Are you like everyone else? Whose god is their appetite… Commentary on Philippians 3:13-21
The incredible message of Philippians is that the God of the universe has made a way for mankind, specifically those who come to Him through His Son Jesus, to be transformed into the image of that Son — Jesus Christ — and spend eternity with Him. This transformation is what Paul calls the Prize. And it is what all TRUE believers are striving for. And because of the grace — meritless favor — that has been lavished on us, we no longer look back at our old self, but forward — to the attaining of all the riches found in Him.
13Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The Christian, the one who has been declared not guilty before the Father — because of the death and resurrection of Christ — are positionaly perfect. From God’s perspective, they are perfect, as if they have never sinned: like Christ. Remember, I wrote about the term “Vertical” that theologians use. Vertically — from God to man — he sees us as Christ. However, horizontally — from man to man — we are not perfect. It is called sin, and in most cases this sin is found in the manifestation of our attitudes — our attitudes toward ourselves, each other, and God.
All TRUE believers seek to become more like Christ. And we ask the Father to reveal anything in us that is contrary to His Word, the Living Word — which is Christ. To be more like Christ in all things, that is what we want. And though we fail, we strive toward an outward standard, which is Christs’ life. We strive for it “horizontally” but “vertically” we have already attained it.
15Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
16however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
Christians rely on what is written in the Bible as an example. And we observe those who have walked with the Lord and seek His face — the face of Christ, not their own. These mature believers look like the Master in their actions. Weather in word or deed — they look like Him and they point others to Him. They live — the Bible uses the term walk for live — not according to the pattern of this world, but by every word that comes from the Father in His word — the Bible. These men and women provide a pattern for younger Christians to live, or walk by. They are, in most cases unwittingly, like mentors to the rest of us.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
But, in contrast to those who walk according to the pattern of Christ, there are those who appear to be Christians, and in most cases, are not. Paul calls them the enemies of the cross of Christ — of the gospel. Because of their attitudes, their end is destruction. What are some of the signs to look for — not to judge them by — but just to remain aware of?
Their god is their appetite. We think of appetite as it relates to food. But in this case, it is not only food, but the gratification of their wants and desires above what God’s wants are. Wants and desires that are contrary to the pattern given by Christ, then Paul, and even those TRUE believers who have walked / lived with the Lord and can teach others to do the same.
How can their appetites make them enemies of the cross of Christ, or the gospel? Well, usually when the world, or non-believers to be exact, think of the Christian church they usually say things like, “All they want is my money.” This is what the world does to its own, why would they not think the church would do the same. In fact, it is not greed and selfishness that gets the attention of worldlings. What stands out to them is when we don’t act like them. When we do not conform to their pattern, or way of doing things. What is noticed by the world is what Paul calls in Phil. 1:11 – the fruit of righteousness. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, piece, patience, etc. etc. This fruit is seen by the world, tasted by the world, and like the fruit of the tree in the garden that changed Adam and Eve for the worst – the fruit of righteousness changes people for the better.
Their glory is in their shame. Glory means “known” — what these enemies of the cross of Christ are known for is shameful behavior. And, specifically in the context of these verses, they are known for their attitudes toward their own desires. When you are a glutton for your own desires, your own passions, your belly, your time, earthly things — you are no different than the world. And you are an enemy of the gospel, or the cross of Christ. Your attitude prevents the gospel from going forward. You are no different than the world. And if the world follows your example, they won’t be standing in line to find out what it is that you have that’s so different from themselves. They already know, there is nothing different about you.
These enemies of the cross of Christ were in the church, it saddened Paul greatly, and it should make us sad as well.
18For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,
19whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
But, for those who understand the deep things of God. Those who’s God is not their appetite, but the one true God. The ones who strive toward being more like Christ. The ones who have the fruit of the Spirit displayed in their attitudes toward others. These eagerly wait for our Savior, our King, Our Lord to return. And. what is so beautiful in this passage as it ends is the fact that he will transform our bodies to look like His. This begins here on earth, in our lives. The transformation of the glutton to be more like the Savior. He transforms not just our minds, but our bodies as well.
20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Be transformed today my friends. You can do this. Stop eating when you are full. Don’t fill your plate. Reject gluttony in all things, sacrifice it on the altar of your bodies. Keep your face in his word.