NTRO: 1. So far Paul has taught us that it’s important for us to understand or define triumphant Joy, then he revealed to us how we can refine or develop that Joy… but tonight Paul sees it important to remind us that our joy must always be defended.
2. It may came as no surprise for you that there are Joy-robbers.
a. Although trouble and hardship can’t strip away that joy from our inner-man there are things that can take our joy away.
b. May be surprised to learn that the enemies of our joy are not external, but internal.
c. They are subtle because often they promise to bring us joy… when in fact they replace it.
3. Multitudes of professing christians are living joy-less lives because they’ve bought into the trap of these three enemies Paul outlines here.
4. Paul begins this chapter by again reminding them to “rejoice in the Lord,” then he confronts our enemies of real joy.
5. The church at Philippi was bombarded by three enemies or groups of enemies… same enemies we fight against today.
6. The enemy doesn’t care if he takes your joy in the hospital or in the church.
a. If he can’t steal your joy using the circumstances of this world, he’ll try and use religious tools to strip it from your lives.
I. LEGALISM CAN STEAL OUR JOY
a. Legalism defined is simply…When your life revolves around the law instead of around a relationship with God.
b. It’s a matter of our motive… why we do what we do.
c. Many a young christian has been crushed by the weight of the law because they attempted to carry it out of will-power instead of spirit power.
d. Let me make one thing absolutely clear here, God demands a holy life… we’ll see that clearly as we look at the third enemy… Carnality.
e. However, Paul a truly righteous man warns the philippians of a faith that relies more on the flesh to secure righteousness than the spirit.
f. Paul in vs. 3 tells us the difference from original christianity from legalism.
A. SUBSTITUTE A PHARISEE SPIRIT FOR JOY
1. No one group so stood out as stark opposite to Jesus more than the Pharisee.
2. That was odd, they where the strict ‘keepers of the law.’
3. But in keeping the letter of the law they had lost the spirit of the law.
4. When you have a living relationship with Christ we will not have a proud, arrogant, self-righteous spirit that glorifies ourselves.
5. We must always remember that our life isn’t designed to be a reflection on us… but a reflection on him.
6. True holiness comes by way of osmosis… the closer I get to God the more I look like, act like and walk like him.
ILL. As a young christian I remember writing on the inside of my bible the “sin list.” But that list was ever growing and I constantly failed to live up to it and it became a burden I just couldn’t bear. I remember the day when my life changed, I was going to God with my farewell prayer. God told me that I was doing it all wrong and lead me to really hear what Paul was saying and learn to revolve my life around a relationship with Him and He’d place His heart and mind in me and give me power to overcome sin in my life. Then there was the peace, the joy I had long forgotten.
B. SUBSTITUTE MERIT FOR JOY
1. In vs. 5, Paul was saying that when it came down to doing all the right things and “earning” his righteousness he had done everything right.
2. Paul was saying that he was living by what He could accomplish, not what Christ had accomplished.
3. You will live a miserable life if your life focuses on merit instead of grace.
4. You can never measure up without God’s grace.
5. If you could measure up with your good works, there would be no need for calvary.
6. Paul discovered the liberty of knowing that I can measure up by letting Christ live through me.
C. SUBSTITUTE ZEAL FOR JOY
1. Zeal is not the same thing as Joy… they are both passionate and powerful.
ILL. On 9-11, a number of terrorists high-jacked three planes, they were are zealous in their faith in Allah, but there was no joy there. Nights before they drank heavily to numb their senses.
2. Joy comes from our spirit, Zeal from our will.
3. There is nothing wrong with ‘zeal’ in and of itself… but it cannot replace joy.
4. I’d rather have someone working in the church out of joy than out of zeal.
5. Paul said that he was zealous in verse 6.
6. Paul said what he was doing was within the law… but it didn’t please God.
II. FORMALISM CAN STEAL OUR JOY
a. Let’s go back to verse 3.
b. One of the greatest indicators that our joy is gone is in the area of worship.
c. The devil doesn’t mind if you worship as long as it’s cold and spiritless.
d. He don’t care if you lift and clap your hands as long as it’s just going through the motions.
e. Formalism is more than just a way we do church… it’s an internal posture and attitude toward worship.
f. Multitudes attend church every Sunday but the formalism has turned their joy into lifeless religion.
A. LEAVE YOU WITH JOY-LESS, SPIRIT-LESS WORSHIP
1. Paul said that we worship God “in the spirit.”
2. Our joy is restored when we learn to open our spirit to worship.
3. Formalism has less to do with what kind of song you sing as much as what kind of attitude you approach God in.
4. We can protect our worship from this kind of formalism if we change our focus from getting touched, to touching God.
5. Paul’s in saying we worship God “in spirit” is letting us know that worship begins in us… then is responded to by God.
B. LEAVE YOU WITH JOY-LESS, MISDIRECTED WORSHIP
1. Paul saying that our worship should “rejoice in Christ Jesus.”
2. When our worship loses it’s focus… it loses it’s joy.
3. Formalism focuses on how things are done or not done.
4. Formalism focuses on the style of worship, what instruments are playing.
5. Formalism focus on what others think of my worship.
6. So far, we’ve discovered that two of the most precious commodities to your joy is a living relationship with Christ and spirit-filled Christ-centered worship.
III. CARNALITY CAN STEAL OUR JOY
a. When we live carnally we live to satisfy the flesh… the old man.
b. Many professing believers who attend church but serve and worship themselves.
c. But the sad thing is to see these people pursue everything this world has to offer to add joy to their lives while true joy is right under their noses all along. It’s ironic that our pursuit for happiness can actually cost us our joy.
d. Paul warned them in tears of the danger of carnality in their lives.
A. A CROSS-LESS LIFE
1. Paul levels one of the most serious charges in the bible by calling these carnal leaders “enemies of the cross of Christ.”
2. The message of the cross is not just Jesus had to die, but I had to die…to my old life.
Gal. 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
3. Many carnal christians focus on the cross in it’s message of love, but stop short of what it says about us.
4. The cross tells us all that we are not inherently good people, but inherently sinful.
5. The cross tells us that our way just didn’t work…only God’s way works.
6. The cross tells me that I need a change in my life.
7. “Enemies” oppose and resist something… don’t be one who resists the full work of Calvary in your life.
B. AN UNBRIDLED LIFE
1. “Whose God is their belly”… they’re led by their own desires.
2. They sacrifice only for themselves.
3. They fail to seek God in the decisions of life.
4. They look for just one more pleasure… one more toy to satisfy their hearts.
5. But when we bow to our desires… we will never be satisfied… never be joyful… never fulfilled in life.
C. A SHAMEFUL LIFE
1. Paul goes on to say “and whose glory is in their shame.”
2. What they should be ashamed of their not… they're even proud of it.
3. Paul was warning church people who would be led astray by religious leaders offering a cheap gospel that would appeal to their flesh not their spirit.
4. Jude warns of this
Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Some christians make the grace of God out to be a free pass, living openly shameful lives.
D. AN EARTH-BOUND LIFE
1. Paul finally says of these carnal leaders … “who mind earthly things.”
2. An earth-bound life is one that is primarily fixed on this life.
3. It’s all about that promotion on the job, that house, that deal going through.
4. Jesus warns us of being “entangled in the affairs of this life.”
5. What are you minding? What part of your life do you invest your energies in?
6. In vs. 20, Paul tells us what we should be minding.
7. In vs. 21, Paul tells us that if we follow Christ there will be a greater change take place to make us eternally holy in the presence of God.
8. When you come to the end of the road, will you meet it with joy, or will your heart be tied to all you’ve worked so hard to build here?
CONCLUSION: There are things out to rob us of our Joy…
…of our relationship with Christ.
…of our Spirit-filled worship.
…of our Purity before God.
Don’t settle for the substitutes… get the real thing… Joy unspeakable and full of glory.