In this episode, we talk about the right perspective of worldly temptations. Every day, we struggle to give up worldly pride and desires. The appetite for these things is as strong as it is dangerous. The paradox is that seeing these things truly invites us to lay them aside, which actually leads to our best life. Jesus had a strong place at the right hand of God and gave it up to be a man. He did not seek profit and worldly treasures/status, he humbly accepted God’s plan for him. We are meant to mimic this mindset.
Tim: So the mindset of “I just want everything that this world has to offer” is shameful.
Joey: And that’s Phroneo there. Is that correct?
T: That’s Phroneo, mindset. So if you have a mindset of “I want what the world has to offer and everything in it,” it leads to slavery to your appetites. Because that’s what the world feeds on, your appetites. You’re going to end up a slave to your appetites and everything you truly care about will be destroyed. Don’t have that mindset.
Making the Choice
J: Yeah, one of the things that occurs to me–and I think we have run into this with feedback we’ve gotten and conversations we’ve had around Yellow Balloons and other things–a hang-up that a lot of people have is that they don’t realize that their mindset is a choice that they can make. They think it’s just “This is just what I think. I have to do this, that way or the other.” We use this example all the time. But if Kylie does something that I find irritating, I might use the language, “She’s making me angry.” Basically as though she’s forcing me to be angry. I don’t have a choice in this. It just is what it is.
T: I see the control from the Kylie of my life.
J: Right. Yeah. So I think it’s really important to iterate here that Paul is saying, and all the scripture itself is saying: you have a choice.
T: God gave us stewardship of how to look at things. That’s what the original temptation was. Are you going to choose the perspective that God gave you? That he knows best and that harmony with him is ultimate fulfillment? And this one thing he told you not to do will lead to death, so you don’t want to do it. Are you going to trust that? Or do you want to figure out your own way? What’s he hiding from you? Don’t you think that figuring out your own way and having your own wisdom and knowledge on your own account would be better? He must be holding something back from you. There must be something great there or he wouldn’t have told you not to do that. We have that voice in us all the time, right? It’s daily work to be delivered from that voice. “Work out your salvation with trembling and fear.” Why trembling and fear? Because you don’t want this destruction. We should all be really concerned about this. There’s destruction around every corner if we give into this worldly mindset.
Day by Day
J: I think that’s the other trap Christians fall into. We focus so much on that first salvation of being born again that we think we’ve made the choice to follow God. It should be like happily ever after that, right? Then we get into this shame spiral when we feel any sort of inkling towards sin or, flesh because it’s like, “Oh, I should have gotten past this. It should have gone away completely. I’ve made the decision.” Well, Paul is saying, as I said before, this isn’t a one-off decision. This is everyday having to make this choice. You’ve got to continue on the path of Godliness.
T: You don’t have to continue on in order to be born again. You were born again, that’s a gift. You have to continue on if you want the benefits of your new birth, to experience the benefits. If you don’t experience the benefits, unfortunately, it doesn’t go to neutral, it goes to destruction. Now, fortunately, God protects us in a huge way from the things we are ignorant about, in large respect. At least that’s what I’ve found, and I think scripture indicates that. But ultimately, he gave us this responsibility, and it’s an immense responsibility. Once you get attuned to this perspective of what reality is, you actually see it everywhere in scripture. This is the admonition to choose a proper mindset. So what is the proper mindset? So Paul said, “Okay, you’ll make my joy complete if you guys are one and loving one another and not complaining and walking in this kingdom of God way instead of the worldly way.” And he told them, “Don’t be an appetite follower.” Don’t follow your feelings. Don’t follow your impulses. That’s what the world would tell you you should do. Be honest with your feelings. This is you. If you think you have to do it, it’s telling you that because it wants to control you and turn you into its slave. That’s why the world says that. It hates you and it wants your destruction. And if you follow it, that’s what you get, you get destruction. So don’t do that. Here’s the alternative–and this is actually binary, I think–you can dress up the world’s ways with Christian words and it’s still the world’s ways.
The Lowliness of Jesus
T: The Pharisees did that, right? So here’s the alternative. And this is challenging, okay? It says in 2:5, “Let this mindset be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Now, he had just said, “Fulfill my joy by being likeminded” in 2:2. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind. Esteem others more than yourself.” So, serve others and love others as yourself. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Verse 6, “Who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men.” So Jesus is in heaven, he’s God. Heaven is wherever God’s will is done. He’s in heaven. He’s God. Colossians 1 tells us that “He made the world and everything in it.” He was the agent of creation. It was made for Him. And you’ve got to think that being in heaven and in charge of everything as God is a pretty comfortable situation. It’s hard to think of anything better than that. And so His Father comes and says, “Hey, I want you to become a man, go down to earth, and die for this creation that’s rebelled against us.” Now, let me just role-play with you. Let’s just say that I was your dad and said, “Hey, I want you to leave the family business where you’re the CEO and you’ve got a big house and you’re really enjoying your life. And I want you to go, you know, working in an orphanage in some third-world country and there’s a disease there and you’re going to die.”
J: Yeah, or there’s a native population that’s militantly against Christianity, so the chances are high they’ll kill you. They’ll put you to death.
T: Yeah, and I want you to do that. Your natural inclination, I think, would be “I’m the head of this deal. Why would you ask me to do that? Why would I leave this behind for that?” And what this is saying here is that Jesus did not consider himself entitled at all. He wasn’t entitled to stay. He’s just like, “If you think that’s best for me, I’ll do it.” It’s total trust. If you think that’s best for me, I’ll do it. So he leaves the ultimate apex of reality and comes and becomes a man. Now, we know man is lower than angels. Angels are lower than God, so he actually took at least two rungs down. He jumps a rung. And so he became in the likeness of men. So this is actually, I would say, a great Christmas verse. When he’s born as a human, it’s stunning. It’s a very stunning thing. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself.” So to be humble is to see reality as it is. That’s what humility is, just seeing reality as it is. And ‘reality as it is’ is that obedience is always the best for us. And that’s what he does. He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross, because that’s what his father told him was in his best interest and in our best interest. So what does the Bible tell us to do daily?
J: Follow God.
T: Follow God. Does it ask us to die to anything daily?
Overcoming the Self
T: Die to self daily. Leave the comfort of worldly comfort, which is actually comfortable. It’s comfortable to think everybody else is at fault, not me. Everybody should serve me. It’s comfortable. It’s comfortable to blame. It’s comfortable to gripe. All those things are comfortable. Leave behind that comfort and set self aside. Die to self. Take up your cross. Follow me. That’s what we’re asked to do. This reputation daily. “Work out your salvation from the power of sin. Every day, set aside self. Take up your cross. Follow me.” What is the cross? Well, it’s two things. It’s what every sin is nailed to, so that’s the security of the acceptance that you have. Take up your full acceptance that you have in me. You don’t need acceptance from anybody else. You don’t need belonging from the world. And take up the task I’ve given you to do, to love others unconditionally and as you love yourself. That’s not easy, but that’s why it takes work. That’s what Jesus did. He became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. He learned obedience. He learned that through temptation, through rejection, and he lived a 100% dependent life. And we’ve talked about how God is using the dependents of lower beings to shut up Satan, who is a stronger being that wants to rule with power. And what God is doing is saying, everyone who trusts and depends on me and serves and loves is a superior manager. If you’ve ever worked for somebody that’s like that, you know that firsthand. Then he says, “Because Jesus did that, therefore, God also has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.” So, because Jesus learned obedience and followed God, God gave him this massive reward. And we’re promised all through the Scripture that if we will follow this mindset, it will be way more than worth it. And, you know, in 1 Corinthians 3, we get “gold, silver, and precious stones instead of wood, hay, and stubble.” It’s kind of giving you the idea that there’s treasure at the end if we do these things and have this mindset, and there’s nothing worth saving if we don’t have that mindset. In Revelation 3, Jesus says, “To the overcomers…” This is those who overcome self, overcome this world perspective that leads to shame, that’s, you know, following your appetites, your feelings, instead of following what’s true. “If you overcome those things, to the overcomer I will give to sit with me on my throne, even as my father gave to me and I sat down on his throne.” So that’s stupendous, right? Have this same mindset, it will be worth it. And the interesting thing is that you get the double promise. Not only is it worth it out there, but it’s also worth it now because you get harmony, spiritual harmony, in spite of your physical circumstances.
J: I mean, talk about the paradox of all paradoxes, right? Jesus leaves heaven, comes down, and suffers, but is exalted so that His glory is revealed. And yeah, as you said, Scripture talks about how we share in his sufferings, we also share in His glory.
Paul’s Fundraising Pitch
T: And the interesting thing, you’re talking about who these Philippians are, they’re actually his main donors. Paul did not solicit donations from people, but these guys on their own accord started sending him money. And he says in here, you know, “I really appreciate it a lot.” But he’s given this exhortation to people who are his main donors. So there’s obviously no buttering up of any kind, “well, I got to be nice to these people because, you know, they’re my main donors.” He’s just like, “My main interest is in you and in exhorting you to do what’s best for you. That’s my main joy. And if I say these things to you and you don’t want to hear it and you stop supporting me financially, that’s fine. I’m not trusting in you, but I greatly appreciate you.” And he does give them thanks and say, “I really appreciate you guys supporting me.” But he’s not angling for support. And he actually says in here, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that at last your care has flourished again.” So it’s a little bit of, “Gee, I missed your connection for a long time.” And then he says, “You surely did care, but lacked opportunity.” So “I knew you cared, but it’s really cool that you started giving me money again. I really appreciate it. But I don’t really need anything, not that I speak in regard to need, because I’ve learned whatever state I’m in to be content.” He told them to not grumble before. He said, “I really appreciate your support, but I was fine either way.”
K: As he writes this from prison.
T: Yeah, as he writes this from prison. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Of those two, abounding is much more difficult, by the way. The more you have, the more your appetite starts wanting more. But he said, “I know how to do everything and in everything I’ve learned to be full and hungry, abound and suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s a bumper sticker verse, but the actual context of it is talking about financial support.
J: He’s fundraising, yeah.
T: Yeah, he’s fundraising. I don’t think most fundraising pitches have that in there.