Summary: What two attitudes destroy the unity of the church? What is the only way given in Scripture to fight against this? Listen as Pastor Steve shows how we are to be involved in "Maintaining Spiritual Unity."
Tonight we’re looking once again at the portion of Scripture that speaks to the subject of unity in the church.
Philippians 2:1-4 says, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
We are exhorted in Scripture toward unity. Not only in this passage but elsewhere as well. Paul told the believers at Rome to “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Romans 12:16). In 1 Corinthians 1:10, he told the Corinthians that they “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
He told them the same thing in his second letter: “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
Unity should be the pursuit of every child of God. All of us should endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). In order to do this we must understand what is the basis for unity, the call to unity, and the process for unity.
We said last time that the basis for unity is found in verse 1 — it is the divine influence on our life that has given us 4 fulfilled conditions in our life. They are “encouragement in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, and affection and mercy.” Every believer has receive these 4 realities. JB Lightfoot says that the verse could be read this way: “If then your experiences in Christ appeal to you with any force, if love exerts any persuasive power upon you, if your fellowship in the Spirit is a living reality, if you have any affectionate yearnings of heart, any tender feelings of compassion, listen and obey.”
Because we have these 4 realities it should motivate us to unity.
If you look in chapter 1, Paul states 3 other realities that are present in their lives. In 1:6, Paul said that God has “begun a good work in you [and] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He mentions this again in 2:13 where he says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Echoing his words to the Ephesians, he says in 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Since it is “God who works in you,” Paul says in Philippians 1:7 that they were made “partakers with me of grace.” The same grace Paul received, they received. The same God who was at work in Paul’s life was at work in their lives.
In 1:29-30, he even shows them that they were graciously granted not only to believe in Christ, “but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.” God’s work in us should motivate us to unity. “This unity must be expressed in deeds, gestures, and speech—in short, in the way we think about, talk to, and act with other Christians.” Anything short of this is demonic!
The call to unity is in verse 2 where he tells them to be like-minded, i.e. thinking the same thing by having the same love. This like-mindedness is “seeing things as Christ would see them, and to respond as He would respond.” It is “the concord not of having a common hatred, but of a common love...It manifests itself in a complete harmony of the feelings and affections...It produces an entire unison of thought and directs it to one end.” Being like-minded, being united in Spirit and intent on one purpose will produce unity. But in order to obey this truth we must put away 2 negatives and affirm the one positive that’s found in verses 3-4. Notice what Paul gives for the process for unity.
Do Nothing By Way of Selfishness (v.3a)
The first part of verse 3 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit.” J. Vernon McGee says, “Most of the difficulties in the church today are not due to doctrinal differences. They are due to strife and envy. Some people just naturally cause trouble.”