Summary: God changes us more and more as we believe the gospel more and more deeply and personally.
One of my seminary professors illustrated the challenge of believing and living Biblical truth by saying that we work out our theology and practice on a razor’s edge. The faithful Christian does not walk the fine edge so much as she is always moves back toward Biblical truth and godly behavior. Fallen creatures living in a fallen world have neither the wisdom nor sight in these shadowlands to perfectly know or do God’s will; our goal must be to always move back toward the line.
Today’s text challenges us in such a way. The command is deceptively simple: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel.” Only that! But the gospel is undeserved, so how do we live worthy of a gracious gift we are unworthy of? Such is the edge which God’s Spirit moves us toward this morning.
[Read Philippians 1.27-30. Pray.]
Pastor John Piper describes a confrontation with a man committing adultery: “I tried to understand his situation and I pled with him to return to his wife. Then I said, ‘You know, Jesus says that if you don’t fight this sin with kind of seriousness that is willing to gouge out your own eye, you will go to hell and suffer there forever.’ As a professing Christian, he looked at me in utter disbelief, as though he had never heard anything like this in his life, and said, ‘You mean you think a person can lose his salvation?’” (Future Grace).
That little interaction reveals more than the hardness of one man’s heart. It shows how easily sinful minds warp into falsehood a received truth like, “Once saved always saved.” Yes, salvation is by grace, but the Savior also changes those he saves. It is as if we sometimes disconnect knowing Jesus from real life.
Dr. Bryan Chapell (President of Covenant Seminary) emphasizes the necessity of preaching grace Biblically by saying, “In the gospel the rules do not change—the means and motivation for obedience change.” In the gospel, lust is still a soul-damning sin—the rules does not change. But both the motivation and means of victory are different than we naturally expect.
So how do we change? How do we live worthy of the gospel? How do we please God as sinners living in a sin-soaked world? How do we fight lust in a way that honors the grace of Jesus and not the strength of our wills? Let’s consider two truths this morning. First…
1. We Must Begin with the Gospel To Please God
Our special Sunday morning breakfast is scrambled eggs. Now suppose Helen cracks a dozen eggs into a bowl and eleven are perfect. Eleven of twelve is a great batting average, a fantastic three-point shooting percentage, and well on your way to a quarterback rating over 100. But is 92% acceptable for a bowl of beaten eggs? No way! One rotten egg corrupts the whole.
In the old days, large windows consisted of several individual panes of glass. If you smack a baseball through one, the others can remain intact. But modern windows are made from large pieces of glass. Yours may appear to be divided by a muntin (the small piece of material which separates individual pieces of glass in the larger frame), but that merely decorates the window. A baseball breaks the whole window.