FREED: to Present Maturity and Future Glory | Philippians 3:17-4:1
Topic: New Testament Passage: Philippians 3:17–4:1
Christopher Rich – June 10, 2018
FREED | From Prison to Peace | Wk 10
FREED: To Present Maturity and Future Glory | Philippians 3:17-4:1
Introduction | What does maturity look like in the Present?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we’re continuing our series FREED: From Prison to Peace.
How do you interact with the present? Is today a day to be ceased? Are you only hoping for tomorrow, for the next thing? Life will begin when…. If you’re a Christian what does it mean to be engaged in the present AND hopeful for the future? How is is tension navigated? Last week we saw we are to turn from dwelling in our past to engage presently in pursing maturity. That living in a prison of the past will keep us in complacency that will keep us from growing. But in Christ, God has given us growth we can hold onto. We’ve told and encouraged to “Hold true to” what has been attained. We do possess some maturity that’s been granted for the present. So if we have been freed from our past of sin, shame, pride, and self-righteousness and freed to look ahead to a glorious future with Jesus what does it mean to pursue maturity in the present? If you’re not yet a believer in and follower of Jesus what is your status and condition? How do you relate to the present? What is your destiny in the future? We’ll see in Christ we are FREED to be citizens of the Future and present today.
PART I| FREED to present Examples | v17
Philippians 3:17 | 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
What does maturity look like in the present? It is attainable now, but it is perfected later. More maturity should make you crave more maturity. But this only happens IF you’ve place your faith in Jesus. The new life with Jesus is here, secure, and available. There is freedom, joy, and a real future. We’re told to “hold true to the maturity we’ve been granted, but how are we to do that? Verse 17 is the answers. Maturity in the present looks like Joining together with others. What are we doing with others? We are joining with them to imitate others who are godly examples. To be clear we are all pursuing maturity that looks like imitating the life of Jesus. But we are in need of present examples who are accessible, attainable, and who are imitate able. There are great leaders like Paul who have a life, ministry, teaching, that is able to have an impact on multiple churches, (these are culture setters) and there are other local leaders who are following Paul’s lead. Perhaps these are leaders or other mature(ing) Christians (Culture keepers) That’s what leadership looks like, I’m going to follow that example. This is what we look for in leaders, they are example setters and example followers. Paul says imitate me as I imitate Christ, this is the big key to this idea. So, there is no confusion we’re not called to make disciple of Paul or of Chris, or Tim Keller or John Piper, we are called to make/be disciples of Jesus. But part of how that process works is finding present examples…. Who are present. Present Maturity means finding present examples of maturity and being present with them. So much of learning, leadership, and life is merely being present with other people.
This is what it means to be part of a Gospel Community encouraging Gospel Living. “Join with others” in imitating a culture of growing in maturity. We keep our eyes on those who are walking well.
Walk – Walk in a row, march together like ranks of soldiers. Present maturity You have to be walking with others, in unity with others.
CS Lewis used a well-functioning fleet of ships (navy) as an analogy. There is a group of ships together. They all share the same Goal/destination/mission (this is set as life with and for Jesus Christ). This requires them to function individually (this is the moral/practical life of every believer pressing on towards maturity) Finally the ships are all aligned in such a way that they’re not constantly running into each other and not getting in each other’s way. Examples walk (sail) together following other examples that are attainable.
We are individual agents, on a collective mission, goal, course. We each need our orders from Jesus not merely the other ships next to us. Because we’re all followers of something or someone we need to understand what/who is it we are actively following. Present maturity considers who do we grant influence into our lives. This matters and has to be addressed. Present Maturity doesn’t have room for much indifference. There real stakes and real consequences involved. There is a present reality you need to confront in terms of what walk you are imitating and what examples you’re following or being. You are either walking as an example of a mature/maturing disciple or your walking as an enemy of the Cross.
PART II | Imprisoned Enemies | 3:18-19
Philippians 3:18-19 | 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Present Maturity has a look like having a heart for those who don’t know Jesus. Before we can talk about the depth of contrast from the examples Christians are called to follow and those we are not, we have to know what our disposition is to be towards those who’s example, manner of life, are not in line with gospel but are actually opposed to it. See when we read something as incendiary as “Enemy of the Cross” we can think quickly about how we engage with enemies we can forget all the other words in this sentence. Paul knows specific people he’s thinking about. People he’s shared the Gospel with who have either failed to receive it or rejected it. This means Paul is a guy who loves the church, loves Jesus, AND spends significant time with those who don’t yet know and follow Jesus. He’s talked about these people with others in the church, likely praying for them, often. Unlike false religious teachers who Paul righteously opposes his primary disposition to these “enemies of the cross” is not anger, but of anguish because he knows their prison and he knows their sentence. We often want to vanquish enemies, but Paul (with the heart of Christ Jesus who while we were yet sinners/enemies died for us) for these enemies no ambiguity but clarity and the clarity is anguish not Vanquish. How do we follow Paul’s example? Care for unbelievers, prayer for specific people. Embrace them. Have genuine relationship with people who don’t know or follow Jesus.
Present maturity means using discernment of what examples to follow, to imitate, to aspire to. Everyone is an example of something but not everyone is an example worthy in walking in the footsteps of. When engaging with those who don’t know or follow Jesus you need clarity on who is influencing who. Are you walking in line with Jesus and engaging with those who don’t while remaining faithful, or are you following the example unbelievers? What a gift of clarity we’re given when it comes to identity, there is no room for ambiguity. Examples follow Jesus and the godly examples of others. Enemies walk like this:
Deny Jesus and the Gospel, don’t think the cross is significant, or that Jesus is significant. When they consider God, sin, salvation, Jesus sacrifice, Jesus lordship they are unmoved, and they oppose people who have faith in Jesus. They are complacent with themselves as the greatest authority in their life, so all striving is to grow their independence from others, even God, rather than in growing dependence on the one we truly depend on. Where have you followed or led in valuing independence rather than dependence on God?
Desire their own appetites - selfishness. Everyone is going their own way and it’s not a shared vision. They are governed by and worship themselves and their desires. This isn’t being ruled by our past, this is when we are so focused on the present we only care about what we want or enjoy now. WE don’t consider how our appetites, and our will might be contrary to what God would have for us because we are our god. These enemies follow themselves. This is the opposite of a gospel community following Jesus this is countless individual all following their inner star you don’t have a united fleet but a bunch of boats chaotically setting individual courses. Where the fleet follows Admiral Jesus in line with good spacing. These people are easily going to cut off and collide with others because they are only following themselves with no consideration of others. Where are you following your desires and responding to them as your God?
Define sin as glorious - These enemies of the Cross have heard with God has said or made plain and they have taken these values reversed them. When we’re are enemies of God’s work we’ll call our work, which God has called sin and glorious. God doesn’t not want us to walk in shame, but shame is a natural consequence of sin. These are not people who have looked at the cross of Jesus and said “you have beard my shame and you have made me clean and “without shame”. No shameless in their actions and attitudes that are opposed to God. blindness to their present condition.
“In our day America is preoccupied with sex and the self: it is committed to a materialism designed to satisfy the individual’s selfish desires. Our values are becoming so reversed that honesty is increasingly novel, chastity is despised and mocked, a word in behalf of law, justice, or personal integrity is often ignored or laughed down. This is the way things are, but it should not be surprising” - James Montgomery Boice
This was from commentary on Philippians 3:19 “and they glory in their shame “in....... 1971. My how things have changed. The concepts of what it means to reverse values is unfortunately a timeless one.
When have you conveniently redefined sin and virtue to fit into your way of thinking and being?
Devoted to the present. Mind set on earthly things. We live for the here and now. Live in the now, live in the moment. This is such a devotion to the present that you are unable remember or learn from the past. You give little consideration to how things you’re doing, and pursing might have an impact on future or on eternity, specifically yours. Even as we engage with and enjoy the present, there is a big difference between “Eat drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die.” And “Eat drink all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31) It is about mindset and orientation. They forget actions have consequences, and they believe this life and this earth is all there is. While trying to focus on the present and the tangible they’re actually focusing on the temporarily and the transient. Where are you so devoted to the present you’re not considering eternity?
Destination is destruction- There are many reasons for this that tie into the previous. Because they are enemies of God and God is the source of life when the oppose God they consequence is death. Because they are worshiping themselves and their desires instead of God and God’s desires eventually you will find that you are a terrible god and your desires (apart from god will not be fulfilling but will be destructive. They’re feasting on their own desires that are apart from the will of Jesus. Because they’ve redefine sin and righteousness, the focus on this present time, place, experience, they have forgotten there is a future judgment. All their Sin leads to death. They are so focused on the things of this earth they have forgotten the trajectory of history is this. The earth will pass away and Jesus will return with a new Heavens and new earth. ONLY look at the here and now and never consider our eternal destiny. IF it’s not in Christ, it’s destruction. What is your hope? What do you worship? What is your God? What is your destiny?
PART III | FREED to be Citizens of the Future, in the Present | v3:20-4:1
Philippians 3:20-21 | 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 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.
But there is another away. Enemies have an end and its unending destruction. Friends, family have a different destiny they have an endless life with Jesus and His people. Presently an enemy doesn’t have to mean forever an enemy. This is what it means to repent of rejecting Jesus of following your own desires, defining sin, and only living for the present and turn to follow Jesus, obey Him as your God and king, understand the depth of your sin and know that it is paid for by Jesus on the cross and no longer fear a fate of eternal destruction and instead know your fate is life. The Gospel is enemies of the cross who have been met by, confronted by, Jesus who surrender to Jesus and He says stop being my enemy and join the new family. You’re not going to be a prisoner of war or execute for war crimes, you have been freed from the past to follow Jesus today and join with others who are following His example and the example of other faithful followers.
Present maturity is brothers and sisters knowing where they’re citizens of. Heaven. This a present tense! You’re citizens now! Your kingdom is in the future. So, there is both present assurance and future anticipation! What does that mean in the present? You’re a patriot of heaven. The better translation is to say you are part of a Colony of Heaven. What a thought. This is really what the church is called to be. Just Philippi is a colony of Rome. The people of this church, and the people of ours are called to model and promote the city we ultimately represent. You are focused on advancing the values of your new nation and forgetting the values of your old one. Praising God, he’s brought you out of that place, feeling His presence with you in this place and trusting Him to take you to a far better forever place. You are a citizen, so you have privilege (status – relationship with the king) and duty (responsibility to the colony and the King)
Present maturity is remembering Jesus is returning. This is the promise of judgement enemies (sobering) and joy for disciples (celebration) because we can be encouraged to keep striving for more maturity now but will experience a final transformation later. we don’t forget our citizenship but remember the best is yet to come. This is the simple trust in the core of Christianity that we are Freed to have faith in the Resurrection –
Jesus lives, we will live. Jesus returning means Jesus is living. Jesus said He is preparing a place for us that means when we are in Christ we are promised live with Him. So, our destiny is not destruction but life. Jesus resurrected means that we can have confidence in our resurrection. Death is not the end for Jesus, so Death is not the end for us. We have a forever life, not as we are but as we are meant to be. Because..
Jesus was transformed, we will be transformed. When Jesus was resurrected he was given a glorious body (one that still bared the marks of His crucifixion). The power that spoke the world into existence is the power that will give you your new body. Lowly Body is literally our body of humiliation. We should all want a new body… This what is going to be transformed. Into a new resurrected body that is built for eternity. Your current body is not built for eternity, because it is aging and wasting away. Our new bodies will not. 1 Cor 15 talks about this in greater detail. But if we want hope that real lasting change is possible and coming, because we know things as they have been are not acceptable or not enough, know we have the promise of a new life with new power and new body that has been not just striven for but has actually been transformed to function gloriously in a new glorious future. Jesus power will give us a new body like Jesus.
PART IV | FREED to Stand Firm in the Present | 4:1
4 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Present Maturity Begins and ends with a Gospel community. Following the proper examples. Standing firm.
So, for now we can stand firm in the present knowing our future in assured. Because Jesus is transformed we have the promise that we are going to be transformed. We stand united moving together. Paul as a leader is talking about what his greatest achievement is can be found in the ongoing faithfulness of these people who he Loves, who are to love one another and can Stand firm because of the Power of God in Jesus. We can know our future transformation will be complete, but presently we strive/press for progress now and tomorrow. We don’t look like Jesus yet, but we look more like Jesus now than we did, so we praise God! And we’ll look more like Jesus in the future, so we praise God!
Our death is not condemnation day but as DL Moody said is our coronation day. The joy and prize we receive is new bodies for eternity, and new forever life with Jesus. So we don’t dwell in the past, and we’re not exclusively devoted to the present because that is not where our citizenship is. We were purchased from the past to be freed to strive for life now with the promise of a resurrected life forever when we TRUST JESUS!
More in FREED | From Prison to Peace | Philippians
June 24, 2018FREED: To Contentment | Philippians 4:10-23
June 17, 2018FREED: To Peace in Conflict | Philippians 4:2-9
June 3, 2018FREED: from our PAST to His Future | Philippians 3:12-4:1