Children of God Without Fault
See full series: studies-in-philippians
Children of God Without Fault
Sermon by Thomas Thornhill Jr
Passage: Philippians 2:14-15
STUDIES IN PHILIPPIANS (13)
We continue our study of the book of Philippians. (This lesson is presented tonight instead of next week, as an introduction to our theme for the year – 2019). Paul has called for these brethren to strive for unity. He has described their need to consider others over themselves (vs. 3-4) and their need for humility. He has appealed to the greatest example of humility – Christ Jesus (vs. 5-11) who left heaven and came as a lowly servant to die on a cross for us. He humbled Himself, and God exalted him. We are to seek the same. Following this, Paul challenged these brethren to work out their own salvation (meaning, they had to do their part before God) – vs. 12, while understanding that God will do His part working in us (vs. 13).
Beginning in vs 14, Paul describes the type of conduct these brethren needed as they interact with an ungodly world. Tonight we want to notice Paul’s admonition to these brethren as they lived in a “crooked and perverse generation”.
In the Midst of a crooked and perverse generation
- Paul is writing this during the Roman empire. It was a time of great immorality, paganism and polytheism (many gods created in man’s image), war and slavery, human philosophy and at various times and ways, the intolerance of Christianity. History records some of the horrible persecutions Christians faced at the hand of Rome and in various provinces. At times, Christianity was outlawed in the empire.
Consider Philippi alone – the beginning of the church is recorded in Acts 16. We find there Paul and Silas interrupting the slavery and exploitation of a girl for profit. The city sided with these masters, and had Paul and Silas beaten and cast into prison (16:16-24). Of course this results in the conversion of the jailer. Philippians 1 seems to indicate the brethren were paying a price for their faith. They were in a society antagonistic to the truth.
- Is today any different? We are living in what is described as the “Post-Christian” era. What that means is that the majority now reject and doubt God, the Bible and Jesus Christ as fundamental to our society. There is an all-out assault on God and His followers. The more devoted to God’s word one is, the more he is villainized and mocked.
Today we are dealing with what is called, “The New Atheism” – this is a radicalized movement that doesn’t want to just advance its views, but to eradicate any mention of God or religions in society. There is a group called, Freedom FROM Religion that is at the forefront of this movement.
Because of efforts to remove God and the influence of Christianity (and the Bible), we are living in times of greater selfishness, intolerance toward Christians (we see efforts to destroy business that will not ENDORSE their lifestyles), greater immorality in virtually every sector of society, the advancement of the philosophies of man, humanism, evolution and the demand for tolerance of every view (except those who question their views). Foul mouthed leaders, in the political, news and sport, and entertainment industries are treated as the norm and even applauded.
Every year, both nationally and at the state level, Christians are loosing more and more religious freedoms. If this trend doesn’t change, it will not be long before we see even greater persecutions than what we already see. And in California, we are at the forefront of what will be happening nationwide. WE CANNOT IGNORE THESE THINGS!
- Among whom you shine as lights –
Even in these times, and you might say, ESPECIALLY in these times, we are called upon to let our light shine. The idea is letting the light of the gospel shine in this dark world. 1 Peter 2:9 – we proclaim of the praises of Him, having been called out of darkness into His marvelous light.
We are to be examples – consider again Matthew 5:16 – when our light is shining, God is glorified. This year, we are going to engage in a year long study of what is involved in shining as lights in these times. In our text, Paul is challenging these brethren letting them know that they CAN let their light shine, EVEN in troubling times.
– Consider Noah who was righteous during a time when “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5)
– Or, Daniel, who faithful served God in a foreign kings court, always with excellence and integrity. He was so faithful, that men schemed to change the laws so that they could accuse him (Daniel 6:4-5)
– Or, righteous Lot (2 Peter 2:7), in Sodom, in a city where not even 10 righteous souls could be found. (Genesis 18:32-33)
We CAN be godly examples
WHAT sermon are you preaching? We sometimes sing a song, “We are the World’s Bible”. If our life is our sermon, what type of sermon are we preaching?
Proper conduct in this crooked and perverse generation
- Do all things without complaining or disputing
- Proper attitude is important as we deal with one another, AND as we set an example in an ungodly world.
- Without complaining (grumbling) – defined as utterance made in a low tone of voice or behind the scenes talk (BDAG). The word is also found in 1 Corinthians 10:10 describing the complaining (murmuring) of the Israelites in the wilderness.
1 Peter 4:9 uses the word in reference to our hospitality – we should be cheerful as we help others.
We hear of someone muttering complaints, or “speaking under his breath”, usually to everyone but the one with whom they have a problem.
Typically, they may not say much, but their body language betrays them.
- Without disputing – or arguing, debating – a verbal exchange reflecting your ideas, thoughts and opinions, often with the intent of challenging another. The word is rightly translated as it deals with individuals arguing with each other. Obviously we are not talking about matters of truth here, but personal matters or opinions.
There are some who argue for the sake of arguing. Some challenge everything another says (especially if they don’t like them or are at odds with them). I think of the multitude of passages in 1 & 2 Timothy that talk about these types of arguing (1 Timothy 1:4, 4:7, 6:3-5, 2 Timothy 2:14-16, 23). Again, that is not productive as we seek to let our lights shine.
Furthermore, If we cannot get along among ourselves, who do expect our “lights” to do any good with the world?
- The point here is, we have things to do, sometimes unpleasant or mundane, but they need to be done. We can complain about or we can just do it with the best possible disposition. Which is more pleasant to others? We have all been around the one who thinks he’s entitled, or complains about and criticizes everything. We have been around the one who always thinks he right and argues with everyone about everything.
These are NOT the qualities of godliness – James 3:17-18, Galatians 5:22-23. And they do NOT reflect the light of God in our crooked and perverse generation.
- Be blameless and harmless –
- We should be the best we can possibly be. Go out of our way to ensure that those of the world have no cause to accuse us. Let them be “put to shame” –
- Blameless – a word meaning one is free of accusation or guilt. 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Paul desired that the Lord establish their hearts blameless in holiness before our God…
The point is you are doing nothing wrong. More in a moment on this.
- Harmless (innocent – NASB) – the word points toward purity or being guiltless. Found only 3 times – Matthew 10:16 – harmless as doves, Romans 16:19 – be simple concerning evil, and here. In our dealings with others, we need to be innocent. Some see this as addressing the inner man, while blameless addresses the outer man or actual action.
- Children of God without fault (reproach) – live with great integrity. This is what it means to be blameless and harmless. We should not be doing things in ways that give those in darkness cause to criticize or dismiss God. Ensure that they have no legitimate reason to accuse you – 1 Peter 3:16, 2:11-12 – honorable conduct shames those who revile you, and may even cause them to glorify God.
We need to be honest in our business and personal dealings, control our temper, etc. In spiritual matters, defects in our character can hinder our efforts.
- The point – It is difficult enough to be a Christian in this ungodly world even when you do everything properly and righteously. Why do we give opportunity to the multitude of critics to blaspheme God and His word by bad behavior.
It is a sad truth, but that which was done in the name of God, centuries ago is still used against us (e.g. the crusades, inquisitions, etc.)
That which was done in the name of God, within the past few years is used against us – bombing abortion clinics, hateful protests, etc.
That which we are doing sinful now is used against us and God’s people.
- Holding fast the word of life – we do NOT compromise God’s word as we live our lives. Ultimately, this is what we ARE to be doing, as opposed to what we are not to be doing. Again recall Matthew 5:16 – let your light so shine…that God is glorified. We will address this more in our next lesson, next week, along with Paul’s desired result.
The Philippians were living in troubling times, and so are we. Let us take to heart God’s instructions for how we are to be living in these circumstances. Let us engage in a healthy examination of what it means to shine as lights in the darkness. But let us ensure that what we learn, we also determine to do. Think about it.