March 19, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”—Philippians 3:19–21 (NKJV)
When reading God’s Word, there’s an undeniable theme we see from one end to the other. There’s a pattern presented to us where two points are compared against each other to present a powerful contrast. For example, we see hate contrasted with love, sin contrasted with holiness, evil contrasted with good, and on and on and on. Such contrasts are intended to instruct us, teach us, and show us not only the nature of our natural selves, but the supernatural nature of God. Contrast clarifies the difference between who we are in our fallen state and who God is in all of His perfections.
We’re presented with one of these contrasts here in this passage, as Paul compares two types of people with two different perspectives of life. First, he references those, “whose end is destruction,” which we can all agree isn’t good! These are the “enemies of the cross” that Paul introduces in Philippians 3:18. As he continues to describe the qualities of these people, he ends on an interesting note by stating they “set their mind on earthly things.” The word “earthly” serves as a summary of the first category of people. They’re all about this world, this planet, and what’s in it. As far as they’re concerned, this is where all substance and satisfaction are found, and life is totally dedicated to all things earthly. But even in the best-case scenario, it all ends here and goes no further.
In contrast, Paul introduces another category of people, those who aren’t earthly but whose “citizenship is in heaven.” This is a complete reversal of the previous perspective! Instead of being the “be all, end all,” the earth and everything in it is just a means to another and a greater end. This world isn’t the destination but rather the corridor or walkway that leads to the place where true substance and satisfaction is found . . . heaven! For Jesus is in heaven at this point in time, not on earth. Consequently, those who’ve surrendered their lives to Him are also those who look beyond the earthly towards the heavenly and its realities. And one of those realities is the earthly body that everyone is well acquainted with will be transformed into an eternally glorious body.
That’s quite the contrast! The earthly and the heavenly mindsets couldn’t be farther apart. One reflects humanity in its fallen and finite state, the other reflects God’s eternal glory. This begs the questions: Which perspective do we subscribe to? Do we derive our purpose from what this world can offer us, or are we motivated by the eternal things that lay beyond? Are we earthly or are we heavenly?
God gives us the option of making our decision based on whether we reject or receive what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus. And if we’re totally honest, it’s not a difficult decision to make.
Pause: What two things does Paul contrast in this passage and why?
Practice: Does your life reflect an earthly or a heavenly mindset? How would you define what it means to be “a citizen of heaven”?
Pray: Lord, I can easily get off focus as I walk through this world. Help me to be someone whose life is focused on the eternal more than the earthly. Give me the perspective I need to faithfully follow You as You use my life in the here and now for Your glory. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.