“BY ANY MEANS”
These three little words certainly preach a powerful message to my heart. What ever they mean or express may be understood from their context. Do they say to us, win at any cost or whatever it takes? Does the end justify the means, or the means justify the end? Can we sing, “It will be worth it All when we see Jesus?” Let us touch upon “means” related to serious determination, Satanic deception and self-disqualification.
Phil. 3:11, “If my any means I might attain unto the resurrection of (out from among) the dead.” II Cor. 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” I Cor. 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (disqualified).”
Serious Spiritual Determination: The Apostle Paul here speaks of the means by which the highest privilege will be attained, and also of the greatest Prize to be apprehended in this Age. With this priceless Person, in possession and place before him, he ran with patience the race that the Lord had set him on. He, “following after,” forget those things he had left behind, reached forth to that which the Lord had set before him, and pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. Paul being so powerfully drawn, called others to the race, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit urges us to run also. I read that he had a good understanding of the Olympic events of his day, but he was not playing games, his earnest attitude is an example to us, Phil. 1:19-21, 2:15-17.
It is important for us to realize that our dear Lord knows just what it takes to get us there on time. He has, and is, our wherewith to get there with. On our course let Him always be the chief of our ways and means. God supplies all that is necessary through Jesus, and by Him we offer “the sacrifice of praise to God continually.” We are made winners through Him that strengthens us, (Phil. 4:13) and more than conquerors through Him that loves us (Rom. 8:37).
This prize-winning does mean that we will experience some major losses of things once held dear to our hearts, but for those that will be victorious, those losses are counted as the divine means to a glorious end. For such, every loss is an eternal gain. Personal gain for the old self-life is also counted as a massive heap of rubbish.
Satanic Deception: Paul, jealous over the saints, having betrothed or engaged them to “one husband,” feared that some of the saints would be cheated out of that glorious bridehood by the deception of their adversary the devil. Throughout this age, Paul has been presenting to the Church his revelation of the Bridegroom. The god of this world has also been at work to blind “the minds of them which believe not” to the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. Our adversary uses every trick and every advantage that we give him to rob us of our place and Prize.
Thank God, “we are not ignorant of his devices.” This cunning, crafty foe is “the accuser of the brethren.” We are so very glad that we have a true and faithful Advocate. The means between the fulfillment of serious determination and self-disqualification are many and multiplied. No wonder the Spirit caused the admonition, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing he be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” Phil. 3:15-16. Read also Col. 2:4-7. If you have the same burning desire as Paul to win Jesus Christ as your Bridegroom, thank God. If you do not, I believe you would be wise to ask God to kindle in your heart that “most vehement flame.” Thank God for ever being attracted – drawn to the beauties and glories of Christ.
As the serpent beguiled Eve, deceived and defeated her, so our enemy would use his subtility to take away our simplicity in Christ. He is going all out to corrupt our minds from single-hearted devotion to our dear Lord Jesus Christ. He still appeals to our intellectual pride to make us think we know better than God just what is best for us. He tries to make us think that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is still much more to be desired than the tree of life. Our Adversary, as an angel of light, has his deceitful workers lying in wait to deceive with intelligently concocted forms and formulas, “anabolic steroids.” Things artificially injected into spiritual conflict are not “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” They will tell you, try a little of this, add a little of that and it will give you the racer’s edge, and advantage over others. But spiritual conflict allows no place or space for carnal substances. (II Cor. 10:4-70)
Satanic suggestions: interjected into human minds by what ever the media (any means) that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, are fiery darts meant to corrupt our minds. We can only be prepared for such onslaughts by being wholly receptive to the Holy Scriptures, and responsive to the Holy Spirit, having the mind of Christ. Thank God that we have the privilege of bringing into captivity our thoughts to the obedience of Christ. Oh how great the need to be wearing the “helmet of salvation” today. Our enemy offers so many “corruptible crowns,” high sounding ideals and titles, great achievements and accomplishments, that are meant to distract the spiritual runner.
The “Simplicity” of verse three speaks to us of single-hearted devotion to Christ. Prize-winning calls for a singleness of purpose, concentrating one’s focus on one object. In athletic terms, keep your eve on the ball or on the goal. The apostle Paul wrote, “I therefore run, not as uncertainly.” Ones whole course of life must be Christ centered so as to avoid the many distractions. As the Psalmist wrote, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.” Jesus told Martha, “one thing is needful,” and Paul wrote “this one thing I do,” these express that single-hearted devotion.
Self-disqualification: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” I Cor. 9:24. Paul was a winning example, and urges us also to run like winners. He had to lay aside many corruptible crown. There was no way he could fool or pay off the Judge, that is righteous and looks on the heart. God has used the apostle Paul to call others to the race. He has powerfully urged us to join the winning team. He calls out, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” God also gave Paul the rules of the contest, the rightly divided Word of truth. These are plainly posted so that no one will have an excuse. We read in Gal. 5:7-8, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.”
We each must be responsible before God. “Let no man take your crown.” We will not be able to use someone else for an excuse, before the righteous Judge. “And if a man also strive for masteries, (goes for the championship) yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully,” II Tim. 2:5.
The Apostle Paul tells us of the “means” by which he could be disqualified to teach us how to avoid being disqualified. Every thing necessary to make us the most victorious saints has been set before us, Let us run!