1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 60
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|We’re staying right in the context of 1 Corinthians 8 and 9, denying self for the sake of others, but we’re going to look at Jesus, the greatest example of this. If He lives in us, then it’s His heart beating in us to do that very thing. The whole of the context of the book of Philippians to me is wrapped around what I believe is the key verse, 1:21. He says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”|
1 Corinthians 9:1-27 Philippians 2:6-11
Denying Self for the Sake of Others – Part 3
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 9. We’re not going to stay there too long, but I want you to turn there. We’re going to take a little diversion, but it’s all tied to what we’ve been talking about in 1 Corinthians. We’re talking about, “Denying Self for the Sake of Others.” Of course, the apostle Paul is writing the letter to the Corinthian church there in Corinth. He was the greatest example of his own preaching. He lived what he preached.
In chapter 8 he had told those who understood their freedom in grace, particularly in eating meat sacrificed to idols, he said, “You guys know it wouldn’t hurt you, but you understand your position in Christ. You understood who and Whose you are. Listen. Be willing not to eat that meat for the sake of your weaker brother.” He tells them, “Your knowledge is fine but if it’s not mixed with love, it’s going to do damage to your weaker brother. Knowledge alone is not sufficient. You must have love mixed with that knowledge. That love is the love produced only by the Holy Spirit of God.” He told them that knowledge alone makes a person arrogant and breaks others. But knowledge mixed with love builds others, especially the weaker brother.
He sums up chapter 8 in verse 9 when he says, “But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” That’s his whole point. He’s saying, “Be willing to deny even your freedoms under grace for the sake of your weaker brother. Don’t take your freedom and cram it down your brother’s throat. It causes him to stumble.” In the last verse of chapter 8 he gives his own view and says, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again.”
Then in chapter 9 he expands this whole thing by giving his example as an apostle. You see, it’s one thing to tell a member of the congregation there at Corinth to give up their freedom. They say, “Yeah, but you’re an apostle.” He says, “Yes, I am.” So he starts chapter 9 and proves the fact that he is an apostle. Then he moves to the privileges that apostles had that they could not have. The congregation did not have these privileges. Only the apostles had them.
What’s his point? His point is, are you willing to give up your freedom, your privilege, for the sake of others? The apostle Paul was. He moves to the passion of an apostle and he shares with them, “I have chosen to become a tentmaker. I’m not going to take money from you. That’s my choice. It’s not wrong to take it, but I willingly give that privilege up for the sake of the gospel. I don’t want anybody to be offended. I don’t want anybody to think that what we do is for monetary gain in our lives.”
Then we saw the intimate look that Paul gives us of himself. You see the sincerity of the apostle Paul. I love this guy. He is what he is. What you see in Paul is what you get. It’s just like a transparent picture. You see right through him. He says in verse 15, “But I have used none of these things [speaking of his privileges as an apostle]. And I am not writing these things that it may be done so in my case [In other words, I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me so I can get money out of you.]; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.” He says, “If anybody would ever be offended, it would be me, if somebody thought I was doing this for any kind of sordid gain. That’s not what it’s about.” So he says, “Hey, I’ve chosen not to do it for your sake.”
We also saw the humility of the apostle Paul. He says in verse 16, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of.” In other words, “Why should I boast? God gave me this assignment. God gave me the gift and God gave me the calling.” He says, “for I am under compulsion.” That word “compulsion” has the idea of constraint. It’s like God in him is motivating him. He said, “How can I boast in anything I do? I boast in Him who gave me this opportunity. For woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” That word “woe” means great grief beyond description would be mind if I were not preaching the gospel.
Then in verse 17 he says, “For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.” He speaks now of the expectancy that’s in his life. The humility is he knows that he didn’t call himself to preach. He didn’t go to school to learn it. God assigned it to him. God gifted him to do it. Then he says, “I am expecting a reward, but it’s not for preaching.” He says, “If I do this voluntarily, I have a reward.” In other words, “If I came up with it, went to school and got trained for it, then I could expect a reward for it.” That wasn’t the way it was. He was on the Damascus Road to arrest Christians, and the Christ of Christianity arrested him, as Acts 9 gives us that story. He says, “but if against my will.” That’s exactly the way it was. It wasn’t something he volunteered for. It was something God volunteered him for. He said, “if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.” In other words, “I have an assignment and I’m going to answer to God one day for this assignment. How could I go around seeking a reward for that? How could I even boast in it? This is something God did for me.”
He asks in verse 18, “What then is my reward? [He is expecting a reward] that when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” In other words, “I can’t expect a reward for what I do. That’s God’s assignment. But I can expect a reward for the way I go about doing it. I have chosen to deny myself the privileges of an apostle. God made me an apostle. God gave me the gift of preaching. God assigned me, and I have a stewardship. I can’t expect a reward for that. But I can expect a reward for choosing to deny myself for the sake of others and the way I go about preaching it is my reward.”
In other words, not only when he dies one day and goes to heaven could he expect that reward, but every day, every place that he went, he was rewarded when he preached the gospel and saw the joy of people respond and wanted nothing in return.
Well, the bottom line is this is what Christianity is all about, denying yourself for the sake of others. Paul is asking them to give up their rights and privileges for the sake of the weaker brother. He says, “Look at me. I’m willing as an apostle to do that very thing and I don’t expect any reward except in the joy of the way I go about doing what I do.” Denying others, folks, is impossible without Christ in your heart motivating you to do that. This is not Paul. You can’t praise the apostle Paul. Even though we want to stop and give praise to him, we can’t do it. We give praise to the God Who lives in all, Who motivates him to do what he does. It is Christ Who causes us to be willing to deny self for the sake of others. He’s the greatest example Who ever lived. Even though Paul puts himself as an example to the Corinthian church, we know that later on he points to Christ. It’s Christ Who is the supreme example. He was and He is the God man Who came down for the sake of you and me, to die for our sins.
John 3:16 is a great verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I think if we’re going to understand this principle of 1 Corinthians 8 and 9, as we see it as Paul commanded the church there at Corinth, then as he shows his own illustration, we’ve got to point back to Christ. We have got to look at Christ because if Christ lives in you, it’s Him Who wills and works within you. It’s Him Who gives you the desire even to deny yourself for the sake of others. It’s Christ Who enables you to be able to go about doing that very thing.
Turn to the book of Philippians. What a wonderful epistle. We’re staying right in the context of 1 Corinthians 8 and 9, denying self for the sake of others, but we’re going to look at Jesus, the greatest example of this. If He lives in us, then it’s His heart beating in us to do that very thing. The whole of the context of the book of Philippians to me is wrapped around what I believe is the key verse, 1:21. He says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That word “live” is zoe. Paul says the very essence of my life, that which makes me tick, is the Lord Jesus Christ living in me.
Maybe you don’t realize that. You don’t realize that Christ did not just give you life, He is your life. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Why would it be gain? Because he lives by faith now. He can’t see Him, but one day he’ll die and see Him face to face. It just keeps better and better and better. So the whole book to me is wrapped around that one thought, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Verse 6 of chapter 1 shows you that Christ is not just a motivating factor in his life, He is the essence of his life. In verse 6, as he speaks it to the church there, he says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work.” You didn’t start it. God started it. No man seeks after God. Scripture says it’s God seeking after us. You didn’t find Jesus. You weren’t even looking for Jesus. No man seeks after God. God found you, and He began the work. It says, “…that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” It is Christ in us. It is His work through us.
Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” It was Christ living in and through the apostle Paul that caused him to be what he was. Now, Paul was in prison when he wrote Philippians. That came about through a false accusation when he was over in Jerusalem. He had gone there to tell them of the wonderful work God was doing in the Gentile world with the Gospel and they couldn’t handle it. The Jews couldn’t handle the message of grace, so some of them made a false accusation against him. As a result he was in prison for almost five years, all on a wrong charge. They forgot about him for two years in Caesarea, Philippi. Now he’s in Rome in prison.
Folks, listen to me. Prisons don’t have to have doors and bars and windows. They can be a circumstance that come into your life. Remember that the resurrected Lord Jesus lives in you, and you can participate in His resurrection power, whatever circumstance is created because of your love for Jesus Christ. He will enable you to bear up under it. This is the whole theme of Paul as he’s there in the prison as he writes the book of Ephesians and Philippians and Colossians and Philemon. We see that he was in prison.
Verse 7 of chapter 1 reads, “For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.” So he’s in prison. He says in verse 13, “so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else.” Then in verse 17 of chapter 1 he says, “the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.”
Now, the apostle Paul was in prison. He knew something. He knew that as a Christian with God’s life in him that he was never a victim, never a victim. Boy, society wants to make us victims, doesn’t it? But you can’t be if you’re a Christian. You’re a victor in Christ Jesus. Life does not work against you. Life works for you if you’re a believer and if you’re living surrendered to Him. God in you helps you to realize you can allow life to work for you. That’s what happened to Paul.
He says in Ephesians 3:1, one of the other epistles that he wrote while he was in this imprisonment, “Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus,” not a prisoner of Rome, not a prisoner of the Jews. The Jews wanted him dead. The Romans didn’t know what to do with him. He was a political hostage. But he never considered himself to be a prisoner of man. He considered himself to be a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want you to see what he wrote the church of Philippi. Philippians 1:12-13 reads, “Now I want you to know, brethren.” That word “know” means you’d never know this if I didn’t write and tell you. He said, “I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” I love this. Paul’s in prison. He tried all kinds of evangelism programs, but he found him one—Prison Evangelism. He says, “Listen. Life is so working for me. I wanted to go to Rome and now I’m in Rome. I thought I was going to have to put a tent and have evangelistic meetings. God said, ‘No, no. I’m going to put you in chains and I’m going to put you in a prison over there and we’re going to have a meeting like nobody’s ever had.’ This is working out for the greater progress of the gospel.” Isn’t it amazing? He knew he wasn’t a victim. He knew he was a victor in Christ Jesus.
Verse 13 says, “so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else.” The praetorian guard was not just the soldiers, it was the headquarters of all of Caesar’s elite there in Rome. You’re talking about some big guys. These were big guys. These were the very special soldiers of Caesar himself. Do you know what I believe God is saying here? God said, “Paul, you think you’re going over there and have a great meeting in Rome. I’ve got better plans. I want to get the gospel all the way to the government. I want to go all the way to Caesar’s household.”
Did it work? Do you know what it Philippians 4:22 says? Look over there. I love this. You think God doesn’t have a plan? We’re never victims, friend. We’re only victors. He says in Verse 22, “All the saints greet you [now watch this], especially those of Caesar’s household.” God had a plan much better than Paul ever thought about. Paul lived his life understanding Jesus is my life. Put me in a prison and it works for me. It does not work against me. This is the good news of Christianity, folks. Life doesn’t look good sometimes when we view it from our eyes. But if we view from His, we’re always victors, never victims. It works for us and never against us.
Well, it’s in chapter 2 that we see our truth expand. The very thing that Paul was saying to them in 1 Corinthians 8, exemplifying to them in 1 Corinthians 9, now we find the principle right here in Philippians 2. Look at verse 3. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” I’ll tell you what. That’s not natural to your flesh. You will not run home and say, “I’m going to deny myself for the sake of my husband or my wife.” No, sir. God in you, however, will motivate you this way.
Verse 4 continues, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Here comes the context. Verse 5 reads, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” I want to tell you something, folks. The attitude the apostle Paul had and the attitude he wanted the Corinthians to have and the attitude we’re supposed to have is the attitude of Christ Jesus. I can hear somebody saying, “I’m not God.” You’re right. There are two absolutes. One is there is a God. Two is you’re not Him. You got that one correct. I want to tell you something. God lives in you, and if He’s your life of chapter 1 of Philippians then He becomes your attitude of chapter 2. You start seeing people differently through His eyes.
I’ll tell you what, folks. We need to send a signal of the gospel, the good news. Think about the conferences going on right now to try to establish racial relationships. Are you kidding me? Until persons, whether black, white, green, or yellow, bow before the Lord Jesus Christ and receive His life inside of them, you’re never going to see racial harmony on this earth. It’s got to come from the changed heart. It’s what God does. It’s not what man does.
God has to get hold of you and me. Then He becomes your life and through that life He becomes your attitude and He gives you a perspective you’ve never had before. How can we have the attitude of Christ? Well, if He lives in you, you can. Now, you need to understand His attitude so you can understand how He can have that attitude in and through you. It only works when He enables it and when He motivates it. It’s not natural to the flesh. It’s only natural to the Spirit of a living God.
The place that Christ left
Now verses 6-11 are where we want to look. This is what we’re going to try and put together to show you the attitude of the greatest example Who ever lived on this earth of denying Himself for the sake of others. First of all, we have the place that Christ left. Remember who He is. Remember He’s going to deny Himself for our sake. Look what He left. Look what He turned away from and came down to this earth.
I don’t know if you have had any encounters with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you haven’t, hang on, you will. You say, “Why are you bringing up Jehovah’s Witnesses?” You better understand something. They do not believe Christ was pre-existent. They believe He was created. If they would just look at the book they would see that the very thing they use to disprove the fact that He was pre-existent proves the fact that He was pre-existent. I want you to see the place that He left, His pre-existent state as God.
Look at it in verse 6: “who, although He existed in the form of God [now watch it], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” The word “existed” there is in the present tense, continued to exist. It’s the word huparcho, which means He existed, continued to exist continually in a specific place. Now, obviously he’s pointing back because he continues to talk about when He became man. He existed. He lived continuously in a place you see.
Now, the word “form” really tells us what we want to know. It’s the word morphe. He says, “although He existed in the form of God.” It’s not what you think. The word “form” does not mean shape. There’s another word that means shape. People say, “Yeah but look at Him. He’s a man.” No, no. The word morphe means the essence of something. In other words, no man could exist in the form of God except he be God. It’s the essence of God.
Now, the word “shape” comes up in verse 8. When they’re used together it’s very clear. He says in verse 8, “And being found in appearance as a man.” That’s the shape He took upon Himself when He came to this earth. But He existed beforehand is the very essence of God. “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
“Did not regard” is the word hegeomai. In other words, He did not esteem this as something He needed to do in order for it to take place. Christ did not esteem what? He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. You see, He did not regard the fact that being equal with God the Father as something to be seized or grasped. Why? Because He was equal to the Father. That’s not something He needed to go get, make happen. It was already a fact of His life and had always been.
John 5:18 says, “For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but [watch this] also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” They couldn’t handle it. But it was the truth. He’s always been equal to God, so He didn’t have to seize this title. He didn’t have to rob someone else of the title. That’s who He was. So it says, “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
The word harpagmos means to seize or to rob. That’s why the King James puts in there, “thought it not robbery.” That’s who He is. He didn’t have to prove anything. It was never on His mind. He was equal to the Father. He existed in heaven in the very essence of God. That fact was never something He considered a seizure of anything. That’s who He was.
John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That is in the imperfect tense. That’s one of the verses the Jehovah’s Witnesses use and don’t even understand the tenses. The tense is imperfect: no beginning, no end. Always has been, is, and always shall be God, equal to the Father. Understand that. Not less than, equal to. So He existed in heaven. Look at the place that He pre-existed in that He came from, the place that He left. Why? To deny Himself for the sake of others.
The pattern that Christ set
Secondly, we see the pattern that Christ set. Look in verse 7: “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Whoo! Christ proven to be God, now, the very essence of God, demonstrated His love to deny Himself to become like a man. He came to this earth. He left His home in glory to heal a broken relationship between man and God.
You may not realize this, that when you were born physically, you were born into sin. You have the virus of sin in you, and there’s not any cure except what Christ did for you on the cross. Religion, being good, giving money, all of those things are dead works and they will not get you into heaven. Therefore, you have to hear what I’m saying. He came so that He can heal that relationship. He came as a man to do what a man could not do, and He went to the cross to pay our sin debt. He didn’t destroy the Law. He fulfilled it as a man. So when we put our faith in the God man, Jesus Christ, then He acquits us of our guilt and now we are found in Him.
Verse 7 begins with, “but emptied Himself.” The word is kenoo. It means to divest oneself of something. The statement refers to Jesus Christ as emptying Himself, divesting Himself of something at the time of His incarnation when He became man. This denotes the beginning of His self-humiliation. Here He was pre-existent God and still continues to be God. But He humiliated Himself in a sense. He humbled Himself by coming down to where we are. He denied Himself for all of our sake.
As a matter of fact, to understand what he means by emptying Himself, you’ve got to take the whole of verses 6-8. We’ve seen the pre-existent state that He had in verse 6. This is the beginning of His state of humiliation. What does it mean He emptied Himself? A lot of people get off in the doctrine right here. The text tells you. Verse 7 says, “but emptied Himself [How?] taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” In no way did He ever give up His attributes as God. If you think that Scripture means He ceased being God so He could become man, you’ve missed it. That’s not at all what it says. His humanity did not replace His deity. His humanity simply veiled His deity.
On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter, James, and John saw a little bit of it revealed, didn’t they, as the glory shone even through His garments? But His flesh veiled His deity, it did not in any way replace it. Christ chose to come to earth to veil His heavenly glory with a body of flesh.
The word “form” comes up again: “by taking the form of a bond-servant.” The word “form” is the word essence. He’s the essence of God. Now He’s the essence of man. As the essence of man, He became a bond-servant. The word is doulos. He came to deny Himself to serve His Father and to serve us. What He came to do would be the greatest thing anybody could ever do for any of us. He provided the cure for being lost. He provided the way to have a relationship with God the Father.
Verse 7 says, “and being made in the likeness of men.” Here’s where our Jehovah’s Witness friends step in. See there, “being made.” Well, hang on. Aorist middle means at a certain point in time in history He was made flesh. Now, the middle voice means of His own choice. You see, if you put it in the passive voice, He had to be created. But it was in the middle voice, which means He made His own choice. At a certain period of time Christ, Who had always been God, became the essence of man made in the likeness of men.
The word for made is the word ginomai, which means to come into existence on earth. He already was in existence in heaven, but now He’s come into existence on earth. He came as a man, the God man. Jesus Christ, having pre-existed as God, chose to come into existence on earth as a man.
There’s one unique thing that was different about Him that you need to get into your theology. He had a body like ours. “In the likeness of man” it says. But not exactly like ours. He had a body that could in no way respond to temptation, no way. When you take a magnet and you put it over a box of nails, everything in that box that responds to that magnet will go immediately to it. But if you have something that has an alloy in it, that won’t respond to it, it just lays there.
That’s exactly what happened when the devil tried to tempt Jesus to try to see if there was anything evil in Him. He found out nothing in Him could respond to it. He was different than you and me. When that wave of temptation comes over us, everything in us wants to respond. But not in Christ. Understand that and get it nailed into your theology. He came as a man similar to us but His body had no consequence of sin in it and had nothing in it that could respond to sin.
He was the God man. He wasn’t just innocent like the first Adam, He was perfect. He was the God man. So from His pre-existent glorious state to the state of His humiliation He veiled Himself with a body of flesh and became a servant. Why? So that you and I could celebrate His resurrection, so that you and I could have a relationship with God through the Son Jesus Christ.
The passion that Christ displayed
So we see the place that He left and the pattern that He set. When He tells us to deny ourselves, we have to understand He has gone before us and lives in us to enable us to do what He’s already proven He can do. Thirdly, we have the passion that Christ displayed. This is beautiful in verse 8. Why did He do it? “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” This is His purpose.
“And being found in appearance as a man.” Remember, that’s the word schema. Now He is seen on earth and His existence on earth is as a man. What He was in heaven, we haven’t seen yet. We’ve just seen glimpses of it. John saw it in Revelation and fainted. He couldn’t handle it. But He veiled that flesh and came. Now, He’s taken the shape of man.
Now, listen. He didn’t a human body. This is where Gnosticism and some of the heresies began in the first century or second century. They couldn’t understand how God could take a body if all bodies were sinful. His body wasn’t, remember. He didn’t enter a body. They said, “Oh, no. He entered him at baptism but left him right before the cross.” That’s some of the heresy that went on. The Scripture says in John 1:14 that He became flesh. He didn’t enter it. He became flesh. That’s that marvelous miracle of the incarnation, God through a virgin becoming flesh, the God man.
Verse 8 says, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” His purpose is clear. He came to die. The Moonies, those great deceivers, say, “Oh, no. Rev. Moon is the new Christ. The first Adam fell. The second Adam [which is what they call Christ] failed because he died before he could marry and propagate a spiritual race. Now, the next one’s come.” They think His death was an accident. He came to die. That’s why Hebrews says, “A body thou has given Me so that I might do Thy will, oh God.”
He humbled Himself, tapeinoo. I want you to think about denying yourself. We’re not talking about the Apostle Paul. Although that’s good enough. We’re talking about Jesus now. God stooped down. The word tapeinoo means to stoop down to the lowest place, to get down as far as you could possibly get. God saw you and me and stooped down. He came down to where we were. We couldn’t get to Him. Thank God, He came to us. He stooped down. He humbled Himself.
How did He humble Himself? He says, “by becoming obedient to the point of death.” The word “obedient” means absolutely as the God man He had subjected Himself to His Father so that whatever His Father said, that’s what He did. No questions asked. As the God man He subjected Himself to His Father. Even though God, He subjected Himself to His Father, “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” That’s aorist middle. At a certain time He came obedient to His heavenly Father and He lived. It’s the middle voice which means of His own choice. Nobody made Him come. He chose to come on his own. It was a love choice for you and me: “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
It’s amazing here. Paul brings out that it wasn’t just that He died but he brings out the fact that He died on a cross. He skips all His earthly ministry, His miracles and everything and goes right to the very objective that Christ had when He left Glory and came to this earth and became man. The passion that He must have had for you and me.
You know, I love to sing that song, “He loved me ere I knew Him,” because He loved and knew me. That word “foreknowledge” is so helpful to me. Not in the sense that some people use it, but in the sense of He knew every wart that Wayne Barber would have. He knew every sin and every sinful thought. He knew every act that I would do, but He loved me instead of that. He loved me in spite of that. That’s the passion that God had for you. He came down to a garbage heap and died there for our sin. That’s denying yourself for the sake of others. He lives in us. The very heart lives in us now. That’s why Paul could say, “You deny yourselves for the sake of others.” “I can deny myself for the sake of others,” he says, “because Christ lives in us and He’s the one who knows about it better than we’ll ever know.”
The position Christ now holds
Well, the pattern, the place, the passion, but then finally, the position Christ now holds. I want you to notice something. The only way up is down. As we decrease, we increase in Him. He increases in our life and also He exalts us. When we learn to go down God begins to lift us up just like He did His own Son. God the Father highly exalted Him as the God man. There’s a man in heaven today. Did you know that? There’s the God man in heaven. He took the shape of man, and that’s in heaven today. He’s the first one, the first born. He’s there and the rest of us come after Him. He set the pattern for the rest of us. As a man, He’s our representative. All that was lost in Adam was not given back to us, it was given back to Him, and only in Him do we find any authority because He’s the man who represents us and we are now in Him.
Philippians 2:9 says, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” This implies something here. How could God bestow anything on Him if He had not resurrected from the dead? That just takes into account, yes He went to the cross and He died, but He had to raise from the dead so that His name, now, could be lifted up and given a name above every name, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This shouldn’t have been a surprise to anybody. Even the Old Testament speaks of the resurrection of Christ. Peter, in his sermon in Acts 2:25-31, speaks of the fact that David lived and died and was buried. Therefore, when the psalmist speaks of this particular one that cannot undergo decay, it had to have been the Lord Jesus. It couldn’t have been David. Do you know what that means? It means that He had a body that could not corrupt. In other words, as He lives on this earth, He got older but He did not corrupt as we are corrupting, getting older and our bodies are decaying. He did not decay because He was the sinless Son of God. No doubt, it was these Old Testament passages that kept Paul moving in his messages.
In Acts 17:3 Paul’s preaching. It says, “explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.’” He died and rose again. Paul was using the Old Testament Scripture to prove what he was saying. Jesus predicted His own resurrection from the dead. John 2:19 reads, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” In Matthew 12:40 we read, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mark 8:31 says, “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” John 10:18 tells us, “No one has taken it away from Me [My life], but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
Do you realize on the cross no man took His life? He, as God, dismissed His own human spirit and then raised His own body from the dead. That’s God and that’s who we believe in. The most outstanding proof of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was His appearance to more than 500 people. Isn’t that amazing? You find two people who saw anything today and we’ll all believe it. Take the news lately. Five hundred people witnessed the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3 Paul says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” Simon Peter and then to the twelve. Paul goes on to say in verse 6, “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.” That’s a lot of people. After He resurrected, He walked and talked with some.
In Luke 24, two of them were heading toward Emmaus, and Jesus just walked up beside them, “Hey guys. How are you doing?” “Oh, man, not too good.” “What’s the matter?” “Do you know what happened this weekend?” That was Jesus. He kind of knew what went on.
Some of them He ate with. In John 21 He prepared a breakfast and had the disciples come in. To some He stayed long enough on earth to teach about His kingdom. The resurrected Christ was witnessed by way over 500 people.
So Paul tells us in Philippians 2:9 that He arose on the third day, and God the Father highly exalted Him. That’s implicit in what’s said there. The word “exalted” is the word huperupsoo. It comes from huper, above, and hupsoo, which means to elevate. God highly elevated Him. That’s exactly what Paul says in Ephesians when he tells us that he has seated Him in a place far above all rule, authority, and power and dominion. Devil, are you listening? Far above all rule and authority, power, and dominion, every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come. Good gracious! You take the devil and every demon he has and put them up next to Jesus and try to put them on a scale. The devil doesn’t even show up. That’s who God is. That’s who Christ is. He’s highly exalted Him, not only in position but with a name that’s above every name.
It says, “and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” There’s no name that will come close to it. Verse 11 continues, “and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Do you know anybody in your family who’s lost, who rejects Christ, who makes fun of you because you’re a Christian? Pray for them. Grieve for them because one day they will confess that Jesus is Lord, but it may be out of hell that they do it. Every tongue will confess one day. Hitler will confess, has already probably. All of them will confess that Jesus is Lord. To many, it will be too late, because they never bowed before Him, never put their faith into Him, never received the cure for their lostness that comes only through Him.
So Paul says in Philippians 2:5, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” You see, if He lives in you, only He can enable and motivate you to deny yourself for the sake of somebody else. Folks, I tell you, when you get to 1 Corinthians 8 and you understand what Paul is telling them, and to 1 Corinthians 9 and you understand how Paul lived, there’s no excuse for any of us.
I’ll tell you where the rubber hits the road. Let’s get it down where we all live. This morning I went out to start my car. I’ve been having a little trouble with the starter and I wasn’t sure if it was the battery or what. So I went out just to make sure it was going to run and to my delight it did. It started. While it was running, I happened to look around and an animal had gotten into my garbage. I hate that on Sunday mornings when I’m already dressed and cleaned up, prayed up, ready to go preach. I hate to fool with it. It’s the mushy kind of garbage. You know the kind of stuff that you don’t want to touch? Gooey stuff, bad stuff.
Here I am in my suit and the first thought going through my mind was, “I’ve really got to go. Everybody in the family would understand this. I could just jump in the car and go on and somebody else will clean this up.” I had my message in my hand. I had my little notebook in my hand, right there. It was like God said, “Excuse me, Wayne, are you missing something here? Are you too good to bend down and pick that garbage up?” I put it in a garbage sack and went over there and dropped it in a trash can, and God said, “Now, learn to live this way. Make the choice to deny yourself for the sake of somebody else.”
God will give you ample opportunity, folks. I guarantee you there’s somebody hearing this who wants somebody else to serve them. Somebody will say, “Well, I went to that church and nobody spoke to me.” Let me ask you a question. Who did you speak to? You see, we’re always wanting to be served, but if God lives in us, the Son of Man did not come to be ministered unto. He came to minister. Climb down off the pedestal and deny yourself for the sake of others.