Daily Archives: June 3, 2018

June 3: Searching for Justice

2 Chronicles 6:12–8:18; Titus 1:10–16; Psalm 94:1–23

“Do you favor justice or mercy?” Trick question. Both responses are technically incorrect: God’s ways require mercy and justice. Mercy cannot be fully known without perfect justice, and justice without mercy is harsh and graceless.

God’s mercy is a regular topic in Christian communities, but we often shy away from discussing His justice. This leaves us on our own to confront the injustices we commit against Him and others, those committed against us, and our own unjust nature. Carrying out God’s justice feels scary because it requires making large-scale changes in our world. But we can’t carry out His justice if we act only from the right purpose—we must also act in His way.

The psalmist cries out for justice: “O Yahweh, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth. Rise up, O Judge of the earth.… They crush your people, O Yahweh; they oppress your inheritance. They kill widow and stranger, and they murder orphans while they say, ‘Yah does not see’ ” (Psa 94:1–2, 5–7).

In this plea, we see that the psalmist both understands God’s nature and realizes His capabilities. The psalmist exhorts Yahweh to act. In doing so, he cites injustices against those to whom God’s people were called to show mercy (e.g., Deut 14:29; 16:11–12; 24:19–20). The widow, orphan, and stranger are also those whom Yahweh cares for and advocates (e.g., Exod 22:22–24; Deut 10:18). Ultimately, the psalmist is reminding Yahweh of His role.

This request teaches us something fundamental about justice. Although the psalmist plays a role in the cause of justice, he is not the primary actor; Yahweh is. Justice is God’s work.

How can you harmonize your views of justice and mercy? How can you act more justly today?

John D. Barry[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

June 3 Being Quick to Hear

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But let every one be quick to hear” (James 1:19).


Being quick to hear involves a proper attitude toward God’s Word.

It has been well said that either God’s Word will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from God’s Word. Apparently some of James’s readers were allowing sin to keep them from receiving the Word as they should. God was allowing them to experience various trials so their joy and spiritual endurance would increase, but they lacked wisdom and fell into temptation and sin. James called them back to the Word and to a godly perspective on their circumstances.

James 1:19 begins with the phrase “This you know,” which refers back to verse 18. They had experienced the power of the Word in salvation, and now James wants them to allow that Word to sanctify them. For that to occur, they must be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (v. 19).

Being “quick to hear” means you don’t disregard or fight against God’s Word. Instead, when trials or difficult decisions come your way, you ask God for wisdom and receive the counsel of His Word with a willingness to obey it. You’re not like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, whom Jesus described as “foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25).

You should be “quick to hear” the Word because it provides nourishment for your spiritual life and is your weapon against all spiritual adversaries. It is the means by which you are strengthened and equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16–17). It delivers you from trials and temptations and engages you in communion with the living God. The Word should be your most welcome friend!

Be “quick to hear,” pursuing every opportunity to learn God’s truth. Let the testimony of the psalmist be yours: “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day . … I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Thy word. … How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:97, 101, 103).


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His precious Word and for the marvelous transforming work it accomplishes in you.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 19:1–14. ✧ What terms did the psalmist use to describe God’s Word? ✧ What benefits does the Word bring?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 167). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Pope Francis Is Handing Out EZ-Pass Coupons For Catholic Loved Ones To ‘Speed Their Way’ Through Purgatory — Now The End Begins

Participants attending the World Meeting of Families in August can be forgiven their sins or help a Catholic relative speed their way through purgatory.

“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Revelation 17:3,4 (KJV)

Like the character of Nick the Bartender in the Christmas classic ‘It’s A Wonderful Life‘, leader of the Catholic religion Pope Francis is ‘giving out wings‘ at the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Ireland in August of this year. And the ‘wings’ to ‘speed through purgatory’ being given out by the pope are every bit as meaningless and worthless as were the ‘wings’ from Nick the Bartender.

Pope Francis has granted a “plenary indulgence’ for those taking part in the WMOF this year, the BBC reported today. In Catholic doctrine an indulgence frees you from being punished for your previously committed sins or it can be passed on to dead relatives to shorten their time in purgatory. Even those following events on TV and radio can achieve a partial indulgence as long as they recite the Our Father, the Creed and other devout prayers.

Memo to Pope Francis: Better pull up your skirt, your con game is showing.

Paying real money to get out of the imaginary purgatory has been the Vatican’s most profitable hoax

Purgatory, unlike Hell, is an imaginary place that exists nowhere but in the fanciful imaginations of the Roman Catholic harlot. But the Vatican did indeed add this blasphemous lie to their lineup of blasphemous doctrine around the 11th century AD. What exactly is the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, you ask? Let’s let the folks over at CatholicAnswers.com give us the lowdown, don’t want to ‘misquote’ what they teach. But suffice to say, the con game goes like this:

FROM CATHOLIC ANSWERS: The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).  The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven. source

Now, please turn in your King James Bible and let’s look at the doctrine of purgatory. Umm…no, you’ll not find it in either Testament for it exists only in the teachings of the ‘early church fathers’ in a piece of trash known as the unbiblical Apocrypha. But purgatory exists no where in the Bible.

“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, The soul from Purgatory springs.’Johann Tetzel

Now after they invented this lie in the 11th century, they dropped the ‘other shoe’ and told Catholics that if your loved one has died and is in Purgatory, the only way to get them out was to have ‘special masses’ said for them. Of course, having a ‘special mass’ said does not come cheap, so the family of the purgatizing loved one had to pony up big bucks, or their homes, or give away their land to the Vatican. Basically, anything of financial value was bartered in exchange for the magical ‘special mass’ to be said.


Talk about a ponzi scheme, talk about a con game! But seriously, brethren, when you refuse to believe the Bible, you will believe just about anything else. Even doctrine that sounds like it was crafted by old PT Barnum himself.

Now you know where the Vatican billions came from, and how the Vatican grew to be the wealthiest corporation on the face of the earth. But I digress, let’s get back to what the pope will be doing at the WMOF in August.

Pope Francis will be handing out these ‘express line’ tickets for Catholic loved ones in Purgatory, in exchange for ‘climbing Ireland’s holy mountain and pray in the chapel at the top’, ‘pray for the dead on specially-arranged dates’, visiting approved shrines and statues’, and of course, by putting a nice, sizable offering into the collection plate.

The Bible refers to the Catholic Church as MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And so she is. The Bible also has a message of warning to all the followers of the Vatican counterfeit, disregard it at your own eternal peril.

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”Revelation 18:4 (KJV)

via Pope Francis Is Handing Out EZ-Pass Coupons For Catholic Loved Ones To ‘Speed Their Way’ Through Purgatory — Now The End Begins

Report: Dozens of FBI Agents Admit Agency Corrupted Hillary Probe, Considering Legal Action

Being subpoenaed to appear in front of a judge is something most people want to actively avoid, but a report regarding the Obama-era FBI suggests dozens of agents want to have their day in court to expose government corruption.

During Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Friday, the conservative host said he has learned that more than two dozen FBI agents want to be subpoenaed in order to testify about widespread abuses and political bias that occurred at the bureau during the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

“We have an (Inspector General) report coming out, and I’m told as many as 28 people that have knowledge of the Clinton email server scandal want to be subpoenaed so they can tell the story of corruption at the highest levels of the bureau at that they love,” Hannity said.

It appears that Hannity isn’t the only one who sees a major rift between top-level FBI figures, like former Director James Comey, and the hardworking agents who want to see justice served.

Source: Report: Dozens of FBI Agents Admit Agency Corrupted Hillary Probe, Considering Legal Action

American Bible Society to Require Church Attendance, Certain Beliefs about LGBT

One of the oldest nonprofit organizations dedicated to distributing Bibles around the world will soon require all employees to adhere to orthodox Christian beliefs and heed a conservative code of sexual ethics.

Source: American Bible Society to Require Church Attendance, Certain Beliefs about LGBT

FBI Spying On Trump Started In London, Earlier Than Thought…

Article Image
News Link • FBI https://www.zerohedge.com, By Tyler Durden

A new report from John Solomon of The Hill ties together several loose threads floating around over the genesis of the FBI/DOJ espionage operation against the Trump campaign, who was involved in the “setup” of campaign aides, and how text messages between FBI employees suggest that the Obama White House was not only aware of the operation – but possibly directing it.

Not only is the timeline moved up from the summer of 2016 to spring, Solomon provides clarification on early contacts between the players involved in  DOJ/FBI sting and Trump campaign aides.

The bridge to the Russia investigation wasn’t erected in Moscow during the summer of the 2016 election.

It originated earlier, 1,700 miles away in London, where foreign figures contacted Trump campaign advisers and provided the FBI with hearsay allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, bureau documents and interviews of government insiders reveal. These contacts in spring 2016 — some from trusted intelligence sources, others from Hillary Clinton supporters — occurred well before FBI headquarters authorized an official counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016.

The new timeline makes one wonder: Did the FBI follow its rules governing informants? –The Hill

Here We Go: Homosexual Conference Accused of Pushing LGBT Agenda on Churches


An LGBT Christian conference scheduled to be held this summer has been accused by some of pushing an LGBT agenda on conservative evangelical churches.

Known as the Revoice Conference, the multiday event is scheduled for July 26–28 at Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri, with hundreds expected to attend.

The Conference’s stated mission is to engage in “Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”

Revoice has already garnered criticism from some for what is perceived to be an effort to advance an LGBT agenda in churches at the expense of sound Christian teaching.

Stephen Black, executive director of First Stone Ministries, an organization that seeks to help people with what the group calls “sexual brokenness,” is one of the critics.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Black said he took issue with Revoice’s mission statement because he believed the conference was seeking “to manipulate the Church to embrace LGBT+ people as a victimized minority group instead of a group of Christians only.”

Specifically, Black is opposed to the positions that sexual orientation is a fixed identity, that the term “sexual minorities,” which applies to a group identity, should be allowed in Christianity, and that people can be both gay and Christian.

“In viewing the website and workshop descriptions, Revoice promotes their need to bring all things LGBT+ into the Church for complete acceptance as legitimate identities to be embraced. They communicate that a person’s sexual orientation is a fixed nature of human beings,” said Black.

“I completely disagree with this ideology as it is not biblical. A true Christian identity is man and woman, male and female, and found in Christ alone, not in an unclean term of sexual brokenness.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Christian Post

Source: Here We Go: Homosexual Conference Accused of Pushing LGBT Agenda on Churches

A Corporate Pilate Tells the Truth About Jesse Duplantis (and Kenneth Copeland) — Messed Up Church – Pirate Christian Media

Jesse Duplantis and Kenneth Copeland are two of the biggest Word of Faith teachers in the world. They both expect their gullible followers to buy them numerous private jets “for the Lord.”

Here’s a very informative video from a lifelong corporate jet pilot who tells the unvarnished truth about these clowns:

Here are some other related articles/videos/podcasts:

Jesse Duplantis Wants You to Buy Him a $54 Million Falcon 7X Private Jet

Ken Copeland: God Gave Us Private Jets Because You Can’t Talk to God in Coach

Word of Faith Superstar Kenneth Copeland Proven 100% WRONG (and Nobody Cares)

SHOCKING REVELATION! Adam Smarter than God, Asserts Jesse Duplantis

Jesse Duplantis’ Disgusting Duplicity

via A Corporate Pilate Tells the Truth About Jesse Duplantis (and Kenneth Copeland) — Messed Up Church – Pirate Christian Media


For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13

It is really a blessed thing in our Christian fellowship and in our congregations that God never asks whether it is a big church or a little church!

A young pastor, when introduced to a well-known church leader, said, “You do not know me. I am the pastor of a little rural church.”

I think it was a wise reply that came from the churchman: “Young man, there are no little churches; all churches are the same size in God’s sight!”

But whether large or small, it must be an assembly of believers brought together through the name of Jesus to worship in God’s Presence—and with the right to receive all that God bestows.

With these roots we should ask ourselves if we are truly interested in spiritual attainment as were the New Testament believers. We must confess that the spiritual temperature among us may often be lower than in the early church. But we hold to the message that those who truly honor the Presence of the Savior are included in this relationship that goes back to the New Testament and to the apostles!

Lord, even small churches can be a large beacon in their communities through prayer and service. Glorify Yourself today through the good works of Your universal Church.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

BREAKING: Giuliani to Mueller Team: Release Spygate Memos or NO INTERVIEW with Trump (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani went on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday morning.

Giuliani told ABC the Trump lawyers want to see all of the Spygate documents before the President will agree to testify with the Mueller witch hunt team.

In May it was first revealed that the Obama Deep State was using “human informants” (spies) to spy on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Of course, this criminal activity puts several Obama officials in serious danger of prosecution.


On Sunday Rudy Giuliani told ABC the Trump team want the Spygate documents.
Rudy insisted this was important before they will agree to sit down with Mueller for a sham interrogation.

via BREAKING: Giuliani to Mueller Team: Release Spygate Memos or NO INTERVIEW with Trump (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

Clapper: The U.S. Meddled In Foreign Elections And Conducted Regime Change In The “Best Interests Of The People”

Former head of US Intelligence James Clapper just admitted that the United States was simply looking out for citizens of various countries “when we tried to manipulate or influence elections or even overturned governments,” a statement directly at odds with the moral high ground claimed by President Obama and other US officials on the topic of Russian election meddling.

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Tobin Harshaw published Saturday, Clapper – who is promoting his new book “Facts and Fears,” said “I guess the way I think about that is that through our history, when we tried to manipulate or influence elections or even overturned governments, it was done with the best interests of the people in that country in mind,’ adding that the US has a “traditional reverence for human rights.”

According to a February 2016 report by Dov H. Levin, the United States has engaged in over 80 instances of election meddling or regime change between 1946 and 2000, while a February analysis by the New York Times notes that election meddling is hardly unprecedented.

“If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,” said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States “absolutely” has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, “and I hope we keep doing it.”NYT

We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947,” said Loch K. Johnson, a University of Georgia professor who began his career in the 1970s investigating the CIA for the Senate.

We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash.”

Don’t forget, the United States has been supporting Al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria – guys who were undoubtedly high-fiving on 9/11, in order to overthrow Syrian President Bashir al Assad (in the best interests of Syrian people, we’re sure).

And while the United States has been conducting regime change and election meddling for over 70 years, President Obama’s stated foreign policy objectives as summed up in a November 2016 report in the Washington Post: “not every global problem has an American solution.”

“Obama had run on a platform of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and regaining the trust of the world. Facing the most significant financial crisis in generations, he stressed the importance of sharing more of the burdens and responsibilities of global leadership with others.

In other words; the United States will meddle in elections and conduct regime change, but when it comes to dealing with the fallout, not our problem. Hilarious.

Source: Clapper: The U.S. Meddled In Foreign Elections And Conducted Regime Change In The “Best Interests Of The People”

Bill Clinton says Obama got better media coverage in part because of his race

Former President Bill Clinton said Sunday he believed that President Barack Obama received friendlier media coverage than did other chief executives in part because of his race.

Asked about the stark contrast in press coverage between Mr. Obama and President Trump, Mr. Clinton agreed that there was a different standard.

Source: Bill Clinton says Obama got better media coverage in part because of his race

President Trump Quotes Democrat Mark Penn: Mueller Staff Uses “Stormtrooper Tactics” — The Gateway Pundit

President Trump quoted former Clinton adviser Mark Penn on Sunday after Penn accused Mueller of using “stormtrooper” methods to harass and frighten his targets.

Mueller sent FBI agents to storm the homes of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in the early morning hours AFTER Manafort was already cooperating with Mueller’s far left team.

Mark Penn has repeatedly called out Robert Mueller for using stormtrooper tactics against Trump campaign officials.

The stormtroopers were the infamous Nazi paramilitary wing that played a significant role in disrupting, threatening and attacking opposition members.

On Sunday President Trump repeated Penn and accused Dirty Cop Mueller of using stormtrooper tactics.

via President Trump Quotes Democrat Mark Penn: Mueller Staff Uses “Stormtrooper Tactics” — The Gateway Pundit

Demonic possession is real, says top psychiatrist

(TELEGRAPH) — It is a phenomenon that is on the rise throughout the world: The number of cases of demonic possession – and demands for priests to carry out exorcisms – is, according to multiple sources, soaring.

Medical science remains sceptical. However, a Princeton-and-Yale-educated mainstream psychiatrist believes demonic possession is indeed very real – and claims that the majority of Americans agree with him.

With 25 years experience in a private psychiatric practice and as a professor at New York Medical College and Columbia University, Dr Richard Gallagher has a rare vantage point to observe human behavior. And then there is the inhuman.

Source: Demonic possession is real, says top psychiatrist

Trump to host Ramadan dinner

(POLITICO) — President Donald Trump will host an iftar dinner at the White House next week to recognize the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to a White House official, a departure from last year’s decision not to host the traditional post-sundown meal.

The iftar dinner is scheduled for Wednesday. The White House official declined to provide a list of attendees.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset and they break the fast with a meal known as an iftar.

Source: Trump to host Ramadan dinner

June 3, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Right Means for Spiritual Unity

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (2:3–4)

In presenting these five means, Paul answers the question of how genuine spiritual unity is achieved. After what he has just said in verses 1–2, these means require little explanation or comment. Like the four marks of spiritual unity, these five means are interrelated and inseparable. Three are negative and two are positive.

It is not surprising that rejecting selfishness is listed first, since it is the root of every other sin. It was by placing his will above God’s that Satan fell (cf. Isa. 14:12–17), and it was by placing their own wills above God’s that Adam and Eve first brought sin into the world (Gen. 3). Self-will has been at the heart of every subsequent sin. There is no verb (do) in the Greek text, but the grammatical form (mēden kat eritheia, lit., “nothing by way of selfishness”) expresses a negative command. That prohibition goes far beyond mere action; selfishness is also to be totally excluded from the innermost thoughts of the heart.

Paul used eritheia (selfishness) earlier in this letter, where it was rendered “selfish ambition” (1:17). As noted in the discussion of that text, the term did not originally have a negative connotation and merely referred to a day laborer. But it came to be used metaphorically, and almost exclusively, of a person who persistently seeks personal advantage and gain, regardless of the effect on others. It often was used of the unfair pursuit and self-serving preservation of political office. By New Testament times, it had come to mean unbridled, selfish ambition in any field of endeavor. For obvious reasons, eritheia was often associated with personal and party rivalry, quarreling, infighting, and strife (as the King James Version renders it here). It usually carried the idea of building oneself up by tearing someone else down, as in gambling, where one person’s gain is derived from others’ losses. The word accurately describes someone who strives to advance himself by using flattery, deceit, false accusation, contentiousness, and any other tactic that seems advantageous. It is hardly surprising, then, that Paul lists eritheia (“disputes”) as one of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:20).

Selfishness is a consuming and destructive sin. The first and inevitable casualty is the person who manifests it, even if no one else is harmed. Because this sin, like every other, begins in a sinful heart, anyone can commit it—regardless of whether there is an opportunity for it to be outwardly expressed. Even when not outwardly manifested, selfishness breeds anger, resentment, and jealousy. No church, even the most doctrinally sound and spiritually mature, is immune from the threat of this sin, and nothing can more quickly divide and weaken a church. Selfish ambition is often clothed in pious rhetoric by those who are convinced of their own superior abilities in promoting the cause of Christ.

Judging from the New Testament record, no church had a greater problem with this sin than the one in Corinth. Paul implored them: “I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you” (1 Cor. 1:10–11). Various factions in the church followed Apollos, Peter, or Paul. One group, probably the most self-righteous, claimed to follow only “Christ.” But “has Christ been divided?” the apostle asked with astonishment. “Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (vv. 12–13; cf. 3:4–6). In a strong rebuke, he later told them,

I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (3:1–3)

The objects of personal loyalty in the Corinthian church (Apollos, Peter, and Paul) were faithful leaders who were entirely worthy of the congregation’s respect and admiration. Two of them were leading apostles. But the real loyalty of those factious Corinthians, even that of the “Christ” faction, was to themselves. The factions sought not so much to honor those favored leaders as to create exclusive cliques for their own personal elevation. Each of the groups was self-serving. Promoting the cause of Christ and the unity of His church were far from their primary purposes. Rather than serving Christ and others in His name, they were serving themselves while using His name. Selfish ambition is produced by and is a clear mark of the “deeds of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19–20). It poisons even work done on behalf of clearly biblical causes. Hypocritically presuming to serve God while actually serving self marked the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Matt. 15:1–9).

Discord and division are inevitable when people focus on their agendas to the exclusion of others in the church. Often such a narrow focus arises out of genuine passion for an important ministry. But disregard of fellow believers, no matter how unintentional, is a mark of loveless, sinful indifference that produces jealousy, contention, strife, and the other enemies of spiritual unity. Wherever “jealousy and selfish ambition exist,” whatever the cause, “there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).

A second means for promoting spiritual unity is forsaking empty conceit. Empty conceit translates the compound Greek word kenodoxia, which appears only here in the New Testament. It is formed by the adjective kenos (“empty”) and the noun doxa (“glory”), hence the King James Version rendering “vainglory.” It refers to a highly exaggerated self-view, which is nothing but empty conceit. Whereas selfish ambition pursues personal goals, empty conceit seeks personal glory and acclaim. The former pertains to personal accomplishments; the latter to an overinflated self-image. Understandably, a person with such conceit considers himself always to be right and expects others to agree with him. The only unity he seeks or values is centered on himself.

Empty conceit is arrogant pride, being “wise in your own estimation” (Rom. 11:25). The ancient Greeks did not admire humility, thinking it was a mark of weakness. But even they recognized that a person’s view of himself could become so exaggerated as to be presumptuous and contemptible. Their term for such exalted pride, a word still used in English and many other modern languages, was hubris. In his long list of sins that characterize unbelieving, rebellious mankind, Paul uses a word derived from hubris, which is rendered “insolent” (Rom. 1:30). In his letter to the Galatian churches, he warned, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3). Because empty conceit is, by nature, self-deceptive, believers must be on constant guard against it. It is an implacable enemy of spiritual unity.

The third means of promoting spiritual unity Paul mentions here is positive: humility of mind. It is the very opposite of selfish ambition and empty conceit and is the corrective for them. Humility of mind is the bedrock of Christian character and of spiritual unity. It is not incidental that the first and foundational Beatitude refers to being “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), which is synonymous with humility of mind.

Humility of mind translates the Greek word tapeinophrosunē, which literally means “lowliness of mind.” In Acts 20:19 and Ephesians 4:2 it is rendered “humility.” In secular Greek literature, the adjective tapeinos (“lowly”) was used exclusively in a derisive way, most commonly of a slave. It described what was considered base, common, unfit, and having little value. Thus, it is not surprising that the noun tapeinophrosunē has not been found in any extra-biblical Greek literature before the second century. It seems, therefore, to have originated in the New Testament, where, along with its synonyms, it always has a positive connotation. Humility of mind is the opposite of pride, the sin that has always separated fallen men from God, making them, in effect, their own gods.

Humility is also a dominant virtue in the Old Testament. “When pride comes, then comes dishonor,” warns Solomon, “but with the humble is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). Later he declares, “It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud” (16:19). Zechariah describes the coming messianic King as “just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9), a prophecy Matthew specifically applies to Jesus’ triumphal, yet humble, entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:5).

Moses was “very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). David said, “For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar” (Ps. 138:6). In another psalm, he wrote, “The humble will inherit the land” (Ps. 37:11), a passage Jesus quoted in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the gentle [meek], for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Jesus described Himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (11:29). Without pride or hypocrisy, Paul could testify honestly of himself to the elders from Ephesus, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility” (Acts 20:18–19). Three times in two verses in his first letter Peter calls for humility: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:5–6).

Genuine humility involves believers’ not thinking too highly of themselves and requires that they regard one another as more important than themselves. Regard is from a verb that means more than just having an opinion. It refers to a carefully thought-out conclusion based on the truth. It does not mean to pretend that others are more important, but to believe that others actually are more important.

More important translates a participial form of huperechō, which incorporates the Greek word from which the English word hyper is taken. It intensifies and elevates what is in view, so that it means “to excel, surpass, or be superior to.” In Romans, Paul uses the word in speaking of the “governing [lit. ‘supreme’] authorities” to which “every person is to be in subjection” (Rom. 13:1). Similarly, Peter uses the word in commanding believers to “submit [themselves] … to a king as the one in authority [lit., ‘as being supreme’]” (1 Peter 2:13). Later in the present letter, Paul uses the word to describe “the surpassing [supreme, unexcelled] value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8), and to proclaim that “the peace of God, which surpasses [far exceeds, is superior to] all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:7).

It is clear that Paul has in mind a view of others that is not natural to man and is extremely difficult even for believers to achieve. Perhaps the best way to approach that seemingly unrealistic and impossible challenge is for believers to consider their own sins. Believers know far more about their own hearts than about the heart of anyone else. Recognizing the sinfulness of their hearts should exclude any boastful self-exaltation. If Paul viewed himself as “the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle” (1 Cor. 15:9), “the very least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8), and even the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), how could any believers honestly think of themselves in any higher way?

A fourth means for promoting spiritual unity is the negative admonition, do not merely look out for your own personal interests.Skopeō (look out for) means to observe something. But, as in this context, it often carried the additional ideas of giving close attention and special consideration. By including merely (as well as also in the following phrase), the apostle excludes the unbiblical idea that asceticism reflects a deeper level of spirituality and earns special divine approval. On the contrary, it is a subtle and deceptive manifestation of legalistic pride.

Paul carefully disciplined his body to make it his slave, to avoid becoming its slave and thereby disqualifying himself for ministry (1 Cor. 9:27). He experienced “labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Cor. 11:27). But he never purposely starved himself or caused any self-inflicted harm to his body. During His earthly ministry, Jesus neither practiced nor approved of ascetic self-denial. He ate and slept regularly, took care of His body, and expected His followers to do the same. It should be noted that biblical fasting (Matt. 6:16–17; 9:14–15) is not to be equated with harsh, self-destructive asceticism.

Christians who do not take reasonable care of their bodies cannot live or minister effectively. Nor are they required to forsake all personal interests in other regards. Paul’s point here relates primarily, though certainly not exclusively, to personal interests in serving the Lord. As already noted, many quarrels and divisions in churches concern programs or policies that may be equally biblical and important. Problems arise when people seek to promote their own ministry priorities at the expense of others. Some may consider youth ministry more important than adult ministry. Others may view personal evangelism as a higher priority than group Bible study. The possibilities for conflicts are almost endless. But division in the church is destructive. In every instance, the best interests of the Lord and other believers are sacrificed.

Honest discussion that seeks a biblical understanding of doctrinal and moral issues is perfectly legitimate and of great importance. But even the most serious debate over those critical matters should be carried on in a spirit of humility and mutual respect. Problems arise when defense of God’s Word becomes clouded by self-defense.

It is an immeasurable tragedy that modern culture (including much of the church) has, largely through the influence of secular psychology, rejected the divinely commanded principles of humility and selflessness. When the supreme virtue is self-love and the supreme purpose in life is self-fulfillment, mutual respect is replaced by disrespect, mutual service by apathy and indifference, and mutual love by enmity and hatred.

The fifth and final means Paul mentions here for promoting spiritual unity is that of looking out also for the interests of others. It is the positive side of the preceding principle of not merely looking out for one’s own personal interests. Like the others, this principle is related primarily to relationships between believers, especially those working together in ministry. It is broad and general, not mentioning any particular interests or suggesting who is included by others.

Like the other principles mentioned here, looking out for the interests of others is indispensable for spiritual unity. Also like them, it requires deliberate and persistent effort to apply sincerely and unconditionally. And although the meaning is obvious and easy to understand, it is difficult to apply. It is the practical outcome of the exceedingly difficult command to regard others as more important than ourselves.

Among other things, looking out for the interests of others requires believers to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15), to continually “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another,” to not “eat meat or … drink wine, or … do anything by which [a] brother stumbles” (14:19, 21), and to “bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (15:1). It is to “bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).[1]

Living for Others

Philippians 2:3–4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Several years ago there was a well-known advertisement for a brand of underwear called BVDs. The advertisement read: “Next to myself I like BVDs best.” Naturally the advertisement was based on the fact that underwear is worn next to the skin. But the humor came from the equally well-known fact that no one is better liked by anyone than the individual himself. The concern of each person for himself or herself is so well ingrained in human nature that almost no one contests it. The policies of governments as well as the conduct of millions of individuals flow from it.

Our text is the Christian refutation of this principle, for it says that the one who has believed in Christ is first of all to look out for someone else. Paul has been speaking to the Christians at Philippi about proper Christian conduct. He has told them that they are citizens of heaven and that they should be united in an aggressive proclamation of the gospel. He now applies these themes to the conduct of the individual believer. One commentator has written, “Paul does not leave the question of the worthy life which produces the steadfast stand until he brings it to rest on the worthy life as it is found in the individual, a man not of self-seeking conceitedness, but with a correctly humble estimate of himself, seeking the welfare of others and putting them first. Steadfastness depends on unity, and unity depends on me.”

A Christian Principle

The principle that Paul is stating here is found throughout the New Testament. The unbeliever naturally puts himself first, others second, and God last. He thinks he merits the order. The Bible teaches that we should reverse the series: God is to be first; others must be second; we must come last. The Bible says: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2); “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.… I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:19, 22); “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom. 12:10); “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Rom. 15:1–2).

This is the heart of Christian conduct. Jesus gave himself for others. Followers of Christ are also to give themselves for others. Jesus said that his own would feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, make welcome the one who is lonely (Matt. 25:31–46), and he added, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).

The Fall of Satan

I imagine that you may be tempted to dismiss the force of these verses by attempting to put them aside, as if they were only one of a very great number of things a Christian is expected to do and are therefore not very important. If you are doing this mentally, let me warn you that you cannot get away with it at all. In the first place, a command is not any less important just because it is one of a large number of commands, just as telling the truth on Monday is not unimportant because you are also expected to tell the truth every day of the week. Second, the commands to care for others are not really on an equal footing with many incidental matters. Care for another person is at the heart of a right relationship to God, and all rebellion against God is inevitably linked to a corresponding disregard for others.

This is seen in the story of the fall of Lucifer when the “star of the morning” became Satan. The story itself is recorded in Ezekiel 28. This is a difficult passage, but several things are clear. First, Ezekiel does speak of Satan. For although the first half of the chapter (vv. 1–10) is spoken to the earthly prince of Tyre, the second half of the chapter (vv. 11–19) deals with a figure who has supernatural attributes and who apparently stands behind the earthly ruler as the power behind his throne. Paul warns against such principalities and powers when he warns Christians that our warfare is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). In this context the devil is called the King of Tyre, not the prince of Tyre. The passage teaches that this figure was originally the highest of all created beings.

The second thing that is clear from Ezekiel 28 is that Lucifer was to lead the creation in the worship of God. The passage says that the figure described here was the anointed cherub. Only kings and priests were anointed in the Old Testament period. And it says that it was Lucifer’s task to handle certain trade for God. We must not be misled at this point by our use of the term trade to describe only material items, for the word refers to anything that passes through one’s hands. Apparently Satan passed the commands of God down to the lower orders of creation and at the same time passed the worship of the creation back to God. In this he exercised the offices of a king of the creation and a priest before the Lord.

The third clear point in the passage is that Lucifer mishandled the merchandise of the creation through pride. This was sin, and it brought instant judgment. Instead of passing the worship of the creation on to God, as he was created to do, Lucifer retained that worship for himself. Ezekiel says,

You were blameless in your ways

from the day you were created

till wickedness was found in you.

Through your widespread trade

you were filled with violence

… your heart became proud.

verses 15–17

Isaiah adds in a similar passage,

How you have fallen from heaven,

O morning star, son of the dawn!

You have been cast down to the earth,

you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne above the stars of God

… I will make myself like the Most High.”

Isaiah 14:12–14

Why “the Most High”? In one of his last books, The Invisible War, Donald Grey Barnhouse asked why from all the possible names of God—there are almost four hundred of them in the Bible—did Satan choose the name “the Most High”? “Why did he not say, I will be like the Creator? Why did he not aspire to be like God in his names of Savior, Redeemer, Comforter? Why did he not desire to be like the Eternal Word, the Shepherd, the i am, the Light, the Way, the Life, the Truth, or any of the other names by which we may know our God?” The answer may be found by pointing to the meaning of the name “the Most High” where it first occurs in Scripture.

“Back in the story of Abram we have the record of an incident revealing the inwardness of the name ‘the Most High.’ Abram was returning home after the battle with the kings and the deliverance of Lot. We read that ‘Melchizedik, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine … and he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth …’ (Gen. 14:18–19). Here is the key to the pride of Satan. God is revealed as El Elyon the Most High God, and in this character he is ‘the Possessor of heaven and earth.’ This is what Lucifer wanted to be. His rebellion was not a request for God to move over so that he might share God’s throne. It was a thrust at God himself. It was an attempt to put God out so that Satan might take his place as possessor of the heavens and the earth.”

How terrible this is! We know from the Word of God that the plan did not succeed. We learn too that Satan and his hosts will one day suffer a total and permanent defeat. But the plan succeeded well enough—although only by the forbearance of God—that it brought misery to millions of people and angels and still continues to do so. The chief good of the creation lies in communion with God. In opposition to this truth Lucifer exalted himself and brought misery to those who followed him.

The Great Alternative

What a contrast we have when we look at Jesus Christ. Instead of exalting himself, which he had every right to do, Jesus emptied himself of all outward aspects of his glory and became man for our salvation. We read a few verses farther on in Philippians, “but [he] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (2:7–8). Jesus Christ humbled himself for others.

Think what the self-denial of Jesus meant to the spotless Lamb of God. In the first place, it meant living in a world of impurity and of the most revolting sin. Imagine yourself stepping for an hour into the lowest moral environment you can imagine, into the company of rapists, murderers, or hardened criminals awaiting execution. That would only be a suggestion of what the incarnation meant to Christ.

Then too his coming meant death upon the cross. A great deal of sentimental emotion has grown up around the cross in the last twenty centuries, but we must not think of it that way. The cross was a symbol of the most severe suffering known in Christ’s day. The victims died from exposure and from a slow suffocation caused by the muscular fatigue of the diaphragm. Yet Jesus, knowing all this and understanding that this was to be the climax of his ministry, faced it without flinching. Mark describes the moment in which this inflexibility first impressed itself on the disciples: “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. ‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’ he said, ‘and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise’ ” (Mark 10:32–34).

Did Jesus relish these things? Of course not! They were as dreadful to him as they would have been to you. Yet he endured them, denying himself for our sakes. How glad we should be that Jesus did not look first upon his own things, but on the things of others!

Spiritual Warfare

It should be evident from this that when Paul admonished the Philippians to “consider others better than yourselves” and to look “to the interests of others,” he was actually carrying them to the frontier of that great war being waged between the powers of light and darkness.

Perhaps you have heard ministers speak of the Christian’s warfare for souls, that great battle that is being waged for human hearts and minds. That is a great battle, but there is another that is equally important. It is an internal battle, and the point is not whether you will preach or witness, but whether you are becoming the kind of person who will love people and will give yourself for them in the sense that Jesus Christ gave himself for us. God deals in quality, not quantity, and he wants people to reproduce the qualities of Christ. Well, you might say, I’d like to do that, but I don’t think I can. Of course, you can’t—not on your own. But God will do it in you as you yield to him and seek the outworking of his own nature in your life.

How to Live for Others

If you are to live for others, at least three things must happen.

First, you must admit that in yourself you do not care for others and left to yourself, your choice will always be Satan’s choice rather than the choice of Jesus Christ. Your way will be the way of self-aggrandizement and pride, and it will always be harmful to others. In the book Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis discusses this problem, asking at the end how it is possible to acquire a character that will truly deny itself for others. He calls it humility. “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud.” He adds that it is “a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it.”

The second step is to humble oneself before God. Peter writes, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand” (1 Peter 5:5–6). Maybe you will think that such a relationship is odd. You imagine that if you humble yourself before God, admitting his worth, you have every right to expect that others should be humbled before you. But it does not work this way at all. To see God aright is to admit your total unworthiness. If you will say with Peter, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8), or with Isaiah, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5), you will have little cause for setting yourself and your own interests above others.

The final step involves a daily fellowship with Christ. He is the source of our life, and we must stay close to the source if we are to realize the self-giving life he advocates. Without him we can do nothing. On the other hand, says Paul, “I can do everything through him, who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

Watchman Nee, the Chinese evangelist, tells of a Christian he once knew in China. He was a poor rice farmer, and his fields lay high on a mountain. Every day he pumped water into the paddies of new rice, and every morning he returned to find that a neighbor who lived down the hill had opened the dikes surrounding the Christian’s field to let the water fill his own. For a while the Christian ignored the injustice, but at last he became desperate. He met and prayed with other Christians and came up with this solution. The next day the Christian farmer rose early in the morning and first filled his neighbor’s fields; then he attended to his own. Watchman Nee tells how the neighbor subsequently became a Christian, his unbelief overcome by a genuine demonstration of a Christian’s humility and Christlike character.

Can you live for others? At work or at home? With friends, enemies, or relatives? If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is not only possible, it is also an important aspect of your calling.[2]

3 Collange, 95, infers from the commands in this verse that the race to honors and precedence is threatening community life. This inference is not unfounded, since Roman culture promoted the zeal to attain public status and to promote one’s own honor. Jones (The Roman World of Dio Chrysostom [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1978], 85) points out that the “desire for honour and glory was ubiquitous: cities struggled to be the first in their province … as individuals struggled to be the ‘first men’ of their city or to wear the gold crown and purple robe of office.” Horace (Sat. 1.6.16–17) mocked the Roman populace as “absurd slaves to fame, who are stupefied by titles and masks.” The craving for honor and glory was not restricted to members of the upper stratum. When that craving creeps into the community of Christ, the results are ruinous. To short-circuit it, Paul insists that they “do nothing out of selfish ambition” (eritheia, GK 2249). The noun recalls the egoistic malice of those hoping to stir up trouble for Paul in prison (1:17), and he does not want this kind of selfish ambition that jockeys for position rearing its ugly head in Philippi (cf. 2 Co 12:20; Gal 5:20) and feeding rivalries. They are not to do as the Romans do (cf. Mk 10:42–43) but to do as Christ did (Php 2:6–8).

“Vainglory” (kenodoxia, GK 3029; NIV, “vain conceit”), Hawthorne, 69, claims, refers to those who are deluded and conceited without reason. But in Paul’s view, all who are conceited are so without reason. Those who are filled with vanity tend to compete with others for glory and envy their good fortune (cf. Gal 5:15). The two words combined to mean vainglory (kenos, “empty” [GK 3031] + doxa, “glory” [GK 1518]) appear in the “Christ hymn” to quite different effect. Christ emptied (kenoō, GK 3033) himself, taking the form of a slave, and was exalted by God so that every tongue will acknowledge that he is Lord to the glory (doxa) of God.

The antidote to being full of oneself and hungering for self-glory is twofold: adopting humility and regarding others as better than oneself. Dignitas (dignity) was, from a Roman perspective, a fundamental quality. It drew together one’s genealogical pedigree, city/town, tribe and genus of origin, achievements in public and military life, property and wealth, intelligence and rhetorical ability, pride, integrity, and reputation. By contrast, “humility” was not regarded as a virtue. Epictetus (Disc. 3.24.56) connected it to weakness of character. “Humility” is opposed to parrēsia (“confidence,” “boldness,” GK 4244), the characteristic of the free person. It was a trait suitable for the insignificant, weak, and poor—for an obsequious slave—but not for a self-respecting person. The word could be used to describe what was base-minded, shabby, of no account (cf. 3:21, lit., “this body of humiliation”). The positive use of the word was an outgrowth of the gospel (see Klaus Wengst, Humility: Solidarity of the Humiliated [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988]) as Christians reappraised humility in the light of its prominence as a virtue in the Scriptures and Christ’s demeanor and teaching (Mt 11:29; 23:11–12). Doble (“ ‘Vile Bodies’ or Transformed Persons?” 11) asserts, “This word group encapsulates, as does ἀγάπη [agapē], an aspect of those qualities of the Kingdom of God that are in discontinuity with a Christian community’s cultural context via a word whose common meaning has been subverted to Christian ends.”

Humility is to be distinguished from an inferiority complex. The humble person does not seek external honor or public esteem but is willing to accept a lower position and lesser regard (TDNT 8:22). Humility enables one to see oneself in one’s rightful condition as a creature of God and to see fellow creatures as equally deserving of respect and honor. Aristotle (Eth. nic. 4.3.26) said it “is easy to outdo the lowly.” Paul would respond, “Let them outdo you and rejoice in their success in the Lord.” When members refrain from self-assertion and do not crave special honor, it contributes to community unity.

“Consider others better than yourselves” is not an appeal to adopt low self-esteem but to allow the needs of others to become paramount. The key word, which is omitted in the NIV rendering, is the reciprocal pronoun “one another” (allēlous, GK 253). Paul expects this attitude to be reciprocated, but even if it should not be, the Christian is not to become peevish and insist on his or her own rights in return.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 109–115). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 102–107). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 214–215). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.