The Mind of Christ Part 2 – Philippians 2:5-11
Nick Esch, Cornerstone Baptist Church 5/31/2020
There is one true God who is triune… God is three persons, one God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And the triune God of the universe is infinitely perfect, glorious, and sufficient in and of Himself. But, out of an overflow of God’s glory and the love and delight that has always existed within the Trinity, God chose to create. And God’s Word teaches us that He created humanity especially in His image to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. God created Adam, the first man, and called Him to, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion” (Genesis 1:28). Adam was to image God, to display and magnify His glory, to walk in obedience to the Lord, and to act as a king over God’s creation. God made a covenant with Adam: that if He obeyed His Word rightly He would get to eat of the tree of life and would live forever in perfect joy with God in perfect paradise with Eve and all of his offspring; but if Adam failed to obey, he, his wife, and all of his offspring would die. And that’s exactly what happened.
Instead of obeying God, Adam, led astray by the serpent and Eve, sought to be his own god. Adam broke God’s covenant, and Adam died. He was immediately doomed to die physically, and he immediately died spiritually, and outside of God’s grace was destined to die for eternity in hell under God’s wrath. And now we all, as those who are born in Adam, have followed in his footsteps. As Romans 5:19 says, “by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” Or as 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “in Adam all die.” Indeed, as Romans 3:23 says, in Adam, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In Adam, and in and of ourselves we are sinful and worldly, and thus dead to God, and heading towards physical death and eternal death.
What I’ve laid out here in part is the doctrine of total depravity: not that all people are as bad as they could be, but that all are sinners and are capable of great evil. And we can see this truth without ever opening our Bibles. Just turn on the news; especially this week… Racism, murder, riots… There is hate, sin, and evil all around us… And, truth be told, it’s within us as well. If we’re honest, each of us knows that we are capable of great sin. Temptation to sin comes from without and from within, and all too often we give in, and sin against our fellow man, and against the infinitely glorious God of the universe.
This is the very nature of all outside of Christ… People are sinners… It’s who they are, therefore they sin. And everyone believes this, regardless of what they say. I know this because everyone has a set of keys they carry to keep their home or their car locked up so that no one can steal their stuff, or break in and harm them… Humanity is depraved, and we all know it… But, for the Christian that changes; though the Christian is still capable of sin, our identity is now found in Christ, not in Adam, and therefore we are no longer in bondage to sin.
By God’s grace in Christ Christians are brought out of Adam and into Christ, out of death and into life, out of sin and the world and into the family of God and into the kingdom of God. Though we are in the world, all who have turned from their sin and trusted in Christ are no longer of this world but are citizens of heaven… And this all ties directly to what we have seen thus far in Philippians. What we’ve seen over the last few weeks is that all Christians who are in this world are to live in a way that is otherworldly; we are to live as citizens of heaven… And that means letting our manner of life be worthy of the gospel. The lives of those who are in Christ are to be in keeping with the gospel of Christ, and thus reflect the truth and the beauty of our true homeland, and our true King.
We are to live lives that magnify the glory of Christ, and that means we are to dedicate ourselves to living and dying in a way that shows that Jesus is our greatest treasure, and that here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. And what we’ve been seeing over the last few weeks is that in order to live this way we must live lives that are marked by unity, humility, and service. As citizens of the kingdom of God, whose King is humble, gracious, and loving, we must be humble, gracious, and loving. This is what God, through Paul in Philippians calls us to… And, this is what Paul points us to: in Philippians 2:5-11 he lays out the love, grace, and humility of Christ as our example, and even more so as our great motivator.
Last week we began looking at verses 5-8, which says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And what we saw in this passage last week is that every Christian is called to be united to a local church. We are not to live the Christian life alone, but we are to link arms with our brothers and sisters in Christ for our good and the glory of Christ. And together as a church, we are called to have the mind, or the mindset, or the attitude and worldview of Christ.
We are called by God’s Word here to become who we already are in Christ; we are to embrace and live out what is already ours in Christ. And the mind that we are called to have here is the mind of Christ that is marked out by humility, grace, and love. As we saw last week, though Jesus is and has always been God, and was with God in perfect joy and glory, He left heaven, came to earth and took on flesh, becoming truly man, while staying truly God. Though He has every right to cling to His title and privileges as God the Son, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…
In contrast to Adam, who was a man, yet selfishly tried to be God, Jesus, who is God, selflessly, willingly, lovingly, and joyfully humbled Himself and emptied Himself by taking on flesh and becoming a servant. And this was in part why Jesus came, to be the new better Adam, to establish a new better covenant, so that all who trust in Him would be saved. God made a covenant of works with Adam, but Adam failed and broke the covenant and brought a curse on all in him. But where Adam failed Jesus succeeded; Jesus fulfilled the covenant of works and brought a new covenant with His blood—a covenant of grace, so that all in Him, instead of being cursed and getting wrath, would get grace.
Instead of being a selfish, sinful man who wanted to be God, Jesus, who is God, became man (while staying God) and lived as the perfect selfless and sinless man, in the place of all who would trust in Him. He lived a perfectly obedient life marked by humility, unity, and service… marked by humility, love, and grace… He perfectly lived in obedience to the Law. And in humility He was not only obedient in life, but He was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The perfect God-man, who is God the Son, who has always been in perfect communion with God, and who perfectly lived for God was willingly forsaken by God in the place of His people. God the Son, who deserves all praise and glory and honor, took on the curse of the cross, took on the ultimate shame and pain, and took on the wrath of God for the people of God, so that all who turn from their sin and trust in Him would be saved. Jesus, who is above all, wore our skin and bore our sin, and in humility did not regard Himself above death. He who is naturally above all, willingly lowered Himself below all, so that God’s grace could go to all who trust in Him.
This is what we looked at last week; and what we see here, is that in Christ we’re given the greatest example of humility, service, love, and grace, and we’re being told to follow in suit. And here, in Christ, we’re given the greatest motivator to follow in suit… A God who saves and loves us at the greatest lengths and greatest costs; a God who keeps covenant and lives and dies for us, so that we can live for Him and with Him forever… And here we see that nothing is beneath Christ; and if that’s true for Christ than nothing can be beneath us. Jesus loved and served people from all walks of life: every color and background, every ethnicity and social class, even the worst of sinners… Christ suffered injustice and the greatest shame and pain in love to save people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and generation… So, no matter how low we may go in humility and service we can never go lower than Christ has, and no matter how low we go, and no matter what we go through, we can never go outside of the reach of God’s love and grace, because Jesus saves to the uttermost. So we have a great example in Christ, but also, because of His amazing grace and love, and because of Jesus Himself who is our greatest treasure, we have a great motivator in Christ, to live and love like Christ.
The love, grace, and humility that we see in Christ in this passage is truly amazing… but that’s not all we see here. Look with me at verse 9. After telling us how Jesus willingly made Himself low for the good of His people, we’re told, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…” The therefore here is pointing back to all that Christ is and has done, it’s pointing back to the mind of Christ. And what we see in verse 9 is God the Father’s response to the mind of Christ. Because the Son willingly made Himself low the Father willingly exalts Him high. But what does it mean that God highly exalts Jesus and bestows on Him the name that is above every name? To understand that we need to look at the rest of the passage.
Verses 10-11 say God exalted Jesus and gave Him the name above all names, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” So, here we see that Jesus is exalted as Lord… In fact, it is because Jesus is Lord that His name is above all names. Jesus was a common name at the time, but the word Lord as it’s being used here was used to refer to Yahweh alone.
Hebrews 2:9 says, “we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” And this is what’s being said in Philippians as well. Because of Jesus’ humility, obedience, and suffering Jesus is crowned as King, He is exalted as Lord… Because Jesus went low and tasted death for all, He is now exalted above all.
Hebrews 13:20-21 gives us some more insight here as well… It says, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, not only because He is God the Son who has always perfectly glorified the Father, but also because He took on flesh and was everything Adam failed to be, everything we’ve failed to be. He came, He lived, He died, and He fulfilled the covenant of works, and with His blood He established the new covenant, an eternal covenant, the covenant of grace.
You see, because Jesus is God the Son, He has always been Lord, He has always been Yahweh. So, when our passage says that because of Jesus’ life and death God has now exalted Him and says that He is Lord, it isn’t merely saying that God gave Jesus back the status that He had before He took on flesh… This is something new… This is something utterly amazing; this is a gospel-reality that displays the glory of God and God’s amazingly gracious heart. You see, it isn’t that God merely gave Jesus back His status and glory as Lord, but that Jesus now enters into that status as Lord, as King, as God the Son who is both truly God and now truly man. When Jesus took on flesh He did so once and for all. Jesus became man so that He could do what Adam failed to do as our representative. And now Jesus, ever clothed with flesh, forever lives and intercedes for us, and sits at the right hand of the Father as a gospel-reminder. He reigns as Lord and King, and as the true King He is the new better Adam, the new better representative of all who turn from their sin and trust in Him.
To turn from sin and trust in Christ, or to repent and believe seems to be represented by the words bow and confess here… Philippians 2 seems to be pulling from the language of Isaiah 45:22-23, where God says, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” And what we’re being told here is that Jesus is God, He is the Lord, and He is the Savior of all who will turn to Him… All, to the ends of the earth… people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and generation… all who look to Him, all who bow the knee and swear allegiance, or as Philippians says, all who bow and confess that Jesus is Lord will be saved… That is, all who do so now…
Our passage says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord: in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Heaven represents the realm of God, angels, and all the saints who have gone to be with the Lord; earth represents the realm of humanity and the living; and under the earth represents the realm of demons, the devil, and the dead in sin. Here we see 3 things: 1) Heaven rightly acknowledges and agrees already and forevermore that Jesus is Lord. 2) All on earth will one day acknowledge that Jesus is the rightful Lord of all, but those who do so now will be saved. And 3) Even all the enemies of God will bow the knee to Christ and confess that He is Lord, not in a way that leads to their salvation, but in a way that shows that they are under the Lordship of Christ… Which seems to be pointing to the Day when Jesus will return and right every wrong. Death will be no more, sin will be no more, justice will be served, and death, Satan, sin, and all in their sin will be cast into the lake of fire. Resistance is futile, for all will eventually bow the knee to Christ, either under grace or under wrath…
And the last thing we’re told is that all of this, the humility and suffering of Christ and the exaltation and Lordship of Christ, are all to the glory of God the Father. We began today speaking of creation and the covenant God made with Adam, the covenant of works. And then we saw that Adam broke that covenant and failed, but Christ came and showed Himself to be the new better Adam who by His blood gave us a new better covenant: the covenant of grace. In Adam all die, but all who turn from their sin and trust in Christ, all who place their faith and hope in all that Jesus is, has done, and will do, are united to Christ and are saved; we are transferred out of Adam and the kingdom of this world, and into Christ and the kingdom of God. In Christ we are made citizens of heaven, and we are thus called and enabled to live as such in this broken world. We are enabled to live for the glory of Christ, and when we do we glorify God the Father as well, because Jesus is God, and because this was all a part of God’s grand plan.
You see, not only is there a covenant of works and a covenant of grace, but in eternity past before the very foundation of the world the triune God of the universe made a covenant of redemption. Knowing full well that Adam would fail and that mankind would fall into depravity, instead of choosing not to create, or choosing to force Adam to obey, or choosing to wipe mankind off the earth, before God ever created God the Father and God the Son made a covenant of redemption, a plan to save people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and generation through the person and work of Jesus: that God the Son would come to earth and take on flesh, live perfectly, die sacrificially, and rise victoriously to save all of God’s elect, all who repent and believe, all who turn from their sin and truly trust in Christ, all who bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord. And God made this plan, and created all things for this purpose because in so doing God’s glory would be magnified and displayed in and through Christ like never before.
The glory of God is the going public of who God is; it’s the display of who He is and what He’s like… And the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and on going life and exaltation of Christ displays more clearly and amazingly what God is like than anything else. The gospel gives us the covenant of grace, but the covenant of grace is the fulfillment of the covenant of redemption. And in and through these covenants, in and through creation and redemption, in and through the person and work of Christ we see that God is just, is loving, is gracious, is merciful, and yes… wrathful, but also kind and abounding in steadfast love… We see that God will not overlook sin; sin has been dealt with at the cross, and for those who do not trust in Christ, it will be dealt with on the final Day, and in hell. God will right every wrong, and He has already begun to do so in Christ. As Amos 5 says, justice will roll down… Either on the cross, or on the Day of Christ… And the glory of God will be magnified in Christ…
Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He is the suffering Servant, He is a humble and gracious Savior, He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But, He is also Lord of all; He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords… He is Yahweh, He is God; indeed, He is the Lion of Judah… Though He is God He humbled Himself to the lowest to save, to love, to serve His people, and to glorify His Father. But His humiliation led to His exaltation. This is the mind of Christ we see in this passage. And this is the mind we are given, and called to have.
In Christ we see our example and we see our motivation. He shows us how to live, and He shows us why to live… In fact, He shows us what it means to live… True life is lived for the glory of God alone. So, we are to bow the knee now, to confess Jesus as Lord now, to be so in love with this Lamb like Savior and Lion like Lord, that we would joyfully humble ourselves and love and serve for the good of people and the glory of God. And if we will, like Christ, our humiliation will lead to exaltation. We will reap the benefits of God’s covenant of redemption and grace, and we will be co-heirs with Christ. Every wrong done to us will be made wright, and we will live in perfect joy and communion with our God forever. But, we must bow and confess now… For if will not bow now we will fall for eternity, but if we will bow now we will stand with Christ forever. So, may we bow the knee, and so stand on Christ our solid rock…