Snake on a Pole

Look and Live

 By Ron English, Editor
TEXT: Numbers 21:4-9 

 4-And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.  5-And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.  6-And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  7-Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.  8-And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.  9-And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

I. Their COURSE —  V. 4  It would have been much simpler and very much closer to attack the borders of Edom at this point.  But it would not have been the wise thing to do.  Had they penetrated the borders at that time (it would have been a straight shot to the Promised Land) there is a good chance Moses would never have persuaded those stubborn Israelites to leave Edom and return to that rough wilderness that they had already tired of.  There’s more history with God’s people that had to be experienced in the wilderness.  So Moses led them the long way around Edom.  This would soon anger the people, frustrate them and tax their patience and cause them to question both God and Moses. 

II. Their COMPLAINING — V. 5  This unthankful crowd, and it was a large body of people, perhaps 2-4 million people, and they had to totally depend on God for their food, their drink and their protection.  There were no Walmarts, Targets or 7-11’s on this route.  Nothing but wilderness–almost desert.  Each step they took added to their pouting, their murmurings, their constant complaining.  I’m certain when they bedded down for the night the men would gather together for a pity party and they compared thoughts of how stupid Moses was to take this long way around Edom.  They did so much complaining that it reached the ear of God.  “And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread (God’s Manna).”-V 5.
 
III. Their CURSE — V.6  Just when the Children of Israel thought it can’t get any worse than what they were experiencing each day…it did get worse and worse in a big, bad way.  “And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” 
Fiery Snakes proved to be worse than the journey.  Those stinging, deadly serpents hurt so badly, killed so many that now the Children wanted only relief from them.
There is always a price tag on bitter complaining. 
Sin offers pleasures for a short time (a season), but there are no free rides on Sin’s Merry Go Round.  And sadly, after you pay the fare and take the ride you are let off pretty much in the same place only worse off.  But now the price is extracted and you did not benefit in the least.  Most likely your complaining becomes more pronounced and you hurt worse than before. 

IV. Their CONFESSION — V.7 Outward circumstances have a way of crowding out the previous misery and discomfort. 
Those snakes were so dangerous and so painful that the people in unison wanted relief.
They realized their sin.
The very people who had been so critical of Moses and God were now seeking a meeting with Moses.
They repented–“Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” V. 7
     WE HAVE SINNED — That’s the first step in true repentance.  When you can say, “This is my fault. I have done this.  It is me that has sinned.”
     WE HAVE SPOKEN AGAINST THE LORD.  The sooner you realize your sin is directly against the Lord, the better.  
     WE HAVE SPOKEN AGAINST THEE–THAT IS  THEY SPOKE AGAINST MOSES:  That had to have been a bitter pill to swallow.  Moses, in their mind was the dumb leader and now they confess to him.  Perhaps Moses looked a little more intelligent now as opposed to earlier when he was leading them in the wilderness.
PRAY UNTO THE LORD –They knew whom they had offended–they knew their sin was against God.  They wanted God’s help.
PLEASE TAKE AWAY THE SERPENTS FROM US — They needed relief and quick. 

V. Their CONTRITION V. 7b —  They asked Moses to pray to God for them. “And Moses prayed for the people.” V. 7b
        
         DEFINITION OF CONTRITION:
         1. Sincere penitence or remorse.
         2. Theology . sorrow for and detestation of sin with a true purpose of amendment, arising from a love of god for His own perfections (perfect contrition), or from some inferior       motive, as fear of divine punishment (imperfect contrition).
 
VI. God’s CHARGE to Moses — V. 8 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: ” V. 8a
The Lord spoke to Moses
Make thee a fiery serpent — Mold one out of brass, make it in the image of one of those dangerous snakes
and set it upon a pole.  Remember the words of Jesus in John 3:14, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:”
This whole matter is a picture of man’s sinful condition.  We have all sinned…we have all been bitten by a fiery serpent
No doubt the people wondered why Moses was placing that brass serpent on that tall pole.  We don’t need a reminder, we need relief.

VII. Moses’ CALL — How did the people know they were to look on the serpent to be healed?  (Probably well over two million people had to be informed).

*Moses had to call a quick meeting of the greatest importance.  His instructions would have to be communicated to each person. That word was:
*You see the pole with the image of the serpent?…
*Pass the word to each man, woman and child…
*If you are bitten by the serpent you are to LOOK UP!  Look at the serpent.
*When you look up you will be healed–you will live.

VIII. God’s CURE — The cure for sin is always from God.  He uses human instruments–but the cure is from God.  “When he (whomever was bitten) beheld the serpent of brass, HE LIVED.”  V. 9
 Remember again the words spoken by Jesus in John 3: 14–16, ” 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Conclusion: All men are in the first Adam and are of the world–they are sinful–Thanks to the First Adam the whole world has been serpent bit–“We have all sinned” but thank God the Second Adam has been lifted up on that pole — the Old Rugged Cross and Jesus became the Serpent that each of us must look to in faith to have our serpent bite healed.  Look and live!  (Here are words to that old Hymn, Look and Live.)

LOOK AND LIVE (The Old Hymn by William Ogden)
I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
This message unto you I’ll give,
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

Refrain:
     “Look and live,” my brother, live,
     Look to Jesus now, and live;
     ’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
      It is only that you “look and live.”

I’ve a message full of love, hallelujah!
A message, O my friend, for you,
’Tis a message from above, hallelujah!
Jesus said it, and I know ’tis true.

Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!
Look to Jesus who alone can save.
 
Background Info
This info will add much flavor to your understanding and appreciation of this important Bible study.
This part of our background is taken from Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
 
God can bring about his purposes by contrary means. The Jews themselves say that it was not the sight of the brazen serpent that cured them, but, in looking up to it, they looked up to God as the Lord that healed them. But there was much of gospel in this appointment.
 
Our Saviour has told us so (Jn. 3:14, 15), that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so the Son of man must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish. Observe then a resemblance,1. Between their disease and ours. The devil is the old serpent, a fiery serpent, hence he appears (Rev. 12:3) as a great red dragon. Sin is the biting of this fiery serpent; it is painful to the startled conscience, and poisonous to the seared conscience.
 
Satan’s temptations are called his fiery darts, Eph. 6:16. Lust and passion inflame the soul, so do the terrors of the Almighty, when they set themselves in array. At the last, sin bites like a serpent and stings like an adder; and even its sweets are turned into the gall of asps.2. Between their remedy and ours.
 
     (1.) It was God himself that devised and prescribed this antidote against the fiery serpents; so our salvation by Christ was the contrivance of Infinite Wisdom; God himself has found the ransom.
     (2.) It was a very unlikely method of cure; so our salvation by the death of Christ is to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness. It was Moses that lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and Moses wrote of him, John v. 4-6. Christ was lifted up by the rulers of the Jews, who were the successors of Moses.
     (3.) That which cured was shaped in the likeness of that which wounded. So Christ, though perfectly free from sin himself, yet was made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3), so like that it was taken for granted that this man was a sinner, Jn. 9:24.
     (4.) The brazen serpent was lifted up; so was Christ. He was lifted up upon the cross (Jn. 12:33, 34), for his was made a spectacle to the world. He was lifted up by the preaching of the gospel. The word here used for a pole signifies a banner, or ensign, for Christ crucified stands for an ensign of the people, Isa. 11:10.
 
Some make the lifting up of the serpent to be a figure of Christ’s triumphing over Satan, the old serpent, whose head he bruised, when in his cross he made an open show of the principalities and powers which he had spoiled and destroyed, Col. 2:15.3. Between the application of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, and we, if we believe, shall not perish; it is by faith that we look unto Jesus, Heb. 12:2. Look unto me, and be you saved, Isa. 45:22. We must be sensible of our wound and of our danger by it, receive the record which God has given concerning his Son, and rely upon the assurance he has given us that we shall be healed and saved by him if we resign ourselves to his direction.
 
The brazen serpent’s being lifted up would not cure if it was not looked upon. If any pored on their wound, and would not look up to the brazen serpent, they inevitably died. If they slighted this method of cure, and had recourse to natural medicines, and trusted to them, they justly perished; so if sinners either despise Christ’s righteousness or despair of benefit by it their wound will, without doubt, be fatal. But whoever looked up to this healing sign, though from the outmost part of the camp, though with a weak and weeping eye, was certainly healed; so whosoever believes in Christ, though as yet but weak in faith, shall not perish.
 
New John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible (the following text from this edition and gives further background) 

And they journeyed from Mount Hor…
After the battle with the king of Arad, and the defeat of him:
by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom;
which lay by it, and from whence it had the name of the Red sea, Edom signifying red; and by the way of that the Israelites must needs go, to go round that country:
and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way;
because it was going back instead of going forward to Canaan’s land, and because of the length of the way; it was a round about way they were going; when, could they have been admitted to have passed through the country of Edom, the way would have been short; or had they pursued their victory over the Canaanite, they would have gone directly into the land; and this perhaps was what fretted, vexed, and discouraged them, that they were obliged to go back, and take such a circuit, when they had such an opportunity of entering; and they might be distressed also with the badness and the roughness of the way, the borders of Edom being rocky and craggy: it is in the original text, “their soul or breath was short” F16; they fetched their breath short, being weary and faint with travelling, or through anger, as angry persons do, when in a great passion: so the people of God travelling through the wilderness of this world are often discouraged, because of the difficulties, trials, and troubles they meet with in the way, from sin, Satan, and the world, and are fretful and impatient; but though they are led about and walk in a round about way, and in a rough way, yet in a right way to the city of their habitation, (Psalms 107:7) .

EDITOR’S NOTE: If any minister or Bible teacher wishes to use this material in his church, his evangelistic meetings, or his /her Sunday School study, you are granted permission to do so.  No credit is required.  If you should choose to use it on your website you might want to provide a link to our website, http://www.salvationlinks.com  (not required).

Pray Again & Again

Michael Guido

ASKING AND SEEKING AND KNOCKING
A little girl was climbing into bed and her mother asked, “Anne, did you remember to say your prayers?”

“Well,” she replied, “I got on my knees and started to say them as I do every night. And then all of a sudden I thought, ‘I’ll bet that God gets tired of hearing me pray about the same old things every night.’ So, I decided that I would just lay here in bed and tell Him the story of ‘The Three Bears.'”

Persistence in prayer and pursuing God is a most important part of prayer. Equally important is to understand how He answers our prayers and when He will answer our prayers. We must never allow ourselves to believe that God will not accept our prayers or that He will even mock our prayers. Prayers and praying are a serious and significant part in the life of the Christian. We must always remember, though, that He will answer our prayers in a way that is in our best interest.

We must always remind ourselves that He responds to our requests out of His wisdom and His never ending and always compassionate love. When the answer does not come when we expect it, we must hold fast to the fact that “His grace is sufficient.” The answer will always come when we need it most and at a time that matches His schedule for our well-being. If we give up and quit praying, God knows we are not sincere.

Prayer: Lord, give us a faith that does not falter, a trust that will not tire and a persistence that will prevail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Classic Sermons

Library of Classic Sermons from Great Preachers of the Past

Billy Sunday Delivering

Not many people today make it a practice to read a printed sermon.  Most, that is most of those who lean towards a professing faith in Jesus Christ, prefer to watch a sermon being preached on television or listen on radio, or attending their local house of worship or church.  Sadly, too many Christians avoid reading a sermon in print.  I say sadly, because reading a sermon provides so much of the original value of the message.  True, you miss the personality of the preacher and the spontaneous response to any humor me might use.  You miss the atmosphere of the meeting, you miss the singing and prayer leading up to the message.  But laying all that aside reading the man of God’s message has a power and a personality all of its own.   Much spiritual blessing and renewal comes from this Library of Classical Sermons of the past.  Treat yourself to them like you would treat yourself to a wonderful meal at your favorite restaurant.  When you read you can pause…back up and read again a paragraph over making sure you have the full meaning of the preacher and Word of God.  Reading sermons is a rich storehouse of God’s best manna preserved for those who wish to draw near to Him. 

Having said all that, I provide you with a link to a collection of the greatest sermons you might ever read.  The founder of this website, Robert L. Cobb,  invites all to copy any sermon or all the sermons since none are protected or restricted by any copyright.   If you read the short biography of each preacher you will be greatly blessed.  Below is the link to this outstanding website.  Enjoy.

http://www.newsforchristians.com/classics.html

Cancer Killing Machine:It Works!

John Kanzius’ Cancer Killing Machine has worked on all cancer tumors tested. All of us have loved ones or friends who have cancer and millions have died from this dreaded killer. Now there is fresh hope, positive hope from The Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Pray for them and support their work.

John Kanzius

 

It Works!

ANOTHER published manuscript validates Kanzius machine’s killing of human pancreatic cancer  

01/12/11  

Erie, PA – January 11, 2010.  Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation (“KCRF”) announces research conducted in the Kanzius/Curley Lab at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been published in the December 2010 issue of the American Association of Cancer Research’s Clinical Cancer Research journal.  The manuscript illustrates how Drs. Steven A. Curley and Evan S. Glazer’s studies prove that radiofrequency fields can treat pancreatic tumors, which today, kill more than 95% of diagnosed patients. Studies found that noninvasive radiofrequency (RF) fields were effective in controlling relatively large pancreatic cancer cells.  Additionally, this process took place without any injury to surrounding tissue or changes in subject behavior.  

The manuscript describes the process as subjects are exposed to 10 minutes of nonionizing radiofrequency (RF) radiation followed by 36 hours of treatment using targeted gold nanoparticles (AuNP). This revolutionary design shows that the Kanzius RF machine alongside these particular nanoparticles create an effective formula for controlling pancreatic cancer cells.  

“John Kanzius, who created the RF device, once envisioned a cancer treatment that would be both effective and have zero side effects,” remarked Curley, Chief of Gastrointestinal Tumor Surgery and Program Director of Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Cancer Care at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. “These experiments demonstrate that the Kanzius RF device controls pancreatic cancer cells without any damage to nearby cells, or normal tissues and organs. We still have a lot of work to do but this is an important proof of principle.”  

“Every day, our team at the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation works to help fund this incredible research” said Mark Neidig, Executive Director of KCRF. “These recent findings bring us one step closer to our goal of producing an effective, noninvasive cancer treatment that doesn’t have the side effects associated with current treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.”  

This manuscript “Noninvasive Radiofrequency Field Destruction of Pancreatic Andenocarcinoma Xenografts Treated with Targeted Gold Nanoparticles” can be found in the December 2010 issue of the American Association of Cancer Research.  

The following Link will take you to the official website where updates are always published.  Pray for the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the full team.  

http://www.kanziuscancerresearch.org/news/?id=114  

Zapping Cancer

   

John Kanzius John Kanzius

Click on Link Below for Additional Video & Info 

John Kanzius Speaks to Chamber of Commerce, Erie, PA 

John Kanzius when asked, “What made you think you could cure cancer?”  He replied, “What made me think I couldn’t cure cancer?”  From boyhood builder of ham radios to adult owner of TV station, Kanzius has been a “can-do” person.  It took his own suffering and the observation of children suffering from the terrible effects of treating cancer that awakened the drive inside him to personally do something about this dreaded disease.  He did it.  Read and watch the Kanzius story as reported here by CBS news. 
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/27/earlyshow/health/main3206892.shtml 

Great report on possible cancer cure. 

“Fascinating” Possible Cancer Treatment 

CBS News Online 

http://thepeckerwood.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/john-kanzius-cancer-killing-machine/ 

Satisfied

Satisfaction In Christ
By Dr. W. Wilbert Welch, Longtime President

Grand Rapids Baptist College & Seminary

Philippians – a remarkable product of Paul’s inspired pen. Here is the distilled essence of Biblical Christianity. Only four chapters and one hundred four verses. I recommend it be read at least once a month for our best spiritual health, easily read in twenty minutes.

The book of Philippians reveals Christianity in work clothes, a brand appropriate for both youth and the more mature, for the home as well as the office, for the factory worker and the business executive, and certainly appropriate for both the pastor and the pew.

In just a brief reading we soon become aware that Paul is focusing upon the quality of our Christianity (1:6). The emphasis is not correctional as the letters to the Corinthians, nor strong on doctrine as Romans, nor with problems of legalism as in his letter to the Galatians. Even its location in the Pauline epistles seems to harmonize with a doctrinal blueprint.

While the author may not have had any special sequential order in mind, yet we recognize a doctrinal orderliness in these epistles. In the book of Romans the believer is seen “in Christ” justified. In Corinthians we are viewed as “sanctified.” In Galatians we are “crucified” in Christ. In Ephesians we are seated with Christ “in the heavenlies.” In Philippians the believer is satisfied – “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). In Colossians we see our completeness. “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:9-10). And in Thessalonians the Lord “is glorified in His saints” (II Thessalonians 1:10). The circle is complete.

And who is the author? Paul, a prisoner in Rome. And not one word of grumbling or of discontent. Where did this man go to school? What church did he attend? Please note the author’s background: a prisoner in Caesarea for two years. Shipped to Rome by sea. Endured a 14-day storm. Paul and the ship’s crew of 218 men went 14 days with no food. Shipwrecked three months on the Isle of Melita. Finally at Rome imprisoned. Chained to a guard in six-hour shifts. But – note, no complaints. “For to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). “I press toward the mark for the prize” (Philippians 3:14). And “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

The Apostle Paul

Satisfaction In Christ

By Dr. W. Wilbert Welch, Longtime President

Grand Rapids Baptist College & Seminary

Philippians – a remarkable product of Paul’s inspired pen. Here is the distilled essence of Biblical Christianity. Only four chapters and one hundred four verses. I recommend it be read at least once a month for our best spiritual health, easily read in twenty minutes.

The book of Philippians reveals Christianity in work clothes, a brand appropriate for both youth and the more mature, for the home as well as the office, for the factory worker and the business executive, and certainly appropriate for both the pastor and the pew.

In just a brief reading we soon become aware that Paul is focusing upon the quality of our Christianity (1:6). The emphasis is not correctional as the letters to the Corinthians, nor strong on doctrine as Romans, nor with problems of legalism as in his letter to the Galatians. Even its location in the Pauline epistles seems to harmonize with a doctrinal blueprint.

While the author may not have had any special sequential order in mind, yet we recognize a doctrinal orderliness in these epistles. In the book of Romans the believer is seen “in Christ” justified. In Corinthians we are viewed as “sanctified.” In Galatians we are “crucified” in Christ. In Ephesians we are seated with Christ “in the heavenlies.” In Philippians the believer is satisfied – “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). In Colossians we see our completeness. “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:9-10). And in Thessalonians the Lord “is glorified in His saints” (II Thessalonians 1:10). The circle is complete.

And who is the author? Paul, a prisoner in Rome. And not one word of grumbling or of discontent. Where did this man go to school? What church did he attend? Please note the author’s background: a prisoner in Caesarea for two years. Shipped to Rome by sea. Endured a 14-day storm. Paul and the ship’s crew of 218 men went 14 days with no food. Shipwrecked three months on the Isle of Melita. Finally at Rome imprisoned. Chained to a guard in six-hour shifts. But – note, no complaints. “For to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). “I press toward the mark for the prize” (Philippians 3:14). And “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

What kind of Christianity does this man possess? At Philippi he was beaten – his hands and feet in stocks. And he sings. Throw him in jail and he walks out – figuratively, with a jail door under one arm and a convert under the other.

We should note also the people, the church, to whom Paul is writing. See verse one: “to all the saints in Christ Jesus.” Amazingly, this includes Euodia and Syntyche of chapter four, who were not in harmony with each other. This was their spiritual location. “At Philippi” was their geographical location. Paul adds “pastors and deacons,” not because they weren’t “saints” but they were the leaders. Remarkable! God calls us what we are before the product is finished. Let us remember – the church is made up of saints. Remember this in all our relationships with fellow believers: in worship, in business meetings, even when someone disagrees with us. We are “saints” in blueprint, but the Lord sees the finished product.

Remember, the church is not for people but for the process of perfecting. I am not all I want to be, nor all I should be, nor all I will be by His grace. But I’m grateful to the Lord I’m not what I used to be. I think it was Dr. Warren Wiersbe who said, “Dwelling with the saints above, oh that will be glory. But living with the saints below – that’s another story.”

Let’s apply what Paul penned for the enrichment of our personal lives. I’ve selected a special verse in each chapter for our focus.

Chapter 1 – Our Purpose (Aim)

“For me to live is Christ” (1:21)

To me, the major theme of Paul’s first chapter is a “Christ Commending Lifestyle.” He expresses his earnest desire that the Lord be magnified in his life and then provides the key to make this a reality. Note verse 21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Only 12 words, all monosyllabic. But life-transforming. May we examine the first seven words – “For to me to live is Christ.” Only 21 letters.

The big question, What is the “me”? Here is the key if we would magnify Christ in this life. Let’s focus our “spotlight” on the “me.” Who are you?

1. A Physical Being. Paul speaks of his “body” (Vs. 22). This is pretty important. This is where God started. An instrument on loan to us. Have you ever sought to function without it? Everything I am or will be is because I am (have) a body. Paul said we are not our own (I Corinthians 6:19-20: “What, know ye not – bought with a price. Glorify God in your body”). God gave His Son a body. His body became a substitute body – a sacrifice substitute. Otherwise there would be no redemption for us.

Our responsibility through the enablement of the Holy Spirit is to 1) present it daily to the Lord: Romans 12:1; 2) keep it in subjection: I Corinthians 9:27; and 3) keep it focused on Christ: Philippians 1:21.

The body is a wonderful instrument, a gift through which we enjoy life in measurable segments – hours, days, weeks, months, years. A treasured possession on which we write checks every day.

“For to me to live” physically for Christ is life in its largest dimension, for life is eating, sleeping, playing, working, getting up, going to bed. Life is school, classroom, office, store, factory and church. Life is fun and games, but it is also struggle, pain, disappointments, stress, sorrow, loneliness, tears, conflict, and failure. For Paul, it was being shackled to a guard in prison. For Paul, the body was shackled but not his spirit. Paul’s consuming ambition was that Christ would be magnified in his body (Philippians 1:20). But the “me” is much more than just a body. When God made man, he made him the product of His infinite wisdom – a remarkably complex creature. And Paul now writes that every facet is to be focused on Christ.

The “me” is a physical being, a body; but much, much more. Man is also a spiritual being. God breathed into him the Spirit of life. And more. He is a very complex “soulual” being, too, that is, he is an intellectual being, a volitional being, and emotional creature as well as a social being. And Paul now states that this total “me,” this very complex creature, is to have its focus upon Christ. Only then can the perfect design of the Lord be fulfilled – “and to die is gain.”

2. A Spiritual Being. God breathed into man’s nostrils the “breath of life” which provided man with a spiritual dimension, making man distinct from all others. God animated the flesh with His Spirit. Man has the capacity of knowing God; no other creature made from dust has this spiritual, eternal, God-focused dimension. The Lord gave a guideline in the exercising of man’s spiritual provision, a guideline which man violated, with spiritual and physical death the product. The body, the physical is temporal. The Lord animated this body with His Spirit. With the disobedience of our first parents we now are spiritually dead and must be “born again” or born of His Spirit (John 3:3 and 5) if we are to have eternal life.

3. An Intellectual Being. The “me” of Philippians 1:21 can think, reason, and plan. What a wonderful gift, but one not to be wrongly focused. Our greatest failure is at this very point. Paul is saying our minds must be focused upon Christ. He warned in Romans 1:21 that “knowing God, they glorified Him not as God … became vain in their imaginations.” Our serious problem today is not the keenness of our thinking, but rather perverse, anti-God thinking.

The importance of our mind cannot be measured. The mind is not like a book; the content of the book does not change the book itself. Nor is the mind like a bank, since the bank is not changed by what we put into it. But the mind is the key to what we become. The mind changes us. Proverbs 23:7 states, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Note what Paul writes in Romans 1:28, “and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind” (adokimos, one that thinks, speaks, acts deceitfully). This is “twisted thinking.” Can any word better describe our age? How else can we explain a social/legal mentality that prosecutes and imprisons a young mother for murdering her three-month-old baby and placing the body in a garbage can? But if she had done this three months earlier through abortion it would have been socially/legally accepted. We are approving this at 4,000 per day. This is wrong thinking in both Washington and Lansing (the capitol of Michigan).

Our minds are the targets of Satan. The mind is where Satan attacked Eve. Paul pinpoints this when he wrote, “I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted” (II Corinthians 11:3). We need to have every thought brought into the captivity of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). Paul said the believer is to be selective in his thinking (Philippians 4:8): “whatsoever things are true … think on these things.”

Be selective about what you watch and what you read. Tell me what you place in your mind and I’ll tell you what you are becoming. With our mind we shape our future. “For to me to live ‘intellectually’ is Christ.”

4. A Volitional Creature. “For to me to live volitionally is Christ.” What a remarkable gift! We can “choose.” We can weigh values and then say “yes” or “no.” Joshua wrote, “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

This is a wonderful gift but also a very dangerous gift. With their “will” Adam and Eve violated God’s will and all their descendents today struggle with a perverted will. Too often our volitional gift becomes self-centered. “To will is present with me but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18).

Multitudes are lost today because of a wrong choice. Jesus said, “You will not come to me.” If we are saved today, a child of God, this is true not only because God made a provision for our forgiveness but because we chose to believe.

For the richest life we need to make the decision (choose) to say with Paul, “For to me to live ‘volitionally’ is Christ.” Every day and every hour I make choices. May those choices have their focus on what pleases the Lord.

God has given to each of us a most significant key for a rich and rewarding life – a key we hold in our hand 24 hours a day. Note – “If any man will come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me.” Paul did, and what a life! It relates to our attitude when we slip into a valley. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1).

Actually, we live each day with the product of our personal vote. We can obey or not obey. Paul the Apostle lists a number of pleasurable emotions in Philippians 4:8 and then writes “think on these things.” This is a choice of our will. We can choose or refuse but we then live with the result of our choice. What the Lord has commanded he enables us to do. If the Lord says so plainly, “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice,” may we be assured He has made it possible for us to rejoice, whatever the current circumstances. Paul writes these words while in a prison and shackled to a Roman guard.

5. An Emotional Being. If my “me” is to be focused on the Lord, I need to understand the complexity of the “me.” Without any question the Lord created Adam and Eve and their descendents with a wide range of emotions, with joy and happiness near the top of the lists. We were created in His likeness and can experience His joy. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

By our personal choice, and by the enablement of the Holy Spirit, we can focus the emotional portion of our being on Christ, especially the brighter emotions of love, joy and peace (Galatians 5:22), the fruit of the Spirit-directed life. If Paul and Silas could sing at midnight in the Philippian dungeon, then the message is very clear that a positive emotional tone is not dependent upon pleasant circumstances, but rather upon our choice and the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

It has been my observation that the positive emotional tone of Christians becomes the fragrant aroma which attracts many hungry-hearted people to Christ (II Corinthians 2:14-15). We should give thanks to the Lord daily for the gift of emotions. No other creation of the Lord, animate or inanimate, has this gift. Plants and animals are programmed, computerized, but not man. He can be positive or negative. He can be joyful or sad. When we begin our day, our cup can be half full or half empty. This is our choice.

Granted that because of our fallen nature we too often reflect the negative of our emotions, but through the Lord’s redemptive work we can become a new creation in Christ. Paul understood this and states it in Philippians 1:21, “For to me ‘the emotional being’ to live is Christ.” As believers we need to focus the totality of our being on the Lord. One of the most attractive emotions is joy. It was a central motivating emotion in the Lord’s ministry, even when faced with Calvary, “who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2).

This was His desire for His followers as He prayed for us in His priestly prayer, “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). Just prior to that hour He instructed His followers that He made provision for them to know His joy (John 15:11 and John 16:24), and then at Pentecost He sent the Holy Spirit who produces in and through the believer His nine fold fruit, most of which pertains to our emotional being (Galatians 5:22).

6. A Social Being. At the very beginning the Lord said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18) and gave Adam a companion. God made man a social being and this too is to focus upon Christ. Our failure in the Garden of Eden seriously twisted the social potential of the human race. Jealousy, anger and strife wrecked the first family and that same friction has been evident in every generation. God’s standard is that we should “love the Lord our God” but also we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

We witness the sad antithesis of such a utopia. Homes are broken. Families divided. Nations are at war. Political parties battle over leadership principles. Religions are divided. And our conservative churches are divided on acceptable worship styles, contemporary and traditional music, and what constitutes appropriate Biblical standards for a church.

In one simple seven-word statement Paul sets before us a north star which, if we would apply to our total being, would be transformational in our personal life, in our homes, and in our churches. Even the non-Christian community would sense an attractive fragrance in these people who professed to be followers of Christ. Once again – “For me [the total me – the physical, spiritual, intellectual, volitional, emotional and social portions of our being] to live is Christ” or “to be focused upon pleasing Him in all aspects of my life.” May this be our aim and prayer.

For further study on the next three chapters:

Chapter 2 – Our Attitude

“Let this mind be in you” (2:5)

Chapter 3 – Our Pursuit (Ambition)

“I press toward the mark” (3:14)

Chapter 4 – Our Product (Actions)

“Therefore – ” (4:1)