Philippians 1:27-2:4 Gospel-Worthy Conduct

Philippians 1:27-2:4     Gospel-Worthy Conduct                           WC McCarter

Many of you come to worship services on Sundays looking to fulfill some kind of “religious” duty; some of you come because you have been guilted into coming (by your own conscience or by someone in your family); and some of you come because you long to be “spiritual.”  Now, some of the reasons for attending a worship time are not necessarily wrong or bad.  Yet, what may be wrong in your life is that you are disconnected from the church.  You may sit in the “church building,” hold down a pew, open your mouth to sing, and close your eyes when we pray—all while never actually being connected with the church.  Here’s the question: Are you involved in the life of the church?

We are all called as Christians to be “plugged in” to the church.  We are to be bound to our brothers and sisters in Christ; accountable to and responsible for one another.  We are to be united.  In doing so, we reflect well the Lord Jesus and His Gospel.  Disunity is a great enemy of the church.  Many of the New Testament letters were written to combat disharmony among the churches.  Some of them were divided because of sin; others because of false doctrine and false teachers; some (believe it or not) over racial issues, and others because of personality clashes.  But the apostles were never content to allow congregations to splinter and divide.  Never.  They were always battling, warring against strife and division.

Now, we have discussed that the Philippian church was a strong church, healthy, vibrant, and spiritually vibrant one.  Why did the apostle need to write about this subject?  I will tell you the reason and why we need to discuss it here at the Rural Hall Church: Disunity is constantly a threat against any and every Christian church.  Even during the seasons when the church is strong and healthy, we must fight against strife and for unity.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Gospel-Worthy Conduct (27-28)
The very first phrase of verse 27 is profound.  There is no greater motivation for holy living than the point of this phrase: “Let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”  We do not follow rules and regulations simply to be “religious.”  We pursue godliness because of the great gift that God has given us—His Son.  We have all other blessings because of Him.  We do not pursue holy living to earned these things—they are already ours.  We want to live lives that are worthy of the graciousness that we have received.

Paul, the apostle, is in prison.  He hoped to be released and go back to the churches, including Philippi, but whether he was able to or not, he wanted to hear that the church was three things related to unity:

#1 Stand Fast (We should have the same essence, thinking the same things)
          In One Spirit
          With One Mind/Soul
#2 Striving Together (Not to earn salvation, but to defend the way of salvation, the true Gospel message.  It is almost too easy—believe and receive—too many people are afraid that they will not be saved, so they work, work, work.  We must fight against the urge to try to earn salvation.)
          For the Faith
          Of the Gospel
#3 Not Terrified (You are going to have opponents in the Christian life)
          By Adversaries
                   Them = Sign of Destruction
                   You = Sign of Salvation
                             From God

Gifts from God (29-30)
You have been granted on behalf of Christ:
          #1 To Believe in Him
          #2 To Suffer for Him
                   The Philippians were suffering like Paul (they were Christians)

We have the opportunity to believe in Christ, that is, for salvation and every other spiritual blessing.  Yet, we also have been given the opportunity to suffer for the sake of Christ.  This is one of the greatest questions of our day: What do we do with the issue of suffering?  God allows for adversaries.  He grants to His people the opportunity to suffer with, like, and for Christ.  Our Savior and Lord was crucified.  Paul was beaten, mocked, imprisoned, and more.  While some people believe that suffering is a sign that God does not exist and even some Christians believe that suffering is a sign that God is displeased with them, the truth of the matter is that suffering is a sign that God approves of them.  Suffering is an opportunity to be united with Christ, to be a witness to the Good News of Christ, and to make a Christian stronger in their faith.  Suffering is a gift of God.

Therefore (1-4)
#1 If any Consolation/Encouragement in Christ
#2 If any Comfort of Love
#3 If any Fellowship of the Spirit
#4 If any [Deep] Affection and Mercy (compassions)
          àFulfill my Joy:
          #1 Being like-minded (that you might be of the same mind)
          #2 Having the same love
          #3 Being of one accord (united in soul/same soul/same essence?)
          #4 Being of one mind (same thinking)
                   àLet nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit
          #5 In lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself
          #6 Let each look out not only for his own interest, but for others

The language introduced in v27 of “one spirit/one soul” now becomes an entire paragraph.  It appears to have a poetic structure; there is a rhythmic consistency, short clauses, and repeated parallelism.  The summary found in this paragraph reverts back not to the suffering issue, but to the “conduct worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”  Paul exhorts the Philippians to live worthy of their calling by being united in the midst of adversity.  Out of the suffering conversation, he flows into the verses filled with encouragement and comfort that is found in Christ.  Then he comes back to his main point—unity.

Paul appeals to the Philippian’s common experience of the blessing of comfort in Christ.  This joyous relationship that they had with Christ came through Paul and was shared with him.  Just like they shared the same suffering, they also shared the same enjoyments.  That is why Paul can then say “fulfill my joy.”  His joy which is theirs also comes by “being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, [and being] of one mind.”  I think we get the point.  Paul says the same thing four times in four different ways.  He wants the Philippians to be united and so does Christ!

Conclusion and Christian Application

God does not expect us to have a low self-esteem, but He does expect us to think more highly of others.  We should look out for ourselves and our families, but remember that our Christian brothers and sisters are family too.  We must think about the church.  This is the essence of Christian unity.  This is what Christ wants for His church.  This kind of attitude and effort for unity is the type of conduct that is worthy of the Gospel of Christ.  He bought us with His own blood, so we ought to live in a way that will reflect His graciousness and His glory.