory to God and God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him a name above all names. Jesus in those last hours said: “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee.” (John 17:1)
Our salvation has at its ultimate purpose to glorify God. The person with a submissive mind, as he lives for others must expect sacrifice and service, but in the need is going to lead to glory. Peter learn about humility on the night of Jesus arrest. He denied him three times. Later Peter would write: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (I Peter 5:6) Receive with meekness the engrafted Word which is able to save your soul. (James 1:21b) Meekness implies humility, a teachable spirit. We must be ready to obey God’s Word; and willing to listen. These are prerequisites for a submissive mind/spirit.
Jesus said let your light so shine before men, so they might see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
As bondservants we live to serve our Master, we seek first His kingdom and righteousness and He will supply all our needs. What freedom there is when we become his bondservants.
God longs for you to see Him as He really is. A Loving Father, a master committed to you well being.
Therefore we are told: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path. “ Proverbs 3: 5, 6)
“What must we do to work the works of God, they asked Jesus. This is the work of God to believe in the One he has sent.” (John 6:29)
Believe. Faith. Trust. Confidence. Being sure. Being certain. These are the words used to describe this saving faith by which we are saved by grace.
Trust is the verb of faith.
Confidence is the noun.
Sure and certain are its adjectives.
“So do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. For yet a little while and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in Him. “(Hebrews 10: 35-38)
Obedience always brings blessings!
The enemy wants to prevent you from receiving your reward. He uses lies and deception and has since the beginning in the Garden.
Here are his lies:
- God cannot satisfy you as much as this sin you are contemplating. Sin satisfies for a season- but always has consequences that can be long lasting. Wine sparkles in the cup, but stings like a serpent in the end.
- I have always been this way and God does not seem to have the power to change me. God is all powerful and has justified you at salvation. You are a new creature. You are no longer defined but how you used to live in your old nature. There is nothing impossible for God.
- There is something fundamentally wrong with me. Again- you are a new creature and you now must realize you cannot try through self effort to change from who you were into what you have now become. Paul said having begun in the Spirit are you now trying to live the Christian life in the self efforts. Here is the correct view, I am now maturing into who I already am!
- I don’t believe God is fully good to me. He is withholding from me what is good. But God said I will withhold no good thing from a righteous man. You do realize you received the righteousness of Christ at salvation in exchange for your sins which he paid for you with his life.
Here are some of the wonderful things God has revealed He has given us:
- Eternal life- beginning now.
- Forgiveness of all our sins.
- He has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, power and a sound mind.
- He loves with an everlasting, unconditional love. I cannot make Him love me more or less. He loves me as He loves His only Son.
- I have a new nature. A nature fused, engrafted with Jesus. He is in me, I am in Him, and we are in the Father.
- He keeps no list of my wrongdoings.
In other words, God said I am crazy about you on your worst day!
If you believe you are all of these things and possess all of this things- then you can be about maturing into what is already true of you.
Things are not what they seem. Consider the caterpillar you find crawling on the ground in your yard or garden. Bring him to a scientist, a biologist and say can you identify this creature by its DNA? Of course we do tests with scientific accuracy. After the tests, the scientist will tell you- he may look like a caterpillar, but I can tell you with 100% accuracy this is fully and completely a butterfly. As it continues the maturing process it will come forth from cocoon, as a beautiful butterfly with wings of gossamer. In its current state, it does not appear that way. But things are not always what they seem.
This caterpillar possesses all the beauty, behavior, and attributes of a butterfly.
This is who we are a new creature, created in Christ workmanship unto good works God has prepared for us to walk in.
As Jesus said to Mary and Martha- do you believe this?
Once you believe it in your mind and heart- then you can begin to risk trying it out. Try your wings out and see if you do not fly.
Test me says the Lord.
Once your try it and find the experience more enjoyable than any sin ever was – you will begin to tell others about it and they will join you.
And you are on your way- the journey of life the Lord has prepared for you. The narrow way is the way of freedom and it is for freedom that Christ set you free.
Float like a butterfly!
Experience true J.O.Y. (Jesus first, others second, yourself third) the submissive mind.