Philippians 3.

This epistle presents us with divine light ruling in the soul of Paul in all his labours as an Apostle, and his presenting it to the Philippians. Remarkable, in the third chapter, the way his own heart, as a man, experienced certain things; he presents the life of a Christian as to divine light, "To me to live is Christ," and in a more human way. Three things are presented; the ground of standing, the life, the hope of a Christian, quite contrasted with that of a natural man. Paul distinctly takes up the religion of human nature; God takes up the Jews, as those in whom natural religion was to be analysed; and it all ended with putting Christ to death. See how he addresses such, "Beware of dogs." Remark the contrast in three things; worship by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. The heart never can rejoice in the Saviour whilst it has any confidence in the flesh, any righteousness of its own.

All that the religion of Christ brings comes into collision with natural religion. The question was whether the flesh could be bettered; Saul thought it could, Paul proved it could not be. If others thought to trust in the flesh, he could more than match them on that line, and he gives a long catalogue of things that were once the ground of Paul's trust, all connected with himself as in the flesh. All natural religion is about myself, and about something in the world. I am to be made something better, and if so it must be in this world. But he has now a new standing in Christ before God; and God and Christ in heaven are now his religion. The cultivation of the flesh in the world, and his standing in Christ could not go together. What distinguishes me in the world, directly I come to Christ, I shall find in the way. Offer what you would to Paul, it would have been discarded as coming between him and Christ: the two things could not go together. To thoroughly enjoy Christ, I must suffer the loss of all things I cultivated as a man down here, counting them loss.

The difference between a man having his own righteousness, and having that of God by faith, is simple enough. Suppose I was to be weighed in a scale to see what (as a man) I ought to be; balanced with the ten commandments; and supposing I could say I had kept them all, (which would not be possible) that would be human righteousness. But suppose God says, "All are sinners, Saul of Tarsus above all, but my Son, Thou hast died and all are hidden in Thee; I shall treat Paul as I treat Thee, his righteousness is Thine." It is quite a different thing. The saved ones so linked up with Christ, so identified with Him, that God says there is no separation between them and Christ, like Him and with Him for ever. If I look at the first and second Paradise, at Adam the first, and that One who is the centre of the second, under which banner would I range myself? Surely under Christ's in God's Paradise! But ah! if I go there, I must go to heaven as a sinner, Christ does not mean any to be there but poor sinners saved by grace. What a contrast to what had marked Paul as in the flesh!

With his eye on the glory, Paul wants to forget all behind; pressing on, knowing no standard short of Christ. Verse 12 is one of the most important in the chapter. But does he not speak of himself as an Apostle, and of the grasp of truth he has? No! but, "I follow after;" I have not got it, but God and Christ have; they have apprehended me, I press on, I have a living Christ as my righteousness; and I want to know what He has apprehended me for. I know Him as the One who has a clear notion of me, as I am to be. Paul could show no mark whatever as though he had attained, but he knew that Christ could; he knew he was apprehended, and could say, My eye and my heart are up there. I am following after, if that I may apprehend what I know I am apprehended for. What he presents is that which was the formative power of his heart down here.

(Must I say it?) I do believe that many Christians do not know anything about a living Christ in heaven, occupied with them, and they with Him; do not know Him as One who calls upon them to apprehend that for which He has apprehended them. Let me ask, how many thoughts of Christ have you had today, telling you that He has apprehended you to be a saved people in glory? The heart never can have strength to apprehend what it is; but can you say that Christ has shown you bits of it? and you follow after that you may apprehend more and more of it? Is it the formative power of your heart? Do you connect it with your walk down here in the wilderness? You may find plenty of whirlwinds and storms, plenty of rough places; but do you connect all your way through with One up there? who has apprehended you for something? Oh! how clear, how distinct to Him is that for which He has apprehended you! I may follow after Him, finding more and more of the heights and depths of His love, and yet say, "I have not apprehended, but I press on for the mark." The time will soon come when all down here is to end; if I have served in fear, I do not think of what is behind, (present service I may have), but I press onward to the goal; and I would have all to be thus minded, to be occupied in surrendering themselves to Christ. You could not be occupied with Christ without having a cross to bear in such a world as this. Have you ever really desired to have one on your shoulder? Paul had, and where did he get power to carry it? He looked right up to where Christ was, and could do nothing but press onward till he saw that Christ face to face. He did get the cross practically, but there were others who were the enemies of the cross (vv. 18-19). Of what cross did Paul speak? Of the cross of Calvary? No, he did not mean only that. Many may say, Christ died on the Cross to put away sin, but was that all? Is there not eternal life, and has it not begun now? They do not see the death of Christ as something that has entirely separated us from sin and the power of the world, enabling us to be walking in the power of the life of Christ It ought to be a solemn thought that confession is now so easy; and taking the place of being God's people so easily done; no persecution, but on the contrary, other motions, the refinements of society, etc. Ah, but I ask, have I eternal life as a present practical thing? in my own soul? Do I walk as one who has present living intercourse with the heart of Christ? having my heart formed and fashioned by the constant apprehension of His glory? If so am I to be conformed to this world? How can one walk in communion with Christ in heaven and not come into collision with it? Ah, if your heart be occupied with God, it will produce a walk very different from the walk of a man occupied with the world in the flesh. I have God with me, and have to live in communion with Him in heaven, not occupied with worldly religion, doing a quantity of things. Certain things have to be given up, and certain things have to be taken up; why? Because I have got communion with God's mind in heaven. He says, "If you want to know what I am occupied with, it is with my people in the wilderness, I am carrying them on to lead them into the glory for which they are apprehended." What a thought, that in the centre of that glory there is a Man, and He has a certain thought about me, about the glory for which He has apprehended me. What a thought to have life formed from!

Do you believe that Christ is not ashamed to confess your name to the Father as one He has apprehended? If Christ's eye is on you, is filling up what remains of the sufferings only sorrow, or joy? If I am called to give up certain things, and to be separate from things, is it sorrow or joy under the eye of Christ who is leading me on into glory with Himself? A heavenly life will never be found in any if not in present communion with Christ about the place where He is conducting us. A heart can never be abidingly in communion with that heart of Christ and be identified with the world that does not know Him.

Then the hope! How remarkably identified with the walk, as the walk is connected with the knowledge of God's mind, by the Holy Spirit revealing it, If we have got the Holy Spirit, He will not leave the work only begun, but carry it on to the end. If the eye be on Christ, He says, "Keep it fixed on Him, as He is conducting you to the glory in heaven for which you are apprehended." If my life is hid with Christ in God do I belong to earth? No, my citizenship is in heaven, not here. In connection with the hope, it is something connecting me with God and heaven, something Paul was looking for, and he would allow nothing to come between him and it. "From whence also we look for the Saviour:" etc. It is unutterably blessed finding the Spirit putting forward Christ first, the blessing after. Which would you rather have, a glorious body or Christ? Could I give up the knowledge I have of Christ's purpose of making me like Himself, and be content with Him for ever in this body of humiliation, rather than not have Him? Yes! I want Him; I must have HIM, HIMSELF there. Paul wanted the full manifestation of glory, and the eye is up watching heaven, looking for the coming of this blessed One. (That is what the morrow is for Christ; what is it to us?) His heart was set on the next great thing God was going to do; everything had been discarded as coming between Him and a Risen Christ, who was now upon the throne, occupied for Him until He should come and fetch him. He was going up hill, looking straight up to heaven, living upon the hope of that Christ's coming, not knowing any moment when He might appear. Do you and I live in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ coming at any moment; is that the hope that sheds its light on everything? It is of immense practical comfort! If the thought of Christ's coming were always the present object of the heart, would it be possible to be overcome with the difficulty of trial we have to pass through? He may be coming tonight, or I may have years more of trial or persecution, but in the thought of His coming to fetch me, and His hand under me, can I not forget this body of humiliation and these trials until then? If I can calculate on His love all the way, certainly I shall be able to meet every difficulty; the love that makes Him come forth to fetch me will shine out then, and I can count on its out-shining today. Will any one say, I know He will come at last to fetch me, but He forgets me while in difficulties at the present time. Any one perhaps would say it who is not walking with Him. Could we? The grand expression of His love is, that He means to come and bring us to the Father's House. How will He take us there? As we are? No, "Who shall change our vile body," etc. The thoughts of God and Christ in Heaven, as they flow into us. make an awful contrast between them, and what we find in ourselves: but how directly in all that reminds us of what these bodies are, we are reminded of the love that, before we are taken, will change and fashion them according to His own glorious body. "Vile body" is not the thought here, but, "Body of humiliation," as contrasted with that glorious body He wears. In what dress am I to appear in His presence? One fashioned like His one! The thought of power being given to a human body to become an immortal and incorruptible body is feeble, compared to this being "fashioned like His own glorious body." He might have given us incorruptibility, but not this. When we see Him, we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him. What a thought! not untold riches above me, but that which brings me the token of what I have in this Christ, soon coming to make me like Himself. Do I love Him, and am I a citizen of Heaven, because of being hid with Him in God, until the time come when His glory will be shown out fully? What think you of having bodies like him? How it brings the heart to heaven where that body is; a human, though a glorious body. How sweet the association "With Himself," and like Himself, "When we see Him as He is." How the thought that the body you now wear, is to be fashioned like unto Christ's ought to lead to carefulness about self. If I am to wear the likeness of Christ is there no occasion to be careful what I do with my body: Christ's eye looking on me?

As Christians, that is our future, but in connection with now, how is it laid out with you? Is everything done in connection with Christ's coming? You have duties not to be neglected; you may be bringing up a family, but is that future ever before you, showing out everything in the light of Christ's coming to fetch you, and give you the likeness of His own glorious body, according to the working of His mighty power. Do you see in your standing, life, and hope as a Christian, your close connection with a Risen Christ? See in all you pass through down here, not man but Christ, and God in Heaven with you and for you; as one in whom the Father is dwelling, and the Holy Ghost acting, and heaven bright before your eye, come what may.
(Notes of an address by G. V. Wigram.).

Leaning Upon God.

The more we can bring our souls to lean upon God whether as it respects salvation, sanctification, or the rest, or heaven, or glory to come, regarding it as God's rest, God's heaven, God's glory, as much as it is God's sanctification and God's salvation, the more shall we understand our full blessing. We never get a blessing in its true value, until we see it is all God's.
J. N. Darby.