“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
In Philippians 2, Paul addresses his comments directly to the justified, regenerated sinners at Philippi who find consolation and comfort in Christ, and fellowship of the indwelling Spirit (vs. 1) as He points sinners to Christ and His obedience unto death (and that alone) for such assurance (vss. 8-11).
But consider that most who read these verses are among the “many” who remain on the broad road leading to destruction (Matthew 7:13), though they may sincerely presume to have an interest in Christ. These to whom God has not granted the gift of faith and repentance (the fruit and effect of Christ’s obedience unto death) may profess and imagine that they have an interest in Christ, yet in imagining that their salvation is conditioned in some way, to some degree upon something done by, in, or through them (the sinner), they unwittingly manifest the height of religious pride and self-righteousness and anything but “lowliness of mind.”
As if reading someone else’s mail, they may apply this exhortation meant for believers to themselves as they strive to obey God’s command to be humble and lowly of mind.
But in clinging to the religion of works (salvation conditioned on the sinner) they demonstrate the reality that they in fact esteem themselves far better than others – for they imagine that some distinction produced by or in them (but not produced by others) makes them accepted and blessed by God.
To remain so deceived is to cling to a false gospel which strikes directly at the glory of God by attempting to rival that which Christ alone accomplished in establishing a perfect righteousness for the elect whose sins He bore. One may strive for humility and lowliness of mind in many areas, but apart from God-given faith and repentance that looks to Christ and His finished work alone for all of salvation, God is not glorified in that sinner’s heart.
Rather, when any comfort or assurance is derived from the natural, self-righteous notion that salvation is ultimately conditioned on what I do (my belief, my profession, a righteousness nature put within me, etc.), it is mere presumption and vain glory indeed! “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,…” (Galatians 6:14).
By Randy Wages