I hope you are enjoying our current teaching series, “The Pursuit of Joy” based on the book of Philippians. It is one of my favorite books in the Bible for several reasons. For one, there is a wonderful note of joy and thanksgiving that runs through this entire letter to the church of Philippi. Joy is somewhat of an unusual subject, since the book was written while Paul was a prisoner.
Chapter 2 of Philippians is full of rich truths. It is impossible to fully explore the depths of this chapter in a 30 minute sermon or in this blog post. I encourage you to read it every now and then. Philippians 2 encourages us to be like-minded and one in spirit, and to follow the example of Christ, who humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death.
Paul is suggesting that the Christian life is not a series of ups and downs. Rather, it is a process of “ins and outs.” God works in us, and we work out to further His kingdom. We cultivate the submissive mind by responding to what God wants to do in each of us. Before we move onto chapter 3 here are some general thoughts to reflect on in the days ahead.
First, each of us has tremendous untapped potential and God wants to help us fulfill that potential. When Paul says in verse 12 to “work out your salvation” he is not suggesting that you have to work for your salvation. Working out your salvation and our purpose in this life is to be more Christlike. Yes, there will be problems, but God will help us to work them out.
Second, Paul reminds us in Philippians 2 that God must work in us before He can work through us. God is more interested in you than what you are working on because if we are becoming more Christlike, our actions will also be more Christlike.
Third, joy comes from submission. The world’s philosophy is joy comes from getting what you want. You need to take on everybody that gets in your way and when you are the last man standing and you have won, then you find happiness. Jesus alone is proof that philosophy or course of action is wrong. He never used a sword or any other weapon. He defeated hatred by manifesting love; He overcame lies with truth. Because He surrendered He was victorious.
It takes faith to be a servant. We must believe God’s promises are true and they are going to work in our lives just as they worked in Paul’s life. The example comes from Christ, the energy comes from the Holy Spirit, and the result is—joy.
1. In verse Paul says; “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Why can he say this in all sincerity?
2. According to Paul, when do Christians “shine like stars” in the sky? How are you being a light in the world? How does our role in God’s Kingdom work? That is, how do we appear as “lights in the world”? (2.13-15)
3. What does it mean to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling?” Is this a salvation issue or an expression of salvation? Explain.
4, What actions can we take to work out our salvation through humility? The Christian life should be a sacrifice if we follow Christ. Does your faith cost anything? That is, what does it mean to live a life of sacrifice? Explain