Philippians 2:5-6 - How A Unifying Person Thinks

Dr. Steve Viars July 22, 1995 Philippians 2:5-6

I. Unifying People Have The Right Mind

    KJV - "Let this mind be in you"
    NASB - "Have this attitude in yourselves"
    NIV - "Your attitude should be..."

    INPUT - what do you make of the fact that the Lord focuses this
            discussion of unity on the important place of the mind?

            (You don't preserve unity simply by making behavioral rules.)

- Can you imagine walking into a church business meeting filled with
   people who's heart are wicked and divisive
      - then the moderator puts a transparency up that says:

          1) Be nice to each other.

          2) Smile while speaking.

          3) No booing when others are talking.

   "OK, now let's conduct business."

- it’s not going to be too long into that meeting until the divisive and
    wicked hearts of the people involved begin to manifest themselves.

- unity is a matter of the mind.
- you don't change someone's behavior by simply imposing exterior
    standards upon them.

   - now, aren't you glad that as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the
      ability to change on the inside?

   - A couple of hot items in the news the last few weeks have been the
      Amendment to Ban Flag Burning and the possible changes to
      Affirmative Action Legislation.

      - I don't want to enter those discussions from a political
           - but I would like to stand back from a distance and make at
             least one comment.

           - Can you imagine what it would be like if believers in the
              church of Jesus Christ could only effect changes through
              behavioral legislation?

           - again, that’s a not a statement for or against either
             political issue----I'm simply saying that that would be a
             very hopeless and frustrating way to try to foster love for
             one's country or love for various people's of the world.

- Paul makes it very clear that unity is an issue, first and foremost, of
   the mind.

- now that’s a two edged sword.
   - there's great hope because we can examine ourselves, see habits of
       thinking that violate these principles, and make concrete changes.

        - Psalm 139:23-24 - Search me, and know my heart.  Try me, and
              know my thoughts.  And see if there be any wicked way in
              me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

- the other edge of the sword is that God has given us all the tools to
   put off sinful divisiveness---if we're not growing in these areas and
   we need to---it's no one's fault but our own.

- now, let's think through three quick but important questions:

1) INPUT - Other verses that stress the importance of changing our

            Eph. 4:23 - ...and be renewed in the spirit of your mind

        I Peter 1:13 - Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind.

        Isa. 26:3 - Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is
                    stayed on thee.

        Matt. 22:37 - Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy
                    God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and
                    with all thy mind.  This is the first and great

        Rom. 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world, but be ye
                    transformed by the renewing of your mind.

(recommend a concordance study on the word "mind")

2) How does a person change their thinking?

     - take time to identify what's wrong
     - put off/put on

3) The overall point is -- divisive people have divisive habits of

    - let's working on that one for a minute.
    - we think in phrases or sentences.
    - INPUT - what habits of thinking might a divisive person have
                developed that will need to be put off?

- now the great news is -- we don't have to blaze a new trail.
   - we don't have to "bravely go where no man has gone before."
   - that’s what the second half of this verse is about

II. Unifying People Have The Right Model

    - Let this mind be in you...which was also in Christ Jesus.

    - Principle is -- the more you and I are seeking to become like Jesus
       Christ, the less divisive we are going to be.

    - now let me mention something we've been saying all along in this
    - we're not talking about situations where clear issues of doctrine
       are involved.
    - we don't want to misapply these verses and start sounding like
        theological liberals.
          - that would violate what Paul has already said in chapter 1:9

            (in that vein, I've copied a couple of articles for you from
             this week's WORLD magazine on the importance of being

- but the point is -- unifying people have the right model in that they
   want to think like their Savior and Lord thought.

- let's contrast that to our adversary, the devil for a moment. (Wiersbe)

    A. Satan said "I will," Jesus said "Thy will."
        - our Lord's thoughts always focused on doing the will of the
        - just like John the Baptist who said, "He must increase, but I
           must decrease."
    B. Satan was not satisfied being a creature; he wanted to be the
       Creator.  Jesus was the Creator, yet He willingly became man.

- a good question for all of us to ask this morning is...
    - when it comes to the issue of me having a unifying effect//or a
        divisive effect at church, marriage, family, work, etc....
          - have I modeled my thinking after Jesus Christ, or after my
             adversary the devil?

- the thrust of the passage comes in verse 6:

III. Unifying People Relinquish Their Rights, Privileges, and Preferences

    - read verse 6 from various translations

    A. Jesus possessed the position and privileges of God because He
        was/is God.

        - John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
            God, and the Word was God.

        - Col. 1:15 - Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-
            born of all creation.

        - John 10:30 - I an my Father are one.

        - Heb. 1:1-3

        - the NIV translation there is very good - "Who, being in very
            nature God..."

- but Paul's point here in Philippians is:

    B. He did not count His position and privileges something to be

       - Warren Wiersbe said of these verses:

       "Certainly as God, Jesus Christ did not need anything.  He had all
        the glory and praise of heaven.  With the Father and the Spirit,
        He reigned over the universe.  But verse 6 states an amazing
        fact: he did not consider His equality with God as `something to
        be selfishly held on to'.  Jesus did not think of Himself, He
        thought of others.  His outlook (or attitude) was that of
        unselfish concern for others.  This is the mind of Christ, an
        attitude that says; `I cannot keep my privileges for myself, I
        must use them for others; and to do this, I will gladly lay them
        aside and pay whatever price is necessary'."

       - (if time -- hit Wiersbe's illus. of job counselor - p. 60)

       - a person who has the mind of Christ is in the habit of thinking:

          1) Just because I have a "right" doesn't mean I have to
             exercise it.

          2) Just because I have a preference doesn't mean it always has
             to go my way.


- let's work this out together:

   1) INPUT - what are some things a Christian might tenaciously cling to
              that limits their ministry to others?

  2) INPUT - How would the "mind of Christ" (as defined in these verses)

             a) making financial decisions in the home?

             b) decisions around the church?

             c) issues at work?

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video