Philippians 3:17 ESV
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
Paul had a very close walk with the Lord, which was a walk of holiness, righteousness, repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord. He did not “struggle” with immorality as many today like to say he did, who want to bring him down morally to excuse their own sinful behaviors.
Was he perfect? No! But he led an exemplary life, a life above reproach, where he said he beat his body into submission (as a slave to God and to righteousness) so that after he had preached to others, he would not be disqualified from the prize, rejected by God in the end (1 Co 9:26-27).
In fact, he walked so closely with the Lord in holy and righteous living that he was able to tell the Corinthian Christians that they should join in imitating him, because he was setting before them, in word, in attitude, and in deed, what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ. To me, that is amazing.
And he took it a little bit further when he told the Corinthian believers that they should also keep their eyes on those who walk according to the example they had in Paul and in the other apostles. They were to use them as models for how they should also be living to please the Lord.
But the standard for Paul’s walk of faith was not the teachings of humans. It was not books written by famous authors. It was not smooth sounding preaching coming from professed teachers of the word of God who were motivational speakers, in reality. His standard was the word of God alone!
Philippians 3:18-19 ESV
“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
What does the cross of Christ symbolize? It symbolizes Jesus putting our sins to death with him on that cross so that we could now die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. It symbolizes our walks of faith in Jesus, too, where daily we die with him to sin and to self, and where daily we follow him in obedience to his commands, in his power and strength.
To walk has to do with our lifestyles, with what we practice. It is how we conduct our lives day by day in the course of everyday life. It has to do with the words that we speak, with our attitudes, with our beliefs, and with our actions which speak loudly as to what we really believe.
Now, this is not about sinless perfection. This is not saying if once in a while we fail to exemplify Christ in our lives that we are a bad witness or that we are not walking in obedience to our Lord. For the Scriptures teach two different responses to the Lord and both have to do with what we practice.
Either we are those who make righteousness our practice, by God’s grace, in his power, or we are those who make sin our practice, by the flesh, in our own strength and power. So, when this talks about those who walk as enemies of the cross, they are those who are walking by the flesh, but they are also those who are opposed to walks of righteousness.
Many professers of faith in Jesus Christ today, including many pastors, elders, deacons, church denomination heads, evangelists, and the like, are teaching an adulterated gospel which does not teach the importance of walks of righteousness because they teach against all works, even the works of righteousness in our lives which God has called us to walk in.
Thus, they do not require repentance, obedience, or submission to Christ as Lord. They do not honor God, but they make up their own god and their own Jesus and their own gospel to suit their only fleshly desires. For they teach that you can be saved and on your way to heaven but that you can still live in sin, walking in unrighteousness.
Their god is definitely their belly, their own fleshly appetites, and their minds are definitely set on earthly things, for they want to have God and his heaven minus the true meaning of the cross of Christ which means dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness. So, their end is destruction, not eternal life (Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10).
Philippians 3:20-21; 4:1 ESV
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”
We may be citizens of physical nations on this earth, but our true citizenship is in heaven with God. Therefore, our loyalties, our devotion, and our worship belong to God and to God alone, not to national governments. Now we are to obey those in authority over us unless they require we disobey God, but we are not to surrender our devotion to them, but to God alone.
Therefore, since we belong to the Lord, and since heaven is our home, and since Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and not to please ourselves, we are to stand firm in our walks of faith and our commitments to the word of God and to following our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives.
And we must do this even if sometimes it may mean standing alone and being alone. For, the closer we walk with the Lord the more the worldly church will separate herself from us, and the more mere professers of faith in Jesus will not want to be around us. And the harder it will become to find like-minded followers of Jesus who are serious about their walks with the Lord.
But we are to keep on in our walks of faith and in standing on the word of truth, even if sometimes it may feel like we are standing alone. We have to be those who will stand firm in our faith if no one joins us, or if many do, either way. Yes, it is wonderful to have true fellowship and encouragement from the body of Christ, but we can’t build our faith on having that.
We need to build our faith on the teachings of Jesus and of the apostles and of the prophets before them where they were teaching the holiness and righteousness of God and of the importance of us forsaking our sins to walk in obedience to our Lord. For, we are to be like Jesus in all that we do.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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