Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This message looks at several instances when Paul's back was against the wall, noting what he did to push through the adversity to continue God's mission for his life


* Paul has faced opposition from the moment he placed faith in Christ (at first from believers who were skeptical, then from unbelievers)

* Agabus’ prediction (21:10-11); Paul’s response (21:13)

* Paul understood what it meant to have his “back against the wall”

* The colloquialism means that you have no other course in a situation than to either (1) give up or (2) move forward and face what has backed you against the wall

* The wall Paul is backed up against in this text: no longer is he threatened by citizens, but now he’s brought before rulers and national leaders

* Paul faces two options: (1) give up; (2) push forward

* Like Paul, we experience moments when our backs are against the wall: we face a situation in which we must choose between moving forward or giving up

* Paul faced five different situations/people in which his back is against the wall in this text; how he responded to each situation teaches us valuable lessons

1. When your back is against the wall, you need to remain committed to the Word (22:30 - 23:11)

* The “wall” Paul is facing is the Sanhedrin (highest Jewish council in the 1st century)

* Paul could have given up and hoped to escape the situation, but instead he faced it with a commitment to the Word of God

* How Paul’s commitment to the Word worked...

A. He was committed to respond to opposition with the Word (23:2-3)

- He knew the Law (cf. Deut. 25:1-2)

- When faced with opposition, our best response is to cling to the Word of God

- Jesus’ example in Matthew 4:1-11

- Key: Paul had to know the Word before he could respond with it (why we need to spend time in the Word on a daily basis)

B. He was committed to being obedient to the Word (23:4-5)

- When Paul learned who Ananias was, he wanted to be respectful because of what the Law commanded (cf. Ex. 22:28, “Do not...curse the ruler of the people.”)

- Not enough for us to say we know the Word: Are we obeying it?

C. He was committed to the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

- 23:6, 11 = Paul’s hope and trust was in the Word that was made flesh (see John 1:14)

2. When your back is against the wall, you need to rely on God’s providence (23:12-35)

* The wall Paul is facing: a plot by 40 men who are seeking to kill him (they vow to not eat or drink until he is dead)

* What occurs in the text is an example of the providence of God (see verses 16-22)

* Providence = God’s faithful and effective care and guidance of everything he has made toward the end he has chosen; providence means that God perpetually cares for us and does everything for our good

* Opening question of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563): “What is your only comfort in life and death?” Answer: “That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ who...so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation.”

* God’s providence means that God has always and will always care for me, and that because of that care he will not allow anything to happen that will destroy my life as long as I rely upon him

* God’s providence causes the events of my life - both good and bad - to be used by God to accomplish his purpose for my life

* Paul understood this = instead of panicking or throwing his hands up in despair, he simply relied on God’s providence

* Romans 8:28 = how God’s providence affects our lives today

3. When your back is against the wall, you need to have courage and conviction (chapter 24)

* The wall Paul is facing in this chapter: on trial before Felix (procurator of Judea: a Roman military officer who had control over entire countries under the Roman system; procurators could issue death warrants - i.e., Pilate)

* Felix essentially holds Paul’s future in his hands; the easy way out would be for Paul to lose courage and conviction and to say whatever can get him off the hook

* Paul speaks with courage and conviction (see verses 14-26; courage = v. 14a; conviction = v. 24-26)

* What Paul’s example teaches us...

A. We need courage because our God is bigger than any wall we’re backed against

- Job 33:12

- 1 John 4:4

B. We need conviction because God is better than any wall we’re backed against

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