Philippians 3:17-21 - Avoiding the Antinomian Danger

Dr. Steve Viars November 11, 1995 Philippians 3:17-21

Last week you studied "Pressing On For Christ" and looked at three
commands:

I. Don't Act Like You Believe You've Arrived.

We're all just growing, even Paul!

II. Make Growth in Christ You Highest Priority

This one thing I do. Need to make progressive sanctification
(gradual, increasing holiness)

III. Even If You are Maturing, Keep Heading Down This Path

Don't be content with where you are spiritually. Keep on
growing!

This week we're looking at a new section in chapter 3. A new section
AND a new danger. Another false teaching had infiltrated this good
church. This danger was called "antinomianism."

"Avoiding the Antinomian Danger"

Read Philippians 3:17-21 (NASB)

NAS Phi 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those
who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of
whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are
enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god
is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their
minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from
which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who
will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the
body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to
subject all things to Himself.


KJV Phi 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which
walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I
have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the
enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God
is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly
things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look
for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile
body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according
to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto
himself.

Introduction:

1. What is antinomianism?

From two Greek words: "Anti" -- against " and "Nomos" -- law

This was a group that was "against the law." They were sensual,
they didn't follow any moral standards but their own. They did
what they felt like doing, what fed their lusts.

2. How do we know that the Judaizers are not referred to here as in
the beginning of the chapter?

A few commentators believe the Judaizers were referred to. However
the vast majority of Bible scholars believe this is a different
group than the Judaizers, the ones who believed one had to follow
the law (esp. circumcision) to be saved.

INPUT: It is true that the description "enemies of the cross of
Christ in verse 18 would be true of the Judaizers, what is it in
verse 19 that gives us the clearest indication that this group was
not the law-keeping Judaizers?

("Whose god is their appetite (belly--KJV)" -- Law-keeping
Judaizers could not be worshipping their appetites and following
the strict dietary laws of the OT at the same time.)

3. The antinomians professed to be Christians, but were probably not
members of the church.

In v. 18 Paul says "For many walk . . ." He uses the term "walk,"
commonly used of Christians. The fact that he chose this word
indicates this group of false teachers claimed to know Christ, a
dangerous group indeed.

So this group is distinct. The loose, "anything-goes," libertine group
called the antinomians.

From this passage we learn three ways to avoid the false teaching of
antinomianism.


I. Follow the Example of Godly Leaders (v. 17).

NAS Phi 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe
those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. KJV Phi
3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which
walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

A. Paul

1. He was telling them to model their lives after him.

In preparing them for his warning against antinomianism,
he tells them to use himself as a role model. He was
accustomed to denying his fleshly desires and one way for
them to be motivated and encouraged to do the same is to
follow his example

cf. 1 Cor. 9:27 (NASB) But I buffet my body and make it
my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified.

2. He was not being sinfully proud.

Paul certainly wasn't above sinful pride. In fact, God
gave him a thorn in the flesh in order to keep him humble
after he received several heavenly visions

2 Cor. 12:7 And because of the surpassing greatness of
the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from
exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh,
a messenger of Satan to buffet me--to keep me from
exalting myself!

a. Paul had already reminded them that Christ was the
chief example.

INPUT: Where had he already done this?

(Phil. 2:5-11 is one of the most (if not the most)
Christ glorifying passages in all of Scripture.)

NAS Phi 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which
was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed
in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking
the form of a bond-servant, and being ma de in the
likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as
a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the
point of death, even death on a cross. Phi 2:9
Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed
on Him the name which is above ever y name, 10 that
at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those
who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Having already written this passage in chapter 2,
Paul's meaning here is just like his meaning in 1
Cor. 11:1: NAS "Be imitators of me, just as I also am
of Christ."

b. He had just finished telling them he had not arrived
spiritually.

Having just been perfectly transparent with them,
they knew he was speaking as a humble spiritual
leader. Another reason we know Paul was not being
sinfully proud here is because Paul told them to also
follow . . .

B. Others

NAS Phi 3:17b "and observe those who walk according to the
pattern you have in us."

KJV Phi 3:17b "and mark them which walk so as ye have us for
an ensample."

If Paul were being proud he would have wanted all the
attention focused on himself. Not so Paul. He directed
their attention to other good examples, too. He probably had
in mind at least the two individuals he had already mentioned
in this epistle : Timothy (Phil. 2:19-24) and Epaphroditus
(Phil. 2:25-30).

Paul was at a point in his Christian life where he could say
to the Philippian believers: "Follow my example. Imitate
me." Could you make that kind of statement?

INPUT: Who are some individuals for whom you and I must be
careful to be setting a good example?

- Spouse (if he/she was just like you spiritually speaking,
how spiritual would he/she be)

- Husbands, we are the more accountable to be setting the
pace in the home. Are you setting the pace for
stewardship month? Are you leading your wife and family
in studying your Stewardship Devotional guide every day?
[To be honest with you, I have missed some days already
in the devotional guide. I am striving though not to
miss any more. And if the time set aside for it is
filled with a greater priority or emergency, I'm striving
to "make that day up" as soon as possible.

- Children (they truly do "imitate" their parents, don't
they? Sometimes a parent can say, "Now where did Johnny
ever learn to talk like that . . ." and all of a sudden
realize Johnny has seen it in mom or dad.)

- Fellow church members

What kind of church would Faith Baptist be if everyone in
it imitated you?

What would our attendance be like at all the services if
everyone attended as faithfully as you?

What would our giving be like if everyone gave like you?

Are you in the position spiritually (certainly not speaking
of "arriving") where you could with Paul say, "Follow my
example"?

The second way to avoid this false teaching is to . . .

II. Beware the False Teaching of Antinomianism (vv. 18-19).

A. The urgency of Paul's warning

1. Repeated warnings

NAS Phi 3:18 "For many walk, of whom I often told you..."

Paul had warned the Philippians often about this group.
"Perhaps in former visits and letters" (Kent). The
nature of the falsehood was such that the warning bore
repeating again and again.

INPUT: What are some warnings that God repeats
throughout the Scriptures?

- Avoid sexual sin (10 commandments, Proverbs--strange
woman, NT-2 Tim. 2:22 "Flee youthful lusts")

- Avoid wrong speech (10 commandments [God's name in
vain], Proverbs-29:11 "Fool utters all his mind, NT -
James 3)

2. Heartfelt concern

"and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of
the cross of Christ"

Paul was deeply concerned for the welfare of the
Philippian believers that even as he penned this letter
and thought of the grave danger and potential
consequences to his dear friends in Philippi, he began to
weep.

We must have a burning, heartfelt concern for the purity
of the gospel message and fidelity to the Word of God.

*ILLUS. Pastor Carl Herbster (spoke about need of
Christian school) told us the key to working with
teenagers: "Just love them."


Often difficult for parents and youth workers, but how
true! As the pastor with oversight of our youth
ministries, let me say we want to help you accomplish
your spiritual goals with your teens. Our goal is to
assist and help you in that task. If your teen is
struggling in an area and we can help, please let us know
so that we can do that (or if he/she is in need of
encouragement).

B. The nature of the false teaching

1. Enemies of the cross of Christ

NAS Phi 3:18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and
now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the
cross of Christ,

Paul wanted them to know for certain that these were not
merely believers with different convictions, but ENEMIES
OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST! Paul does not mince words when
the true gospel message is at stake.

"The friends of the cross are those who show in their
lives that they have caught the spirit of the cross,
namely, that of self-denial . . . (and) the enemies of
the cross are those who manifest the very opposite
attitude, namely, that of self-indulgence" (Hendrickson,
Philippians, p. 180).

Note the word "many". This group was a large one and
influential upon this church.

2. Whose end is destruction

"This is their appointed destiny, for God has ordained
that 'their end shall be according to their works' (2
Cor. 11:15)." (Hendrickson, p. 181)

These (and all other) false teachers face eternal
destruction. NOTE: This is not annihilation, where they
simply cease to exist. That could not be an eternal
punishment for they would not be punished for eternity.

Rev. 20:10 and 15 state "And the devil who deceived them
was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the
beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be
tormented day and night forever and ever. And if
anyone's name was not found written in the book of life,
he was thrown into the lake of fire."

3. Whose god is their appetite

KJV -- "Whose god is their belly."

We mentioned earlier that this description pinpointed the
antinomians and ruled out the Judaizers.

These antinomians did not restrain themselves. They did
what they pleased and led feeling-oriented, pleasure-
driven lives.

INPUT: What are some Scriptures that teach us to keep
our bodies under control for God's glory?

(NASB) Matthew 5:28 but I say to you, that everyone who
looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery
with her already in his heart.

Romans 6:11-14 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to
sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do
not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should
obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the
members of your body to sin as instruments of
unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those
alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of
righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master
over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make
no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you
have from God, and that you are not your own? For you
have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in
your body.

1 Corinthians 9:27 but I buffet [lit. to strike under the
eye; beat black and blue] my body and make it my slave,
lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself
should be disqualified.

4. Whose glory is their shame

"By their indulgence, they actually exulted in what ought
to have been shameful to them" (Kent, EBC vol. 11, p.
147).

"The unfettered liberty, of which they boast, thus
perverted becomes their deepest degradation" (Lightfoot,
Philippians, p. 155)

5. Who set their minds on earthly things

"earthly" = Epigeia (Eh-pi-gay-uh)

Form: evpi,geia
Lemma: evpi,geioj
evpi,geioj( on (1) strictly, existing on earth, belonging
to earth; hence, earthly, terrestrial (opp. evpoura,nioj
heavenly) (1C 15.40); (2) subst. ta. evpi,geia earthly
things, what happens on earth (JN 3.12); (3) belonging to
human existence (opp. qei/osv of people, human JA 3.15).

From Robertson's Word Pictures in the N.T. Col 3:2 - Set
your mind on (froneite). "Keep on thinking about." It
does matter what we think and we are responsible for our
thoughts. Not on the things that are upon the earth (mh
ta epi thj ghj). Paul does not mean that we should never
think the things upon the earth, but that these should
not be our aim, our goal, our master. The Christian has
to keep his feet upon the earth, but his head in the
heavens. He must be heavenly-minded here on earth and so
help to make earth like heaven.

cf. Col. 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on
the things that are on earth.

INPUT: What are some ways Christians can be guilty of
setting their minds on earthly things?

- More committed to earthly organizations (which may not
be inherently evil) more than the church

- Materialistic, very "things" conscience

III. Remember the Second Coming (vv. 20-21).

NAS Phi 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we
eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; NAS Phi 3:21
who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity
with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He
has even to subject all things to Himself.

A. Our citizenship is in heaven

The word "our" (hemon--hay-mon) is emphatic because it is the
first word in the sentence, NOT the normal location of it in
Greek word order.

OUR citizenship, brothers, is not on this earth where rampant
sensual desires are commonplace. OUR citizenship is in
heaven!

Believers in Jesus Christ are to be different than the
sensual antinomians of that day (and our day) because our
citizenship is in heaven.

Before we are Americans, we are Christians, and we ought to
be different.

cf. 1 Peter 2:11 NAS Beloved, I urge you as aliens and
strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war
against the soul.
NAS Heb 11:13 All these died in faith, without receiving the
promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from
a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and
exiles on the earth.
B. Our anticipation ought to be eager

"The citizens of the kingdom of heaven, looking away from all
sinful pleasures, eagerly yearn to welcome their Savior, the
Lord Jesus Christ" (Hendrickson, p. 183).

Are you looking forward to be coming of Jesus Christ?

Our waiting is . . .

1. In faith

Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting
for the hope of righteousness.

2. With patient endurance

Rom 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with
perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

3. Unto salvation

That is, the final conclusion of salvation when He will
complete it by coming for us.

Heb 9:28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear
the sins of many, shall appear a second time for
salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly
await Him.

INPUT: What are some reasons a Christian might not be
eager for His coming?

C. Our bodies will be transformed

KJV Phi 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may
be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to
the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things
unto himself.

NAS Phi 3:21 who will transform the body of our humble
state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the
exertion of the power that He has even to subject all
things to Himself.

NKJ Phi 3:21 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.

1. Like His body

Our body is humble or lowly because it is subject to
the curse of sin.


In that day we will no longer experience weakness,
suffering, sickness, pain, or death.

KJV 1Co 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the
earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

KJV 1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and
it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know
that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for
we shall see him as he is.

2. By His power

KJV Phi 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it
may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,
according to the working whereby he is able even to
subdue all things unto himself.

NAS Phi 3:21 who will transform the body of our
humble state into conformity with the body of His
glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even
to subject all things to Himself.

"The question occurs, however 'But how will this be
possible?' What about those martyrs who were devoured
by lions? What about those who were burned alive?
Yes, what about millions of others, particles of
whose dead and decaying bodies, through various
stages of disintegration, finally enter into other
living bodies? . . . One outstanding fact
remains, however. That fact is the almighty power of
One who could not be held even by death. . . . If
he can subject even all things, the totality of
all the powers of the universe unto himself, will he
not be able to refashion our lowly body so that it
will have a form like his own glorious body?"
(Hendrickson, pp. 184-185)

Ps. 8:6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of
Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet,

1 Cor. 15:27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION
UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are
put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted
who put all things in subjection to Him.;

Heb. 2:5-8 For He did not subject to angels the world
to come, concerning which we are speaking. 6 But one
has testified somewhere, saying, "WHAT IS MAN, THAT
THOU REMEMBEREST HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT THOU
ART CONCERNED ABOUT HIM? 7 "THOU HAST MA DE HIM FOR
A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; THOU HAST
CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAST APPOINTED
HIM OVER THE WORKS OF THY HANDS; 8 THOU HAST PUT ALL
THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. "For in
subjecting all things to him, He left no thing that
is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all
things subjected to him.

May God help us to avoid the sin of sensuality in our lives just Paul
admonished the Philippians in "Avoiding the Antinomian Danger.

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

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 four 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