Summary: Exposition of Philemon 1-7 that deals with the character of one who forgives, Philemon

Text: Philemon 1-7, Title: From a Godly Prisoner to a Godly Man, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/11/07, AM

A. Opening illustration: Recently, a survey was made of 200 married adults in regards to forgiveness (1). The researchers were wondering how one’s ability to forgive others would affect their marital satisfaction and personal well-being. The results were astounding! This research suggests that there is a huge relationship between marriage satisfaction and forgiveness. In fact, it appears that as much as one third of marriage satisfaction is related to forgiveness. Not only does the ability to forgive impact the marriage relationship, it was significantly related to personal emotional distress. As forgiveness ability went up, individuals reported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue! These results are powerful and suggest that all counselors, both secular and faith-based, should be helping people develop the skill of forgiveness.

B. Background to passage: This is the first of two truly personal letters that were sent in the NT (the other being 3 John). The book is about forgiveness needed from Philemon to a runaway slave name Onesimus (more on the main theme later). Three times in this letter and five other times, Paul refers to himself as a prisoner for Christ. This letter was written in prison, but Paul understood the Lordship of Christ, that he had been bought with a price and was no longer his own. Forgiveness of past wrongs and hurts is so desperately needed in churches today. Proverbs tells us that is it to our glory to overlook a transgression not giving place to bitterness or the devil in our lives. And after a short greeting, Paul gives us information about the impeccable Christian character of Philemon.

C. Main thought: Paul notes the character of Philemon as a godly father in preparation for a request to forgive

A. Closely associated with the church (v. 2)

1. Paul mentions two other names in this greeting which are probably names of Philemon’s wife and son. Then Paul also mentions the church that meets in their house. Explain about churches not having buildings. Philemon allowed the church to meet in His home. And the family atmosphere was an open and honest atmosphere. And this letter was intended to be read by the congregation. There were no secrets in the lives of the saints, but there was plenty of accountability. What do you think Philemon would do after the letter was read aloud? And Philemon led his family to be right in the middle of the church, not for power or prestige, nor for any self-righteous fancy, nor for the earning of salvation.

2. Heb 10:25,

3. Illustration: me asking Ricky to hold me accountable about some money that was given to us, Females have a much higher spiritual involvement than men. They are more likely to be absolutely committed to Christianity, read the Bible, attend church, pray to God, participate in a small group, and have a quiet time. Men are much more likely to be unchurched. (Barna Online 3/5/01), Staying home from church-ill file

4. As a congregation we are supposed to share our lives with each other—koinonia. This is where true fellowship and accountability takes place. We are very good at putting on. That always frustrates me about being around some people. Are they really like this all the time? And the bottom line is that we all need the accountability of the body. Secondly, as a father and spiritual leader of his home, he led his family to be involved in the church. And not only involved when it is convenient, but only involved in other things when it’s convenient. And not because they have to, but because they want to. There is safety for the family within the confines of the church. And, Fathers, to sacrifice your family’s involvement with the church is to toy with spiritual destruction. We need some more Philemon’s practicing multigenerational faithfulness within the confines of the body of Christ.

B. Loves Christ and His people (v. 5)

1. The next thing that Paul mentions about Philemon is his genuine love and faithfulness to Christ and to the saints. What a testimony! Paul is hearing (present tense) about his constant love and devotion and faithfulness or loyalty to Christ. These are the marks of genuine Christianity—love for and faithfulness to Christ, as well as love for and loyalty to the body (ALL the saints). It is also one of the most convicting sins of the greatest commandment--that we fail to love God with all of our heart.

2. 1 Cor 16:22, Matt 22:37, James 2:19,

3. Illustration: people say that they can love Jesus just as much outside the church as in, but that is simply not biblically true,

4. Do you love Jesus? How can I tell? Do you long to be with Him? Are you willing to sacrifice anything for Him? Do you consistently and willingly obey Him? Are you satisfied with Him? Is He your portion forever? If you have no affection for Jesus Christ that displays itself in God-glorifying ways, you are no more a Christian that the good, moral atheist from the Discovery Channel that discredits all the Christian beliefs. For the devil knows much about God, in fact is very faithful to church, the problem is his desires. And if you are not faithful to Christ with your affections/emotions you will perish forever, like the two middle soils. For those truly saved will be faithful to the end. And don’t talk to me about loving Jesus when you don’t love the church, his body, his bride for whom He lay down His life. It is completely biblically incompatible to say you are a believer but don’t like other believers. And don’t embarrass the kingdom by being one of those people that have “he or she was of the Baptist faith,” because they don’t know what church you are even affiliated with. Or worse yet, embarrass the kingdom by being an excuse for someone else to avoid church because you don’t love others like you are commanded.

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