Preacher: Pastor Ray
Do you think that you will keep sinning deliberately until the day you die? Listen as we talk about overcoming the pattern of lowercase “s” sins by repenting of the capital “S” Sin of unbelief.
Do you think that you will keep sinning deliberately until the day you die? Listen as we talk about overcoming the pattern of lowercase “s” sins by repenting of the capital “S” Sin of unbelief.
If the Spirit dwells in you, He will reveal truth. Paul assumes his readers are tracking with him because the same Spirit that is in him must be in those who are reading this letter.
– Read 1 Cor 2. What distinguishes the natural man vs. the spiritual man?
– Read Rom 8:16. What does it mean that the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit?
If the Spirit dwells in you, you are free.
– The opposite of freedom is enslavement. How does our enslavement get expressed?
– How is condemnation connected to enslavement?
– What does it mean that Christians are “un-condemnable?”
– Read Rom 8:1 (read a version of the Bible that keeps the original translation – i.e. KJV). If Christians are no longer under condemnation, then why do Christians still suffer under condemnation?
– What is the only type of condemnation that remains for the believer?
If the Spirit dwells in you, faith in Jesus will be the goal of your life.
– Read Rom 8:6-8. Why do people whose mind is set on the flesh eventually grow in hostility toward God?
– The person whose mind is set on the flesh cannot please God. How can we please God? (Hint: Heb 11.)
– Condemnation causes us to draw back from God while faith allows us to keep pressing into God. Explain this statement.
If the Spirit dwells in you, you will have a deep sense that you are a child who belongs to God.
– Read Rom 8:14-17. What does it mean that our spirit has an inner agreement with the Holy Spirit?
– Consider the Toy Story example. Where does God write His name so that His children know that we belong to Him?
Luke 15 contains a series of lost items that at one time belonged to someone: a lost sheep that belonged to the shepherd, the lost coin that belonged to a woman, and the lost (or prodigal) son who belonged to the Father.
– What does it mean that we were lost for a season but we never stopped belonging to the Father?
– What’s the only thing that could have prevented the lost son from returning home?
9 For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christ humbled himself and God exalted Christ. And if you are following a risen Christ, Jesus will take you down the same path. We humble ourselves and connect to Jesus and we leave the rest to God. If God exalts us and uses our lives to save hundreds or thousands, then so be it. If God doesn’t and we see no visible results, so be it. If we are humble, God may not exalt us now, but He will eventually exalt us. Humble yourself and leave the rest to God. Let him exalt whom He wants to exalt when He wants to exalt. He is God and that’s his prerogative.
If you live this way, you will be free. Exalting ourselves all the time is so tiring. We don’t need to exalt ourselves. This is the complete opposite advice from the world. Everyone else is telling you, and you are telling yourself, to exalt yourself right now, every moment until the day you die. Prove to the world that you are worthy of respect by your accomplishments. Show others why they should take notice when you walk into a room because of your job title or because of your intellect or your bank account. Exalt yourself. Don’t wait. You got only one life. Go for it. This is worldly wisdom.
In Christian circles, it’s the same advice applied in a different context. Make your life count for Christ. Don’t be lazy. Serve. Work hard. Evangelize. Write books. Get invited to conferences. Become a Christian celebrity so that everyone knows your name and listens to your podcasts and watches you on youtube and looks up to your church as a model church. Exalt yourself because time is short and you got to make this one life count. Bigger is better, don’t you know. Make an eternal impact in your generation. That sounds so right, but it’s a deception.
Our only responsibility is to believe in the One whom God sent. John 6:29. We are children of God. We are disciples of Jesus. We need to humble ourselves and repent from the delusion that we have power to do anything. I can’t save you. This church can’t save you. Only Jesus can save. Church without Christ is empty religion and empty religion will lead you straight to hell.
Our job is to go to Jesus and point others to Jesus. Then, they, too, can be yoked to the Jesus we have come to know and cherish. This is ministry–we go out to the world and introduce others to the one who is gentle and humble in heart and who takes my burdens away and who has set me free. Live this way and leave the results to God. Humble yourself and leave the rest in God’s good hands. You don’t have to exalt yourself. Let God exalt your life.
Paul begins this chapter by telling us to be humble and he unpacks what humility looks like relationally. Earlier we talked about gentleness as flowing out of an inner character of humility. Here’s another way humility is expressed in our relationships.
1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Humility is defined plainly here. It is not thinking really lowly of yourself. It is actually to stop thinking about yourself period. Stop thinking about how you can exalt yourself. Instead, consider others more important than yourselves. Don’t be critical of others, or judgmental of others, or feel superior or inferior to others. If you do this, you are really thinking about yourself and trying to exalt yourself. If you are a church leader and you lead this way and you are at the center of the ministry, when people sin against you or diss you, it’s no surprise that you respond very harshly with them.
Harshness stems from a heart that is striving to exalt oneself. A proud heart leads to harsh treatment of others. Paul is saying, drop all of that way of thinking. Just consider the person in front of you as more important than you. Their needs, their issues matter, put your issues aside, humble yourself, stop thinking about yourself. Now be free and serve the person in front of you.
Imagine if every one of us here stopped thinking about ourselves and considered the person in front of us as more important. Now that would be radically different, wouldn’t it? Christ would be exalted in our midst, right? There would be spiritual power and a special filling of the Holy Spirit if we lived this way corporately.
How do we get there? Verse 5 – “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.” The actions flow from attitude. You can’t will yourself to stop thinking about yourself and considering others as more important. Spiritual life doesn’t work that way. Whenever you feel proud and you begin to exalt yourself and put others down, you can’t beat yourself and say, why am I like this, I got to try harder. Humility doesn’t work this way. Humility is not a skill you can master through brute force. You need an attitude adjustment. Then, the actions of considering others more important will follow.
How can you and I change our attitudes? Only one way. You have to be with Jesus. You have to spend time with Jesus. You can’t fake humility. People can smell pride or self-exaltation from a mile away. Only Jesus can change your attitude from the inside so that on the outside, you can genuinely consider others more important than yourself.
There are many churchgoers who, to be frank, are very proud, critical, judgmental and just plain nasty. But they might be working really hard for Christ and the church. How can you explain this? I think there are two explanations. One, they are not spending time with Jesus. If Jesus is this gentle and humble and we are spending time with Jesus who describes himself as gentle and humble, how can His character not rub off on us? It’s impossible. We will become like Christ and his attitude will become our attitude and his actions will become our actions, provided that we are really fellowshipping with Jesus moment by moment. A lack of time spent with Jesus is one explanation as to why Christians might work really hard for God’s kingdom and not be changed into Christ-likeness.
Or, two, Christians who are harsh and proud might be spending time in prayer, but they are using Jesus as a means to some other end. They are seeking the blessings of Christ, not the Blesser. They are seeking the salvation of others rather than the Savior. They are seeking to advance the kingdom of God instead of desiring to have the King reign in their own hearts. Are you seeing the difference?
Knowing Christ has to be the final goal. If you use Christ to become an effective minister and to be fruitful in ministry, then the minister might have be able to gather a following, but their harsh treatment of others and their lack of humility condemns them because they’ve missed the point. We got to get back to the fundamentals of our faith. We are followers of Jesus. Meaning, we have to spend time with Jesus, not to check it off a list and go on our merry way, but to connect because we want to be with Jesus. No other agenda than to be in His presence. And as we fellowship, we allow His character to rub off on us and we become more and more like Christ. Then, in terms of our relationships with one another, we can be gentle because we are free to point others to Jesus. Such ministers are not possessive, they are not out to use others to feel useful or needed or to have people join their group. We don’t have to work so hard to get people to be loyal to us. We are free to serve others with no ulterior motive. Our only aim in ministry is to get others connected with Jesus.
When we are free from the temptation to exalt ourselves, we are free to consider others better than ourselves and to serve them and point them to the Jesus and not ourselves. We are free to leave the results to God. And if he exalts us, we rejoice. If he doesn’t, we are content. The outcome of our lives, personally, vocationally, in terms of family, ministry, everything doesn’t ultimately define our joy. We are free to follow Jesus and enjoy Jesus and leave the results in God’s hands.
Don’t settle for information about Jesus. Don’t settle for an experience of Jesus many years ago. I’m preaching to myself–don’t settle for church and service to others and ministry. I pray that you can discover for the first time, or together, we can rediscover the Savior and lover of our souls. Live to know Christ and leave the rest to God. Humble yourself. Focus only on Jesus. You don’t have to exalt yourself. Leave the exalting to God. Do you know this Jesus? Let’s get to know this Jesus together and help each other get to know Him.
2) The gospel leads to Fellowship
27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind…
Let’s follow Paul’s argument. He begins with “living is Christ”, then he continues by saying “live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Paul unpacks that a little more and explains what this life worthy of the gospel looks like. A life worthy of the gospel is one that is standing firm in one spirit and with one mind. This is an appeal to unity. Why did Paul start with unity? I think Phil 4:1-3. [READ]
Euodia and Syntyche, like Lydia, must have been prominent women in the church at Philippi. And these 2 women were fighting. Guys don’t fight as much as women not because we are more godly. We don’t fight as much simply because guys don’t speak as much as women do. Compared to women, men are mute. Jackie speaks 95 words for my every 5 words and so I play catch-up on Sunday during my preaching.
Plus, if guys get in a fight, the next day they might see each other at church and one guy says, you okay? Yeah, and you? Yeah, I’m okay. And they go out for a burger and it’s as if the fight never happened. But women like to talk and words can be dangerous weapons. Obviously, whatever was said between these two women is not blowing over. Paul is aware of the problem and so even at the very outset of the letter in chapter 1, he begins by addressing the problem of disunity without mentioning any names.
Unity is such a delicate thing. It can take years to build unity at a church around the gospel of Jesus Christ and you can have a bad day and you speak one careless word and the unity can be shattered in an instant. We can speculate as to what happened between Euodia and Syntyche. Perhaps, Euodia said something to Syntyche. At first, Syntyche was shocked and confused. Why did she say that? Later, shock and confusion turns to offense. How dare she say that to me! She is offended and she tells some of her close friends in the church what happened. Euodia, on the other hand, feels justified in saying what she said because she feels she is totally objective and she is confident that Syntyche is completely in the wrong.
Then, at the next house gathering, Euodia notices that Syntyche’s friends are giving her the cold shoulder. Later, Euodia finds out that people are against her because Syntyche is falsely portraying the situation. Now Euodia is really mad. Her anger boils over not only against Syntyche but also the friends that took her side. So in a fit of rage, Euodia starts a campaign. She begins telling all of her friends via Facebook the “real” story in order to garner support, to have people in her corner. And before you know it, the church is divided into two factions.
Considering the makeup of this church, I’m sure unity at this church didn’t come easily. Lydia is a successful Asian business woman. I’ve met a few CEOs and high-level executives in my day and if Lydia is anything like the people I’ve met, then she probably needed to have things done a certain way. Her way. On top of that, she was likely one of the biggest financial contributors to the church. Her financial giving coupled with her CEO background, don’t you think she would’ve had a strong opinion on how the church should be run and how the offering ought to be used? Do you think this kind of personality was easy to deal with for the other church members? I’m guessing that having her in the mix tested the unity of the church.
What about the demon-possessed slave girl? Do you think she might have had a problem with trusting others? After all, her own parents abandoned her and sold her into slavery and her new owners used her as a source of income for fortune telling. Don’t you think she would’ve put up walls to keep everyone at arm’s length? Wouldn’t this kind of guarded, wounded person test the relational strength and unity at Philippi?
What about the Roman jailer? This guy probably fought in the Roman military. He’s probably used to settling disagreements with his fists. You got a problem. Let’s take it outside and settle it. I bet he was a violent man. There are clues in Acts 16 that this Roman jailer didn’t simply keep watch over Paul and Silas in prison. Paul and Silas were not placed in a normal prison cell. They were placed in the “inner prison” and their feet were secured in stocks. Inner prisons were like torture chambers. It is likely that this jailer tortured them. The jailer was likely a violent man who abused his power and who got pleasure from seeing people suffer under his authority. Don’t you think that it’s quite possible that this Roman jailer had some rough edges even after he was converted?
None of us are transformed into the spotless bride of Christ the moment we are saved. All 3–Lydia, the slave girl and this jailer–were works in progress. Lydia. The Tiger Mom fashion executive who had to have it her way. The slave girl with emotional scars from her past and trust issues. The jailer’s rough-edged personality. This is a small sampling of the kind of vastly different people God brought together and said, you are the church at Philippi. Be one, one in spirit, one in mind. This is the power of the gospel to create a new kind of fellowship. This kind of fellowship doesn’t happen in the world. Only Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit can create this kind of fellowship. Where I can call an African American man from the ghetto my brother. And an Asian Tiger Mom from NY my sister. And a Caucasian soccer mom who lives in the suburbs and drives a SUV my fellow sibling in Christ.
How can you and I keep the unity? The answer is v21 – living is Christ. You return to the Person through whom unity was made possible in the first place, Jesus Christ. Paul urged the Philippians to stand firm in one spirit, with one mind. Stand firm because relational conflicts and spiritual battle will knock us down and challenge our unity. Brothers and sisters, unity is hard, but even if you and I are knocked down, get up, stand firm in one spirit and one mind. When we start to falter and loose our footing, go back to v21. The gospel of Jesus Christ. Living is Christ.
The gospel leads to freedom, fellowship, and finally…
3) The gospel leads to Fearlessness
Read Phil 1:27b-30. [READ]
Let’s follow Paul’s argument. v21 – living is Christ. The verses that follow tell us how to live FOR Christ. Live in a manner worthy of the gospel. How can you demonstrate that you are living for Christ? By your fellowship and unity where people of different backgrounds are brought together under the Headship of Christ. That’s one change that Christ and the gospel brings to bear. Freedom first, then fellowship. Lastly, the gospel leads to fearlessness.
We read about that in v28 – not being frightened in any way by your opponents. Then in verses 29-30, Paul talks about suffering. Don’t be afraid because Paul knows that the opponents of the gospel in Paul’s day were not out to win some public debates or to make them suffer by hurting their feelings. The opponents of the gospel were out to throw them into prison and to kill them. This was a literal, physical suffering that was brought on by their faith in Jesus. In the face of this persecution, Paul tells them, don’t be frightened. What’s the worst they can do to you? Take away your life? But even if that happens, you can rejoice because dying is great gain because you are with Christ. Be courageous. Have no fear. Whether you suffer or whether you die, Christ is with you and you are with Him. Nothing else matters.
For us, we have to be humble because our situation here in America is worlds apart from the situation facing the Philippian church. No one is throwing us into prison or causing us bodily harm because of our faith in Jesus. This is why I believe in missions. How can we know if we are fearless when our lives are comfortable and our faith requires little or no suffering? We need to go to places and see for ourselves how our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering. Suffering from a lack of food and material provisions. And suffering because of persecution. Satan is not playing games. He hates every one of God’s children. He knows he is going down and he wants to take as many of us down with him as he can. Don’t be afraid of Satan. Seek out volunteer opportunities in our area. Look for ways to get out of your comfort zone.
In addition to putting ourselves in situations where we will witness or experience suffering first hand, I think for us, we need to go a little deeper and get at the root issue. I believe the root issue ties back to point #1 and freedom. Before we can be fearless, we need to be free. Freedom precedes fearlessness. Someone might not be opposing you for your faith nor causing you to suffer, but does that mean we are not fearful? We have tons of fears. Fears of not be loved. We have fears of being a nobody. We fear what people will think about us. We fear letting people down. We fear disappointing our parents. We have fears of not having enough money for our retirement. We have fears of tragedy hitting our lives directly or our loved ones. We have fears of not achieving our goals of the perfect life with the perfect spouse, the perfect job, the perfect bank account, perfect kids, the perfect American Dream.
Examine your fears and they will point you to your master. If money is your master, you fear what will happen if you don’t have enough of it. There’s your master. If career is your master, then you fear what will happen if you don’t achieve your career goals. There’s your master. If romance is your master, then you will fear a life of loneliness. There’s your master. Any one of these masters will lead to enslavement and a lack of freedom. Instead of freedom, you will be enslaved by your fears.
But if Jesus is your Master, there is freedom. Christ came to set captives free. If you have found your freedom in Christ, then you can be fearless. Even before death, you won’t fear because dying is gain. Paul was so fearless because he found his freedom in Christ and Christ was his Master.
A lack of freedom and fear go hand in hand in the same way that freedom and fearlessness go hand in hand. Are you fearful? Then, go back to v21. Living is Christ. Only if Jesus is your life can you begin to live FOR Christ. Go to Jesus. Surrender your life to Jesus again and again. Let him be your Master so that you can be free. Fellowship and fearlessness are the byproducts. Before we think about having a unified, godly fellowship and before we think about doing things or suffering for Christ fearlessly, may we experience the freedom and joy that can only be found when our life IS Christ. Living is Christ. Seek Jesus, follow Jesus, love Jesus. Then, everything else will fall into place.