July 19, 2020

To Live is Christ – Part 2

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Passage: Philippians 1:19 - 26
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Bible Text: Philippians 1:19 – 26 | Pastor: Craig Wilson | Series: Philippians | In John chapter 10, verse 10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Now, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” So, if Jesus came to bring us life, the implication is that what most people think is life is not life at all. The life that Jesus has in mind can only be experienced by those who are in Christ or by those who have been born again. And the Bible teaches that through the sin of Adam and Eve, through the rebellion of Adam and Eve, that sin entered the world, which means that everything was corrupted, including life. Therefore, what we think is life is really a corrupted version of life as God intended it to be for us. So, apart from Christ, we don’t really know what true life is. Apart from Christ, we really don’t know what real life is. All we know is a darkened version of life as God originally created us to live. So, what we call life, what we call living is really not living at all. Therefore, we must look for help in understanding what it means to live. We must look for outside guidance in order to help us understand how to live.
What motivates you?
So, with that little bit of background, let me ask you a couple of questions. What is it that motivates you? What are you living for? One of the most important characteristics of the Christian life is an understanding of who you are living for. As a Christian, as one who professes not Jesus just as Savior, but Savior and Lord, you need to really come to terms with this question. Who are you really living for? Are you living for yourself, or are you living for Christ? As we examine the life of the Apostle Paul, there’s absolutely no doubt in our minds that he lived for Christ. He’s not ashamed to say that he lived for Christ. He is not ashamed to let us know that he was driven and motivated by Christ. Paul says in verse 21 of our chapter here, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phi 1:21).

But how do we know that’s true? How do we know that’s true? How can you and I determine whether or not Paul’s claim is real? Do we simply take him at his word or is there an objective means whereby we can test his claim? Well, the answer to that question is yes. I don’t have to take Paul at his word when he says for to him to live is Christ, but let me say this, there’s absolutely no reason for us to doubt what Paul says. We can examine his life. We can examine every facet of his life, and we won’t see any area that will contradict his words. There’s nothing that we know about Paul that would make us doubt his claim, so we can examine his life. I can examine the way that he lived his life, and my examination is going to reveal one of two things. Either it’s going to reveal a consistent lifestyle that validates his claim that for to him to live is Christ, or my investigation is going to reveal an inconsistency in his life that invalidates his claim. Well, the good news is that Paul’s life matches his words. The good news is that Paul’s life is an accurate reflection of his words. Paul’s not pulling a quick one on us here. Paul’s not pulling a ‘bait and switch’. Paul’s not trying to get us to do something that he’s not trying to do himself. He’s living it out himself. His life reflects, confirms, and validates his words. What we know about Paul, what we know about him before his conversion, what we know about him after his conversion, and what we know about his actions leads us to conclude that indeed for him to live was Christ.

Now if you know, if you were here three weeks ago, I said that I was struggling, trying to figure out exactly what Paul meant by these words. I was really struggling to figure out how do I explain these words, and I said at that time, it was almost as if God had put His hand over the text and said, “No, not yet.” Thankfully, three weeks later now, I do believe that I have an understanding of what Paul means when he says, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phi 1:21a). So, here’s where we’re headed. In order for us to understand what he means, for to me to live as Christ, what we have to do is to examine his life. If he makes the claim, “For to me to live is Christ,” then we should be able to put his life as it were under a microscope and examine it and to see whether or not it’s really true. So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to examine the life of Paul and see if his life matches his claims. So, when Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ,” he means in broad terms that his support in life is Christ. His joy in life is Christ. His goal in life is Christ. His purpose in life is Christ. If we were to ask Paul, “Paul, where does your tremendous patience come from? What is the source of your patience?”, he would say Christ. If we were to say to Paul, “Paul, where does your boundless energy come from? Where does this drive come from?”, he would say, “It comes from Christ.” If we were to ask the Apostle Paul, “What is it that you love the most? Paul, what is it that you devote your mind and your body to?”, the answer will always be the same. It would be found in one word. He would say, “Christ. For to me to live is Christ.”
Real Life
And when Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ,” he’s referring to real life. He’s referring to life as we were created to live. Anybody who is honest will take a look at our world and say, “Something is drastically wrong. Surely, this isn’t the way that life is supposed to be.” And, we would be right. This isn’t the way that life is supposed to be. This isn’t the way that God designed us to live. Something has gone drastically wrong. So, Paul’s referring to real living, not some facade, not some happy thought life, but an actual life with all of its struggles, all of its toil, and all of its problems. But yet, he finds joy because he’s living life, not for himself, but for the sake of Christ. He lives to glorify Christ. He lives to enjoy Christ. He lives to love Christ. He lives to obey Christ. He lives to suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ, if need be.

So when Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ,” he is telling us that he finds his fulfillment, his satisfaction, and his contentment in Christ. He has found what so many people futilely spend their entire lives in search of. They’re looking for purpose. They’re looking for meaning. They’re looking for satisfaction. They’re looking for contentment, and yet, they cannot find it. Why? Because they’re looking in the wrong spot. I used the example in the first service of Tom Brady after he won his third or fourth Super Bowl. And I remember reading an interview, I believe, it may be Sports Illustrated did with him, and they were asking him different questions, and he made this statement in there that I’ll never forget. He said, “After winning the last Super Bowl, I asked myself, ‘Is this all there is? Is this it? Is this what life is all about?'” W hat he was saying was, “There’s no meaning here. There’s really no joy here. Yes, I’ve accomplished something. Yes, I’m known as the greatest quarterback of all time. Yes, I’ll go on to win more Super Bowls than any other quarterback in NFL history, but it doesn’t seem to mean much.” He understood that he was looking in all the wrong places.

So, Paul was saying that anything that is worthy of the word ‘life’ is only to be found in Christ. Yes, God gives us richly all things to enjoy, but the things that God gives to us were never meant to be the substitute through which we find our joy. They are to take a backseat to the Lord Jesus Christ. We find our joy in those things, because we are in Christ. We are not to put anything in front of or in place of Christ. And when Paul says in verse 21, “For to me to live as Christ,” what he really is doing is he’s telling us, “I’m obeying the first commandment.” What’s the first commandment say? “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3). And so, when Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ,” he is openly saying, “I am obeying the first commandment.” Paul is describing himself as obeying what Jesus said was the first and greatest commandment, which was “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mark 12:30).
The First Commandment
Now, if we keep this in mind and we keep this in context that when Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ” is actually his declaration of obedience and submission to the first commandment, and we go back and revisit the quote of Martyn Lloyd-Jones that I read a couple weeks ago, I think his quote makes more sense to us. Remember, the good doctor said, “Here we have not only the statement of an experience which was true, which was a fact and a reality, but at the same time, and for that reason, we also find ourselves face to face with a standard of judgment.” What he means is, if we can’t say along with Paul “For to me to live is Christ,” what we are in reality saying is “I’m disobeying God’s law. I’m putting something else before God. I’m serving some other God.” So, that’s why Martyn Lloyd-Jones says Paul statement stands as a statement of judgment. In other words, this statement of Paul, “For to me to live is Christ,” is really a measuring stick, by which we measure ourselves, our obedience, to the revealed will of God. We look at this statement. We compare ourselves with a statement. We measure ourselves by this statement and see if we’re measuring up. And, if we find that we are in violation of the commandment, what should we do? Well, we should repent and make whatever adjustments are necessary in order to bring our lives back into obedience to Scripture. I said this earlier this morning, and I mean this with all of my heart. I don’t believe there’s ever been a more important time when those folks that are in our world, our city, our neighbors, our families, our friends, and our co-workers, need to see Christ in Christians. They need to see Christ. That’s what they need to see.

When Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die as gain,” we have to ask ourselves this question. Does that apply to each and every one who professes to be a Christian? I could see somebody reading this text and thinking, “Well, that’s all well and good for you, Paul, but that’s really not my thing. That’s really not what I’m all about.” Someone would say that or, perhaps, think that but wouldn’t say it out loud, what they’re saying is really, “I’m more about me than I am about Jesus. I’m more concerned about myself than I am about Christ.” And, perhaps, we’re tempted to think, “You know, well that’s just Paul. You know how he is. He’s got flowery words and big speeches and all these kind of things, and that’s just for Paul. That’s really not for me.” But what is the answer to that question? When Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ,” is he saying this should be true of each and every person who professes faith in Christ? So, how can we answer that question? Well, we answer this question, just as we do every other question, by turning to the Scriptures.

So, now the question becomes what does the Scriptures say or how does Scripture answer this question? Well, let’s go back to the Scriptures and see what Paul says. We’ll let Paul speak for himself here again. Later in this letter to the Philippians in chapter three, verse 17, Paul says, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Now, I’ll explain here in a moment what Paul means when he says, “Brothers, join in imitating me.” Now, this isn’t the only time that Paul makes such a statement. In fact, in his letter to the church at Corinth in First Corinthians chapter four, he says, “I urge you then, be imitators of me” (1Co 4:16). Then, later in that same book in chapter eleven, verse one, he says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” So, what does Paul mean when Paul says, “Be imitators of me?” Now, I have heard this preached and taught, “Well, that means Paul wants us to follow his example.” I don’t believe that’s what Paul is saying at all. Say, “why not?” Because in that case, who’s getting the glory? Paul is. “Well, I follow Paul.” In fact, didn’t he rebuke some unbelievers one time? He said, “Hey, I follow Paul. I follow Apollos.” And Paul said, “No, you got it all wrong” (1 Co 1:12-13).
Imitate Christ
So, what Paul is saying here, “Be an imitator of me, as I am of Christ,” he’s saying, “I imitate Christ, therefore, you should imitate Christ as well.” Paul would never draw that kind of attention to himself of what he would say, “Be imitators of me.” No, he said, “I imitate Christ. Therefore, you need to imitate Christ as well.” Of course, the definitive answer to our question is found in a verse we examined a couple weeks ago. Galatians 2:20. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” So, let’s follow Paul’s logic. All who have been crucified with Christ share the same experience with Paul. And by the way, if you say, “Well, I’ve not been crucified with Christ,” in reality, you’re saying “I’m not a Christian. I’m not a believer.” Okay. But, if you say I have been crucified with Christ, you profess to be a believer, you profess to be a Christian, then it will be true of you that you, as well as Paul, no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in you. Therefore, that’s how Paul can say in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ.” He is simply explaining the reality of Galatians 2:20.

Therefore, by this very brief survey of Scripture and by examination of these few texts, I conclude that this does apply to every believer. “For to me to live is Christ” is not reserved for Paul. It’s not reserved for the super spiritual among us. This is to be true of each and every believer. So, again, we’re back to the question, ‘What does it mean for to me to live is Christ?’ The short answer is that we should imitate Christ. We should imitate Christ in our attitudes as well as our actions. Let me be very obvious at this point. You cannot imitate the actions of Christ apart from holding the attitudes of Christ. There is this one caveat. You can imitate the actions of Christ apart from the attitude of Christ, but the Bible has a very specific term for you. Hypocrite. Hypocrite. You’re just doing things externally, for whatever reason, but you’ve not given your heart to God in the matter. So, we are to have both the attitudes of Christ, as well as the actions of Christ. To be like Christ, you must think like Christ. I’ll go back to the King James, Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Now, the good news is that by the grace of God and through our salvation, we actually do possess the mind of Christ. If we are in Christ, we have the mind of Christ. Paul says, First Corinthians two, “‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co 2:16). In others other words, we’re going to think like Christ. It means that we are going to think with a mind that is being constantly renewed with the Scriptures.
The Mind of Christ
To have a mind of Christ is to have a mind saturated with the Scriptures. To have the mind of Christ is to have a mind that meditates on the Scriptures. To have the mind of Christ means that we possess a mind that is controlled by and submitted to the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit. To have the mind of Christ is to raise our level of thinking out of this earthly realm, even above this universe, and into the heavens where God lives and to let the thoughts of heaven dominate our minds. To have the mind of Christ means that as we begin each and every day, we start by asking ourselves a very simple question, and that is this: What was the driving factor in the life of Jesus? What was it that motivated Jesus each and every day? It was to do the Father’s will. What was the goal of the life of Jesus? To always do those things that pleased the Father. It wasn’t politics. It wasn’t finances. It wasn’t His own interests. It wasn’t sports. It wasn’t current events. No, the desire of His life was to do the will of the Father. Jesus came to live out the will of the Father. Therefore, in order for you to have the mind of Christ, to think like Jesus did, you need to be set, fixed, driven by, and motviated by the will of the Father. So, we’re still left with the question: What does it mean “For to me to live is Christ?” Well, I believe that we can find the answer to Paul’s question right here in Philippians, but we’ve got to go through the entire book. Don’t worry, we’re not going through the entire book, but we are going to pick some verses that helps us understand.
Five Keys
So, there’s five things from Paul’s letter here that will help us understand “For to me to live is Christ.” Here’s number one. “For to me to live is Christ” is a life of service. It’s a life of service. We find this in chapter one, verses twenty-two through twenty-six. Paul says, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again” (Phi 1:22-26). Even though Paul was unsure about the future, even though Paul was unsure about whether he would soon be released from prison or if he would be executed in prison, he is not unsure of what he will do if either of those things happen, meaning, he says, “to die is gain.” In other words, “If I’m executed in prison, I gain. I know what’s gonna happen. I’m sure of that. If I die, I gain.” He says, “But if I am released from prison,” which if you read the text carefully, read his own words, that seems to be his expectation. He thinks that he’s going to be released.

Now, keep in mind that Paul has been in prison now for four or five years. He’s been chained to a Roman soldier for all this time. But, as he’s been chained to this Roman soldier, as he’s been confined, he has been planning for the future. He didn’t waste this time. We know he wrote letters. He carried on his writing ministry, but also, he was planning for that day when he would ultimately be released. In other words, he didn’t sit around day-dreaming. He didn’t sit around complaining. He didn’t sit around licking his wounds. He didn’t sit around having a pity party. He didn’t constantly say, “Poor, poor me. Look at me. How could this happen to me? Yeah, I’m the great Apostle Paul. How dare you have me end up here?” No, he doesn’t say anything like that. He’s making plans once he gets out. He says, “You know what? I’m coming back to Philippi. I’m coming back because I’m coming for your good. I’m coming back in order to serve you.” And he has a specific goal in mind for them. Look at verse twenty-six. He says, “so that in me, you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus because of my coming to you again” (Phi 1:26). Now, what he’s saying there is this. He says, “Listen, there’s so much more that I can teach you about Jesus. There’s so much more that I want you to know about Jesus. There’s great benefit to you if I come back to you and I teach you more about Christ.” He says, “There’s things that I can teach you that will cause you to glory in Christ Jesus.” In other words, they would learn more about Jesus Christ, and thereby, they could give more glory to Jesus Christ based upon what they knew about Him. He wanted to teach them more and more about Jesus so that they would have an abundance of reasons to glory in Christ Jesus, to make much of Jesus, so that they could say, “For to me to live is Christ.” That says to me that despite everything that Paul had poured into them, there was so much more that he could yet pour into them.

You know what the worst kind of Christian is, in my opinion? An unteachable one. Those who think that they know everything. They’re the final word or they’re final say on it. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. They ought to wear a T-shirt that says ‘The Unteachable Christian.’ Listen, as believers we have to be life-long learners about Christ. He is a resource that cannot be exhausted. He is like a well of cool, refreshing water that will never run dry. He’s like a gold mine, a diamond mine. It can never be exhausted. He’s like the sun that will never cease to shine. We can never exhaust the knowledge of Jesus.

There’s one thing, in particular, I think that we would do well to focus on. And that is the love of Jesus, the love that Jesus has for us. That was Paul’s point in Ephesians chapter three. He said this, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,…” Why? “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith -that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:14-190. We would do ourselves a tremendous favor, a tremendous service if we would dwell more on and meditate on the love of Christ. It’s all well and good to know facts about Christ. We need to know doctrine, but so many of us have full heads and empty hearts. We’re full of knowledge. We’ve got the facts. But we know so little of His love.

Knowing facts about Jesus, yes, it will spur us on to greater love, but meditating on the love of Christ that He has for us, the display of His love in the cross, the display of His love in the incarnation, the display of His love and all that He endured while He was here, that increases my love for Him. And as we love Him more, the more we become like Him. The more we come to experience, appreciate, and understand the love of Christ, the greater our sanctification because the more I love Him, I don’t want to hurt Him. And when I sin, I grieve Him. Just think about it on the human plane. A husband and wife, they love each other. Therefore, they don’t want to do anything to hurt one another. Right? The reason we sin is we love that sin. At that moment, we love that sin more than we love Christ. Now, I realized that after we sin, the true believer will experience regret and remorse, and they want to repent, and they hate that sin. The place we want to get to is that we hate that sin on the front-end, and we love Christ more. And I love Christ to such a degree that I’m not going to sin against Him because I know that would hurt Him. A little booklet out there is written. I don’t remember the man’s name now, but it’s simply called ‘The Explosive Power of a New Affection’, which is simply this: The more I love Christ, the greater my sanctification.

Number two. “For to me to live is Christ” is a life of suffering. “For to me to live is Christ” is a life of suffering. Now, why do I say to focus on the love of Jesus for you? Why do I say to focus on your love for Jesus? Because, for this reason, until you love Jesus, you won’t have the right attitude towards suffering. Until your love for Christ grows, until you understand the depth of the love that Christ has for you, you will not properly understand suffering. You will not have the right attitudes toward suffering. If you don’t understand the love of Christ for you, you will think that when you suffer that you’re being punished. Until you understand how much Jesus loves you, you’ll be tempted to think that your suffering is a sign of the Lord’s displeasure.

I used this illustration in the first hour. My mother, who suffered all of her life, I never knew her really to be well. One physical problem after another. And she would often say, “Why me? Why me?” She always had the opinion that God was somehow punishing her by her sickness. But, the reality was she didn’t understand the love that Christ had for her. And I’m not saying that that makes your suffering easier. I don’t live in a bubble. I’m a realist. I walk around with a disease that I know will eventually take my life. I’m a realist. But I know Jesus loves me. I know He solved my biggest problem. And I know when I die, death is gain. The Bible teaches that suffering is part of God’s divine plan and purpose. R. C. Sproul wrote in his book, “Surprised By Suffering,” he said, “To suffer as a Christian carries no shame.” He goes on to say, “Peter concludes: ‘Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit themselves, their souls to Him in doing good as a faithful Creator’ (1 Pe 4:19).” R. C. says here, “Peter erases all doubt about the question whether it is ever the will of God that we should suffer. He speaks of those who suffer ‘according to the will of God’. The text means that the suffering itself is part of the sovereign will of God.”

And Paul loves Jesus to such a degree, Paul loved Jesus so much that he was not only willing to die for Him, he was willing to suffer for Him. And there is a suffering that leads to death. But once we die, what? The suffering ends. But you know what, there’s a suffering in life that sometimes can last a lifetime. And Paul was willing to suffer for a lifetime, if he had to, because of the love of Christ towards him and the love of Christ he had for Christ. Paul said to the believers later in this book, in Philippi, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phi 3:10). Listen, Jesus does not abandon you in your suffering. He doesn’t turn His back on you and walk away. That’s why the psalmist could say in Psalm 23, “Even though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psa 23:4). Listen, when the day of our death comes, we are not alone. We are not alone. Christ is there. He welcomes us home.

Number three, “For to me to live is Christ” is a life of sacrifice. And I see this in verse four of chapter two, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Now, I said this last week. Christ died to self in order to die for others. Sadly, we know it’s all too true that many Christians will not sacrifice for the good of others. They will not sacrifice in order to put others first. They will not sacrifice to do what is right for others. You know, the COVID-19, the coronavirus has had many negative effects, not just on our country but around the world. It’s affected our relationships, our jobs, peoples’ educations. And so we may ask ourselves, “Is there anything positive? Is there any positive effect from this virus?” I think there is for Christians. If you’ll be honest with yourself, this virus will reveal your loyalties, your priorities, the level of your selfishness and self-centeredness. It will reveal if you love Jesus or yourself more. It will reveal if you love your neighbor or not. It will reveal the blind spots in your face. Those are all positives, if we act properly. If we’re going to live as Jesus lived, then we must live a life, willing to live a life that is characterized by sacrifice, to sacrifice our preferences for the good and the sake of others.

Number four, “For to me to live is Christ” is a life of submission. I see this in chapter two, verse eight. Paul writes about Jesus, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” So, Jesus was willing to submit to the Father’s will, even if it was going to cost Him His life. And I have to ask myself, “Where has that kind of Christianity gone? Where has that level of commitment gone? Where do we see that kind of sacrifice today?” Certainly not in American Christians. We see it in our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, who on a regular basis give up their lives for the cause of Christ, who will sacrifice to the point of death for Christ. But, I don’t see much of that here. This whole COVID thing, whatever you believe, I hope is showing you whether you’re more concerned about your Americanism or your Christianity. As I said last week, I’m an American citizen, but I’m a temporary one. I’m a citizen of heaven. My King is Jesus. I report to Him. I get my orders from Him. I do what He says even if I don’t like it. Right? Who are you living for?

Let me go back to submission for a second. Jesus not only died to self, He died Himself. Why? Because He was willing to submit to the will of the Father. And just a few months ago, we completed our study of Ephesians. If you remember, there Paul through the Holy Spirit gave us detailed instructions for our need to submit to one another. Remember, wives submit to their husbands and understand what that means. Children submit to their parents. Employees, to submit to their employers. But remember, it all starts in verse twenty-one, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21). There’s a mutual submission. To be a Christian is to mutually submit to one another. So why do we submit? According to Paul, out of reverence, out of love, out of respect for Christ.

Therefore, if we’re not willing to submit, then we’re not respecting, we’re not reverencing Christ. Can you read that verse any other way? “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” If we won’t submit to one another, what are we doing then? Are we reverencing Christ? If we disregard that clear instruction of God, are we reverencing Christ when we disobey His command? I don’t see how we could be. In fact, what we’re doing is the exact opposite. We’re disrespecting Christ. We’re openly defying the commands of Scripture. Do you remember how that whole section starts back there is Ephesians 5:18? “Don’t be drunk with wine,… but be filled with the Spirit.” And then Paul goes on and gives us example after example, and illustration after illustration of what it means to be filled with the Spirit. And one of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit is submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. And when you say, “Sorry, Charlie, not going to do that,” what you’re openly saying is “I’m telling the whole world. I’m an open book. I’m not going to obey the command be filled with the Spirit. I’m a disobedient Christian. I’m openly going to grieve the Holy Spirit, and I frankly don’t care because I’m an American, and I’ve got rights.” Seriously? Who are we more loyal to?

Number five, “For me to live is Christ” is a life of standing firm. It’s the life of standing firm. I see this in Philippians chapter four, verse one, “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” I think that’s a rather fitting way to conclude this morning. Keep in mind the pressure that the church in Philippi was under. Keep in mind the persecution that they were having to endure. And whenever there is pressure and persecution, there is always the temptation to dial it down a little bit. Why were they under pressure? Why were they being persecuted? Because they unashamedly stood for the biblical truth that there’s only one God. There’s only one Lord, and the Lord that they served was the Lord Jesus Christ, not Caesar, not the Roman Emperor, not any of the other false gods. That’s what was bringing them persecution. That’s why they were losing jobs. That’s why they were suffering. Because they stood for this truth. So the temptation would have been there. Let’s not kid ourselves, it would have been a great temptation for them to just tone it down a little bit, just to dial it back a little bit. “Okay, we say Jesus is Lord. Let them think that Caesar is Lord. what’s the matter?” No, Paul says, “Don’t do that. Stand firm.”

You have to stand firm for this truth. Listen, if you don’t stand firm for a truth, by the fact that you’re not standing firm for a truth, you’re saying every truth is equally valid. And we know, logically, that simply can’t be true. So, he says, “Stand firm.” Paul says, “Hold your ground. Maintain your position.” Paul says to be like the Lord Jesus, who as the time for His crucifixion drew near, what did he do? He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. He was standing firm. When your flesh tempts you, stand firm. When your enemy tempts you, stand firm. When another believer whispers in your ear, stand firm. When Jesus was betrayed, He stood firm. When Jesus was deserted, He stood firm. When Jesus was mocked and beaten, He stood firm. See? To live for Christ means to stand firm. “For to me to live is Christ” means to live a life of service, suffering, sacrificing, submitting, and standing firm. So, as you do that, you will imitate Paul who imitated Christ. And you can say with integrity, “For to me to live is Christ.”

In John chapter 10, verse 10, Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." Now, Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." So, if Jesus came to bring us life, the implication is that what most people think is life is not life at all. The life that Jesus has in mind can only be experienced by those who are in Christ or by those who have been born again. And the Bible teaches that through the sin of Adam and Eve, through the rebellion of Adam and Eve, that sin entered the world, which means that everything was corrupted, including life. Therefore, what we think is life is really a corrupted version of life as God intended it to be for us. So, apart from Christ, we don't really know what true life is. Apart from Christ, we really don't know what real life is. All we know is a darkened version of life as God originally created us to live. So, what we call life, what we call living is really not living at all. Therefore, we must look for help in understanding what it means to live. We must look for outside guidance in order to help us understand how to live.

What motivates you?

So, with that little bit of background, let me ask you a couple of questions. What is it that motivates you? What are you living for? One of the most important characteristics of the Christian life is an understanding of who you are living for. As a Christian, as one who professes not Jesus just as Savior, but Savior and Lord, you need to really come to terms with this question. Who are you really living for? Are you living for yourself, or are you living for Christ? As we examine the life of the Apostle Paul, there's absolutely no doubt in our minds that he lived for Christ. He's not ashamed to say that he lived for Christ. He is not ashamed to let us know that he was driven and motivated by Christ. Paul says in verse 21 of our chapter here, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phi 1:21).

But how do we know that's true? How do we know that's true? How can you and I determine whether or not Paul's claim is real? Do we simply take him at his word or is there an objective means whereby we can test his claim? Well, the answer to that question is yes. I don't have to take Paul at his word when he says for to him to live is Christ, but let me say this, there's absolutely no reason for us to doubt what Paul says. We can examine his life. We can examine every facet of his life, and we won't see any area that will contradict his words. There's nothing that we know about Paul that would make us doubt his claim, so we can examine his life. I can examine the way that he lived his life, and my examination is going to reveal one of two things. Either it's going to reveal a consistent lifestyle that validates his claim that for to him to live is Christ, or my investigation is going to reveal an inconsistency in his life that invalidates his claim. Well, the good news is that Paul's life matches his words. The good news is that Paul's life is an accurate reflection of his words. Paul's not pulling a quick one on us here. Paul's not pulling a 'bait and switch'. Paul's not trying to get us to do something that he's not trying to do himself. He's living it out himself. His life reflects, confirms, and validates his words. What we know about Paul, what we know about him before his conversion, what we know about him after his conversion, and what we know about his actions leads us to conclude that indeed for him to live was Christ.

Now if you know, if you were here three weeks ago, I said that I was struggling, trying to figure out exactly what Paul meant by these words. I was really struggling to figure out how do I explain these words, and I said at that time, it was almost as if God had put His hand over the text and said, "No, not yet." Thankfully, three weeks later now, I do believe that I have an understanding of what Paul means when he says, "For to me to live is Christ" (Phi 1:21a). So, here's where we're headed. In order for us to understand what he means, for to me to live as Christ, what we have to do is to examine his life. If he makes the claim, "For to me to live is Christ," then we should be able to put his life as it were under a microscope and examine it and to see whether or not it's really true. So, that's what we're going to do. We're going to examine the life of Paul and see if his life matches his claims. So, when Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ," he means in broad terms that his support in life is Christ. His joy in life is Christ. His goal in life is Christ. His purpose in life is Christ. If we were to ask Paul, "Paul, where does your tremendous patience come from? What is the source of your patience?", he would say Christ. If we were to say to Paul, "Paul, where does your boundless energy come from? Where does this drive come from?", he would say, "It comes from Christ." If we were to ask the Apostle Paul, "What is it that you love the most? Paul, what is it that you devote your mind and your body to?", the answer will always be the same. It would be found in one word. He would say, "Christ. For to me to live is Christ."

Real Life

And when Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ," he's referring to real life. He's referring to life as we were created to live. Anybody who is honest will take a look at our world and say, "Something is drastically wrong. Surely, this isn't the way that life is supposed to be." And, we would be right. This isn't the way that life is supposed to be. This isn't the way that God designed us to live. Something has gone drastically wrong. So, Paul's referring to real living, not some facade, not some happy thought life, but an actual life with all of its struggles, all of its toil, and all of its problems. But yet, he finds joy because he's living life, not for himself, but for the sake of Christ. He lives to glorify Christ. He lives to enjoy Christ. He lives to love Christ. He lives to obey Christ. He lives to suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ, if need be.

So when Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ," he is telling us that he finds his fulfillment, his satisfaction, and his contentment in Christ. He has found what so many people futilely spend their entire lives in search of. They're looking for purpose. They're looking for meaning. They're looking for satisfaction. They're looking for contentment, and yet, they cannot find it. Why? Because they're looking in the wrong spot. I used the example in the first service of Tom Brady after he won his third or fourth Super Bowl. And I remember reading an interview, I believe, it may be Sports Illustrated did with him, and they were asking him different questions, and he made this statement in there that I'll never forget. He said, "After winning the last Super Bowl, I asked myself, 'Is this all there is? Is this it? Is this what life is all about?'" W hat he was saying was, "There's no meaning here. There's really no joy here. Yes, I've accomplished something. Yes, I'm known as the greatest quarterback of all time. Yes, I'll go on to win more Super Bowls than any other quarterback in NFL history, but it doesn't seem to mean much." He understood that he was looking in all the wrong places.

So, Paul was saying that anything that is worthy of the word 'life' is only to be found in Christ. Yes, God gives us richly all things to enjoy, but the things that God gives to us were never meant to be the substitute through which we find our joy. They are to take a backseat to the Lord Jesus Christ. We find our joy in those things, because we are in Christ. We are not to put anything in front of or in place of Christ. And when Paul says in verse 21, "For to me to live as Christ," what he really is doing is he's telling us, "I'm obeying the first commandment." What's the first commandment say? "You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:3). And so, when Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ," he is openly saying, "I am obeying the first commandment." Paul is describing himself as obeying what Jesus said was the first and greatest commandment, which was "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Mark 12:30).

The First Commandment

Now, if we keep this in mind and we keep this in context that when Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ" is actually his declaration of obedience and submission to the first commandment, and we go back and revisit the quote of Martyn Lloyd-Jones that I read a couple weeks ago, I think his quote makes more sense to us. Remember, the good doctor said, "Here we have not only the statement of an experience which was true, which was a fact and a reality, but at the same time, and for that reason, we also find ourselves face to face with a standard of judgment." What he means is, if we can't say along with Paul "For to me to live is Christ," what we are in reality saying is "I'm disobeying God's law. I'm putting something else before God. I'm serving some other God." So, that's why Martyn Lloyd-Jones says Paul statement stands as a statement of judgment. In other words, this statement of Paul, "For to me to live is Christ," is really a measuring stick, by which we measure ourselves, our obedience, to the revealed will of God. We look at this statement. We compare ourselves with a statement. We measure ourselves by this statement and see if we're measuring up. And, if we find that we are in violation of the commandment, what should we do? Well, we should repent and make whatever adjustments are necessary in order to bring our lives back into obedience to Scripture. I said this earlier this morning, and I mean this with all of my heart. I don't believe there's ever been a more important time when those folks that are in our world, our city, our neighbors, our families, our friends, and our co-workers, need to see Christ in Christians. They need to see Christ. That's what they need to see.

When Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die as gain," we have to ask ourselves this question. Does that apply to each and every one who professes to be a Christian? I could see somebody reading this text and thinking, "Well, that's all well and good for you, Paul, but that's really not my thing. That's really not what I'm all about." Someone would say that or, perhaps, think that but wouldn't say it out loud, what they're saying is really, "I'm more about me than I am about Jesus. I'm more concerned about myself than I am about Christ." And, perhaps, we're tempted to think, "You know, well that's just Paul. You know how he is. He's got flowery words and big speeches and all these kind of things, and that's just for Paul. That's really not for me." But what is the answer to that question? When Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ," is he saying this should be true of each and every person who professes faith in Christ? So, how can we answer that question? Well, we answer this question, just as we do every other question, by turning to the Scriptures.

So, now the question becomes what does the Scriptures say or how does Scripture answer this question? Well, let's go back to the Scriptures and see what Paul says. We'll let Paul speak for himself here again. Later in this letter to the Philippians in chapter three, verse 17, Paul says, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us." Now, I'll explain here in a moment what Paul means when he says, "Brothers, join in imitating me." Now, this isn't the only time that Paul makes such a statement. In fact, in his letter to the church at Corinth in First Corinthians chapter four, he says, "I urge you then, be imitators of me" (1Co 4:16). Then, later in that same book in chapter eleven, verse one, he says, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." So, what does Paul mean when Paul says, "Be imitators of me?" Now, I have heard this preached and taught, "Well, that means Paul wants us to follow his example." I don't believe that's what Paul is saying at all. Say, "why not?" Because in that case, who's getting the glory? Paul is. "Well, I follow Paul." In fact, didn't he rebuke some unbelievers one time? He said, "Hey, I follow Paul. I follow Apollos." And Paul said, "No, you got it all wrong" (1 Co 1:12-13).

Imitate Christ

So, what Paul is saying here, "Be an imitator of me, as I am of Christ," he's saying, "I imitate Christ, therefore, you should imitate Christ as well." Paul would never draw that kind of attention to himself of what he would say, "Be imitators of me." No, he said, "I imitate Christ. Therefore, you need to imitate Christ as well." Of course, the definitive answer to our question is found in a verse we examined a couple weeks ago. Galatians 2:20. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." So, let's follow Paul's logic. All who have been crucified with Christ share the same experience with Paul. And by the way, if you say, "Well, I've not been crucified with Christ," in reality, you're saying "I'm not a Christian. I'm not a believer." Okay. But, if you say I have been crucified with Christ, you profess to be a believer, you profess to be a Christian, then it will be true of you that you, as well as Paul, no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in you. Therefore, that's how Paul can say in Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ." He is simply explaining the reality of Galatians 2:20.

Therefore, by this very brief survey of Scripture and by examination of these few texts, I conclude that this does apply to every believer. "For to me to live is Christ" is not reserved for Paul. It's not reserved for the super spiritual among us. This is to be true of each and every believer. So, again, we're back to the question, 'What does it mean for to me to live is Christ?' The short answer is that we should imitate Christ. We should imitate Christ in our attitudes as well as our actions. Let me be very obvious at this point. You cannot imitate the actions of Christ apart from holding the attitudes of Christ. There is this one caveat. You can imitate the actions of Christ apart from the attitude of Christ, but the Bible has a very specific term for you. Hypocrite. Hypocrite. You're just doing things externally, for whatever reason, but you've not given your heart to God in the matter. So, we are to have both the attitudes of Christ, as well as the actions of Christ. To be like Christ, you must think like Christ. I'll go back to the King James, Proverbs 23:7, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."

Now, the good news is that by the grace of God and through our salvation, we actually do possess the mind of Christ. If we are in Christ, we have the mind of Christ. Paul says, First Corinthians two, "'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Co 2:16). In others other words, we're going to think like Christ. It means that we are going to think with a mind that is being constantly renewed with the Scriptures.

The Mind of Christ

To have a mind of Christ is to have a mind saturated with the Scriptures. To have the mind of Christ is to have a mind that meditates on the Scriptures. To have the mind of Christ means that we possess a mind that is controlled by and submitted to the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit. To have the mind of Christ is to raise our level of thinking out of this earthly realm, even above this universe, and into the heavens where God lives and to let the thoughts of heaven dominate our minds. To have the mind of Christ means that as we begin each and every day, we start by asking ourselves a very simple question, and that is this: What was the driving factor in the life of Jesus? What was it that motivated Jesus each and every day? It was to do the Father's will. What was the goal of the life of Jesus? To always do those things that pleased the Father. It wasn't politics. It wasn't finances. It wasn't His own interests. It wasn't sports. It wasn't current events. No, the desire of His life was to do the will of the Father. Jesus came to live out the will of the Father. Therefore, in order for you to have the mind of Christ, to think like Jesus did, you need to be set, fixed, driven by, and motviated by the will of the Father. So, we're still left with the question: What does it mean "For to me to live is Christ?" Well, I believe that we can find the answer to Paul's question right here in Philippians, but we've got to go through the entire book. Don't worry, we're not going through the entire book, but we are going to pick some verses that helps us understand.

Five Keys

So, there's five things from Paul's letter here that will help us understand "For to me to live is Christ."

Key Number One

Here's number one. "For to me to live is Christ" is a life of service. It's a life of service. We find this in chapter one, verses twenty-two through twenty-six. Paul says, "If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again" (Phi 1:22-26). Even though Paul was unsure about the future, even though Paul was unsure about whether he would soon be released from prison or if he would be executed in prison, he is not unsure of what he will do if either of those things happen, meaning, he says, "to die is gain." In other words, "If I'm executed in prison, I gain. I know what's gonna happen. I'm sure of that. If I die, I gain." He says, "But if I am released from prison," which if you read the text carefully, read his own words, that seems to be his expectation. He thinks that he's going to be released.

Now, keep in mind that Paul has been in prison now for four or five years. He's been chained to a Roman soldier for all this time. But, as he's been chained to this Roman soldier, as he's been confined, he has been planning for the future. He didn't waste this time. We know he wrote letters. He carried on his writing ministry, but also, he was planning for that day when he would ultimately be released. In other words, he didn't sit around day-dreaming. He didn't sit around complaining. He didn't sit around licking his wounds. He didn't sit around having a pity party. He didn't constantly say, "Poor, poor me. Look at me. How could this happen to me? Yeah, I'm the great Apostle Paul. How dare you have me end up here?" No, he doesn't say anything like that. He's making plans once he gets out. He says, "You know what? I'm coming back to Philippi. I'm coming back because I'm coming for your good. I'm coming back in order to serve you." And he has a specific goal in mind for them. Look at verse twenty-six. He says, "so that in me, you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus because of my coming to you again" (Phi 1:26). Now, what he's saying there is this. He says, "Listen, there's so much more that I can teach you about Jesus. There's so much more that I want you to know about Jesus. There's great benefit to you if I come back to you and I teach you more about Christ." He says, "There's things that I can teach you that will cause you to glory in Christ Jesus." In other words, they would learn more about Jesus Christ, and thereby, they could give more glory to Jesus Christ based upon what they knew about Him. He wanted to teach them more and more about Jesus so that they would have an abundance of reasons to glory in Christ Jesus, to make much of Jesus, so that they could say, "For to me to live is Christ." That says to me that despite everything that Paul had poured into them, there was so much more that he could yet pour into them.

You know what the worst kind of Christian is, in my opinion? An unteachable one. Those who think that they know everything. They're the final word or they're final say on it. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. They ought to wear a T-shirt that says 'The Unteachable Christian.' Listen, as believers we have to be life-long learners about Christ. He is a resource that cannot be exhausted. He is like a well of cool, refreshing water that will never run dry. He's like a gold mine, a diamond mine. It can never be exhausted. He's like the sun that will never cease to shine. We can never exhaust the knowledge of Jesus.

There's one thing, in particular, I think that we would do well to focus on. And that is the love of Jesus, the love that Jesus has for us. That was Paul's point in Ephesians chapter three. He said this, "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,..." Why? "...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith -that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:14-190. We would do ourselves a tremendous favor, a tremendous service if we would dwell more on and meditate on the love of Christ. It's all well and good to know facts about Christ. We need to know doctrine, but so many of us have full heads and empty hearts. We're full of knowledge. We've got the facts. But we know so little of His love.

Knowing facts about Jesus, yes, it will spur us on to greater love, but meditating on the love of Christ that He has for us, the display of His love in the cross, the display of His love in the incarnation, the display of His love and all that He endured while He was here, that increases my love for Him. And as we love Him more, the more we become like Him. The more we come to experience, appreciate, and understand the love of Christ, the greater our sanctification because the more I love Him, I don't want to hurt Him. And when I sin, I grieve Him. Just think about it on the human plane. A husband and wife, they love each other. Therefore, they don't want to do anything to hurt one another. Right? The reason we sin is we love that sin. At that moment, we love that sin more than we love Christ. Now, I realized that after we sin, the true believer will experience regret and remorse, and they want to repent, and they hate that sin. The place we want to get to is that we hate that sin on the front-end, and we love Christ more. And I love Christ to such a degree that I'm not going to sin against Him because I know that would hurt Him. A little booklet out there is written. I don't remember the man's name now, but it's simply called 'The Explosive Power of a New Affection', which is simply this: The more I love Christ, the greater my sanctification.

Key Number Two

Number two. "For to me to live is Christ" is a life of suffering. "For to me to live is Christ" is a life of suffering. Now, why do I say to focus on the love of Jesus for you? Why do I say to focus on your love for Jesus? Because, for this reason, until you love Jesus, you won't have the right attitude towards suffering. Until your love for Christ grows, until you understand the depth of the love that Christ has for you, you will not properly understand suffering. You will not have the right attitudes toward suffering. If you don't understand the love of Christ for you, you will think that when you suffer that you're being punished. Until you understand how much Jesus loves you, you'll be tempted to think that your suffering is a sign of the Lord's displeasure.

I used this illustration in the first hour. My mother, who suffered all of her life, I never knew her really to be well. One physical problem after another. And she would often say, "Why me? Why me?" She always had the opinion that God was somehow punishing her by her sickness. But, the reality was she didn't understand the love that Christ had for her. And I'm not saying that that makes your suffering easier. I don't live in a bubble. I'm a realist. I walk around with a disease that I know will eventually take my life. I'm a realist. But I know Jesus loves me. I know He solved my biggest problem. And I know when I die, death is gain. The Bible teaches that suffering is part of God's divine plan and purpose. R. C. Sproul wrote in his book, "Surprised By Suffering," he said, "To suffer as a Christian carries no shame." He goes on to say, "Peter concludes: 'Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit themselves, their souls to Him in doing good as a faithful Creator' (1 Pe 4:19)." R. C. says here, "Peter erases all doubt about the question whether it is ever the will of God that we should suffer. He speaks of those who suffer 'according to the will of God'. The text means that the suffering itself is part of the sovereign will of God."

And Paul loves Jesus to such a degree, Paul loved Jesus so much that he was not only willing to die for Him, he was willing to suffer for Him. And there is a suffering that leads to death. But once we die, what? The suffering ends. But you know what, there's a suffering in life that sometimes can last a lifetime. And Paul was willing to suffer for a lifetime, if he had to, because of the love of Christ towards him and the love of Christ he had for Christ. Paul said to the believers later in this book, in Philippi, "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death" (Phi 3:10). Listen, Jesus does not abandon you in your suffering. He doesn't turn His back on you and walk away. That's why the psalmist could say in Psalm 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psa 23:4). Listen, when the day of our death comes, we are not alone. We are not alone. Christ is there. He welcomes us home.

Key Number Three

Number three, "For to me to live is Christ" is a life of sacrifice. And I see this in verse four of chapter two, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Now, I said this last week. Christ died to self in order to die for others. Sadly, we know it's all too true that many Christians will not sacrifice for the good of others. They will not sacrifice in order to put others first. They will not sacrifice to do what is right for others. You know, the COVID-19, the coronavirus has had many negative effects, not just on our country but around the world. It's affected our relationships, our jobs, peoples' educations. And so we may ask ourselves, "Is there anything positive? Is there any positive effect from this virus?" I think there is for Christians. If you'll be honest with yourself, this virus will reveal your loyalties, your priorities, the level of your selfishness and self-centeredness. It will reveal if you love Jesus or yourself more. It will reveal if you love your neighbor or not. It will reveal the blind spots in your face. Those are all positives, if we act properly. If we're going to live as Jesus lived, then we must live a life, willing to live a life that is characterized by sacrifice, to sacrifice our preferences for the good and the sake of others.

Key Number Four

Number four, "For to me to live is Christ" is a life of submission. I see this in chapter two, verse eight. Paul writes about Jesus, "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." So, Jesus was willing to submit to the Father's will, even if it was going to cost Him His life. And I have to ask myself, "Where has that kind of Christianity gone? Where has that level of commitment gone? Where do we see that kind of sacrifice today?" Certainly not in American Christians. We see it in our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, who on a regular basis give up their lives for the cause of Christ, who will sacrifice to the point of death for Christ. But, I don't see much of that here. This whole COVID thing, whatever you believe, I hope is showing you whether you're more concerned about your Americanism or your Christianity. As I said last week, I'm an American citizen, but I'm a temporary one. I'm a citizen of heaven. My King is Jesus. I report to Him. I get my orders from Him. I do what He says even if I don't like it. Right? Who are you living for?

Let me go back to submission for a second. Jesus not only died to self, He died Himself. Why? Because He was willing to submit to the will of the Father. And just a few months ago, we completed our study of Ephesians. If you remember, there Paul through the Holy Spirit gave us detailed instructions for our need to submit to one another. Remember, wives submit to their husbands and understand what that means. Children submit to their parents. Employees, to submit to their employers. But remember, it all starts in verse twenty-one, "Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21). There's a mutual submission. To be a Christian is to mutually submit to one another. So why do we submit? According to Paul, out of reverence, out of love, out of respect for Christ.

Therefore, if we're not willing to submit, then we're not respecting, we're not reverencing Christ. Can you read that verse any other way? "Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." If we won't submit to one another, what are we doing then? Are we reverencing Christ? If we disregard that clear instruction of God, are we reverencing Christ when we disobey His command? I don't see how we could be. In fact, what we're doing is the exact opposite. We're disrespecting Christ. We're openly defying the commands of Scripture. Do you remember how that whole section starts back there is Ephesians 5:18? "Don't be drunk with wine,... but be filled with the Spirit." And then Paul goes on and gives us example after example, and illustration after illustration of what it means to be filled with the Spirit. And one of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit is submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. And when you say, "Sorry, Charlie, not going to do that," what you're openly saying is "I'm telling the whole world. I'm an open book. I'm not going to obey the command be filled with the Spirit. I'm a disobedient Christian. I'm openly going to grieve the Holy Spirit, and I frankly don't care because I'm an American, and I've got rights." Seriously? Who are we more loyal to?

Key Number Five

Number five, "For me to live is Christ" is a life of standing firm. It's the life of standing firm. I see this in Philippians chapter four, verse one, "Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved." I think that's a rather fitting way to conclude this morning. Keep in mind the pressure that the church in Philippi was under. Keep in mind the persecution that they were having to endure. And whenever there is pressure and persecution, there is always the temptation to dial it down a little bit. Why were they under pressure? Why were they being persecuted? Because they unashamedly stood for the biblical truth that there's only one God. There's only one Lord, and the Lord that they served was the Lord Jesus Christ, not Caesar, not the Roman Emperor, not any of the other false gods. That's what was bringing them persecution. That's why they were losing jobs. That's why they were suffering. Because they stood for this truth. So the temptation would have been there. Let's not kid ourselves, it would have been a great temptation for them to just tone it down a little bit, just to dial it back a little bit. "Okay, we say Jesus is Lord. Let them think that Caesar is Lord. what's the matter?" No, Paul says, "Don't do that. Stand firm."

You have to stand firm for this truth. Listen, if you don't stand firm for a truth, by the fact that you're not standing firm for a truth, you're saying every truth is equally valid. And we know, logically, that simply can't be true. So, he says, "Stand firm." Paul says, "Hold your ground. Maintain your position." Paul says to be like the Lord Jesus, who as the time for His crucifixion drew near, what did he do? He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. He was standing firm. When your flesh tempts you, stand firm. When your enemy tempts you, stand firm. When another believer whispers in your ear, stand firm. When Jesus was betrayed, He stood firm. When Jesus was deserted, He stood firm. When Jesus was mocked and beaten, He stood firm. See? To live for Christ means to stand firm. "For to me to live is Christ" means to live a life of service, suffering, sacrificing, submitting, and standing firm. So, as you do that, you will imitate Paul who imitated Christ. And you can say with integrity, "For to me to live is Christ."