Summary: Paul gives us two requirements for living together in obedience to God.
LIVING TOGETHER IN OBEDIENCE
A. Sometimes we set the course, but we need to allow God to be the unchangeable standard that we obey:
1. Lighthouse illustration:
The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message: "Alter your course ten degrees south." Promptly a return message was received: "Alter your course ten degrees north." The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: "Alter your course ten degrees south – I am the captain." Soon another message was received: "Alter your course ten degrees north – I am seaman third class Jones." Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: "Alter your course ten degrees south – I am a battleship." Then the reply came: "Alter your course ten degrees north – I am a lighthouse."
2. As we make our way through the maze of life, it often becomes easy to shout out all kinds of orders, to try to determine our own way in life.
3. In our text, Paul is calling for each of us to follow the one voice in life that can send us in the right direction.
a. Mark Twain said once, "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example."
b. Paul is calling for us to follow a good example. He begins the passage with "therefore." This matches the "therefore" of vs. 9. Paul is saying that just as God assessed and reacted to the worth of his Son’s life of obedience (vss. 9-11), so the Christian must ponder the example of Christ and determine a worthy response.
B. Obedience is the essence of how we are to live together in this regard.
1. On the one hand there needs to be unity and like mindedness in the church as we work together.
2. On the other hand, each individual needs to practice obedience in his or her own life.
3. The word obedience comes from the duties of a doorkeeper, whose duty it is to listen for signals of those who wish to enter and to let them in if they are entitled to; to simply open or answer.
• That is all we are, doorkeepers in the house of God. Our sole duty is to do God’s bidding.
4. That is clear in the use of this word for obedience as used elsewhere.
a. Jesus obeyed even to the point of death – 2:8.
b. In Sinai, however, the Israelites refused to obey God even though he was with them there – Acts 7:29.
c. Paul wrote to Corinth to see if they would stand the test and be obedient in everything – 2 Corinthians 2:9 – particularly in regard to forgiveness. They were simply to listen and obey.
5. Paul does not indicate by all this that we have not obeyed God previously,
but only encourages us to pursue our obedience all the more vigorously in the future.
a. Indeed the Philippians had obeyed God from the very first when Paul had gone there and made the first converts – Lydia and the jailor.
b. Moreover, he had witnessed them being obedient whenever he was there.
c. Now they could not depend on his presence with them anymore, so they needed to make all the more effort to obey God.
d. We too have obeyed God from the time we have accepted Christ.
e. Now that obedience needs to continue and grow; we cannot remain dependent on the victories of the past, but must forge new avenues ahead – both as a congregation and as individuals.
Paul gives us two requirements for living together in obedience to God.
WE OBEY GOD BY...
I. ...WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION – Vss. 12,13.
A. Making your salvation work.
1. Hard work can drive us too hard.
a. Many accidents occur in the middle of the night:
Our most notorious industrial accidents in recent years – Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the fatal navigational error of Korean Air Lines 007 – all occurred in the middle of the night.
When the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian A300 airbus killing all 290 people aboard, fatigue-stressed operators in the high tech Combat Information Center on the carrier misinterpreted radar data and repeatedly told their captain that the jet was descending as if to attack when in fact the airliner remained on a normal flight path.
In the Challenger space shuttle disaster, key NASA officials made the ill-fated decision to go ahead with the launch after working twenty hours straight and getting only two to three hours of sleep the night before. Their error in judgment cost the lives of seven astronauts and nearly killed the U.S. space program.