Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk…for many…are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:15–21—NKJV)

How does a Christian go about choosing a counselor, a mentor, a pastor, a leader? Even though it is not the intention of God to give you a current rating list of qualified men and women to be your counselor from which it is safe to pick, it is within the scope of the inspired Word to give directives so that you may make an informed choice among the many voices running for the office. Once again, believers are called to be discriminating and discerning “fruit inspectors.”

Paul’s burden of heart in Philippians 3 is to plainly state his driving ambition of life, to be one of the premier followers of Christ. His purpose was the active and undistracted pursuit of Christ only. He desired only the Lord’s glory and His approbation. He states in verse 14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This is all that captured his vision and imagination. This is all that should matter and capture any believer’s imagination from here to the end of time!

Paul calls all believers to “walk by the same rule” and be of the same mind as he. His choice of words speaks of an orderly pilgrimage (walk) of believers called to take their place and step along in the line of the church age saints treading life’s path to glory. There are likely some following behind you, and surely, there are others ahead of you. So, whose steps along the pathway do you follow as you steadily forge your way along the journey of life? Whose counsel do you receive?

The qualities of bad examples you must not follow are next described. Paul styles them as “enemies of the cross of Christ.” Though they would not call themselves such, they earn that status because they effectively work against the interests of the claim of Christ on your life. He died to purchase you out of the slave market of sin and to set you at liberty on the narrow way to serve God exclusively. You are His through faith—lock, stock and barrel. You are to glorify Christ in your life. Any counseling which directs your ambition otherwise is suspect and will lead you to effectively seek to take sovereign sway over your life. The flesh always responds well to this kind of counsel, for the flesh is always at war with the claims of the cross.

Paul gives several explanations to a false counselor’s thinking. First, in the light of eternity, his end is destruction—his final issue and result is ruin and loss. Second, his god is his belly—despite his claims to the contrary, his propensity to yield to his own inner urges approach the level of worship of self. Third, his glory is his shame—he elevates to the status of cause célèbre what, to the sensible Christian, ought to be a cause for shame. Beware—there are so many voices in our world which are echoing this exact take on the meaning of life.

Conclusively, Paul states, the false leader sets his mind on earthly things—there is a “this world” focus in place of, and in opposition to, the heavenly inheritance of the saint. Conversely, godly counsel is peppered with the seasoning of eternal consequences to actions taken on earth.

Paul states that we ought rather to tread the pathway well trod by those who are watching for the return of the Great King of Heaven before whom we all must give a strict account. Follow in His steps and in the steps well worn by saints who have endured the narrow way of the Word.

When seeking out a counselor, mentor, pastor, or leader who will declare to you the way of the Lord, be sure that he is playing his melody directly from the orchestra book written and directed by the Master and that he is in harmony with the Composer. Are you acquainted enough with Scripture to recognize false teachers? Are you preparing to be a mentor to someone who is following along in your steps? Trust and obey.