Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If one is to study the Incarnation, they will have to consult Philippians chapter two. And they will usually start with verse five. For this will produce a good topical outlook on the subject. But that will only render additional theology for the head. And that is not what the Apostle Paul was exclusively writing about! He was writing this church concerning their furtherance and joy of faith. (Philippians 1:25). In other words, he was writing to them about their progression in sanctification. He was concerned about their growth in grace and the experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The theological subject of the Incarnation is but a part of this. It is, of course, a very important part, but it is not the primary purpose of the Apostle’s correspondence.
We have listed out, in our above text, in verse twenty seven of chapter one, his overall concerns. For this verse sets up the introduction of the subject which the Apostle continues to pursue. And it is for the development of that subject (progressive sanctification), which necessitates the introduction of the “Incarnation passage.” For the whole purpose of introducing Christ’s Incarnation is to reveal Christ’s condescension as the pattern of the mindset in the believer’s regeneration!
For Incarnation brings God down to man, and regeneration brings man up to God! THAT is the marriage of Christ to His Bride, the Church! 1 Corinthians 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Incarnation is God in man’s body. Regeneration is God dwelling in the believers body. Both are temples of the Lord God! John 2:21 But he spake of the temple of his body. Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
And the Incarnation, coupled with regeneration provides the “holy habitation” in which God is to dwell throughout eternity! Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Therefore to simply study for a topical message on the Incarnation from this passage is to miss the whole purpose of the Holy Spirit’s instruction through the Apostle Paul to this, and every church. Let us take time to seek a more clear insight into this scripture.
The apostle has just spoken of his desire to finish out his ministry and life in order to go on and be with the Lord. But he then states that remaining here and continuing his ministry is more needful to the believers there at Philippi. And having brought up that matter, he instructs them that whether he was absent or present with them, there is one thing which shall be used to guide them throughout their Christian life. And that is the example and mindset of the Lord Jesus.
His instruction recorded in verse twenty seven speaks of a necessary steadfastness in the same spirit and mind. And that leads him to reveal how this is to be done. For in verse two of the next chapter he brings up again that ye be likeminded. Then in verse five he instructs them as to which mind they should be in – that mind which was also in Christ Jesus.
And he begins our chapter two with four “ifs.” The first and third are exclusively from God. With the second and fourth being the results of those provisions in the life of the believers. He first states, If there be any (mutual) consolation in Christ, the result will be of that second “if.” There will be the comfort of love. For it is as the Holy Spirit consoles the believer that there is awarded him much comfort and hope in the love of God.
Then the third “if,” states, if any fellowship of the Spirit, there will be a “compassionate sympathy,” (“if any bowels and mercies”), within the heart of all believers. For God IS love (1 John 4:8,16). And whether the Holy Spirit abides in Christ or a believer, He always acts like Himself! Therefore He will produce the same love of God in whomever he abides! 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
This then, provides the likemindedness of all believers! For in our verse two the apostle states that to witness this mutual love in their lives was to “fulfil ye my joy.” For it is the indisputable evidence of the Holy Spirit’s fellowship in them. This godly love is not found in Adam – the natural man. It is only found in Christ – the last Adam! Therefore if it be found in a human being, it means that person is indwell by the Holy Spirit!
One may wear a golden cross and chain about their neck, or wear other garments meant to show their devotion to their preferred deity, but if they don’t have this godly love in their hearts, their religion is in vain! Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Then in verse three the apostle instructs them from the negative side. He reveals to them that the opposite of the expression of this heavenly love is having a selfish spirit of vain glory. Those who need religion in order to display themselves are not born again believers! 3 John 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; That is, love (“charity”) is not boastful, or vain-glorious. Nor does it have a haughty display!
Dear Reader, “God so loved” that “he gave!” It doesn’t say, “God so loved that he took!” Nor “God so loved that he only sought to be boastful!” It clearly states that the expression of godly love is, “God so loved that HE GAVE!” You can give without loving. But you can’t love without giving!
In verse four of our text he begins to direct them to the expressed character of divine love within the heart of the believer. He instructs them that God’s true, spiritual love will cause them not to be self absorbed, but to have an eye upon the needs of others. And this is the very mindset of the Lord Jesus.
But to come to such an obedience of love, which is so very contrary to nature, one has to have their mind transformed! For the “reasonable service” of the believer requires a death life! In order to prove the perfect will of God being accomplished by the Holy Spirit within the spirit of man, requires one to be a sacrifice, dying to self-interests for the good of others, but remaining physically alive in order to do so. 2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
And this mindset absolutely necessitates a transforming of the carnal mind! Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
And this can only be accomplished by the power of Christ within, and the compliance of the believer without. For the believer must continually choose to work out of himself those actions from the character which God is working within! Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Now comes the Incarnation Instructions! For although the Lord Jesus is in the form of God, he came to be in the form of a servant. But he did not cease to be God in order to do so. He is, therefore the believer’s perfect example! For the believer does not cease to be one chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world! (Ephesians 1:4). Neither does he have to cease to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus! (Ephesians 2:6). Yet he, like his Lord, must condescend to men of low estate! (Romans 12:16). 2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
In verse six it speaks of Christ not thinking it robbery to be equal with God: What this really means is that he did not “eagerly grasp, or retain” (Amplified Bible), that equality with God. For the true, pure, spiritual love of God seeketh not her own.” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Then in the next verse it states, But made himself of no reputation. And here we understand that he was “not self-regarding, nor took any account of himself!”
And that was the humbling himself as man, while as yet he was still being God. John 10:30 I and my Father are one. 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
What a pattern of Christianity! This makes one wonder if there really are many true Christians among the religious professors today!
Now consider verse eight and learn that when he was found in fashion of a man, he farther humbled himself in his humiliation! And this, his humility in his Incarnation, is therefore the true pattern and instruction for the believer’s sanctification! Matthew 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
His obedience was not just unto death! But it was even the death of the cross! For it was not Ishmael that Abraham had to sacrifice. It was the child of promise, Isaac! And THAT is the pattern of the believer’s life! 1 Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Dear Reader, you will never come to understand why your good is always punished until you realize that glory is involved! For the only way the believer can be brought from grace to glory is by way of Christ’s cross! Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Glorious life only comes through sacrificial death!
Pastor Gene Breed
December 29, 2016