Tag Archives: Paul

Bill Lockwood: May Christians be Engaged in Politics?

by Bill Lockwood

“Politics” is one of those words that has taken on ugly connotations in almost every context in which it is used. It has the air of manipulating people for some personal gain. Indeed, one of the definitions of “politic” is “shrewd, crafty, unscrupulous.” If we leave it right there, then the issue of Christian involvement settles itself.

However, political science refers to the methods and principles of governing. When used in this sense, it is more statecraft, which is “the art of managing state affairs.” Used in this way the entire issue of Christian participation takes on a different color. Let’s back up to some basics.

Genesis Account

God created man in his own image (Gen. 1:26). Only mankind (humanity) was created by God with this “image.” This apparently refers to the capacity of humans to exercise free will; to have moral sensitivity; to manage rational behavior. The point, however, is that humankind only, of all of God’s creation, has intrinsic value. 

An extension of this value is liberty—freedom of movement and choice. This is man’s endowment from God because man cannot sustain himself without labor or work. Man is to utilize (subdue, have dominion over, Gen. 1:28) the creation to that end. The original order from the Creator was to work or labor in order to eat (Gen. 2:15-16). God’s design therefore implies liberty in order to accomplish this.  

At the same time, private property is an extension of my labor, an extension of myself. “Thou shalt not steal” implies private ownership of property. Even the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the same in 1972 in Lynch v. Household Finance. Property rights are “fundamental civil rights.” Further, the right to property is inseparable from the right to liberty. One cannot exist without the other.

What is Law?

“Law” is simply “rule of action.” Frederic Bastiat, in his classic essay The Law, wrote it best. “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” Are Christians banned from crafting laws by which to protect their God-endowed rights? Surely not.

Law then, as Bastiat breaks it down, is defined as “the common force that protects this collective right [and it] cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute.” That is to say, law is the common force of a number of people and only has the authority of those individuals in defense of life, liberty, and property. 

We ask: Is it right to defend my life with force? If yes, then, I may do it collectively as well with a “common force.” Is it right to defend my liberty with force? My property? “Thou shalt not steal” is again, good law—but it is meaningless without an enforcement mechanism. Empty words without teeth. Remember, even the apostles carried swords (Luke 22:38).

If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then we might ask how was it that God Himself so provided for those things in the Old Testament? Defense of any of these is certainly not inherently wrong. The “common force” is nothing less than government. If a Christian may engage in defense of life, liberty or property as an individual, he or she may do so as part of government.

Is it possible that a “common force” (government) can be used for nefarious ends? Of course. But it is also possible for the collective force or governing authority to do right. This is the basis of Romans 13:1-7.

The New Testament

Let’s check our answer with the New Testament. The apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem (Acts 23). Kept in a Roman prison, he discovered that a plot had been laid for his life by the Jews. This conspiracy (23:12) was made known to Paul by his nephew while visiting the apostle. Paul instructed the young lad to take the information to the commandant. The commandant considered the news credible and prepared almost 500 armed soldiers—acting as a police force and deterrent to the murderous plot of the Jews—to transport Paul to Caesarea.

Here is a case of an apostle, utilizing the lethal force of government to protect his life and ensure a miscarriage of justice did not occur. It is certainly right to use violence for self-preservation. If it is right for Paul to use it, it is right for another Christian to participate in the governing authority that Paul used.

It seems less than satisfactory for one to respond, “Well, the Roman soldiers and governing authorities are going to hell anyway, so let them to the killing.” By that lack of rationale one would hope that conversions among the military or police or state officials would not occur so that we may protect ourselves with the devil’s population!

It seems clear that a Christian may engage in statecraft—organizing laws and regulations for a community based upon Christian standards, including enforcement mechanisms. The only issue therefore, is: What kind of governance is it by which we can best maintain the liberties granted to us by God? The perfect answer is provided succinctly by the one and only Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson

In a letter to Gideon Granger in 1800 Jefferson explained how centralization of government would lead to despotism and loss of freedom.

Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens, and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder and waste. And I do verily believe, that if the principle were to prevail, of a common law being force in the United States, … it would become the most corrupt government on the earth.

If you wish to maintain your liberties, keep the governing powers local. With words that are so accurate they ring prophetic, he continued,

What an augmentation of the field for jobbing, speculating, plundering, office-building and office-hunting would be produced by an assumption of all the State powers into the hands of the General Government. The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the General Government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our General Government may be reduced to a very simple organization and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants.

Bill Lockwood: The Name of God

by Bill Lockwood

Alfred Edersheim, the Jewish commentator who became a Christian, explains why Matthew’s gospel (3:2) will use the phraseology ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ while ‘Kingdom of God,’ appears elsewhere (e.g. Mark 1:4).

According to the Rabbinic views of the time, the terms ‘Kingdom of heaven,’ and ‘Kingdom of God’ … were equivalent. In fact, the word ‘heaven’ was very often used instead of ‘God,’ so as to avoid unduly familiarizing the ear with the Sacred Name. This probably accounts for the exclusive use of the expression ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ in the Gospel by Matthew.

I was raised by a godly Christian mother who explained to me when very young that the Jews took such care when even writing the name of God in copies of the Scriptures that they washed their hands before putting pen to parchment to write it. I never heard her speak of God except in sober tones.

Kimberly Burnham, in the website ReformJudaism.org, posted an article entitled “Writing the Torah and Honoring the Name of God.” In it she interviewed Rabbi Kevin Hale who “talked about going to the river near his house to wash himself in a mikveh (ritual bath) before writing the name of God in the Torah scroll he worked on.

The reason there are very few errors is the intentionality that goes into the writing of the name of God …‘Every letter is sung out as you write, and there is an acute awareness of begin in the presence of something great,’ Hale said, noting that the name of God is written with a unique quill using special ink, a 2,000-year-old recipe.

The third commandment of the Decalogue forbids “taking the name of the Lord in vain.” Vain means empty, nothing, worthless. Writer Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, and assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, asks this pointed question: “How did ‘watch your mouth’ make the top ten?” The answer is simple: God wants us to revere His name.

That being said, how has it come to pass that Christians, who ought of all people, to honor the name of God, have allowed a hedonistic godless blasphemous culture to influence our manner of speaking and thinking in that “O my G_____ ”, or equivalent expressions have become the norm?

DeYoung reflects on light-hearted “nicknames” that people use to refer to one another. Then he comments,

“But funny nicknames given to us is one thing; irreverent use of God’s name is another. Everywhere in Scripture the name of the Lord is exalted in the highest possible terms. ‘O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!’ (Psa. 8:1). ‘Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name’ (Psa. 29:2). The first petition of the Lord’s prayer is ‘Hallowed be your name’ (Matt. 6:9). The apostles proclaim that ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Paul assured the Romans that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Rom. 10:13). And the culminating event in all of creation is when, ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of god the Father’ (Phil. 2:10-11). The Bible does not want us to forget the holy importance of the divine name.

Nothing marks the godlessness of a culture as much as dishonoring the name of God.

Bill Lockwood: Preaching against Homosexuality?

by Bill Lockwood

Many voices in the Catholic Church are exulting in the September 1 appointment by Pope Francis of pro-homosexual Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy to the position of cardinal. Zuppi was one of 13 individuals promoted. PinkNews, an online news agency for the global LGBT+ community, praised the new appointment precisely because Zuppi is a “pro-LGBT+” advocate.

Another celebrant to the appointment is Fr. James Martin, author of a pro-LGBT+ Catholic book called Building a Bridge. Zuppi had written the “Foreward” to Martin’s book. According to PinkNews, “Zuppi identifies that there is ‘a bridge that needs continuous building’ between the Church and the LGTB+ community, who he describes as ‘people of God.’”

Amazingly, so far from the word of God have many Catholics strayed that Archbishop Zuppi calls the homosexual network in the world “the people of God.” The fact that Zuppi has been named as “cardinal” means he will be able to vote for the next pope when that time arrives (Michael Chapman, CNSnews.com; 9-9-19).

According to PinkNews, the appointment is also “celebrated” among “more progressive Christians, who hope the Pope’s choice of cardinals reflects his vision for ‘a Church of dialogue.’”

So here it is. The Roman Catholic Church is setting a trajectory for pro-homosexual teaching in the future, discarding not only hundreds of years of teaching, but more importantly, the clear biblical teaching which describes homosexuality as not only sin, but “perversion” (Jude 7, NIV). But such is expected to be the case in a church not found on the pages of the New Testament.

Reaction

The real shocker in all of this is the reaction which many in the “Christian world” have exhibited. Instead of lamenting the direction of society, including those who claim to be “spiritual leaders,” many are celebrating it. If not celebrating—at least defending it.

One person wrote in response to the posted simple news story—“So if you are a Christian or go to church you have to hate gays?”

This is the knee-jerk reaction of people who cannot take biblical teaching regarding sin of any kind. They hurl accusations of “hatred” upon those who point out sin. By this logic Jesus Himself was a “hater” because he taught against “fornication”—which includes homosexuality (Matt. 19:9).

Another responded: “Let him that is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Once again, an anemic effort to thwart the biblical teaching against sin. Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:23) we might as well just put a cork in our mouths when it comes to quoting passages that condemn sin. But more than this, the Bible nowhere teaches that all sin is the same sin.

It is true that all sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2); but it is also true that some sins have a much more deleterious effect upon society and upon one’s soul than other sins. Even Jesus referred to some sins “as greater” (John 19:11). Paul wrote that some sins have more serious effect upon one’s body (1 Cor. 6:18), perhaps by twisting the mind more wickedly.

It is difficult to believe that modern people have come to the conclusion that the sin of burning children alive in the fires to false gods—as did some Israelites in the OT (see 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35, et. al.)—is no more culpable than a “white lie” spoken to one’s parents. Both are sins—but one not only has many more harmful effects on society as a whole but indicates a deeper depth of depravity than the other.

So it is with homosexuality. Inspired Apostle Paul called the sin of homosexuality “unnatural” (Rom. 1:26) and a “vile passion.” It occurs when God “has given up a society” (1:24). Jude referred to it as “going after strange flesh” (Jude 7, ASV) or “perversion” (NIV). God said plainly in Leviticus that there were a number of particular sins, including bestiality and homosexuality, for which the “land will vomit you out” (Lev. 18:25, 28; 20:22). Not all sins fell into this category. Not all sins are classed as “perverted.”

Still another asks, “Do you love the sinner when you point out sin?” Once more, this sounds as if the biblical doctrine against homosexuality makes us just simply nervous. We immediately dodge by questioning the motives of someone pointing out the sin of homosexuality.

What if I had no love of God in my heart for any sinner? Would that change the truth? Absolutely not. Jonah preached the truth of God to Nineveh (Jonah 3). Nineveh would be overthrown unless they repented. I wonder if the Ninevites squirmed beneath this message by saying—“do you have LOVE for us Ninevites?” –as if to say that somehow the message would be changed if he did not.

But as a matter of fact, Jonah did NOT have love of people in his heart. He was very angry (Jonah 4:1) that Nineveh was spared upon their repentance. He wanted them destroyed!! As all can easily see however, this had nothing to do with the message itself. Jonah delivered the message faithfully even though his motives were not what they ought to be.

It is a perfect illustration of the modern generation being non-thinking, even practicing “avoidance behavior,” on the topic of sin. Whenever sin is pointed out or preached against, we dismiss the teaching by suggesting that “too many people hate.”

Reality is: we are so unaccustomed to God’s Unfiltered Word that we perform many mental gymnastics to avoid its impact—including charging preachers of the Word with being “haters.”

If I do not love one person in the world as I preach it does not change the fact that I am to preach and people need to accept the truth of God. The issue of homosexuality is not whether I love or hate. The issue is: What does the Bible teach, and am I to teach it? If I do not love as I am commanded to do, that is another issue entirely. And what IS occurring today is an overturning of society by the false prophets of the Roman Church by the appointment of pro-homosexual bishops to higher leadership positions.

Bill Lockwood: The Bible and Illegal Immigration

The Bible and Illegal Immigration  “…those that you let remain of them be as pricks in your eyes, and as thorns in your sides, and they shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell… “

by Bill Lockwood

As illegal immigration assists dragging our culture downward into a more godless, violent and confused society, it is shocking that many preachers, who should be reflecting biblical values, have taken the position that somehow the liberal multicultural goal of open borders is beneficial for evangelism. People are becoming confused as to whether or not America should even have boundaries and borders and whether it is godly to protect those borders.

First, God Himself established borders of nations. In Acts 17:26 Paul, speaking to Greeks in Athens, stated that “God has made of one, every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth; having determined their appointed seasons, and bounds of their habitation.

Note the several elements of the passage. (1) God has made of every nation one—or He made from one every nation of mankind. This is in direct opposition to the then current Greek belief that their own origin was superior to other races. (2) God determined their appointed times, that is, their divinely appointed periods. Nations do not rise and fall without God. It is not a survival of the fittest. (3) Boundaries of nations are divinely fixed. However modern man wishes to understand the providence of God, Paul plainly states that God has a hand in national boundaries.

The classic Old Testament text on this subject is Deut. 32:8. “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance; When he separated the children of men …” The last comment, about “separating” the children of men refers to God’s division between peoples at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:8).

Second, God demanded that Israel respect borders of other nations. As Israel came out of Egypt, the people were to by-pass some of the nations respecting their borders because God had given them that territory. One of those nations was Edom. “I have given Mt. Seir to Esau for a possession,” said the Lord, therefore, Israel was not to enter it (Deut. 2:5). He said the same regarding the country of Moab.

Later (Num. 20), when Israel, under the leadership of Moses, applied to Edom to pass through its territory on their way toward Canaan, Edom said no. After a second application and refusal Israel turned to go another way. A nation has the right to determine who comes into its territory and even God’s selected leader Moses could not violate that right.

On the other hand, God had prior appointed that the territory of the Amorite and Canaanite (Palestine) would be given to Israel (see Deut. 1). This was a divine judgment upon those Canaanite nations (see Gen. 15:15-16) because of their extreme wickedness including child sacrifice.

Consider also the fact that at one point in Genesis history Abraham, God’s chosen, immigrated to Egypt (Gen. 12). Abraham, however, lied about the status of his wife Sarah at one of the checkpoints. When his lie was discovered by the Egyptians he was deported! God did not step in and demand that Abraham and his family be protected at the expense of the Egyptian government.

Third, once settled in Canaan, the Israelites were sternly warned on multiple occasions to “drive the Canaanites out.” Even forty years previously, when Israel was still at Mt. Sinai, God had promised to drive out the inhabitants of the land (Exod. 33:2). Once Joshua took the leadership and conquered most of Canaan, he commanded the cooperation of the Israelites in “driving out” the Canaanites (e.g. Joshua 17:17-19).

The stated reason for driving out the nations that formerly inhabited Israel was to preserve the culture of Israel. The word “culture” itself refers to the religious presuppositions that lie beneath a society.

When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places [of idol worship], and ye shall take possession of the land …” (Num. 33:51,52)

Moses continued. “But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that you let remain of them be as pricks in your eyes, and as thorns in your sides, and they shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell” (v. 55). That Israel did not drive out the Canaanite people from Israel is the theme of the book of Judges (see chapter 1). The rest of the book shows perfectly well what occurs when a culture is not preserved.

As one professor wisely told me, “marriage is not a reformatory school”—so also “open borders is not a missionary program.” It is a recipe for the disintegration and complete annihilation of what is left of America’s Christian culture.

After Israel’s settlement in Canaan each tribe had a sovereign boundary that was detailed in the sacred record (Joshua 15). Not only was tribal territory to be respected in Israel, but private property was considered sacred and one of the sins that was prosecuted was “moving boundary markers” of someone’s property—which is the same as stealing private land. In no text in Holy Writ does anyone find the concept that people are not to own private property or that there is no such thing as Israelite tribal territory or national boundaries.

Fourth, God forbade Israelites from making any personal and marital contracts with the pagan people that formerly inhabited the land. Deuteronomy 7:1-5 is emphatic. If individual Israelites mixed in marriage relationships with the idolaters and pagans known as the Canaanites, the pure religion of Israel would be eroded.

You shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them; neither shalt thou make marriages with them; … for he will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods …” For this reason, God instructed, “You shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.”

God strictly warned the Israelites again through Joshua, the next generation leader: “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, The Lord will not continue to drive them out, but they will become a share and a trap for you; a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes until you perish from the land” (Joshua 23:12,13).

The point here is not to recommend an induction program for those seeking citizenship in the United States, but to point out that biblically speaking, the concept of sovereign borders is paramount in Old Testament Israel. The idea therefore that America should have no borders, and thereby no border enforcement, is certainly not biblical. There is nothing ungodly about having borders or boundaries around a nation and having boundaries implies that those whose boundaries they are have the right to manage them. Less than this is confusion on the face of the deep.

John Locke pointed out that unless society can provide a code of fixed and enforceable laws, man might as well stayed in the jungle (Skousen, 5,000 Year Leap, 244).

To this end it is that men give up all their natural power to the society they enter into, and the community put the legislative power into such hands as they think fit, with this trust, that they shall be governed by declared laws, or else their peace, quiet, and property will still be at the same uncertainty as it was in the state of Nature.

Is America a sovereign nation? Many on the left apparently disdain that idea and are pushing for open borders. That may be their preference, but don’t come to the Bible with such an agenda.

Natural Law

Natural Law– “All humans have impressed upon them from the beginning of creation the principles of Natural Law…”

by Bill Lockwood

Sir William Blackstone was an English jurist, judge and politician of eighteenth century England. His Commentaries on the Laws of England were a profound study of natural law and the founders of our nation carried Blackstone with them as a reference and guide. Even Abraham Lincoln loved Blackstone and studied him copiously.

One paramount principle which our founders loved was Blackstone’s explanation of Natural Law. Blackstone wrote in 1765:

This natural law, being as old as mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, from this original.

Note the following: (1) These laws are dictated by God himself. (2) They are binding to all men everywhere. (3) No human law that violates natural law is of any validity. One can hear echoes of this in the Declaration of Independence. Again, from Blackstone:

Thus when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, He impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. When He put the matter into motion, He established certain laws of motion, to which all movable bodies must conform. And, to descend from the greatest operations to the smallest, when a workman forms a clock, or other piece of mechanism, he establishes at his own pleasure certain arbitrary laws for its direction; as that the hand shall describe a given space in a given time; to which law as long as the work conforms, so long it continues in perfection, and answers the end of its formation.

All humans have impressed upon them from the beginning of creation the principles of Natural Law—reasoning ability concerning right and wrong.

Even Cicero, whose full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), the greatest orator of the ancient Roman Republic, and was raised in a pagan society, recognized true law imbedded within the heart of each person to which each is responsible.

True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions….It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst punishment.

One can hear in this echoes of Jefferson’s famous lines “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” Based upon this clear principle of natural law our founders disobeyed the unjust laws of King George.

Romans

Paul writes essentially the same thing in Romans 2:14-16, except Paul was inspired of God.

For when the Gentiles, that have not the law, do by nature the things of the law [OT revealed law, bl], these, not having the law, are a law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their thoughts, one with another, accusing or else excusing them …

Here the apostle shows clearly that those without God’s written law have knowledge of the existence of a law within themselves. All humans instinctively have within them the understanding that some things will always be right and other things wrong.

For example, ABORTION. The forcible taking of innocent human life is wrong. The Roe v. Wade (1973) decision at the Supreme Court does not change this and one-half of our nation rightly continues to recognize it as murder. The depth of America’s sin can easily be gauged by this horrific transgression. Because our nation has been adrift for at least fifty to a hundred years or more does not mitigate our guilt.

Another illustration is, HOMOSEXUALITY. It matters not that the Supreme Court Obergefell (2015) decision dictates to states that same-sex couples may marry—it is still sinful activity and godly Americans will not simply accept it and move along. Nor should we. As Blackstone rightly said, these types of human laws “have no validity” before God nor with those who honor Him.

A Cruciform Life

A Cruciform Life

by Bill Lockwood

One of the truly great moments in Paul’s inspired writing is the appeal of Philippians 3. Beginning with former “advantages” found in Judaism (5,6) Paul explains that this “gain” turns out to be a total loss—mere “refuse” in comparison to the ultimate gain in Jesus Christ. The apostle will endure great suffering (10) only that he might know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

In Christ Paul “presses on” [12, the word literally means “pursue”] that me might “seize” the prize. Diligent “stretching forward” [the word here means “straining” toward the goal] is the sum of his life (13). This lifelong passion is what might be termed “a cruciform life”—a life forever marked by the cross of Jesus Christ and conforming to it. The cross forever marks our behavior. Paul makes two points as he applies this.

One, Imitate My Behavior. “Brethren, be imitators of me” (17), Paul encourages. Two other occasions in Philippians he advises the same —1:30 and 2:18 —and it is instructive to find that both of these occur in the context of suffering. Remember, Paul is in a Roman prison as he writes. Added to this is the imperative to “mark them that so walk, even as you have us for an example.” The word “mark” is the Greek “skopeo” which means “have a discerning eye towards.” In other words, Christians are to be on the lookout for others, besides Paul himself, whose lives are most clearly dedicated to Christ Jesus. Observe them! Copy their behavior!

Two, Take Careful Note of Those Whom NOT to Imitate. The very reason we must be “on the lookout” for cruciform lives to imitate is because, sadly, “many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ” (18). Of these the final word is that “they mind earthly things” (19).

The fact that Paul weeps over them shows that these are Christians who have now become unfaithful. Instead of living a “cruciform life” in which they continually stretch forward to the prize they have become “earthly.” The word is “epigeios” which translates the idea that their mind is on the mundane things of this world. Their pursuit is for temporal things—prestige, business, entertainment, notoriety, money, success, … the list goes on. Their thought processes are concerned with themselves (see James 3:15); their goals are far from “heavenly” (see Colossians 3:2); their lifestyles are marked by the world. “World” does not mean “sinful” but merely the things that pertain to this life. Their occupation is set on temporary things and their time allotments show it. God is crowded out and their own appetites eventually become the measure of all. This is what Paul means by “whose god is their belly” (19). Their entire effort is on this present “scheme of things.”

Sober reflection upon the thrilling chapter 3 of Philippians encourages us all to forge our lives according to the cross of Jesus Christ, as did Paul. Live a cruciform life!

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