The Search for Joy
Minding Heavenly Things
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Brethren, be followers together of me, literally means, “be imitators of me.” We as believers are forgiven and we are to be pursuing Christlikeness but, we are not perfect. God had given to the Christians at Philippi, examples for them to follow in imperfection who knew how to model a Christ centered life. Paul told the Philippian church of others they could “imitate,” such as Timothy and Epaphroditus watching how they conducted themselves in service to Christ.
Paul had warned the believers in Philippi that there was danger in false teachers and called them, “Enemies of the cross of Christ.” Some false teachers had posed themselves as friends of Christ and had apparently reached high positions in the church. Paul’s love for truth caused him to speak out against the Judaizers headed for eternal damnation because they placed their eternal destiny in their works to save them. The Judaizers were mainly concerned with their fleshly accomplishments, ceremonies and religious works, not in the finished work of Christ. Paul included the Gentle libertines with their sensual desires, fleshly appetites, and abuse of Christian liberties in the same destruction. Anyone trusting in their own human wisdom, denying the transforming power of the gospel, is doomed.
Paul announces boldly, “For our conversation is in heaven,” or, we are citizens of Heaven. Heaven is where God dwells and where Christ is present. Heaven is were our names are written down in the Lamb’s book of life (Luke 10:20b, “because your names are written in heaven”) and our inheritance awaits us, “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:4). Heaven is where other believers are waiting who have gone on before us, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23). Heaven is where eternal peace, rest and joy await us and therefore, with great expectation, we anticipate Christ’s glorious return.
Thought: At the resurrection and rapture of the church, we will receive new bodies. The believer’s body will be transformed into the likeness of Christ’s body after His resurrection and will be redesigned for use in heaven (I Corinthians 15:42-43), “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” Our hope, whether we are in prison, as Paul was, or in freedom, is to be looking for our Savior to come. It is only then that we will long for the transforming power of Christ to change us into His likeness that we may triumph in Christ awaiting His return.