Summary: With the exception of faithfulness to sound, biblical doctrine, nothing is more essential to the prosperity of the church than unity. In fact, sound doctrine without unity will profit little. When love is present, unity also will be.

Conformed to Unity

Philippians 2: 1-4

As we move into chapter two, we quickly discover these verses are a continuation of the previous passage. Phil.1:27 – Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. Paul was concerned that the church continue to possess unity in the Lord, striving together for the faith of the Gospel. He well understood that unity was essential for the church to prosper. If they were not united in Christ, working together with a common vision, they would have little effect in ministry.

This fundamental truth has not changed. In fact, I am convinced of its great importance. Apart from believing and teaching sound doctrine, nothing else is as essential to the health and well-being of the church. If we lack unity, we will never be fruitful for the Lord. We may continue to gather within the church building, but our efforts cannot be of eternal value apart from unity. Mark 3:24-25 – And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. [25] And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

The opening verses of this chapter deal with the conformity of believers. Today I want to discuss the challenges Paul presents as we consider: Conformed to Unity.

I. The Admonition for Unity (1-2a) – If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, [2] Fulfil ye my joy…Here Paul offers an impassioned admonition regarding their unity. As he dealt with their unity, he reminded them of:

A. The Lord we Serve (1) – If there be therefore any consolation in Christ. Paul immediately directed their attention to the Lord Jesus Christ. The word consolation speaks of encouragement and comfort. Paul had certainly received consolation from the Lord and he knew they had as well. They shared a common consolation from the Lord and a common obligation to be of the same mind regarding Him. Paul wanted to emphasize the importance of unity, if for no other reason, than because of the graciousness of the Lord they served. That alone was reason for unity.

That is very simple and yet strikingly profound. An awareness of the Lord should be reason enough to strive for unity among the church. We too have received great consolation from the Lord. He has been faithful to meet our needs and continually deals with us according to His grace and mercy. Our love for the Lord ought to create a burning desire to serve alongside fellow believers in unity.

We cannot please our Lord apart from unity. He remained committed to the will of the Father, going all the way to the cross, bearing our sin and securing our salvation. There was no rebellion or lack of unity within Christ. That alone should motivate our unity!

B. The Love we Share (1) – If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love. Paul also mentions the comfort of love possessed by those in Christ. Here the word comfort speaks of “strength.” Paul admonishes – if your love is strong, if it is real for one another, then unity will come natural. Those who share a common love, being strengthened by that love, would strive to maintain unity, and grow together!

This presents a great challenge to the church today. I fear that far too many of our churches lack genuine love for one another. If our love is lacking, we will not possess unhindered unity. If our love is strong, and we are being strengthened through that love, we will possess unity. Our love for one another will dictate our lives and unity will be a natural by-product of our love. Genuine love will create an atmosphere of unity among the church. 1 John 4:11 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. John 15:12 – This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

C. The Life we Live (1) – If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit…Next Paul mentioned their fellowship in the Spirit. As believers they all shared the same Spirit, not a similar spirit, but they all possessed the Spirit within. Such a common bond would create a common fellowship through the Spirit and directly affect the lives they lived. With the Spirit abiding within, and guiding their lives, He would keep them united in fellowship. When one experienced pain, the others felt it too. When one rejoiced, the others were compelled to rejoice as well. As long as they walked in fellowship with the Lord, they would enjoy fellowship with one another.

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