Do you remember those times when your authority was absent? Maybe it was at school when the teacher walked out of the room. Maybe it was when your parents weren't around, or when you boss wasn't at work. Was your conduct different? Would you agree with me that without accountability all of us digress? We all need accountability.
Paul knows that in his absence the Philippians could show signs of defecting, signs of spiritual irresponsibility and carnality. Paul knows that the law of entropy works in people too. He is concerned about Christ's testimony at Philippi. Remember he is at Rome, in prison, as he writes. He is concerned about the churches' behavior whether he is there or not. In verse 27-30, he calls the Philippians to behave in a way that will match the message of the gospel. What he is calling for here is integrity.
Paul is saying, "This is what I expect of you." This section hits hard a great need in our day, for the church to behave itself in the way God has designed. When people look at the church today do they see Christ?
What was the basis of Paul's rejoicing in chapter 1? All through the chapter you see him rejoicing-- why?
Philippians 1:4-5 (NKJV) always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
Philippians 1:12 (NKJV) But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
Philippians 1:14-16 (NKJV) and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;
Philippians 1:18 (NKJV) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
Paul is rejoicing because the gospel is being advanced. Paul's life was wrapped up in Christ and His message. He lived only to bring glory to Christ.
Philippians 1:20 (NKJV) according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
Paul used his body as an instrument of righteousness to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ.
Up until now, Paul has been writing, for the most part, in the first person being chiefly autobiographical. He was talking about himself and his circumstances. Beginning in verse 27, he shifts to his readers, but the subject is the same, the advancement of the gospel. Paul lived for the advancement of the gospel and now he calls the Philippians to do the same. Nineteen hundred years later, these verses are applicable to us. We need to hear this message every bit as much as the Philippians did. We need to live in a way so as to magnify the gospel of Christ.
Philippians 1:27 (NKJV) Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
"Only" is monos. It is placed first and it is emphatic, meaning above all, at all costs. It stands for one essential issue. The bottom line in the Christian life is conduct becoming the gospel. Look at:
Philippians 2:15 (NKJV) that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
The Philippians were to shine as lights in the world and so are we.
Then he says, "Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ." The Greek word for "conduct" here is politeuomai. If you have the KJV it says "conversation," which in the seventeenth century stood for behavior, not speech. The word politeuomai here is a verb and means, to conduct oneself worthily as a citizen of a polis, or city-state.
We need to understand this word "politeuomai" here so we can understand what Paul is saying to the Philippians. We are removed from the original readers by two thousand years and a cultural barrier, a language barrier, and a historical barrier. We need to break down some of these barriers so that we (twentieth century American Christians) can understand what he is saying. This is a very unique word that he uses here and it is unique to the Philippians.
The Roman world had colonies like Philippi which was a small scale version of Rome-- a little Rome. To be a Roman citizen was the epitome of human dignity. Being a Roman citizen was very important in that day. During the great civil war, Octavian defeated Anthony. After the battle, a number of soldiers were settled there and the town of Philippi became a Roman colony. Philippi was 800 miles from Rome geographically, but it was very near in mind set and lifestyle. There was great pride in the fact that they were a polis, a city-state. It spoke of their protection, culture and high esteem in the eyes of Rome. The Philippians thought of themselves as Romans. In Acts 16, we see the founding of the Philippian church.
Acts 16:20-21 (NKJV) And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 "and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."
"Our city" is referring to Philippi. Notice that they saw themselves as "Romans." It is important that we understand this. Rome was their mother and they never forgot who they belonged to. They spoke the Latin language, wore the Roman dress, called the magistrates by the Latin or Roman names. They were deeply into Roman citizenship and all it meant.
Well, what did it mean to be a Roman citizen? I don't think that citizenship is all that big a deal to people today, unless you came here from another country and had to work for your citizenship. To the Greeks, the polis was not just a place to live, there was a tremendous pride in it. The people viewed their polis as a partnership with other people to obtain the highest good for all society. There was very little living for one's self, the good of the polis was in the minds of the people. The individual citizen developed his abilities, his talents, his skills, not for his own sake, but for the benefit of the community and for the sake of all. Mutuality, interdependence, pride of the state was the issue. To live as a citizen polituomy would ring a bell in the minds of the Philippians.
The verb was one that would be readily understood by residents in a Roman colony. Polycarp used it in writing to the Philippian church of his day. The verb occurs in only one other place in the New Testament-- that is:
Acts 23:1 (NKJV) Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day."
The words "have lived" are the Greek word politeuomai. Paul is saying, "I have fulfilled all the duties devolving upon me as a member of the nation Israel in its relationship to God."
So Paul using politeuomai was saying to the Philippians, "Live as a citizen of a free state." To them it was full of meaning. Live for the good of others and not yourself, it meant to live consistent with the values of the state, the goals of the state, and the culture of the state.
In Philippians 3:20, Paul uses the noun form and tells the Philippians that they are to live as citizens of heaven.
Philippians 3:20 (NKJV) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
He is telling them to live for the good of others and not themselves. Use your talents, gifts, and abilities for the good of the community. We (all Christians) are a community of believers.
Colossians 1:13 (NKJV) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
We have been placed into God's kingdom and we are to live as citizens of that kingdom. We are to live as citizens of heaven using all our talents and abilities for the sake of the kingdom and not simply for our self.
The word "conduct" is the translation in the New Testament of another Greek word, anastrepho which is used in:
2 Corinthians 1:12 (NKJV) For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
Ephesians 2:3 (NKJV) among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
As used in these texts, it means, manner of life, behavior, or conduct. Paul uses a specialized word here which is directly connected with the city of Philippi and its citizens. Politeuomai speaks of one's manner of life seen as a duty to a body or group of which one is a member, and to the head of that group to whom he is responsible.
Politeuomai is in the present imperative middle and describes the subject as acting in reference to himself and for his own benefit, participating in the results of the action. Paul is saying, "Exercise your heavenly citizenship as Christians with the same zeal and devotion you do your Roman citizenship." They were being called to live as citizens of heaven. This is a very picturesque word that was full of meaning to the first century Philippian Christians.
Paul goes on to say,"Be worthy of the gospel of Christ" -- this Greek adverb axzios means worthy of. We are to live consistent with what we know, with what we teach, with what we preach, and with what we believe-- this is integrity.
We are losing all credibility today because we say one thing and do another. We live one way and preach another. We must live worthy of the gospel or we destroy our effectiveness and become a group of hypocrites.
We do not behave "in a manner worthy of the gospel" in order to go to heaven. That would be salvation by works. We walk worthy because our names are already written in heaven and our citizenship is in heaven.
Remember, the only Bible some people will ever read is the one demonstrated by our life. An unknown author has put it this way: "You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day. By the deeds that you do, and the words that you say. Men read what you write, whether faithless or true. Just what is the gospel, according to you?"
Our life should be lived in view of, "Will this promote the gospel of Christ?"
2 Corinthians 3:2 (NKJV) You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
Titus 2:1-10 (NKJV) But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
This is why we are to live in obedience to the instructions of verses one through five-- "that the word of God may not be blasphemed." Women, when you live contrary to these things you blaspheme the word of God.
The Southern Baptist have come under fire from the secular media lately because they are calling for women to live in submission to their husbands. I want to tell you all that that isn't something the Southern Baptist made up. That is what God expects of Christian women. The word "obedient" here is hupotasso. It is a military term and means to line up under authority. Ladies, when you don't submit to your husbands authority, you are blaspheming the Word of God. This principle applies to men and women-- when we live contrary to the teaching of the word of God, we blaspheme God's Word.
6 Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
Do you see what he is saying? Your enemies should not be able to find anything evil to say about you. Your life should be lived in a manner that gives your enemies nothing to condemn you for. This is a Christ like life.
9 Exhort bond-servants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
The word "adorn" here mans to "decorate, or make attractive." The way you live can do one of two things; you can blaspheme the Word of God by your life or you can adorn the doctrine of God. We can actually add to the beauty of the gospel by our lives, by our daily conduct. The NIV Bible translates verse 10 this way:
Titus 2:10 (NIV)..... so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
Do you understand the importance of that? Your life either makes the gospel attractive or repulsive. That is a sobering thought. We often fail to realize how crucial to the purpose of God is the behavior of His people.
Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The "good works" of your life should cause men to glorify God. The Gospel is good news that men are delivered from darkness and sin. Do our lives demonstrate that deliverance from sin?
The testimony of the church in America is at a very low level. It is immoral, lazy and selfish. We are not living a life that becomes the gospel. We are all too often making the gospel repulsive and not attractive.
Paul goes on to say, "Whether I come and see you or am absent" -- don't depend on me, you live how you know you should, draw your accountability from the Word of God.
Acts 20:32 (NKJV) "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
What does Paul expect of them? What is worthy behavior? Paul defines worthy behavior as; standing, sharing, striving, and suffering. Paul is saying what you say when you leave your children with a baby sitter--" behave yourself!"
1. Standfast -- this is from the Greek word steko. This word is found only in the New Testament. It is a late koine Greek word. It is a military term that means to be at point in a war, to stand fast, to be stabilized. It is used of a soldier who will not budge from his post no matter how bad it gets.
Paul is telling them to remain at their post and not move-- no comprise with error or sin, doctrine or conduct. This word is used in:
Philippians 4:1 (NKJV) Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
Belief promotes behavior. If you think right, the chances are you are going to live right. He is calling for loyalty to the Lord. For godliness, obedience, holiness and Christlikeness.
The world is full of Christians on the retreat. When Paul says "stand fast," he has in mind resisting temptation to doctrinal and moral compromise. This military metaphor has to do with holding a position while under tremendous attack.
Believers in twentieth century America are under attack, and much of Christianity has deserted or gone AWOL. We see this desertion in the family. The family is the back bone of the church. If we don't have strong godly families, we will not have strong godly churches. The family is under attack in that; public education in America is godless and man centered, women are leaving the home for the work place, and we're not far from the place where the discipline of children will be illegal (which sadly to say won't effect many Christians today). We must stand firm! The work ethic among Christians is terrible, so many are lazy. Our word cannot be trusted, and our word should be our bond. The values taught in God's Holy Word are disappearing from our conduct and thus we are blaspheming the Word of God.
The most important weapon in the battle is not a stirring sermon or a powerful book. It is the consistent holy life of believers.
2. Sharing -- "in one Spirit, with one mind," is speaking of unity. Purity first, unity second. We are not to forsake purity for the sake of unity. One Spirit-- the Holy Spirit is where our strength to stand comes from:
Galatians 5:16 (NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
He is the source of our power and our unity:
Ephesians 4:3 (NKJV) endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The word "spirit" could refer to attitude, having a spirit of unity.
"One mind" is psuche. It is the root of the English word psychology, and therefore, refers to the whole experiential aspect of man. It means to have a unified purpose and program with no divided opinions. The battle for unity continues on, it is nothing new:
Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Did the Philippians have a problem with unity? Yes!
Philippians 4:2 (NKJV) I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Unity only comes through spirituality, carnal believers cause strife. Whenever there is strife, there is carnality.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NKJV) And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
James 3:13-18 (NKJV) Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Unity was a passion of Paul, he mentioned it in Romans 12:5, 10, 18; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 4:1-3; Philippians 4:2. Over and over he talked about unity. Unity was also the prayer of Christ in John 17 and it was the passion of Christ:
John 13:34-35 (NKJV) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
How can we have unity? The church universal will never be united on all points of doctrine or practice. America is very prominent for denominationalism. Much of this had to do with how our country was founded. People came from all over and they brought their denominations with them. The unity that I'm talking about right now is unity of the local church. If the local church is going to have a testimony, it has to have unity. How do we achieve unity? It's simple:
Philippians 2:3 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Do you know what causes conflict? Two people concerned about their own interests. You'll never have conflict where you have two people only concerned about one person's interest. Conflict is always the result of competing interests. The remedy is simple, yet so difficult -- "Stop looking out for yourself." It doesn't matter what you want, think, or prefer. What matters is unity. The question is who is going to sacrifice, who is going to humble themself?
Someone will say, "Well I'm right!" That's the problem, you have elevated being right over unity. Now, please understand that we are talking about preference areas. We have to stand our ground in doctrinal areas. But don't destroy unity for your preferences.
Christ desires unity for His body, don't you damage the body by your preference. You might have to give up your wants, and opinions to seek peace. A powerful outward testimony comes from a unified body.
John 17:21 (NKJV) "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
We see here three great unities:
1. The unity of the Father and the Son.
2. Believers unity with God
3. Believers unity among themselves--" that the world may believe that you have sent me."
Acts 2:44-47 (NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
So, we are to stand fast-- avoid error and sin and live in purity of mind and body. We are also to share-- we are to have one mind, we are to guard our unity.
3. Striving together for the faith of the gospel. The words "striving together" are the Greek word sunathleo, from sun which means "together with" and athleto which means "to engage in competition or conflict." The simple verb is found in:
2 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV) And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
It carries the association of contest in war and in the arena where the gladiatorial struggle was one of life and death. This is a call for team effort-- struggling together. This shows us the necessity of unity. Moffatt renders it, "fighting side by side."
You cannot maintain unity in a static position, you must be engaged in a common struggle. When we were kids, my brother Gary and I were always fighting with each other unless someone came against either of us, then we fought together against them. When you're static, when there is no goal, arguments arise. But when we are working for a common goal, we strive together towards that goal.
A team without unity won't accomplish anything, and unity comes when all are seeking a common victory.
Pete was in the Marine Corps. band before he became a pilot, and when he was in the band he played the trumpet. I remember asking him what he did in the Marines as a trumpet player. He said, "We just practice playing music." I said, "Don't you have to do anything else?" He said, "Yes, we have to go to the field like everyone else." I asked him what they did in the field. He said, "We go out there for two weeks with our war paint and our guns and play war games. We protect the fort while others are trying to capture it." I said, "How does the band come out in the war games?" He said to me, "The band never loses." He said, "They used to laugh at us because we were the band. But we never lost because we were so use to working together, we were one. You can't have disunity in a band. Because we were used to working together, when we got to the field we were one. And nobody beat the band." Pete said, "They never captured one single man from the band." That is a good lesson in unity. We must learn to work together.
We have a common goal to strive together for God's glory through the advancement of the kingdom of God. Our battle is for the faith-- to advance it, to defend it. We need to recover an aggressive faith, to strive as a team for the goal. It should be clear that in our day the faith needs to be defended. Read some of the evangelistic literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Then read some of the literature of today. A gospel track today might say, "Ask Jesus into your heart." What does that mean? Does the person who asks Jesus into their heart know that they're a sinner, and that Christ died for their sin? They can ask Jesus into their heart and still be as lost as they always were. The Bible doesn't say, "Ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved." That is a bunch of nonsense that we have made up in our day. Nobody is ever saved by asking Jesus into their heart. They are saved by believing the gospel. If we would share a clear gospel, people might be able to get saved. Some man said, "We don't present the gospel clear enough for the non-elect to reject it." The gospel message is so unclear today it's a wonder that anybody gets saved. We need to contend for the faith.
Our goal is twofold-- evangelism and edification. This is our battle cry. We are to be actively, aggressively reaching out to the lost, calling them to faith in Christ. We are also to be teaching the truths of the Word of God to those who are saved. But the church today is selling out. You won't find too many churches today that are teaching the Scriptures for the edification of believers.
The fastest growing church in the country is totally built around entertainment. Their spring concert was a Las Vegas show complete with profanity, kissing, wild dancing, and rock music. One of the songs they sang was "Get out of my dreams and into the back seat of my car." At the end, a guy stood up and said, "In some way Jesus Christ has touched all of our lives, thank you for coming"-- that's it!
Entertainment-- this day is mad with entertainment. It's going to be hard to reach this entertainment mad age. In his book, "Amusing Ourselves to Death" Neal Postman says, "Compare modern preachers to George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards if you want to know the difference between the mind set of people then and today."
Postman used the illustration of the Lincoln--Douglas debate. Douglas spoke for three hours. Then Lincoln stood up, it was 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, Lincoln said, "I need at least as much time as he had and then we have to have a half hour each for rebuttal. Why don't you people go home and get some dinner and come back refreshed." The people, agreeable, went home to eat and came back for four more hours of speaking. Seven hours they stood and listened to intellectual arguments. People won't do this today, and the church knows it, so they water things down and try to make it entertaining so people will come.
Jonathan Edwards wrote a treaties concerning religious affection in 1746, it's one of the most profound works in American History. He would stand and read his manuscripts with no intonation and people would cry to God for mercy. Why? Because they had been trained to think.
Now you stand up and give them a reasoned approach to Scripture, and they're asleep in three minutes because nobody has been shot, nothing has been blown up, nothing has exploded and nobody has said, "And now a word from our sponsor" (and a famous athlete is at McDonald's pushing junk food). People today can't deal with having to think-- so much of today's preaching is content less.
We have a tremendous task, we at BBC are totally committed to teaching God's Word. This means that we will always have empty seats because most believers don't want to think, but be entertained.
We are in a war for the faith-- we must stand, share, strive, and suffer, and as we do, our lives will be consistent with our Gospel. Remember; God's glory by his own design is wrapped up in the behavior of His people.
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