Philippians 3:17 NIV
“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”
Be wise. Be discerning about whose examples you follow. Compare to Scripture and to the life of Christ.
Compare to the life of the Apostle Paul, too, but don’t use Romans 7 as your primary Scripture passage or take it out of context. Read it in light of Romans 6 and 8. Paul was a godly, holy, and righteous man who walked in obedience to the Lord.
In Romans 7, Paul described the battle between the flesh and the Spirit, but then he proclaimed thanksgiving to God that God delivered him from his body of death. God condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk (in conduct) according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:1-4).
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:6-8).
Paul lived and he taught holiness, godliness, and righteousness. He was no hypocrite. He lived what he preached. And he taught that we must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness and that we are slaves to the one we obey. If we make sin our practice, he taught, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God.
[Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10, 15, 21; Gal 6:7-8; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11]
Philippians 3:18-19 NIV
“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”
Who are those who are living as enemies of the cross of Christ? We can know that when we understand what the cross of Christ represents.
Peter said that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with Christ to sin and live to his righteousness (1 Pet 2:24). And Paul said that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co 5:15). He also said that Jesus’ blood was shed for us on that cross to buy us back for God that we might honor God with our lives (1 Co 6:19-20).
Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny himself, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living in sin) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him daily to sin) we will live (Lu 9:23-26).
Paul taught that Jesus’ death on that cross provided the way for us to be baptized into Christ’s death and to be raised with him to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus, our old self is crucified with Christ in order that we would no longer be slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (Rom 6:1-23).
And Paul taught that if we practice such sins as sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, witchcraft, drunkenness, and selfish ambition, and the like, we will not inherit eternal life with God, but that we will face the wrath of God (Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; 1 Co 6:9-10; Col 3:5-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
Since the cross of Christ means not only Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on that cross but us dying with Christ to sin and us living with Christ to righteousness, it is those who refuse to die to sin and who refuse to live to God and to his righteousness, but who make sin their practice, who are the enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their god is their stomach, for their stomach represents their appetite for sin, i.e., their longing for sin above obedience to Christ. Because their minds are set on the things of this world, and not the things of God, it will all end in destruction and death for them, not in life eternal with God.
Philippians 3:20-21 NIV
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Those of us who have died with Christ to sin, who have been reborn of the Spirit of God, and who are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, as a matter of practice, have our citizenship in heaven. Those who are living to the flesh, to please the flesh, and who refuse to obey the Lord are still of this earth. But this is not works-based salvation.
This is the fruit of what we truly believe. If we believe in Jesus, in truth, it will result in repentance, obedience and submission to Christ as Lord. But it will all be in the power of God’s Spirit who is now living within us, and not of ourselves lest we should boast. All glory goes to God.
This is not saying we will never sin again (see 1 Jn 2:1-2), but that sin should no longer be our master. Sin should not be what we practice. And this is also not saying that we can never stray from our pure devotion to Christ and need to be brought back to repentance (See Rev 2-3).
But if we continue living in sin willfully, habitually, and deliberately after we confess faith in Jesus Christ, this teaches us that heaven is not our eternal destiny but that it will end in death unless we repent and we turn away from our sinful lifestyles, and we follow Jesus in obedience.
For, if we profess to have fellowship with God but we still are walking (in practice, by habit) in the darkness (in sin), then we are liars who do not live by the truth. If we say we love God or that we know God but we don’t do what he says, we are liars, too (1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6).
We have to think of our salvation as not a one-time event in our lives which secures us heaven not matter how we live on this earth. Scripture teaches our salvation as continuous, as a matter of life course, that we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved when Christ returns, at which time our salvation will be complete.
So, what we do on this earth does matter for our eternity, whether we want to accept that or not (Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10).
An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.