FREED: to Obey and Shine | Philippians 2:12-16
Topic: New Testament Passage: Philippians 2:12–2:16
Christopher Rich – May 13, 2018
FREED | From Prison to Peace
Freed to Obey and Shine | Philippians 2:12-16
Introduction | Prison of Insignificant Belief
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we’re continuing our series FREED: From Prison to Peace.
How does what we believe impact what we do? If we know something to be true and it’s insignificant in our lives, doesn’t change us in any perceivable way what does it really matter? Is that a big transformational truth? No. For a truth to be a big truth it is only as significant as it’s ability to transform and impact those who come to know it in tangible and meaningful ways. A truth is not just big but is truly transcendent when it not only transforms those who know it but it cannot be contained by those who know it and it must break out and spread out beyond a few to many who are transformed and impacted by it. This type of truth is powerful because it changes who we are at our core, it changes how we think and act, and it changes us for the purposes of having an impact on others. When we’re FREED the prison cell of our selfishness, but the work of Jesus in our place we are FREED to obey God and Shine light into a dark world.
PART I | FREED to Obey | 2:3-4
Philippians 2:12-14 | 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Because there is a “Therefore” We’ve got to back up to last week “Since Jesus didn’t count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, lived as a servant, died as a savior, rose again and is exalted in Heaven and now gives us an eternal hope of a new future where there is a day where everyone will bow and acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord, we can be this person who with the mind of Christ who thinks of others, on mission for telling others about this glorious Jesus. As the cords of this epic anthemic hymn of God’s glory are still ringing in your mind, as the afterglow of this explosive Truth bomb are still in your sight……. Remember what is true will impact what you do, so keep walking in obedience to God.
These big truths of who Jesus is and what He has done leads to see God as big and glorious. A Big and glorious God in one who is able to produce big change in us AND a big response from us. So we can know our Doctrine/Doxa your common believe needs to move directly into your praxis, your practice of life.
This what happens when we are Saved by Jesus work, we know we are Changed by Jesus’ Grace. Paul in writing to this church knows both have been true in the individual and corporate lives of the Philippians. He has great affection for them. Just as God in Jesus calls us “beloved” we are beloved and they are beloved by God and also by Paul, as the pastor/preacher that planted them. Paul is distant, in Rome, away and absent but they are near and dear to His heart. This is a rad church, one that is characterized by obedience to the Gospel. Paul’s seen them and experienced their faithfulness, but now he’s in prison and knows while he many return, he may not. He wants this church of disciples, of members of God’s Family citizens of the kingdom of heaven to continue grow and flourish in even greater ways and magnitude even as his influence and presence with them diminishes. So here are some clear instructions on what life in and part of the church should look like and what will encourage and foster growth as disciples. It is going to continue to be life that is characterized by obedience because of: Ownership, Reverence, Assurance.
We can walk in obedience to God because we’ve been Freed to Ownership. It says “work out your own” salvation with Fear and trembling? Ownership… Your faith need to be yours. Your salvation is yours. It is particular to you. While you are saved to a community, you are saved as an individual. You can’t say well it’s my spouse, it’s my parents, it my community. You’ve been saved as an individual, into a community, but you are still an individual in that community. Paul is there affectionate friend, he likes this church but He’s also their pastor and wants to see them own their faith in tangible ways. What does your relationship with Jesus look like apart from the person who mentored you, lead you to Jesus/faith? What happens if they’re absent? What happens if a pastor or Christian friend leaves? Where do you need to take more ownership? There is some individual responsibility for the grow and experience of your faith in Jesus.
Own, NOT Earn “Own this” is not the same as “earn this.” Own is to strive act as one who is already in possession of something, earn is to work and strive to attain something you don’t have. One is religion, the other is the gospel. The verse doesn’t say work for your salvation with fear and trembling, like someone digging a hole that might be your own grave while someone stands over you threatening you at gun point. That’s for slaves, that for prisoners. In Christ we are FREED, from the prison of condemnation for our sin TO peace that comforts with the truth of what Jesus has done in our place. So we can, should, and will work.
We can walk in obedience because we’ve been Freed to Reverence - God is Big, so we should have some reverence and reflection. Fear and trembling is a reverence. There is a tension. Am I member of the church because Paul was there and he was a great leader or am I a Christians because of the work of Christ in me? So fear and trembling is not paralyzing reaction of terror. It is productive reverence to the reality of How Big and mighty God is. When we are told “work out” our own salvation with fear and trembling, is not a call to endless introspection to determine if we are saved but to continually express a life that displays that we actually have been. This directly applies to our conduct, our obedience and our disposition. So the question you have to ask about your conduct (the living out of what you say you believe and who you are) is this: Does my conduct confirm my salvation, or does my conduct contradict my salvation.
Example of conduct that confirms salvation: – Love of Jesus and others. Life with God’s people on Mission.
Example of conduct that contradicts my salvation: Isolation – Sexual sin – ongoing selfishness, pride.
What will are you following? God’s or your own? What effort or you putting in? Are you attempting to live a life for God without the power of God in you? Sounds miserable, and ineffective. Am I really here because of and for the mission and work of God or am I here for my “good pleasure?” God is in you. There is His will (desire for us) There is his work (effort in us) When we’re wrestling with this salvation that is ours we have to ask ourselves “who’s will and desires am I following?” who’s work is producing with in me?
We can walk in obedience because we we’ve been Freed to assurance – There is conviction and there is comfort – For it is God who works in you…. Both to will and to work for… His Good pleasure. In God’s good pleasure He’s seen fit to make us new and call us to be new. God knows we are driven by our desires, so He works His will in us to give us new desire and He works in us to empower us to actually do what we now desire. His Pleasure verses our pleasure. The tension brought up from “working out our faith” with fear and trembling is a sense resolved. We work it out “for it is God who works in you” We are freed to work out only because God is working in. “Ok God is in me, how is God going to come out of me today?”
So when we work out our salvation it’s like when we say we know we need to work in/on our marriage. We are not working to create a new relationship we are in a covenant and now we want to enjoy that and experience the truth of this relationship as intimately and as fully as we can. As we strive and work in our marriages we don’t become more fully married, we experience our marriages more fully. So in our salvation we have assurance so we strive to experience what is already true about who we are, more fully. God doesn’t call us to action without also comforting us with assurance. We want peace. This is a restful action, or an active rest. It’s not to shut down or inactive sleep, it is seeing there is peace when we work and strive knowing that we can rest with the great assurance that God is working in us. So when we do spend time processing what God has done and is doing in us it should lead us to progress not paralysis.
Ok I’ve got ownership, reverence, and assurance… now what? What does this look like specifically? What purpose is this serving? Thanks for the theological truths but how does this apply in my life?
PART II | FREED to Shine | 2:14-15
Philippians 2:14-16 | 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
God is in me, He’s working in and changing me. There is now this new life of obedience to God both in the community of God’s people and on mission to God’s world. Now what does that mean in my everyday life? What is my attitude and disposition to be? How am I to walk in obedience, what about when I really don’t want to, or it’s difficult, or if I disagree with what God is calling me to do? “Do all things without grumbling or disputing (complaining or arguing)” But that doesn’t mean everything right? Do all things… all means all.
Grumbling is the undercurrent of frustration, gossip, doubt, double speak, and disunity. I’m in this, but I don’t really want to be. In the NW we’re very passive aggressive. (we’re not usually aggressively aggressive. But sometimes we can be aggressively passive. J It is a call to peaceful coexistence and unity in the Gospel remembering we’re of one mind (the mind of Christ) and one Spirit (the Holy Spirit) Act as one.
Disputing/Quarreling is the outward intense conflict. It’s really arguing with someone, it’s where we get the word dialogue. It is also where we get the idea of litigation from. Dialogue is not always bad. You want to understand someone else you can have a healthy dialogue. This can be a good way to establish equality, exchange ideas, have a report. But we misunderstand our relationship with God. He is our loving Heavenly Father. Your kids can “dialogue” with you about certain things, help me understand what this means. But when it comes to obedience…. We need to be careful because we’re the kids. We can dialogue with God to attempt to better understand what or how God is calling us to obedience in certain situations. But we cannot dialogue to debate whether we should walk in obedience especially if and when instructions are clear. (“Kid, go to bed” “Mom Dad, let’s dialogue about that.” NO!)
The opposite of grumbling and disputing is active gratitude and a deference to our God, and walking in unity with His people. The enemy wins when Christians are bickering with each other. Lost people suffer when they look at the church and see us as just as contentious as the rest of the world. This isn’t a call to apathy. Don’t NOT care. It’s a call to alignment with other Christians for the purposes of advancing the Gospel. Be a light that shines bright, not one that burns others out. There is a reason we are to live this way. Because we are beloved, children of God we are to live in this manner for the purpose of being blameless and innocent, without blemish. When people look at your life do they see grumbling and quarreling or peace and cooperation?
Blameless is an outward expression of your life in view of others. It’s not perfection, it’s “above reproach” living aligned with God’s will and people so the world can see our conduct matches our calling to Christ.
Innocent is an inward peace of mind and conscience that our motives and actions are in line with God’s will and work in us. There is peace in your soul and mind when you’re at peace with God and His people.
The purpose of this blamelessness, and to be without blemish is for the mission of the advance of the Gospel. We’re not just nice an agreeable so we can be this sterile community of uniform niceness. It is for the purposes of being united in the Gospel of Jesus who is the one who shines light in the darkness. When we’re walking in regular quarreling and grumbling we’re being darkness where there should be light. Light is a contrast to darkness, we are to be a contrast. Why do I need to have this contrasting attitude? The purpose of our new lives walking in obedience is for our joy yes, but also to be Living on Jesus’ Mission.
All these things are what makes us “Shine as lights in the world” (shine like stars in the sky/universe)
FREED to be In the midst of (and among) this generation. So it doesn’t say stay blameless and innocent by retreating into big groups where you never interact with anyone from this crooked and twisted generation. It is be this in the midst of and among acting as a light because of the light that is within you in Christ. Lights shine because they are light, it does it because it is it. The word, is the word for “luminaries” which is a leading and guiding light, or a person who inspires and influences others. So we don’t influence and inspire and lead when we’ve retreated from the world but only when we’re engaged with it. If I take a string of backyard lights tangle it all together and plug it in my storage room in my basement oh, it’s going to be bright there, as one light is close to an other is would seem so bright you could do surgery, it that one little space. Even if the lights got brighter and big the impact would still be limited, the influence and illumination would be less than it can be or should be as it is intended. Now if I take that clumped up string, untangle it, and spread it out over the back my deck at night where people are gathered and flip the switch all of the sudden there is warmth, pleasant atmosphere people can be seen and see others. But those lights are no longer in the midst of and among each other, there in darkness with their individual light barely overlapping. We are to be contrast. A contrast to a crooked (bent out of shape) twisted (perverted) generation. When we’re really mad or see someone angry beyond what seems reasonable we say what? They’re all bent out of shape. This is because conflict with one another is not to be standard practice for us.
FREED to Lead a Generation to Peace – There is another layer. This phrase crooked and twisted generation is the same as Deuteronomy to describe the generation of people who were ungrateful, obstinate, disobedient, and arguing with God and each other AFTER God’s work of saving them from Egypt. They are ignoring the mighty work of God, do not acknowledge Him properly, or acting as if what God has done is that great, so they are unresponsive to His leading and direction on their lives. They downplay the bigness and brightness of God and don’t think God’s saving work is either necessary or relevant in their lives. For the generations after the death and resurrection of Jesus (including ours) they are not seeing what He accomplished as necessary, mighty, or relevant. We are to show it to them. Point them to Him. Knowing that out in a dark wilderness people will continue to wander and never make it to the peace and joy of the eternal promised land of Heaven and new forever life/city with and for Jesus. All of the sudden we’re back to the purpose of our obedience of our actions and attitudes, or our working from and for Holiness being so much more than our individual progress as a growing believer but instead being a light that is used to help others become lights, who help others become light who guide themselves and others to a forever future promised land with Jesus. On this Journey we’re with and looking forward to Jesus.
FREED to Hold Fast to the Word of Life knowing none of our labor will be in vain. This holding fast is not at this time a steadfast “I’ll follow God regardless of whoever else does” it is actually like a holding out of a lantern in front, of you yes, but also to this dark and twisted generation, to a world that needs light. Jesus is the light of the world, He is the Word of Life, we hold Jesus in front of us and out to the world. We follow Him and tell others to follow Him. All the work of discipling others, all the work of shining light, all the work and life of obedience will never be in vain. We can know our labor, running, obedience won’t be in vain because Jesus has already been perfectly obedient, willingly labored, without grumbling or complaining, innocent and blameless in the midst of a twisted generation for us in our place.
Leading to the cross, Jesus is silent. Jesus goes to the cross like a lamb led to slaughter. No grumbling or arguing. Resolved to suffer for the mission resolved to endure for the mission. Resolved knowing there are grumbling arguing people who need to be made blameless, innocent and without blemish. Jesus does this because He knows we are disobedient, grumbling, arguers walking in darkness. He knows “If I don’t save them from themselves they will stay in darkness.”
Since Jesus is the light of the world to us He can call us to be light in the world for Him. To be part of this leading light. Just as the twisted and crooked generation were led to a promised land by God as a pillar of fire we are to lead a twisted crooked, lost generation to a promised land by holding the word of life (The Gospel of Jesus) like a lantern leading people from the prison of wilderness, selfishness, and unbelief to a promised peace with God. If you see light in Jesus, follow, come out of prison, come out of wilderness. Join the light, keep following the light, keep being the light to others shining Jesus to this world. So all who follow that light, who are that light in Christ can have assurance that when we come before the Creator of the Universe at the day of our death or the Day of Christ we return we don’t have to tentatively tremble in fear before a mighty king of judgement wondering what will happen to us, we can with full assurance of our salvation run home into the arms of our Father when we Trust Jesus.
More in FREED | From Prison to Peace | Philippians
June 24, 2018FREED: To Contentment | Philippians 4:10-23
June 17, 2018FREED: To Peace in Conflict | Philippians 4:2-9
June 10, 2018FREED: to Present Maturity and Future Glory | Philippians 3:17-4:1