“5)Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6)who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7)but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8)Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9)For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,”
As we read this passage it becomes so clear that Christ’s life, death , and exaltation is an example to us of what is required as fellow heirs with Him for salvation. We are to, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” How can a person be saved? Believe the Bible... of course. Faith in Jesus... of course. Repent of sin... of course. But what does that look like really? What must a man do to be saved? Let’s look at Christ’s example in Philippians 2: 5-9 when He left His place of honor, submitted Himself as obedient servant then to be raised up as the Name above every Name.
Christ- “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (verse 6)
How many ways are there to heaven? How many ways do we count ourselves worthy of God? Can a Holy, all present, creator God be grasped by our feeble hands and clung to in hopes that we make it into the afterlife? We could spend our days feeding the homeless, building hospitals and curing diseases but we won’t be equal to God. Our problem is not in achieving enough good but that we have sin counted against us. All the good we do doesn’t take away the bad. It doesn’t work like that in court, it doesn’t work like that with God. He is a righteous and good judge. But this is good news. What a burden it would be, like all other religions, to work and achieve salvation... to live your whole life never knowing if you were good enough, you’re not. God knows equality with Him could never be grasped so He sent His Son, our Lord, a perfect sacrifice, as a ransom, to pay the fine, the debt we owe against sin. “But he (Christ) was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Christ- “emptied himself” (verse 7)
I’ve attempted to explain salvation to my children many times but a useful analogy they can understand which also fits here is this... We are like a cup. Our cup is full of everything that makes us who we are. We fill ourselves and our lives with family, hobbies, self care, anger, selfishness, love, religion, pain, anything, and all that we are is in our cup. Then we meet Jesus. We believe in Him. We want heaven and all that He has to offer. So now we try to add Him to our cup... but He doesn’t fit, He won’t. Unfortunately, we often walk around this world with the illusion that Jesus is in our cup, in our life, but we are self deceived. Christ is all consuming. He will not enter a full life. We must empty our ENTIRE cup before He will fill our lives and give us a new heart. (Luke 9: 57-62, Matt 19: 16-30) “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”-Matthew 19:29 “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,”-Colossians 2:11
Christ- “humbled himself” (verse 8)
Our perfect savior pleaded for mercy from His Father (Luke 22: 41-44) yet willingly and lovingy submitted His will to God the Father. How much more ought we come to the end of a love for anything in this world. How much more ought we cry out “None of me! All of You!” John MacArthur once said, “If I’ve never mourned over my sin I have no solid ground to rejoice over my Salvation.” 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a Godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Everything we do before salvation is sin because we didn’t do it to serve and glorify God. We loved our life more than the God who gave it to us. We took the gifts and cursed the giver. Until we have come to hate the sin which we aloud to come between us and our savior we have not experienced repentance from a humbled heart. But Praise God, Christ has not come to take the world from us but to be our world, to give us new eyes to see His good gifts, a new heart to love more purely, new righteous affections and desires... all for His glory and our good.
Christ- became “obedient to the point of death” (verse 8)
A preacher once told his congregation of an encounter with a man whom he was sharing the gospel with. This man acknowledged Gods existence but wasn’t ready or willing to submit his life to the Lord’s authority. This story ignited gasps of judgmental shock from the congregation and that was exactly what the preacher was hoping for. How dare a person believe in God yet not turn from all sins and submit their whole life to Him? As I looked around I knew that likely many of the gasps and shocked reactions were coming from men and women who were privately doing the same as that very man, yet in denial, just as I once was. “And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain.” -Ezekiel 33:31. “And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” -Isaiah 29:13 (Matthew 15: 7-9) So which man is closer to Christ? The first in open rebellion to God or the self deceived church goer? It doesn’t matter. Christ was obedient to the point of death and if we are to be saved we must be also.
A very smart and law abiding man once noticed how special Jesus was. Jesus said to Him, “You must be born again.”
“But how?” the man questioned. How can anyone be born again? What must we do to be saved? Die to self. Christ became obedient to the point of death. “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:46 Jesus said, “It’s the Spirit Who gives life.” To be born of the Spirit you must die to your own spirit. Do you have this new life, or do you, like that man, acknowledge Jesus is special? Maybe you even recognize Him as God but already have a life you’re not willing to lay down? If Jesus isn’t everything to you then He’s not yours at all. Don’t be fooled by religion, behavior, or friends. You must be born again… obedient to the point of death.
Christ- was “highly exalted” (verse 9)
God highly exalted the One Who brought Himself low. Heaven is perfect and only perfection gets in. “He (God the Father) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” — 2 Corinthians 5:21. To be made right in the eyes of God is life changing. The work of the Holy Spirit is not only our seal for heaven but it is the process of being conformed into the image of Christ here and now. We are highly exalted in Christ not at death but at salvation. Have you experienced this change in desire, change in direction? Once we loved our sin and battled to seek for God. Now we hate our sin and long for Christ. Don’t confuse God’s endless forgiveness with your love of sin. A new heart dwells in abounding overwhelming love for the one who has come to live inside you. You were dead and now alive. God draws and draws His Spirit in you, to Himself… not for heaven’s sake but for holiness sake. Has He exalted you? Has everything in you changed because of Him? Because He loved you first. Is love too passive a word for the consuming fire in your heart for Him? Is He everything you need and all you desire? Is this world desperately empty because you long for more and more of Him?
Or... Have you created an image of God alive in you where He is not? Are you content with the world in your heart and God as an add on, an extra? Is sin regular, comfortable, needed? Is your hope in heaven not in Christ?… A false assurance to appease your fears.
John Owen once said, "As a traveler, in his way meeting with a violent storm of thunder and rain, immediately turns out of his way to some house or tree for his shelter; but yet this causeth him not to give over his journey; so soon as the storm is over he returns to his way and progress again. So it is with men in bondage to sin:the law meets with them in a storm of thunder and lighting from heaven, terrifies and hinders them in their way; this turns them for a season out of their course; they will run to prayer or amendment of life, for some shelter from the storm of wrath which is feared coming upon their consciences. But is their course stopped? Are their principles altered? Not at all; so soon as the storm is over... they return to their former course, in the service of sin again.”
God is not an extra. He is not a fix to our problems. He’s not a rehab or psychiatrist or a long walk on the beach. He’s not new and exciting. He’s Holy. We don’t take Him on. We don’t accept Him in when we’re feeling down. He ends our life and all that we cling to for the sake of exalting Himself in us. He chose us. He makes the foolish things of this world nothing by making those who He makes nothing the righteousness of Christ. He calls us out and we fall before His throne and cast down our filthy rags as He clothes us in the precious blood of Jesus. God lives in those whom He saves. Don’t believe that He would accept mediocrity of Himself. If you have been saved you are a slave now to righteousness. You are not your own. He is alive in you and He lives for His glory. This is the best part. We are bound in Christ. Loved by and loving forever in truth the One who is our life. Humbled yet exalted. Awaiting the day we see our savior face to face.
The picture of Christ, the perfect sacrifice in Philippians, is an illustration to us who are far from perfect. We are not equal with God. In fact we’ve sinned against Him and deserve punishment not heaven. We must plead for for a clean heart as we are humbled before this holy God. Nothing between my soul and the Savior. The love in our heart for this world must die as we see the glory of salvation in the face of Christ. Then, He gives life. Life more abundant than we ever fathomed. Nothing we ever wanted before and everything we’ve ever needed. His love is true joy and peace. Exalted with Christ. Salvation is a gift. Do not be deceived we can not exalt ourselves. We do not invite ourselves into His kingdom. We are born rebels and enemies of God (Isaiah 1: 27-28) until His Spirit makes us new. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” -Romans 5:10. There is no man centered decision to be made. No isle to be walked. No repeated prayer which offers eternal life, no baptism, no good works. No, If God has so worked in your heart as to bring you to the end of yourself, if He has caused a turning from all this world has to offer, if you could do no other than flee your sin and run into the restful hands of Christ, then you know, you have experienced divine repentance unto salvation. Follow Christ in His Word. God saves. In the end faith isn’t what we know, faith is Who we know. So, read the words of the Bible... do you believe them? But more importantly, do you love the One who gave them?
“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-11
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