"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Phil. 1:2
When Paul wrote this to the saints in Philippi, what was he talking about when he said "to live is Christ"? This one phrase seems to set the tone for the rest of the letter. The subjective experience and enjoyment of Christ which issues forth in joy dominates the rest of this book. In Ephesians, Colossians, and Galatians, Paul speaks more of our being "in Christ" and Christ being in us. But in this letter he centers more on living and gaining Christ. (Phil. 1:21; 3:7-11)
Now, we all know that Christ lives in us, but how do we live Christ? We are in Christ, but how do you and I live Christ? Is living Him different from being in Him? Is it possible to be in Christ and yet not live Him? These are some of the questions that I would like to explore in this article. I believe that the letter to the Philippians is one of the most practical books on showing us how to experience and live Christ. The first practical help that Paul gives us is found in chapter two.
Thinking the One Thing
". . . make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in Spirit, intent on one purpose. (thinking the one thing)" Phil. 2:2
The literal translation of the end of this verse; "intent on one purpose," is actually translated as: "minding (or thinking) the one thing." Paul is telling the Philippians that they need to all think the same thing, more specifically, the one thing. But exactly what is this one thing? Considering the context of this whole letter, the one thing must be Christ (1:20-21; 2:5; 3:7-9; 4:13). Paul was asking the church in Philippi to all think on the One thing, that is, God's eternal purpose as fulfilled and lived out by Christ and the Church.
The first step in learning to live Christ is to think on Him. The way we think and what we think upon is one of the themes in this letter. Paul was asking the saints in Philippi to all think on a Person, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, there within this one Person is all of the fullness of God! There, within this one Person is a whole universe filled with the fellowship and experience of the Godhead. There, within this one Person is the fulfillment of God's purpose and economy in this universe. There, within this one Person is all the hopes and dreams of God the Father in having His own household and family. I am speaking here of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. All that He is and all that He accomplished is what we are to think upon. He is the one who should occupy all of our thoughts.
We are made up of three parts; spirit, soul, and body (I Thess. 5:23). Our soul is made up of three parts; the mind, will, and emotions. The mind is the main part of our soul. When you turn your mind to Christ, you are giving Him the control of your soul. You do this by an act of your will in faith. You are saying, "Lord Jesus, I give you the control, I make you my Head, I make you my All." Living Christ must begin with your mind because your mind governs the rest of your soul. Transformation takes place by the renewing of your mind (Ro. 12:12). This renewal takes place as we think the One thing; the Person and work of Christ.
As we think on Him, His Spirit within us gives us more revelation of Him. We begin to see Him more clearly and more of Him is unveiled before the eyes of our spirits. This is the light of God. Light must come before life. The more light we receive; the more divine life is stirred within us. This is His life within us. We live Christ, not by our own life, but by His own life within us.
Let this Mind be in You . . .
Here, in verse 5, we see that there is not only a thinking, but there is also a letting. Let this mind be in you . . . But which mind? The mind of Christ. This is the only mind that can have this attitude that is described in this passage. This is the only mind that can let go of its own life by emptying itself, humbling itself, and going to the cross.
This same mind is already in you. This mind lives in you because Christ lives in you! Now, just let this mind be in you! Let Him think His own thoughts within you. Give up the control. Release yourself completely to Him. Let Him live His life in and through you.
This is the only way that the oneness of the Body will be maintained. This is the only way that verses 3 and 4 can be lived out. You cannot love your brothers and sisters! You cannot consider them more excellent than yourself. You cannot empty yourself, humble yourself, and go to the cross. Only the life of Christ within you can do that!
The Name of Jesus
Because of the Lord's work in emptying, humbling, and going to the cross, the Father has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (verses 9-11). This is another practical secret to use in living Christ.
God has placed all of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ into one, small, yet extremely power-packed package. You know how we say that good things come in small packages? Well, God has placed all of His best into one "small" box. This "package" is the name of Jesus. His name contains all of who He is and all of what He has accomplished.
Now, when you open your mouth to speak His name, you are glorifying the Father (Phil. 2:11). You are activating another part of your being called the spirit. Paul told us to speak, pray, live and walk in our spirits. When you call upon His name, you are drawing upon His riches (Ro. 10:12, 13). All that He is and all that He has done is contained within that one name. When you call upon His name you are once again releasing all control and letting His mind be in you.
In chapter 3 of Philippians, Paul presents to us another aspect in our living of Christ. This is the pursuit and gaining of Christ. He tells us first of the value of gaining Christ by telling us of his loss. Our Lord is worth the loss all things! Gaining Him makes all losses seem totally insignificant. But, practically speaking, just how do we gain Him?
According to the context of this chapter, the gaining of Christ is dependent upon the knowledge of Christ. This is not an objective knowledge which is attained by studying the bible. The word "knowledge" in the Greek here refers to an intimate, experiential knowledge. This kind of knowledge comes when you take the time to really get to know someone. This happens through fellowship. As we fellowship with Him in our spirits, we really do get to know Him. When we know Him, we really do gain more of Him.
As we think on Him, call upon His name, and gain Him through intimate fellowship, we will just naturally live His life and express Him on this earth.
If you would like to learn more about the inward walk with Christ, I recommend that you get your hands on the book entitled: "The Temple Within" which you can order here.