Joy of Being Light Part 2

September 18, 2004 Philippians 2:12-18

Today, our study focuses on 2:12-18: The Joy of Being Light in the World! [READ 2:12-18]

Q: What will be the result of having the mind of Christ – of applying 2:1-11 –

* Paul gives 3 specific instructions as a result of ‘having the attitude of Christ in you’

1.  Work Out Your Own Salvation With Fear and Trembling – 2:12

- Homer Kent summarized the thrust of these verses by saying:

"The purpose of the exhortation to work out their salvation was that the readers might be a pure and uncontaminated light in the world."

A.  You are to be involved in the process!

  • work out = (pres. Imperative)– You be working out (progressive sanctification) – explain, this is the doctrine of spiritual growth
  • Godhead is active – it is God who works in you (Father, Son, and Spirit)
  • Man is active – we have to chose to obey the commands
  • Word of God is active – giving us direction and a living, powerful source of truth

- Paul is not talking about ‘works based salvation’ – he’s already addressed the salvation issue with them – no doubt about that (other passages: Eph. 2:8-9)

- Paul is referring to the ‘evidence’ of salvation – the fruit on the tree (cf. 1:27 – “conducting your lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ!”

- More specifically – he is dealing with the issue of UNITY IN THE BODY – and how that DISUNITY is UNLIKE the nature of Jesus Christ “who humbled Himself and . . . “

B.  You are to solve the problems of disunity.

  • salvation= deliverance from the problem of disunity and divisiveness.

- Just as Paul referred to salvation in the sense of deliverance from prison in 1:19, he refers to salvation as deliverance from disunity in 2:12

-- this is especially important in light of the unity demonstrated in Trinity throughout the redemptive work of Christ! (that’s what 2:8-11 is all about!)

C.  You are to take this seriously!

"With fear and trembling"

  • fear = (phobos ) = a constant awareness (awesome respect) for God’s presence and God’s power in my life that motivates me to obedience

- In fact, these words come first in the original (Greek) indicating that they were meant to be emphasized.

- Work out the solutions to your problem "not [with] slavish terror, but wholesome, serious caution" (Vincent, Expository Dictionary of NT Words). 

- It's a "nervous and trembling anxiety to do right."

Paul has no sympathy with a cold and dead orthodoxy or formalism that knows nothing of struggle and growth.  He exhorts as if he were an Arminian in addressing men.  He prays as if he were a Calvinist in addressing God and feels no inconsistency in the two attitudes.  Paul makes no attempt to reconcile divine sovereignty and human free agency, but boldly proclaims both. (Robertson, Word Pictures, IV, p.  446).

D.  You are to remember Who makes this possible.

for = because it is God who is at work in you (present active tense – i.e. on going, not done!)

- implying that it’s not about Paul (fear of man) – or don’t do this because of me, as an apostle, but for God

Point: *God is in control (to will)and He will accomplish His purpose (good pleasure) – goal – i.e. that He is pleased/glorified

- then he moves on to a 2ndcommand – connected to the preceding verses as well . . .

2.  Do All Things (pres.t imperative)Without Grumbling and Arguing [Scot Meinema TEACHES]

- Paul makes it clear that he wants these brothers and sisters to avoid two very common sins:

A.  The Command:  Don’t Gripe About It!

  • grumbling = murmur
  • disputing = reasoning, arguing, presenting your logical arguments

Point:  "Don't simply fulfill what the previous verses have said IN A GRUDGING WAY."

- that’s surely a temptation.

- Someone might read what Paul has said in verses 3-13, and conclude:

"Well, I'll do it...considering others better than myself / looking on the things of others / being a servant / being obedient...”

> . . . but I'm not going to like it!

> . . . I'm going to do it in a grudging way, with lips filled with complaining and fussing.

cf. Numbers 11-16 – God’ view – after all this grace (getting you out of Egypt, now you complain about the manna – OK – here comes the meat . . . out of your nostrils!

- We can be this way in the church – serving in the church, but not with the spirit of:

1) thanking the Lord I'm healthy enough to serve

2) thanking the Lord I have a place where I can serve

3) thanking the Lord that I have the Holy Spirit and the Spirit's sword so I'm not out serving in my own strength

> Instead, a person can be griping about the fact that others aren’t serving like you are!

Note: Imagine if THAT had been Jesus’ attitude toward those who forsook Him and fled – instead of ‘emptying Himself and becoming obedient . . . death of the cross!

- Makes us think of Peter’s words:

1 Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Input:  Let's think about ways this could be violated?

1) Things people tend to complain about at work?

2) Things people tend to complain about at home?

3) Things people tend to complain about around a church?

Point:  People who are working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, who are allowing God to work in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure...are not argumentative.

Balance this out:  We have to be careful how we define argumentative.

- this passage can't be saying-- we always agree with everyone.

- that interpretation would violate others passages of Scripture.

- but what Paul is talking about here is surely a potential sin for you and me.

Input:  Let’s give some specifics about each side of being argumentative.


Disagreeing in a Right Way          

Arguing In A Sinful Way

[various answers]

  • Goal is to glorify God
  • Speaking the truth lovingly (Eph. 4:15
  • Respectful to authority (Rom. 13; 1 Pet. 2]
  • Still loving if the other person differs

[various answers]

  • Proud
  • Unloving and harsh with words
  • Reacting when you don’t get your way

Point: Remember, Jesus was the Prince of ________ (Peace) – why then should the church be all up in a dither and not functioning in unity – maybe it’s because some are NOT applying the principles of 2:1-11 along w/ 2:12-13!

[Teaches] B.  The Reasons to NOT Complain

‘so that’ (indicates purpose, or reason for the preceding statement(s):

1.  For the sake of the believers: You will prove yourselves . . .children of God above reproach (w/o blemish)

blameless = faultless – emphasis is on the actions, what you do

innocent = unmixed, pure – emphasis is on the heart, inner man, motives

  • I Peter 3:16 Having a good conscience, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good manner of life in Christ.

2.  For the sake of the unsaved:  in the midst of a crooked and perverse

Crooked =unscrupulous, corrupt, morally crooked (Ac 2:40; Php 2:15; 1Pe 2:18+)[1]

Perverse = distorted, perverted, corrupt, cause to turn away from correct behavior (Mt 17:17; Lk 9:41; 23:2; Ac 13:10; 20:30; Php 2:15+),[2]

Example of this perversion: A new ABC show:  Wife Exchange – starting next Wednesday

- Griping and arguing are the norm in a pagan culture, and ours is becoming more pagan by the day

Q:  Maybe, in part, because the church is NOT obeying this passage?

- Besides, our goal is not to change the culture, but glorify God in the midst of a ‘crooked and perverse’ culture and lead people to Jesus!

3.  For the sake of representing the Light of the world:  . . . among whom you appear as lights in the world

Cf. Matt. 5:16

Appear = to shine (present indicative) – i.e. shining (it’s on

Light = star, brillance

3.  Hold Fast the Word of Life – 2:16

- this is actually a participle, but used as an imperative (present active):

>  be continually holding forth . . . the Word of Life (gospel / God’s truth)

Q:  Why this is so important?

* Stewardship of truth, time, and resources!

-  Paul did not want to have run in vain = empty – wasted my time OR to have labored in vain: = to toil, work hard

- He wanted to be able to speak highly of this church and REJOICE

> Glory = [not the more common word used in referenct to glorifying God = doxa]but ground for boasting, object of boasting

- He was willing to be the sacrificial servant – not the main sacrifice – just the ‘drink offering’ poured out beside the altar on which the lamb would be offered (Paul’s humility – and letting them know he was ‘letting this attitude be in him which was also in Christ Jesus . . . )


Point: This is where real joy lies – being the light for Christ by the way you solve problems and promote the life-changing truth of the Word!

Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.