Philippians 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Sometimes it is hard to watch our society decline at such a rapid pace. What was regarded as shameful just 5-10 years ago, would now be deemed a “personal choice,” with all choices of lifestyles, government, religion, and personal behavior considered equal.
Why? Because there is no transcendent baseline by which to measure those choices. If there is no authority above “man,” then no single man (or group or culture or country) can claim their standards are superior and binding. The Bible describes this as “every man doing what is right in their OWN eyes.”
No Right To Gripe
The only people who have a right to gripe about this are those who: 1) believe in a transcendent Creator God, and: 2) believe that same God has communicated His standards to us. Otherwise, it is your opinion against mine against another person’s opinion. My conservatism is no more authoritative that your socialism or that guy’s Nazism or the other gal’s atheism (no matter how convincing you are convinced your arguments are). Your “truth” is just as good as my “truth” is just as good as your “truth.”
This is the end result of denying we were created by a Personal God and that we are accountable to His laws and commands. No binding standards, just opinion and personal choice. That might sound good on the surface (“I can do whatever I want, I’m FREE!”) but most people never consider the result: what if what I want contradicts or violates what you want? If I believe it is perfectly okay to steal your stuff or commit adultery with your wife, you have no authority to say my “truth” is wrong, and your truth (“don’t steal my stuff, leave my wife alone”) is a higher and better standard.
“Yeah, but I believe you have the right to do what you want as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else.” Really? Says who? Based on what authority? That is just your opinion and I disagree. Tough luck. Who are YOU to say your moral opinion is better than my moral opinion? No matter how hard you argue, you have no basis on which you can authoritatively elevate your opinion or standard over mine, no matter what those standards are. Taking this to a ridiculous extreme, your opinion that helping the poor is “good” is no more binding or “truthful” than my opinion that it is okay to throw an unwanted baby in the trash can. By what authority can you denounce my “truth” as wrong?
Which Truth Then?
Which “truth” prevails? Whoever has the majority (“democracy”) or whoever holds the gun (i.e. government or criminals) will prevail. That is why it is “truth” and “good” today that millions of babies can be murdered in the womb and our society calls it a “right” that is subsidized and enforced by the government. That is why you can be a victim of a crime, even by a non-citizen, and they are treated like they have more “rights” than you, the law-abiding good guy. How does “truth” sound now? America is currently a testing ground for the “no God” experiment.
In Philippians 3, Paul tells us the mindset of those who reject God and elevate themselves as the measure of their choice and behavior:
- Their end is destruction – “end” here means ultimate destiny; people who reject God and make themselves their own god are bound for eternal destruction.
- Their belly is their god – this is a way of saying “they do whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like, and only how they feel matters.” This certainly describes the vast majority of humanity today, and why not ? If you do not answer to a Creator God, then what higher priority is there than what YOU want and what benefits you? It is perfectly understandable that people act this way when they deny God. I would. If I did not believe I am accountable to God, I would be looking out for myself.
- They glory in shame – the idea here is that the end result is not just a casual acceptance of things that are shameful, but rather an aggressive, active pursuit of all things shameful, accompanied with public celebration and joy in those shameful things. It is a gloating and boasting about a total freedom to do whatever sinful and shameful thing you want; a kind of mocking and taunting of God. It is an “in your face!” to God, pridefully declaring you are accountable to NO ONE.
- They have a mind set on earthly things – no regard for anything past this life, past this moment. No thought of God, no thought of accountability, or of eternal results. Only “me” and only “now.”
What is the answer? More government? Hate-crime laws? Political correctness? Tolerance? New Age religion? Absolute freedom of choice? Regulations? Feel-good moral campaigns?
No, to all of that. Indeed, “no” to all solutions except a belief and submission to a Creator God. Why? Because it is only when we believe: 1) there is a Personal God, and: 2) that God created us and thus has authority over us, do we come to a point where we realize we are NOT our own God. We are not at liberty to decide our own “truth.” When we believe in and submit to God, then we all have a standard that rises above our feelings, desires, behaviors, and impulses. We have a standard that does not change and cannot be manipulated. We have a baseline for morality, behavior, and culture that is not subject to the whims, agendas, polls, manipulation, and flaws of humanity.
Let’s finish by looking at the OPPOSITE set of characteristics that would describe someone who believes in and submits to God:
- Their end is life;
- Their god is THE GOD, the Creator;
- Their glory is their humble acknowledgement, accountability, and submission to their loving Creator; and
- Their mind is set on Godly, good, and righteous things.
How do you think our culture would be different if that list was generally true of our population rather than the first one?