A Word About Words
CONVERSATION? or MANNER OF LIFE?
Philippians 1:27 states, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ . . .” The word conversation, used so often in the New Testament, literally means manner of life. It is more than your talk. It is your walk, your whole lifestyle, your words, deeds, attitudes and values. At work, at school and at home our manner of life should rightly represent the gospel of Christ which saves, not only from the penalty of sin, but also from the practice of sin. Different Greek words, each translated “conversation” but meaning manner of life, are used to express this idea.
We often hear it said that our citizenship is in Heaven, and we look in vain in the King James Bible for the Scripture that supports such a claim. It is found in Philippians 3:20-21 in the word “conversation.” “For our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Here, the thought is not just our talk but a lifestyle that reflects our heavenly destiny, our citizen life. The world says, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” but we do not expect that of our ambassadors. We expect them to represent our country, our values, our standards, our ways, and not those of the country where they work. Just so, we are in the world, but not of it; our citizenship is in Heaven.
We are ambassadors for Christ, and He expects us to represent Him aright, to live a life that corresponds to our citizenship. Since even our bodies are destined, not for the ash heap, but to be incorruptible like Christ’s, we ought to keep them pure, rejecting the world’s defiling ways. It does make a difference what we do with our bodies. But whether it be life or lip, walk or talk, behavior or values, let our manner of life rightly represent the gospel of Christ.
Five times in Ephesians Paul speaks about the “heavenlies” (Epourania):
1:3 – God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies.
1:20 – Christ is seated at God’s right hand in the heavenlies.
2:6 – Being saved, we are seated together in the heavenlies with Christ.
3:10 – “To the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers, in the heavenlies, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.”
6:12 – We wrestle against wicked spirits in the heavenlies.
While commonly thought of as Heaven itself, the presence of wicked spirits in Ephesians 6:12 makes that unlikely, unless we consider them as visitors as in Job 1:6 and Revelation 12:10.
It helps to think of the heavenlies as the spiritual realm where we actually live at this present time. Just as a diver works at the bottom of the sea but “lives” on the deck of the ship where life-sustaining oxygen is supplied to him, so we work in an alien environment but “live” in the heavenlies. A watchmaker with his workshop in the basement of his home hung a sign out front: “Residence Above: Workshop Below.” This is the Christian.
Christ our Head is seated in the heavenlies (1:20), and we are seated together with Him in the heavenlies (2:6). It always helps to keep the body close to the head. The reference in 6:12 to the evil spirits in the heavenlies explains the delay Daniel experienced in getting an answer to prayer (Dan. 10:12-14). God had sent the answer on its way, but it was delayed for three weeks by wicked spirits in the heavenlies.
So, we draw our strength from the heavenlies, and we fight our battles in the heavenlies.