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1. Paul gives three commands in this passage, what are they?
1. Paul says to imitate him. 2. Keep your eyes on those who walk like Paul. 3. Stand firm in the Lord
2. Put in your own words what Paul’s main concern for the Philippians might be.
Paul has watched a number of men become enemies of the cross as they tried to fill their bellies on earthly things. He wants his beloved Philippians to stay true to Christ.
3. Paul draws a number of contrasts between those who walk as enemies of the cross (19) and those who walk like Paul (20). Let’s discuss them. What is one way Paul describes those who are enemies of the cross? How is that contrasted with believers?
There is a fourfold contrast between Christians and non-Christians: (1) Christians are heavenly oriented others earthly, (2) Christians anticipate that the glory of Christ will be their own, others glory in their own lowly and shameful reality because they can imagine no better, (3) Christians are subject only to him who subjects all things to himself, even for the good of his people, others are slaves to their bellies having no power to oppose the gods of their various passions, (4) Christians are awaiting salvation, others will end in destruction.
4. Why do you think some are able to stand firm and others flirt with worldly ways of living? What perspectives does Paul offer to help the believer stand firm?
They are citizens of heaven, their Savior is coming. If they really believe that they are citizens of heaven they will be less likely to flirt with earthly things. If they really trust Jesus is coming for them, they will be unwilling to abandon their faith even if it causes them momentary discomfort.
5. Paul says about the enemies of the cross of Christ that they have their minds “set on earthly things”. Obviously we all have to think about getting an education, earning a living, finding a spouse, taking care of our possessions. What is the difference between having a mind “set” on these things versus just thinking about them to be responsible?
We have to think about the affairs of this world, but they must never become our driving motivation, our hunger, or our passions. We should be slaves only to the will of God and we deal with the issues of this world as part of serving him, bringing him glory, seeking our satisfaction in him.
6. Some people accuse Christians of being so “heavenly minded” that they are useless and negligent in the issues that the world faces. Is Paul’s insistence that we be heavenly minded a help or hindrance to our ability to do good in this world? Debate.
7. We often talk about ourselves as being “saved,” i.e. past tense. What aspects of our salvation are still pending, according to this passage or others? Why is it important to always remember that our salvation is not fully accomplished? How might forgetting this contribute to someone not persevering in their walk with Christ?
We are still not delivered from the sin in our flesh, we are not immortal, we are still subject to the curse upon the earth, we are still cut off from face to face intimacy with the Lord, we are persecuted for righteousness. It is important to remember that our salvation is not complete so that we do not become discouraged as if this was all God had for us. If we believed we were supposed to fully experience salvation now, we would soon become discouraged that our experience is far short of what we imagined it would be. We will experience full salvation, but we look forward to that day in hope and do not become discouraged when we experience the difficulties of this life.
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