PHILIPPIANS-SERIES NR 8: The wonder of Christ’s self-denial
Scripture : Philippians 2 : 1 – 11
What do you think is at the root of almost all relationship-problems in general? What is it that botches “fellowship” (“koinonia”) among children of the Lord?
Perhaps you would say: Sin. Good and well, but what is at the root of all sin? Go and inspect your sin. You will soon see what the root-cause of it is. It is always THE SELF. The great I. The EGO. Sin is breaking of the law/lawlessness (1 John 3:4). And what is the reason that we treat the will of the Lord in
contempt? To benefit ourselves of course!
A deep-seated dissatisfaction with that which the Lord has made me and given me. Paul says in 1 Tim 3:6 that satan’s fall was due to his conceit. We see
in the OT where Paul got this knowledge. In Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.
Initially satan was a beautiful angel – Lucifer = morning star. But he was
dissatisfied with his subordinate position to God. He wanted to set his throne above God’s throne. So God cast him down. And that is what satan tempted
Adam with. To do the same. To become dissatisfied. To want to be above God. To be above the fellow man. And with that blemish all of us arrived here on earth, and that we all choose by nature (we do not have to cultivate it).
Essentially it is not what we do and what we don’t do. It is all about
the HEART. “DISPOSITION” (verse 8). There where selfishness and ego reign.
Fortunately we do not have to try to be delivered from this blemish ourselves. The Good News is that our deliverance has already been achieved.
I think verse 3 of Phil 2 is one of the most profound verses in the Bible. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Is that not one of the most profound verses? Is that also not the solution for all relationship issues? Imagine a church living out of these truths. Heaven on earth. Imagine a husband and wife in a marriage where they put EACH
OTHER’S interests first. Heaven on earth…
I once read about someone who said that he dreamed that HELL and HEAVEN
Are diningrooms with an ongoing feast. But, the knives, forks and spoons are
one meter long.
In HELL everyone tries to feed only himself and cannot succeed. That is why
there is hunger, pain, frustration, gnashing-of-teeth. In HEAVEN everyone is
feeding his neighbour sitting on the opposite of the table with meter-long forks and spoons. That is why there is joy and contentment and harmony.
The big question is: If all of us are by nature so focused only on ourselves,
and if that is the root-sin in our lives… HOW can we get delivered from it??
Remember: The whole world we live in encourages us to be self-centered. The world is not a very good means to live according to the Scriptures. The
message of TV and the media is: YOU are a god. YOUR rights are all that
matter. Everything which YOU agree with is acceptable. YOUR needs must be
satisfied. Everything sounds so fantastic. But, look around you: Depression,
feelings of guilt, bad and failed relationships.
If you take the time to carefully consider this you will soon realise: There is
NO WAY we can deliver ourselves from this. Your and my best efforts and
choices will not free us. It takes something supernatural to free us. And it is
here where the wonder-message of the Bible comes in. We read it this
morning. God the Father himself has delivered us in His Son Jesus Christ. Only because He had pity on us. Not because we are worth it or deserve it.
Let us not make the same mistake lots of people make. What happened 2000 years ago when our Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again? Something in the
long ago history? Did Jesus just create the POSSIBILITY for you and me to be helped here in 2018?? This is the enormous error we so easily make: Jesus’
death on the cross made it possible for me to be delivered. Now I must still play my part. I must hustle and bustle for Him to show that I am doing my
NO! When Jesus died and rose from the grave He effectively delivered us.
THAT is where God wrote our debt off 100%. That is what Paul is saying here. He is describing how Jesus REVERSED man’s downward spiral to hell. Keep in mind what satan and Adam did! And all of us! Instead of being subjected to God, we want to be ABOVE God, and our neighbour.
Now look what Jesus was doing. He, who is the Son of God from all eternity, was prepared to climb down – down and down and down. To leave His exalted position. He did the exact opposite that satan and Adam did. He did not
regard His divinity as something which He had to hold onto at all cost. He
was prepared to make Himself nothing and take the very nature of a slave.
But, that was not enough. He was prepared to be obedient to death, even
death on the cross. That is why Father exalted him to the highest place, and
gave Him the Name above every name.
Satan and man wanted to exalt themselves. That is why they took a fall and
lost everything. Jesus came and turned it around. He returned to us that
which we had lost. He perfectly restores that which was destroyed. HOW?
Through His self-denial. Through His self-denial of 2000 years ago, He ALREADY did something with US. He paid and wrote off our debt 100%. He broke our pride. He changed our deepest disposition and heart.
But, does that now mean that we are all automatically delivered? By FAITH we share in all of it. Single-mindedly we should learn to LIVE out of Christ’s
grace. It is a fixed belief and choice.
There is however something that we should very carefully take note of. Jesus
is NOT the perfect example we should try to emulate. We must not read Phil 2 and then say: “Well, Jesus was to wonderful in His self-denial — Such a
great example — Let me do my best to go out and try to do the same…”
When Jesus denied Himself, He freed us 1000% from our selfishness and pride. And this deliverance is already allocated to us – by His Word en sealed by
baptism. We have received the full package. Father has replaced our disposition with His disposition. It is not something we must pursue and strive for! It has nothing to do with strenuous trying.
We should learn to live with a fixed confidence OUT OF WHAT WE ALREADY
HAVE. Read Philippians 2 and you will see it.
Yes, Paul is indeed calling on the church to give up their selfishness. But He
does it based on that which they are already in possession of. There is a big difference in telling someone who has no money: “Go buy shoes for yourself”. And by saying that to someone who has R3000.
We read in 1:29 “God granted you the gift to believe in Him”. 2:1 “You HAVE received comfort in Christ”. “You HAVE His love”. “The fellowship of the
Spirit”. “Tenderness and compassion”. 2:13 “it is God who works in you to
will and to act according to His good purpose”.
Can you see it? The deposit is already made. We already have the salvation.
But, exactly because of that, the appeal is directed to us in such strong
terms. If a man has R3000 it is not unjust and unreasonable to expect him to purchase shoes (or whatever is needed). You can strongly appeal to him.
It does not make him feel helpless.
Exactly the same with us: If Jesus saved us 2000 years ago from our egoism
by means of His self-denial, then we are certainly able to live together in
harmony. Then we are able to put the interests of our neighbours first. Then it is not difficult and impossible. It is not something we should try to do!
Our selfish ambition. Our rights we insist upon. Our ego around which
everything revolves like a moth around a flame. Our struggle to care about
other people. Our self-pity. All those things in our lives, our Lord Jesus
destroyed with His self-denial 2000 years ago. Will we not truly this morning
stand up and believe it? Accept/embrace/trust His words? And go out and live out of His disposition. If you truly have faith in something, you cannot help
but live out of it in practice! Otherwise that faith is a farce!
His disposition of voluntary descend. From the highest to rock bottom. Think
about it. He did it as substitute. That means in our place. His descend is our descend. His elevation is our elevation.
Will we be willing to descend from our thrones to serve others?
The “we” whom Jesus saved with His self-denial, and of whom I have been
speaking the whole time, is not all people, all of humanity. It is not even
everyone in this church service. It is those who have truly in own experience
become a child of God by repentance to God, and who have transfered their
faith-trust to Jesus’ death on the cross. Repentence and faith confirm the new birth in a person’s life.
Translated by Marthie Wilson