January 18, 2009

Philippians #8

Philippians 2:1-4

The first section of this chapter is vv. 1-11, but we will take it vv. 1-4 and vv. 5-11

We have a major theme in this chapter continues the theme from the end of chapter 1 — that is, unity of spirit for the common cause of Glory of God and the advancement of his work here on earth.

The main hindrance to the unity that effectively works for the advancement of God's work on earth is PRIDE. 2:1-11, Paul deals with that hindrances. The word pride itself is not inherently wrong. It is used both positively and negatively in the Old Testament. We are interested in the negative usage. Of course, God condemns the pagan pride of Moab, Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, &c.

Isaiah 13:11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

But his harshest words are against the pride of his people.

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate

Proverbs 15:25 ¶ The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.

Proverbs 16:18 ¶ Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Jeremiah 13:9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Scripture uses several metaphors to describe pride.

1. The raging sea, Job 38:11, Psalms 89:9
2. The massively destructiveness of mountain disturbances, Psalms 46:3
3. The swelling jungle of the Jordan, Jeremiah 12:5, 49:19, 50:44.
4. The rising column of smoke that corrupts everything it touches.

Two points from the above.

1. The swelling jungle will completely take an area over if it is not continually controlled, as will swelling pride.
2. The rising column of smoke gets larger and corrupts everything it touches:

Isaiah 65:5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

Pride in our abilities can make us think that others cannot do without us. It can cause us to parade our abilities for others to see. It can even lead us to presumptions sin—that is, to think that even the Lord cannot do without us. It can lead us to compromise our responsibilities in the faith so we can fulfill our pride.

Illustration: I remember a few years ago when we were working the polls in Front Royal. Our polling place was in the gym of the local elementary school.

That morning, a dance team came in and did their routine in the gym while the polls were open. The dance team was part of the "PRIDE" movement that is supposed to help keep kids out of the drug scene.

Of course, man tries everything under the sun to keep from having to turn to the Son to solve his sin problem. In the case of the "PRIDE" team, man's natural sinful tendency of pride is being used. The team director was soundly rebuked for bringing her team into the polling place.

None of us is free of pride. It touches and effects every thought and deed. Though we would never say it out loud, and it might even be unknown to us, but we can even be proud of our humility.

Pride leads to sin in our speech, and in our actions. Pride causes us to speak when we should be quite, and even tell of things that should be left unsaid. It causes us to act in order to show off our skills. Of course, we would never admit openly that our motives might be pride; yet, the Lord knows the truth of the matter.

As we mentioned in chapter one, Paul did not mention any open sins taking place in this church, but he does speak strongly against the hidden sin of pride.

Did he know something, or was he simply issuing a very strong warning as he speaks against pride, and urges them to victory over this common problem? Several times in this book he will point out that the victory lies in having the mind of Christ.

Pride creeps into everything, maybe even unknown to us. In Christ, we can have the victory over this wicked sin that touches everything, and leads to destruction, if we are willing to face the problem.

3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Do we want our sins revealed to us, so we can take them before the Lord for forgiveness and victory?

The first 11 verses of this chapter deals strongly against pride, and gives the answer for victory.

1:27 requires humility, self-sacrifice and working together. That is, the common working together for the advancing of the kingdom of God.

Notice in 1:15, 16, the gospel in Rome was being preached by some out of envy and strife. Now Paul warns against such preaching, though folks were being saved under the ill-preaching.

In chapter 2 he deals further with pride, as he urges them to work together with one mind, the mind of Christ. V. 5. The mind of Christ is absent of those things that plague men — strife or vain glory. Though Christ was equal with God and was God, he totally humbled himself to the will of another, and that other person was God the Father.

Paul has used his imprisonment for the gospel to motivate these folks to work together for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Now Paul gives some very practical things which we need for our own lives.

V. 1. Consolation or encouragement.

* If we have found any encouragement at all in Christ and His word,
* If we have found any comfort in Christian love in Christ,
* If we have found any sweetness of spirit or communion or unity with God through the Holy Spirit,
* If we have experienced any of the mercies of God for ourselves.

That is, if we have experienced any of these virtues from God, through His spirit, through His Son and through His word, and if we expect to continue to receive any of these benefits, then we are to exhibit these same things one toward another.

Basically, do unto others as God has done unto us through Christ.

He is simply requiring of us what Christ lived before us while he was here, vv. 5-11.

1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Paul is explaining what the gospel of Christ looks like in the lives of his people. It is a life of unity with other believers for the common goal of Glorifying God in all we say and do–advancing the kingdom of God into every area of life.

V. 2. fulfill ye my joy.

"If you have experienced any encouragement from God, any comfort from Him, any communion with Him or any of His mercies, if you will treat one another as you have been treated by the Lord, you will fulfill my joy."

Notice his call in v. 2.

1. Be like-minded. The same opinion, goal and plan to live out the gospel of Christ.
2. Having the same love, same love for advancing the gospel of Christ.
3. Being of one accord, same goal, advancing His kingdom by living the gospel of Christ.
4. Of one mind. Thinking the same thoughts, the mind of Christ, v. 5.

Here is the call for the unity of the body of believers. Paul told us in 1:27, 28, that our common point of unity is the gospel of Christ, and the faith of the gospel. Our common mind should be to Glorify God in all we do, to advance the kingdom of God, to work at winning our friends, neighbors, family and this community for Christ.

As His people unite together to advance the kingdom of God in every area, they are to do it as described in 2:2.

Negative

Paul now gives guidelines as to how the work for God is to be done. He starts this with the negative point.

2:3, Let nothing be done through strife—That is, the spirit of contention, or pride.

The word nothing includes not only "religious activity," but also "secular activity." We are to form no plan nor set any goal that needs to be accomplished through strife. This command of Christ prohibits all efforts to accomplish anything over others by mere physical strength, by superior intellect of argument, nor by natural ability, nor by numbers. It prohibits the use of dark schemes and plans brought about by rivalry or by angry passions. It prohibits any desire to succeed in any way or in anything out of pride.

We are not to do anything whatsoever merely with the motive to outdo someone else, or to show that we have talent, ambition, courage, or zeal. Paul's instruction here covers everything we do because everything we do is to be for the glory of God, and for the advancement of his kingdom.

Human nature is determined to do things out of strife. The natural way to do things is through strife. And the flesh will try to convince us of how much can be accomplished through strife.

Not only is "Christian work for God and for righteousness" motivated many times by strife, but so are "Non Christian good works." That is, motivated by a desire to out-do someone else or to see who can be the greatest in men's eyes?

* Sermons are preached with the motive to out-preach others.
* Huge "churches" are built simply to be bigger than others.
* Strife motivates to out-dress others.
* Good works toward others are done to out-do someone else or to show someone else up "for what they really are."
* The use of our talents are many times motivated by a spirit of strife or pride.

All such foolishness has God's condemnation against it. There is no spirit of God or holiness in any such effort even though this effort may produce pleasant results.

Vv. 5-11. Our Redeemer has no such motives at all. Even though He was equal with God, strife never once entered into His actions.

V. 3. vainglory refers to empty pride and SELF-ESTEEM.

Vainglory speaks of a desire to bring honour to ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or a desire to be the main object of attraction.

This command is part of living as becometh the gospel of Christ. It strictly forbids doing anything with the motive of self-esteem or pride.

Many times, abilities to work with people, the ability to preach, or teach or anyone of a number of "spiritual activity" are used to exalt one's self. Again, this ugly sin of pride not only rears its head in spiritual activity, but also in secular activity.

God condemns all attempts to attract attention to ourselves. All attention is to go to the Redeemer. Most of all, our motives in all we do for His cause.

Self cannot be our goal. When we are engaged in any activity with the desire to display ourselves, we have violated this command. I'm afraid that if all efforts involving strife and vain glory were stopped, there would be very little accomplished.

Who can say, "I don't have this problem, I don't do this?" Who can say, "I have no sin in this area?" Not a day goes by without these ugly beasts rising from the human heart.

(Remember, the Spirit is speaking of all human effort; that is, whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do inside or outside of the "church."

Paul's v. 3 negative was nothing to be done through strife or vain glory.

Positive

Now the positive as to how we are to carry out the gospel of Christ in us.

V. 3, lowliness of mind which is modest and humble opinion of one's self. It is contrasted with pride and self-esteem.

Lowliness includes a willingness to take the place of a servant before God and man. It is an honest estimation of our own importance and character. The truth is that we are vile sinners, and deserving of nothing but hell.

Then-- Let each esteem other better than themselves. This is a result of, lowliness of mind. It is a product of an honest evaluation of the truth about ourselves.

THE TRUTH is that we are vile sinners.

THE TRUTH is that many (if not most) of the things which we do are not with godly motives but is out of strife and vain glory, SELF PROMOTION.

THE TRUTH is that we should know the vileness of our own hearts, (and if we don't recognize this, we are deceived ourselves). We should see its corruption, and our own defects which no one sees but us and God. We should see the impure motives of everything we do. We should see the evil thoughts, the corrupt desires. We should know that what the Scriptures say about our heart is true.

let each esteem others better than themselves.

Though we should know what lies within our heart, we do not know what lies in another's. The heart of another is known only to God and to that person. God has not permitted us to know what good or evil lies in another's heart. The word of God alone knows the heart of that other person. In fact, God condemns any effort which might claim to know what lies in the heart of another.

Illustration: In 1984 or 5, I had an evangelist in at Linden. He pretty well could tell what was in people's heart, but he was using a "familiar spirit." It took a good amount of time to get out from under his influence after he left.

The last I heard, that evangelist has destroyed himself with all kinds of problems.

We are tempted to look at someone's actions and say, "That is vainglory and strife that is motivating them. They are seeking to exalt themselves." More than likely, we know our motives are not always pure, so we are inclined to view others the same way.

Let each esteem other better than themselves is a command to view that other person's actions in a positive light.

The truly godly person will be a humble person. He will realize the depravity of his own heart. He will be humble and desire to see others exalted rather than himself (because he knows his motives are not pure).

V. 3, esteem others will not make us blind to the defects of others when those defects are seen. Seeing the failings in others should cause us to fear least we should stumble and fall.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

The result of not esteeming either better than ourselves is found in James 3:16, For where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work.

V. 4, follows this thought through. Look not every man on his own things.

Don't be selfish. God requires more concern of us than just for our own selves or our own families. We are to show a tender concern for others. Their well-being is to be on our heart.

This is not a call to be a busy-body in other mens affairs, but it is a call to be concerned about their welfare and try to do good for them as we ave the opportunity.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

V. 4. But every man also on the things of others.

We see from the gospel of Christ that no one is permitted to live unto himself and disregard the needs of others. We have the requirement to look outside for ourselves

However, in 1 Peter 4:15 we are told not to be a busybody in other men's matters. Everyone has their own plans, and thoughts, and intentions which others have no right to look into.

We are not to force our advice upon others where it is not sought for or at unreasonable times and places, even if the advice is in itself good.

Usually unsought advice is un-listened to advice.

Our concern must our relationship with the Lord, and with others.

We judge others by our actions. We try to measure others by those things we do. In our eyes the way we do things is the right way; therefore, that other person who doesn't do it our way is wrong.

I know of men who enjoy cooking and actually are quite good. Therefore, they do the cooking for the family. You might say, "My, how awful. I wouldn't do that. They are wrong." Then we criticize them.

Normally, my business is to stay out of their business.

If we are not part of the problem nor part of the answer, then we should stay out of the situation.

There are times when our Christian responsibility and love for another person does require that we look into that person's matters, but it must be done with the utmost care. Even our children (and spouses), have their own private affairs and which we should leave alone even though we might have the right to know about those affairs.

If folks want to make these things known to us, that is a different story.

What is a Scriptural interest in the affairs of others?

1. A spiritual interest.

We see v. 2 that we are united together to advance the kingdom of God. Therefore, we are to be interested in the spiritual well-being of the others. We should do everything possible to strengthen that other person in his effort for the kingdom of God.

a. If they go astray we are to admonish them and entreat them. FROM THE ATTITUDE OF A SERVANT, (Gal. 6:1).

b. If they are in error, we are to instruct them.

c. If they are in trouble, we are to aid them.

Every member of the church is entitled to the genuine concern and sympathy of the others, and should always have it when circumstances are such as it is needed.

2. Those who have physical needs. The word of God requires our care of the poor, fatherless and the widow. They are to be sought out in order to be aided. Of course, they will not seek aid, yet we are to see to it that they are aided.

3. We have a responsibility to those outside of the household of faith, that primarily responsibility is to take the gospel to them.

When I was going to Indianapolis from Linden one morning, there was a semi wreck. There is a large steel mill about 20 miles from Linden, and at that time, they were shipping a couple hundred semis loads of coiled steel a day. Evidently, a coil of steel (about 20,000 lbs) came loose and fell off into the path of another semi. The second rig lost control and ran off the road. A third truck was able to stop. The drive ran back to stop traffic and a fourth truck was going to fast to stop. He ear-ended the third truck, killing the driver.

The third driver was trying to save the fourth. Maybe the fourth considered him a meddlesome bother, but he wasn't.

Those who are lost around us may consider us a meddlesome bother to them. What do we expect from those who are lost in sin? Others may welcome us with the gospel.

Conclusion of this section:

1. Our common goal, our unity of mind, heart, love and accord is one thing — that is, to further the cause of Christ, the kingdom of God into our community and into society in general.

God is not only concerned that we work toward the end of advancing his kingdom, but, in fact, commands that we seek first his kingdom. However, his command is not to be followed at any cost: We must watch our motives.

2. How much do we do with the desire to show someone up for what he really is?

3. How many of our actions are to make known our skills and abilities for others to see?

4. Strife and vainglory, and every man looking on his own things are probably the most difficult areas we have. We will battle them as long as we live. But the victory is in Christ.

5. We have the requirement to look outside for ourselves

Those who say they have no problems in these areas are those who are living in a dream world.

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