Summary: This sermon deals with the characteristics of a Christian based on Paul’s life in Philippians 3:1-11.
"To Do Or To Be"
7/28/95 Text Philip3:1-11 OT Prov. 2:1-8 Matthew 7:13-27
For the Christian, "to be or not to be", isn’t the question, but rather "to do or to be is" the issue that we face. More times than not we opt for doing rather than being. Many people don’t mind doing great things for God, but being what God wants them to be" is something altogether different. What you are doing, should never overshadow who you are.
In our New Testament reading, we saw how it’s possible to do great things, and still miss out on the will of God.
If someone said to you today, "Tell me, what proof is there in your life that you are a Christian?", would you start telling them about the good things that you do for others, or would you start talking about a relationship you have with one called Jesus Christ? Is your hope for salvation grounded in what you do, or in who you are in Jesus Christ. Let’s look together in Philippians 3:1.
We find in verse 1 Philippians 3:1 "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you." Paul is the writer of these words. "Rejoice in the Lord." You may say it’s easy to say that when things are going well for you, but you need something else because you’ve got struggles in your life.
Paul didn’t write this letter from some beautiful palace. He was chained in a dungeon in a damp prison. He had some difficult times facing him. People on the outside were trying to make sure his trial went for the worst. The people in the church at Phillipi were having trials and struggles in their own lives. Don’t forget, it was in Phillipi where Paul and Silas had both been severely beaten . So when Paul, wrote rejoice in the Lord, they knew these were more than words to put a smile on your face.
. Having trials and struggles should not be reasons to start feeling sorry for one’s self, being ready to throw in the towel on the church, on God, and on life itself. As Pastor Toby told us last week, it may be time for us to make an attitude correction adjustment.
In the midst of suffering Paul says, "rejoice in the Lord." When our hope is centered in Christ, we can always rejoice in God’s love for us, God’s grace that He gives us, and the knowledge that God is still in control of the circumstances of our lives. A divine joy in the Lord in possible for believers in spite of adversities, struggles of difficulties, because we know that this too will past. It may shake us, but we don’t have to let it defeat us.
If we can thank God in whatever situation that comes our way, we will discover that God can turn every blow and disappointment that comes into our lives into a blessing for us. The ability to do this comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ, not from doing a lot of good things. God doesn’t ask us to do good works to have his joy. He asks us to keep our hearts and minds focused on becoming what he wants us to become in our lives.
Paul tells them to rejoice again and again throughout this book. God does not mind repeating himself again and again, because it is a safety mechanism for our own behalf. He tells us things to practice, and God also warns us again and again of things that will destroy us.
Every congregation carries within it, the seeds for its own destruction. The same is true for every family, and for every individual. There are feelings and emotions in each of us that can severely cripple our lives if they are not submitted to the will of God. There is nothing outside of you that can keep you from becoming the person God wants you to be. Tell the person, next to you, you can make it if you want to make it. God’s obligated to complete the good work He began in you.
In the Phillipian church there were false teachers that sought only their own good. They were dangerous to the church, because they wanted to take the focus off a relationship with Christ, and put it on doing things their way.
Look at verse 2 Philippians 3:2 "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh." The word watch out here, is a very strong one. Some translations use the words "beware of " or "take heed"
One of the things you need to understand here is that our view of dog and their view of a dog were two different things. When this letter was written, the Jews considered the dog to be the most despised, shameless and miserable of creatures." There were a group of Jews called the Judaizers who came into the church and accepted Christ, but insisted one had to be circumcised in order to be saved.