Paul has just called the Philippians “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” His thoughts about the future have now led him to reflect on the fact that not all of his readers may make it to that Day. So he takes a few sentences to urge them to “stand firm in the Lord”.
He knows not all of his readers will persevere because he has already seen many fall away and become “enemies of the cross”. So Paul strengthens them by reminding them that they have a Savior who is coming soon to bring them to their heavenly home where they are already citizens.
Perhaps you have heard the proverbial expression, “Good is the enemy of great”. What is this proverb getting at? Where have you seen this at work in your own life?
1. Paul gives three commands in this passage, what are they?
2. Put in your own words what Paul’s main concern for the Philippians might be.
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?
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?
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?
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 forgeting this contribute to someone not persevering in their walk with Christ?
8. In what ways have you made peace with the fact that our hope is for the coming of a Savior, and that this life is full of pain and suffering for all people, but especially Christ followers? In what ways are you still trying to live as if this life is where you need to find your happiness and fill your belly?
9. What good things are you still trying to fill your belly with, that is keeping you from hoping in the great things of heaven?
10. What causes you to grow red of waiting for your savior Christ? When are you most susceptible to begin setting your mind on earthly things?
11. How does it affect you to know that you are a citizen of heaven and not this earth? What does it say about God’s attitude toward us that he makes us citiens of heaven years before we ever arrive there?
12. In what areas of your life do you need to remember that you are no longer a slave to the god of your bellies, but that Christ has set you free and that you have a hope far more desirable?
13. Earlier we discussed how your salvation is not yet complete, but we still await our savior from heaven who will complete it? In the midst of the here and now realities of sin, and temptation and suffering, what is it going to take to keep our hearts set on the hope of our coming savior? How can we help each other stand firm in the Lord?
14. Who is an example of standing firm that you can imitate? How should you begin imitating them?
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