Joy of Standing Firm in the Lord

October 23, 2004 Philippians 3:17-4:16

  I.  Follow the Right Examples – 3:17-21

- not everybody can say what Paul says in 3:17 – “follow my example” – but we should be able

- there’s nothing like SEEING truth fleshed out in the life of a person

- the influence of people in our lives and the power of example is often underestimated

ILL: Trying to match mature/godly people with our kids – Why?  Influence is powerful!

  • Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Input: Examples that you can give of people who have influenced your life (power of example)!

- as is the case with most things in life – due to the curse of sin – we have good examples to follow & bad examples to avoid and NOT follow!

A.  Alert to the enemies of the cross (Avoid them) – 3:18-19

- Paul broke this down into some very interesting categories of these Judaizers/false teachers

- He starts with where they end up:

1.  Consequenceswhose end is destruction

destruction = utter ruin; ( one bound to be lost or destined for hell) [cf. Jn 17.12; 2 Th 2.3]

- this is reference to their ultimate destiny – eternal damnation in hell!

“The Judaizers deserved this fate because they added human works to the cross of Christ.  To believe the truth about Him but also to believe that human works are necessary for salvation is to be damned forever.  The Gentile heretics deserved their fate because they stripped the cross of Christ of its power to transform lives.” – p. 258, MacArthur, Philippians

- (the consequences of their choices – sound familiar – go to Gen. 2:16-17)

  • Genesis 2:16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

- One of the WARNING SIGNS of temptation is minimizing/ignoring the consequences of our choices

- and they are usually far greater than we could ever imagine!

ILL: Spanking Matthew for disobedience / afterwards he made a statement about his sin (what he chose to do) vs. the consequences, “Dad, it’s just not worth it!”

2.  Worship:  whose god is their appetite

appetite= stomach, belly, bodily desires (Roman 16:18)

- this is a metaphor referring the unrestrained sensual, fleshly, bodily desires

- they weren’t worshipping God, they were worshipping their own lust / desires

  • Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

3.  Testimony:  who glory in their shame

- the word here is not boast or brag (like 3:3), but doxa

doxa = to glory, splendor, grandeur,  praise, honor;

“This is the most extreme form of wickedness—when the sinner’s most wretched conduct before God is his highest point of self-exaltation.’ – p. 259, MacArthur, Philippians

- these false teachers were most proud of their worst perversions

- remember, Matthew 12:34-37 [READ if time!]

ILL:  Talking with a person who was living in adultery – “I’m at peace with God about this whole thing.”  Bragging, “My whole family is really happy with where we are now. . . . So go head an do what you have to do, cause I’m not changing my mind.”

4.  Heart:  who set their minds on earthly things

- this is the problem – what’s in their heart – the way they THINK!

- they focus on the temporal / earthly things / things of this world that pass away w/time!

Cf. James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17

B.  Aware of our citizenship and things to come (Embrace it)– 3:20-21

- the old hymn is theologically rich: “This world is not my home; I’m just-a passin’ thru …”

Input: What impact should the second coming of Christ have on us?

[various answers]

  • 1 John 3:1-3  1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Input: What are some of the things about being in heaven that ought to motivate us to keep our lives and our theology pure?

[various answers]

II.  Stand Firm in the Lord – 4:1-3

- the verb is steko – pronounced stee-co – (sounds like stucko – sticks to the wall!)

- this is an imperative command / present active = be continually standing firm! (military terminology)

- like Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:11, 13, 14

  • Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
  • Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
  • Ephesians 6:14 Stand firm therefore . . .

- Paul starts this section with the word “therefore” – which means everything he is about to say is built on what he just said (think about that context – chp. 3!)

Q:  What does standing firm look like? – 4:2-3

* Solving your problems of disunity in the church!

- the body of Christ – the church – is what He died for – respect it and nurture it – work together for the glory of God and the cause of Christ – bringing people to Himself and growing in our communication to bring glory to God!

Input: How does DISUNITY affect the effectiveness of the church’s evangelistic and discipleship efforts?

- being right with the Lord helps you to get along with others – plow that back the other direction – if you’re not getting along with others . . . (you might not be right with the Lord!)

III.  Rejoice in the Lord, Always – 4:4-5

- he repeats the command twice for emphasis

>  and the implication is that he knows its HARD to be joyful (that’s one of the effects of the curse of sin sometime

- both verbs are present, imperative (continual commands: be continually rejoicing in the Lord)

- not rejoicing in the circumstances . . . but IN THE LORD

>  The Lord is holy – perfect – completely separate from sin / the Lord is sovereign over all the events of our lives

- it’s like Paul’s words in Romans 8:28 “all things work together for good” – not all things are good, but that they ‘work together’ for good to those who . . .

Input: What is the source of our joy?

Answer: The Holy Spirit – Gal. 5:22 – the fruit of the spirit – which comes from ‘walking in the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16)

- we don’t know the joy of the Spirit because we’re not walking the Spirit but in the flesh!

* Contrast a joyful person and a person not rejoicing



Joyful Person

Not Joyful Person

[various answers]

Knows God – Who He is – nature/character

Knows God – what He’s done (‘mighty acts’)

Note: the context of Phil. 3:8-14 – knowledge based on personal experience

That’s why the Psalms are filled with joy – the Psalmist knew God because he had seen God at work in His life – the times he was not rejoicing were times he had taken his eyes off of the Lord (Yawah = the covenant keeping God of Israel!)

Cf. Psalm 1:1-3 [READ]


[various answers]


IV.  Live Graciously to All Men – 4:5

gentle spirit = rich word with very strong meaning – difficult to capture in English

- many versions translate: sweet reasonableness, generosity, goodwill, friendliness

- perhaps the best word is GRACIOUSNESS  – p. 276

>  “the graciousness of humility; the humble graciousness that produces the patience to endure injustice, disgrace, and mistreatment without retaliation, bitterness, or vengeance.”

“Spiritual stability belongs to the graciously humble.” – p. 276

- part of the motive is that ‘the Lord is near’ – a reference to His 2ndcoming (rapture/kingdom)

V.  Don’t Be Anxious (Worry) – 4:6-9

- answer for worry:

A.  Right Praying – (Pray Right)

- Paul uses 3 different words to communicate the same truth: talk to God about it . . . with thanksgiving

- Brainstorm ways that prayer/thanksgiving help us to overcome worry

B.  Right Thinking – (Think Right)

- notice how the 1stone mentioned it ‘true’ – truth impacts the way we think/act

C.  Right Actions – (Do Right)

“The greatest gap in life is between knowledge and action – cf. James 1:22-25