Sunday, January 22, 2017

Paul's Epistles – Philippians - Part 9: Following Paul’s Example

Paul's Epistles – Philippians - Part 9:
Following Paul’s Example
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Paul’s epistle (letter) to the Philippians is very important to the Gentiles. It was written to the first church founded in Europe (Acts 16:9-40).

Though not generally considered one of the most remarkable or deepest books of the bible, it is considered one of the sweetest of Paul’s writings.

It is more in the nature of a love letter to the Philippians, who had excelled all others in devoted attachment to Paul. Throughout this letter we get a glimpse into the apostle’s heart.

The Philippian church was noted for its generosity. It had repeatedly ministered to Paul (6:15 & 16).

Hearing Paul was imprisoned in Rome they sent help again by the hands of Epaphroditus (6:10 & 18), who, however, was struck down on his arrival by an almost fatal illness. Somehow news of this illness had reached Philippi, to their dismay, and on his recovery, Epaphroditus was anxious to reassure them in person (11:25-28), so Paul write this letter for him to take.

So this letter was written by Paul while in prison in Rome, and given to Epaphroditus to be taken back to the church in Philippi.

Paul focuses his letter on Church unity
He thanks God for all of them as one body
He tells them not to worry about his being in prison for it advances the gospel
Paul tells the believer to live a life “worthy” of the gospel
Paul says we must live imitating Christ and His humility

Paul tells the church in Philipi to follow his example.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE Philippians 3:15-21
 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Paul opened his letter with a salutation to all, reminding the church they were not 2 factions, there was no “real” division, only a perceived one, created through sin.

The overall message of this epistle to the church is;
Christian unity to be maintained at all costs”.

a. All of us who are mature should take such a view
                                                                                                               i. The view Paul refers to was explained in the previous writings in this letter
1. Christian UNITY in the church was to be maintained at all costs
2. They were to have more LOVE for each other
3. Being sincere
4. Having Humility like Christ
5. Killing their pride which destroys unity
6. Having a mind like Christ would CURE Spiritual immaturity
7. Paul also warned about false teachers
8. Self-righteousness
9. Against instant perfection instead of progressive

                                                                                                            ii. This being the Spiritually Mature view, sticking to true doctrine, loving others (I Corinthian style), and being HUMBLE

                                                                                                         iii. This is the view one should take

b. If at some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you
                                                                                                               i. Which happened in this church

                                                                                                            ii. If we have a prayer life as we should, we will hear from God

                                                                                                         iii. The self-righteous, arrogant, prideful ones will block out anything God may say that contradicts their selfishness

                                                                                                           iv. When we listen, we must be ready to accept the change from the Holy Spirit, else we quench His work in us
1. Becoming stagnant, unchanging, lacking Spiritual growth, and living a Spiritually immature existence

c. Let us live up to what we have already attained
                                                                                                               i. Basically Paul is explaining the church already had everything they needed as far as teaching to be successful followers, and Spiritually Mature Christians.

                                                                                                            ii. They just needed to LIVE that which they already had

a. Join together in following my example brothers and sisters
                                                                                                               i. Paul proposed himself as an example for them

                                                                                                            ii.  Paul had a mind like Christ, as should we

1. Let us be like minded, set our hearts upon Christ and heaven
a. This creates unity

2. Though we may differ in opinions about other things, if we put our hearts on Christ and heaven, we can agree and be like minded

3. This is also why Christians who differ with one another in smaller matters should bear with one another.

                                                                                                         iii. Romans 14:1-6 “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

                                                                                                           iv. Romans 14:10-13 “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 

1. This is not addressing those who are followers of Christ and are sinning, rather, followers YOU have a different opinion with!

2. Paul is saying, they are not the problem, YOU ARE!

                                                                                                              v. Do not let selfishness, pride, self-righteousness cause you to quarrel with another believer over these types of matters, destroying unity in the Body of Christ.

                                                                                                           vi. We must be humble like Christ, putting others before ourselves.

1. Meaning, what is more important? You attacking another for something you differ with them about (selfishness) and proving you are “right” (self-righteousness),

2. Or, putting their needs (to be unified in the Body of Christ) first and foremost.

a. This is I Corinthian 13 love

                                                                                                        vii. God gave us Spiritual Fruits and Spiritual Gifts to serve OTHERS, not ourselves

1. We are to build, strengthen, edify, grow the Body of Christ

2. If we use those fruits and gifts for any other purpose, we are abusing that which God has given us, and are not going to get a return for the talents we were given.

b. Just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do
                                                                                                               i. Paul and the other Apostles doing everything in their power to use the Gifts of God properly to grow and strengthen the Body of Christ

c. I have often told you, and will tell you again with tears in my eyes, many live as enemies of the Cross of Christ
                                                                                                               i. Who does Paul say an enemy of the Cross of Christ is?

                                                                                                            ii. The Spiritually Immature who hurt the Body, cause division and strife within the church

a. Their destiny is destruction
                                                                                                               i. If we live in opposition to the Body of Christ, our destiny will be destruction

1. If they continue to ignore the teaching of the Cross, their eventual end will be destruction of their soul

2. THIS is where other LOVING members of the Body of Christ are to step in and HELP

3. Not all receive this help, and thus, why Paul cries for many who live as enemies refusing to receive Godly instruction and live by Christ’s teaching

                                                                                                            ii. Those who do not LIVE by what they have already attained risk eternal destruction of their soul
1. Leaving God’s grace for those who still lack in understanding, which only God can judge

2. However we have a responsibility to read, listen, learn and live what the Gospel teaches.

b. Their god (enemies of the Cross of Christ) is their stomach
                                                                                                               i. Their stomach
1. Meaning those who preach what tickling ears long to hear simply for financial gain

                                                                                                            ii. Their glory is in their shame
1. The material gains they seek and get are to their shame!

2. Remember this when watching a preacher in a $5,000 suit wearing gold and diamonds on every finger talking about 1 of their many mansions, jets, limo and such

3. They have already received their rewards which are nothing more than a testament to their shame

                                                                                                         iii. Their mind is set on earthly things
1. Though we need to live in this world
a. We need food
b. Housing
c. Clothes
d. Etc…

2. We are NOT to let THINGS be the motivation of our lives, rather, keep our motivation on CHRIST and the CROSS remembering to build our riches in our heavenly home knowing we are only here for a short time.

3. Your Father in Heaven will always provide you with everything you need, and your hearts desires if your heart is right with the Lord.
                                                                                                           iv. Sometimes we think we know what we desire in our hearts, but are blinded and drowned out by our flesh and its desires.

                                                                                                              v. Earthly desires once acquired never satisfy, but only lead to wanting more.

1. True Spiritual desires of your heart, only acquired through a relationship with God, brings peace, contentment and fulfills thoroughly only leading to you wanting a closer relationship with God

c. Our citizenship is in Heaven
                                                                                                               i. We are strangers here

1. 1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”

2. 1 Chronicles 29:15 “We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.”

                                                                                                            ii. In the world but not of the world

1. John 17:16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

2. John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

CONCLUSION – and we eagerly await a savior from there
The Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control (The Cross) will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like His glorious body.

This speaks of the day when we will no longer have to wait to go “home” Christ will come for us, transform us into glorious, perfect, ageless followers who will leave this fallen place and live in eternity with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?    CLICK HERE!

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