The Life That’s a Witness To The World
Text: Philippians 2:14-16
Have you ever wanted to win a soul to Christ? How important is it to you that souls are won for the Saviour? Are you content to relax upon the sovereignty of God without any emotion toward perishing souls?
I believe you value the lost. But I wonder how much. You may value the lost enough to pray for them, but do you value them enough to cut out your sin?
That’s what Paul begins to challenge the Philippians with. The need to live the sort of life that actually is a witness to the world to Christ. Now none of us can save the soul. But we are to live in such a way as to prevent giving them excuses for their unbelief.
Paul here is concerned about the disunity
I. IT STRIVES FOR UNITY – v14
i) The imperative that shows the importance of unity – “do all things”
Everything the Christian does is to be regulated. Everything. This is said in relation to working out our salvation and DOING God’s will. Now Paul says that that DOING relates to ALL things. Everything we do at home, work, leisure, around family, friends, neighbours, strangers, and enemies must be regulated by the need to work out our salvation. There is no place to divide, as some do, our Christian life from our business life. If you don’t run your affairs at home, at work, or in any other realm according to biblical principles, you’re not working out your salvation. You’re not taking the weight of the seriousness of your salvation with the earnestness taught by Paul.
ii) The instruction that shows the interference to unity – “without murmurings and disputings”
“murmurings” – this is the same word used in “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” Acts 6:1.
It has the idea of complaining, not directly to someone, but about an individual or group of individuals. It is usually practiced within a sub-section of the community. It was an oft repeated sin of the Israelites in the wilderness and it had terrible consequences at times (Ex 15,16,17; Num 14,16,17). The point is, this is no small matter. It reflects unbelief and rebellion against God or against God’s servants for the providence you’re experiencing. In the OT it was Moses that got the brunt of it, and in the NT in Acts 6 it was the Apostles who felt the heat.
“disputings” – x14 in NT and in most cases it is translated thoughts, but however it’s translated it always carries the idea of evil thoughts in the form of sinful doubts and reasoning. It is never the positive type of reasoning, always sinful. So in the case of Israel, they murmured against the providences of God, and that led to evil reasoning such as, God has brought us out into the wilderness to kill us. So there’s a connection in these words.
Now commentators aren’t terribly clear on what the murmuring and disputing was about. Who was it against? Drawing everything together and trying to paint the picture based on what Paul addresses, I think there was among the people a discontentment about matters relating to outside pressure and attacks (1:27-28). Perhaps a division among the church about how to deal with it, and those making the decisions were being murmured against. The entire concept of this is about accepting the providence of God without murmuring and questioning.
And this is so vital if you are to have a life that wins the world. You can’t win the world by complaining about your providence. Every circumstance in our lives is an opportunity to show our faith. “My weakness, that is, my quadriplegia, is my greatest asset because it forces me into the arms of Christ every single morning when I get up.” Joni Eareckson Tada
Whatever the case, it seems an unsettling spirit had come among the Philippians which was being caused by circumstances. One commentator writes, “While we cannot be entirely sure what the Philippian Christians were complaining about, we can be sure that Paul viewed complaining and quarrelling as serious flaws that could destroy the unity of the Christian community in Philippi.”
II. IT STRIVES FOR PURITY – v15
i) Pure for the sake of our Testimony – “That ye may be blameless and harmless…without rebuke”
“blameless” – The term means one who is free from accusation or blame, from either the side of God or of human beings. It is used with reference to Zechariah and Elizabeth, “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” Luke 1:6
“harmless” – i.e. the idea of purity. Like the purity of a substance, which is untainted or unmixed with other things. “without rebuke” – that which cannot be censured.
Beloved, the world only need one tiny mark on your life to take delight in the contradiction of your life. Oh how we must work out our salvation. ii) Pure for the sake of our Identity – “the sons of God”
This is working out what what God has worked in you. He has worked in you to save you and has adopted you to be His child, but is it seen? It’s in you, but are you working it out? Should children grumble at their fathers? Should they not accept that their fathers, if godly, know what’s best for them?
In context this was the problem. They were the sons of God and yet they were murmuring at His providence for their lives. Your theology has to be seen beloved. If you believe God to be sovereign and that He loves you and that you’re His child, you can’t complain. It’s a contradiction and if stifles your witness before the world.
iii) Pure for the sake of our Locality – “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation”
“They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.” Deut 32:5
The same idea is borne out by Peter to Israel on the day of Pentecost, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” Acts 2:40. He was essentially telling them to get out of the corruption of Israel. They were an untoward generation, just like they had been in Moses’ day.
We don’t want to be like murmuring Israel. We are in the midst of such, we are not to BE such. Israel’s murmuring reflected their unbelief, which was the reason God kept them out of the promised land. The world is never content. It’s always complaining.
iv) Pure for the sake of our Luminosity – “among whom ye shine as lights in the world”
The language is that of being luminaries in the darkness of space. The world is in darkness, but the Christian who lives without murmuring, shines like a beacon. We are to live as a brilliant star!
III. IT STRIVES FOR CONSISTENCY
i) Consistency that delights in the Word – “Holding forth the word of life”
The idea is that of holding to and holding forth the gospel. So how do I consistently live the Christian life without falling into the trap of murmuring? I hold to the Word that I may hold forth the Word.
ii) Consistency that delights the Preacher – “that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”
Paul had invested a lot of time and effort in the Philippians. He was their spiritual father. He is essentially saying, don’t live in such a way that will prove that all my labours and the persecution I received in order to establish the work there, was all in vain. Please, don’t do that.
Am I running and labouring in vain? Am I preaching to encourage you to a closer walk with Christ and the enjoyment of the gospel, but you live without the devotion to work out your salvation? Are you being challenged about certain sins, but you go out into the world without taking the necessary precautions to kerb your sins?
Close – living right is your number one priority.