Paul continued writing to the Christians in Philippi and said in Phil. 1:7, Even as it is good for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace. Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in the city of Philippi as he sat a prisoner in a Roman prison. He referred to being in prison when he mentioned his bonds in this verse. Paul was in chains. He was imprisoned. He was restrained unjustly against his will, and yet he found reasons to be thankful and positive; and he found worthwhile things to do.
As we look at the life of the Apostle Paul and think of the things that were accomplished in his life, we can see certain obvious characteristics about the Apostle Paul that contributed to the successes. He was intelligent and well educated. He was dedicated and motivated almost without peer. He was a very hard worker and well organized. Paul was willing to do whatever had to be done to accomplish the goal. No matter what he suffered he did not give up nor become discouraged. Of course, these were human qualities that were used by the Lord. But of all the qualities that we can see in the life of this man who was changed by faith in Christ, the greatest quality may have been the love that he had for the people among whom he worked and the love that he had for the congregations that he helped to establish.
Paul wrote one of the greatest pieces about love ever written in First Corinthians chapter 13. He wrote in I Cor. 13:1-8, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophesies, they shall fail: whether there be tongues, they shall cease: whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. And then Paul wrote in I Cor. 13:13, And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Paul loved the Christians in the city of Philippi. He loved them because they were Gods children. He loved them because of what Christ was doing in their lives. He loved them because he had the privilege of having a part in what they were becoming in Christ. And Paul loved them because they now had a part in what he was doing in the service of the Lord. Paul said that these believers were involved with him in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. The word defense is a word that refers to a verbal answer to someone in defense of your position. In this instance Paul may have been referring to his own situation in prison, because he was in prison for his beliefs and for his preaching.
The Greek word that is translated defense in this passage is translated as answer in First Peter 3:15 where the Bible says that believers should be ready always to give an answer to every man. The important thing to note is that the defense of the gospel refers to words that are spoken for the purpose of answering questions about the gospel and for the purpose for defending the gospel of Christ. If you are not saying words for the purpose of defending the gospel, then you are not doing what Paul did and you are not doing what the Christians in Philippi did.
The confirmation of the gospel refers to the purpose for which believers give out verbal explanations and answers about the gospel. To confirm means to make firm, to establish, to secure. If someone has become confirmed in the gospel, it means that their faith has been established in Christ. This is not a ceremony as some religious denominations have made it. Its an experience that results from what you believe when what you believe results from what you have heard about the gospel. How can they believe except they hear, and how can they hear except someone give them the gospel?
The Bible says in Phil. 1:8-9, For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. We have already read from First Corinthians chapter 13 where it was declared in one of the greatest writings about love in human literature that love is the most important of all characteristics that a Christian can possibly manifest. No matter how much you have learned to love, you can always learn to love more. Thats true of anything in the Christian life. No matter how much you know, you can always learn more. No matter how much you believe, you can always increase in faith. No has arrived. There is more to do, more to learn, more to become. You may not know much about love, or you may think that you love as much as you can. But remember that God is our example, and He is infinite love.
All through the Bible we see an emphasis on love. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all the heart, all the mind, all the soul, and all the strength. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is like unto the first: love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus also taught us to love our enemies. The Apostle John in the First Epistle of John pointed out the error of claiming to love God whom you cannot see, but not loving the human beings that you do see. Of course, we know that we should love our parents and love our children. When we get married we promise to love our spouse til death do us part, for rich or for poor and for better or for worse. Every Christian should have a special love for other Christians, just as Paul expressed for the Christians in Philippi.
Love is important, more important than any other Christian virtue. But there are different kinds of love, and there are different ways of showing love, and there are even things that should not be done that are done out of a false understanding of what true love is and how it should be expressed. For example, sometimes young people and other people who are not so young make the mistake of thinking that they love someone when actually they have no realistic reason for thinking such a thing. In such cases it turns out that what they thought was love was really a self-centered and short-lived infatuation that was not love at all.
There are other situations when people make the mistake of smothering someone or over-protecting someone because of their love. Their love is true and their love is real, but in certain situations they misuse their love and do things that they ought not to do. Some parents do this by over-protecting children. Children should be protected from the dangers of life, but not from the lessons of life. Some children become spoiled brats because they were loved so greatly by the parents, but the parents did not know how to properly show their love and the children were given too many things for nothing. In such cases the children do not learn the value of work and do not appreciate the principle of life whereby that all people must eventually learn: they that do not work, do not eat.
Of course, if you understand love in its purest form, then you know that it is wrong to do anything that is immoral or unethical no matter what the reason. Someone who has the right kind of understanding about love would never use love as an excuse to do what is wrong. Paul wrote to the Philippians, And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. This is an extremely important prayer. We should all pray for each other on this subject. If we are growing in faith, or in knowledge, or in any other thing: but not growing in love; then its all for nothing. Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
According to Philippians 1:10 Paul also prayed the following for the believers in Philippi, That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. What we approve of is an important issue. What we approve of will determine what we become involved with, and what we become involved with will determine what ultimately happens to us. Also, people notice what you approve of and what you do not approve of. One of the best ways of observing who you are and what you are is simply to observe what things you approve of. One of the best ways of being a witness in this world is to approve things that are excellent.
Paul told the believers in Philippi that he prayed that they would be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ. The word that is translated sincere in this passage refers to being examined and evaluated in the light, and to be found pure and innocent as a result of the examination. Its a very high standard, but of course, this is always the goal for believers. There is never a valid excuse to do what is wrong. Always do the right thing. Do right until the stars fall. Thats the will of God for you.
In order to understand what Paul was talking about when he said that he wanted them to be without offense, it helps to understand the meaning of the word to offend in Greek. To offend means to cause to stumble. It means to cause someone else to stumble. Everyone influences other people to a certain degree. We may influence a different set of people, but we all influence someone. Thats one of the great failures of much that goes on in Hollywood: too many people there and the work that they produce are bad influences. They cause people to stumble because by their example too often they encourage the wrong behaviors. You are either a good example or a bad one. Our actions speak louder than our words. We each bear a responsibility to our neighbors and friends and family. Paul prayed for those in Philippi that they would be without offense.
Notice that Paul said that he prayed that they would be without offense until the day of Christ. It will not be an issue after the day of Christ. The day of Christ refers to the return of Christ. When Jesus returns He will make many great changes. One of the things that will be changed is the body of each believer. The Bible says in First Corinthians 15:50-53, Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. One of the many benefits of believing in Christ is the fact that once He returns we will be transformed. We will put on immortality. Death shall die, and so shall sin. We will never sin again, and we will never fail again. We will be given a resurrection body that is sinless and eternal. There are struggles now, but what a wonderful existence that we have waiting for us at the return of Christ: eternal life in a sinless, resurrection body.
In Philippians 1:11 Paul wrote, Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Paul prayed that these Christians would be filled with the fruits of righteousness. There is some very important information in this verse in regards to how to do what is right. When Christ returns and our bodies are changed, doing what is right will be automatic, but not now. In order to do what is right in this life, there must first of all be the right kind of connection to Jesus Christ. Paul said, Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ. True righteousness comes from Jesus Christ. Thats because He alone is righteous. You are not righteous, and I am not righteous.
There is a distinction that can be made between positional righteousness and practical righteousness. Both are directly related to Jesus Christ. Positional righteousness refers to your standing in Christ, which you have freely and forever; the moment you are saved. It says in Romans 5:17, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. This righteousness can never be taken away from you. When God looks at you, He sees a righteous person because He sees you in your position in Christ.
Practical righteousness refers to the things that you actually do as you go through life. This kind of righteousness is what Paul was talking about in Phil. 1:11. This practical righteousness is directly connected to Christ and your moment-by-moment relationship with Him. You can do nothing without Christ. While trusting in Christ, you can do anything that He wills you to do. Paul said, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God is glorified when we do the right thing, because in heaven all of the praise and honor go to Christ.
Copyright; 2001 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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