Last weekend two police officers were viciously shot in Compton, California. A 31 year old single mother and a young man of 24 were sitting in their police vehicle. About 7 PM a man got off the bus, walked up to them and shot them multiple times. How can a person act like this? Why does someone make such cowardly choices? How can we raise our children differently? Philippians chapter 3 verses 17 to 21 provides three steps to building the right choices in our lives.
First, we must follow the right examples (verse 17). The apostle Paul wrote, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” Right actions begin with the right heroes. Later in Philippians 4:9 Paul said, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.”
A wise person said, “Show me the books you are reading and the people are you are spending time with and I will show you your future.” We become like our heroes. As we read the Bible we find many people to emulate. We read of Abraham and Moses and Deborah and Samuel and David and Elijah and Jeremiah and Mary. Our ultimate Hero is the Lord Jesus.
In church history we also find many great examples. Augustine and Martin Luther and Susannah Wesley and Martin Lloyd-Jones are great examples for us. None of these people were perfect. Even the apostle Paul said, “For the good that I want I do not do” (Romans 7:19). They lived lives worth following. God has provided many great heroes for us.
Second, we must identify the enemies (verses 18-19). “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” We face enemies and we must identify them. The word weeping means intense emotion. It was used for the death of a loved one. Paul warned with intense weeping, “Avoid these enemies. Do not imitate them.”
Verse 19 identifies these enemies. “…whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” Destruction refers to eternal judgment. They will be separated one day from everything good. They are driven by their sinful appetites. They glory in their shame. They call good evil and evil good. They are focused not on the proper priorities but on earthly things.
I read that after ten years the reality show KUWTK (Keeping Up With The Kardashians) is canceled. Can we all agree these are not the right examples for us or our children?!
Third, we must focus on the future (verses 20-21). “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippi was a prominent city. In 42 BC a major battle took place there. Marc Antony and Brutus assassinated Julius Caesar. Octavian, Julius Caesar’s adopted nephew, defeated them at Philippi. Octavian later became Caesar Augustus. Many retired Romans soldiers settled in Philippi. Philippi was a little piece of Rome in Macedonia.
Paul reminds us that we are to be islands of stability in a sea of chaos. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are bound for glory. Our future is bright.
The Romans referred to Caesar as “the savior of the world.” Verse 20 teaches that the true Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus died that we might live. He saves us from the wrath of God through His death upon the cross.
We also focus upon the future for another reason in verse 21. “…Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory…” One day every believer will stand before God with a perfect resurrection body!
From eternity past Jesus existed as God. At the incarnation He became the God-Man. Today He is still the God-Man. He is fully God and fully Man. One day we will have new bodies like Christ’s resurrection body. His post resurrection body ate, walked through walls, appeared and disappeared and rapidly went from one place before appearing at another. We will have new bodies like His one day.
We see many people in our nation making poor choices today. Attacking police officers, setting fires and protesting night after night are not godly choices. We must be different. We need the right examples. We must identify the enemies. Our focus must be upon the future. This will help us make good choices today.
Ethan Hansen is a pastor at Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake.