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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome, one and all, to our informal verse-by-verse Bible study. I refer to it as “informal” because it’s come as you are, when possible, with no strings attached. By that I mean I’ve said I would never ask for charitable contributions and that program is still in effect. What’s more I prohibit “pop-up” ads on the website that present an opportunity to earn income. Why? Distractions of any type may hinder your spiritual progress. I thank you for joining us today. I pray you learn something new about the Lord Jesus Christ while you’re here and something about yourself as well.
Please open your Bible at Philippians 2:4-8.
The church at Philippi was experiencing conflict (strife) and disunity as were other grace churches, so our Apostle Paul began to address this “hitch” in their walk with the Lord in verse 1:27. Since these folks were not in harmony with one another, Paul affirmed in Christ there exists consolation (encouragement), comfort of love (solace, support derived from sincere love), fellowship of the Spirit (partaking of the Holy Spirit’s life and sharing in His gifts, ministry, values, etc.), and bowels (affection), and mercies (heartfelt compassion) - Philippians 2:1-2.
Paul’s usage of the word “strife” in verse 2:3 takes us back to his statement in 1:15: “Some (brethren) indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some of good will:” which clearly indicates some of these Believers were envious of Paul and his successful ministry and they desired a portion of that action for themselves. They had set their sights on certain prominent positions within the church, giving little (if any) thought to the ensuing collateral damage. They pursued their own interests (selfish ambitions) and neglected the interests of their brothers and sisters in the Lord.
If you’ve worked for a company or organization for any length of time, then you probably know at least one fellow employee who put their desires ahead of their fellow workers. These people sought to climb the ladder of success while stepping on and over their co-workers. I acknowledge the pursuit of power, success, and wealth at any cost is prevalent in the world-at-large, but this mindset should not be found in the Body of Christ. Paul put it this way: But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:15-16).
Paul sought to defuse this avoidable unrest saying “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” The opposite of vainglory (excessive pride) is humility so Paul’s emphasizing the need for these saints to “put on” this Christ-like characteristic saying: “esteem others better than yourselves.”
Let’s begin with Philippians 2:4-5:
Look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things (interests) of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things (interests) of others (2:4) – Paul uses the word every twice in this verse so let’s be clear. He saying no one in the church is above this command. We know Paul’s dealing with ambitious, self-centered Believers so in clear language he told these people to be as concerned about the interests of others as they would their own interests. Said differently, they were to “fulfill the law of Christ.”
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things (Galatians 6:1-5, 9-10).
Let this mind (attitude) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (verse 2:5) - the word “mind” is Phroneo (fron-eh’-o) in Koine Greek, Verb, Strong’s Greek #5424, meaning: thinking or attitude. The attitude that Paul called for them to “put on” is the one of verses 2:3-4, which is Christ's attitude of humility. And the reason he calls for this attitude is so they will experience unity (verse 2:2). And the reason these folks should strive to safeguard their unity is found in verse 2:1, which is sincere thankfulness in all things (See 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
So, in verse 2:1, Paul gives them the motive for unity; in verse 2, he mentions the identifying features of unity; in verses 3-4 Paul provides them the way to achieve unity and then in verses 5-8 he gives them the perfect example they are to imitate to obtain and maintain church unity. In a phrase, these people are called to “imitate Jesus Christ’s humility.” Please read the following Bible verses in that Light:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:29).
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater that his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him (John 13:15-16).
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks (Galatians 4:29-32 - 5:1-4).
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost (Spirit), (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:6).
Although these Believers cannot imitate the Lord’s sinless life or His redemptive work, they are called to “put on” (imitate) His humility.
Now let’s take a look at The Incarnation in verses 2:6-8.
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Here Paul’s telling these Believers (and us) Jesus Christ was fully God and fully Man or possessed these two natures concurrently. Even though my feeble brain cannot comprehend this awesome work of God, I believe and accept this knowledge in faith (Hebrews 11:6). Many people do not. Since Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Ephrathah (Micah 5:2) people have denounced Him and His deity, starting with the nation of Israel, His own countrymen:
In the beginning was the Word (the Communicator for the Holy Trinity), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
He came into the world, and the world was made by Him (Colossians 1:12-20), and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not (John 1:10-11).
Religious dissenters continued to attack the deity of Jesus Christ from the first century onward. Finally, in 325 AD, and again in 425 AD, the church met to discuss this problem and later confirmed Jesus Christ possessed two natures; He was God in the form of man. People still mock and scorn this biblical fact today, but when they do I simply point out nothing is impossible with God:
Ah Lord God (Jehovah in the O.T. and the Lord Jesus Christ in the N.T.) behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: (Jeremiah 32:17).
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27)
When our Apostle Paul told the Philippian Believers to “let this mind (attitude) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” he was teaching them (and us) an important lesson in humility.
But (Jesus Christ) made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (2:7).
John 1:14 clearly says “The Word became flesh.” In other words, it was God the Son who left His glory in eternity and entered our world as God in His fullness but also fully man. Just so you know Jesus Christ did not empty Himself of His deity. He “made himself of no reputation” or set aside the glory that was His in order to achieve God’s redemptive work for all mankind:
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: (Romans 8:3).
For he (God the Father) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
Paul said at just the right time God sent “his Son” (His deity), “made of a woman” (His humanity) “to redeem them that were under the law.” Jesus Christ’s two natures were necessary. The Incarnation enabled the Lord to be the suitable mediator between God and man. Jesus Christ was God the Father’s perfect (sinless) sacrifice, and His redemptive work reconciled mankind to God.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:8-9).
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:5).
The Lord’s twofold nature enables Him to present to both God the Father and man the proper terms of reconciliation. Being Man he’s able to make atonement for humanity’s sinfulness; being God, His atonement has eternal value. Permit me to illustrate: when two groups of people have an essential disagreement, as in a workers’ union and the company that employs them they hire a “mediator” to sort things out. Thus, a mediator in the biblical sense is God the Son intervening between God the Father and mankind to restore peace, i.e. (reconciling) the two groups.
As I previously said, I can’t comprehend the doctrine of Incarnation anymore then I can make sense of the Holy Trinity being three divine individuals in One Person, each fully God and capable of exercising thought, will, and emotion. Daniel Webster, the 19th century statesman, was once asked, “Can you comprehend how Jesus Christ could be both God and Man?” He replied, “No, I cannot understand it.” He went on to say, “I would be ashamed to acknowledge Christ as my Savior if I could comprehend it. He could be no greater than myself, and such is my conviction of accountability to God, my sense of sinfulness before Him, and my knowledge of my own incapacity to recover myself, that I feel I need a superhuman Savior.”
Martin Luther was asked a similar question and said, “I cannot explain it. Man’s reasoning cannot comprehend this. But we believe it; and this is also the testimony of Scripture: that Christ is true God and He also became Man.” So, if this mystery boggles your imagination, congratulations, you’re in good company. Blessed are those who truly “walk by faith and not by sight.”
Let’s examine verse 2:8.
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Make no mistake folks, when the Lord Jesus Christ “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,” he did this for the benefit of all mankind. Furthermore, He accomplished His atoning work while we were yet enemies of God:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure (per chance or it may be) for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement (Romans 5:1-11).
Jesus died for us! He did all the work, and all you need to do is trust He died for your sins, was buried, and resurrected from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). God’s offer of salvation via His grace is free for you and me, but our redemption came at a high price!
Romans 5:5-8 serves to reinforce the fact the Lord Jesus Christ emptied Himself in that He assumed a servants nature and appeared in the likeness of men. It teaches the Philippians (and us) Jesus Christ humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross. Therefore the Philippians should become increasingly obedient to God’s divine directions, striving more and more to achieve His Son’s characteristic of humility. They were to be like-minded in plan and purpose because this is God’s will.
Our Lord and Savior regarded His enemies (lost sinners) as more important than Himself (2:3). He suffered death, even the death of the cross, so that all the people who place their faith in the finished work of the cross may have life, which has eternal value. The Lord Jesus Christ epitomized the characteristic of humility, so our Apostle Paul taught the Believers in Philippi to cultivate within themselves this same attitude and “to walk” in accordance with this truth.
(To be continued)
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