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ES/PHIL/15 Philippians 2:15–16a

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:32
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Philippians 2:14–16 NIV
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
Two weeks ago, if we remember, it was about doing all things without complaining and disputing. I wonder how we have done over the last couple of weeks. Have we been more thankful? Have we been more content? Have we trusted God who is in full control? If so well done. For me these thoughts have been continually with me especially as I have not been feeling well. I mean, is God in control? The fact I couldn’t make it last Sunday through sickness is so unusual for me. In fact, I think I may have only ever not been on one other Sunday in 38 years due to illness. But perhaps, partly, it was so you could hear messages by John Kissack and by our own Rev. Gareth Matthias. God is in control and I am supremely confident of this even if the world now tore itself apart.
Our habits of complaining or despairing, or not trusting of God can take time to change and this change comes if we are continually interacting with and being transformed by the Word, meditating on what He says day and night. Scripture is clear that meditating upon Him changes us and we become more heavenly minded, more like citizens of Heaven than citizens of this world which is corrupt, crooked and perverse. We are reminded of the words of:
James 1:25 NKJV
25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
That one, James says, will be blessed in what is done. The promises of God are yea and amen. Do these things and you will be blessed.
15
So it is all the more important that we take note when Paul writes that we obey and do, therefore, all things without complaining and disputing so that as we can see in verse 15 and we will be those who shine as stars. It is when others see what God is doing in us that they will glorify Him. We are reflectors of God and His glory.
So let us look more carefully at verse 15. That we may become...not that you are already – but if we leave behind murmuring and arguing then you are on the way to successfully shine as the lights we ought to be.
Let’s look a little closer at this. There are three things that are required:
Blameless
Harmless
Faultless
for we are children of God.
We are children of God if we have received Jesus into our lives so that we live for Him. The cross before us the world behind us. Plenty claim to be Christians and have gone to Church all their lives or think that because they were christened that they have no more to do and there are others who think that on balance they have lived more good than bad and therefore will go to Heaven on that basis.
I know that many millions believe themselves to be Christians but is simply not true. I know that you know that we cannot be born a Christian as some think but we are born again to new life. And we have been given the Holy Spirit who testifies that we are new creations:
Romans 8:14–17 NKJV
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Galatians 3:26 NKJV
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
What is interesting about becoming lights is that the Bible says we are already! We do shine as light whether we intend to or not!
Matthew 5:14–16 NKJV
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
You are light already but we still need to be told ‘let your light so shine’.
But this brings us back to being blameless and harmless. The fact is we could actually shine brighter than we do. Those three words again are negatives in the Greek:
Blameless
Harmless
Faultless
Let’s look at the first of these:
Blameless
Galatians–Colossians (King James Version) C. Working out One’s Own Salvation or Deliverance, 2:12–18

free from fault and censure; to be faultless; above reproach and rebuke. The believer is to live a blameless, faultless and pure life, both in the church and in the world. No one is to be able to point to the Christian and accuse or blame him with anything. The Christian is to be clean, unpolluted, spotless, holy, righteous, and pure before man and God.

This is a tall order, right? None of us have yet made this. The Philippians hadn’t. Being complainers marred the blamelessness they had in Christ which gives us an idea of the standard being set here.
2. Harmless
This word means innocent and pure. We can see the meaning of this word as it is only used in two other places in the Greek:
Matthew 10:16 NKJV
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Romans 16:19 NKJV
For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
The word simple meaning innocent concerning evil. Harmless as doves means for us to be as innocent as doves which are symbols of peace. This verse has come up a lot recently so perhaps the Lord is really saying something to us about this. How can we break this down further? It means to be pure, unadulterated, unmixed as flour that has gone through a sieve to take away the impurities. It is to be single-hearted, single-minded, wholly after the Lord with nothing of the world interfering.
3. Faultless
It means to be free from fault or defect. When we buy something in the shops whether clothing, or a TV or a washing machine or a computer or soap or anything; we would expect that it would be free from any faults and any defects. This is what we are to be. This idea comes from the Torah, the law, and even in our readings in Deuteronomy that offerings to God were to be made with animals that were without even a blemish. It is He who watches us and sees what we really are. We see where we really should be. God does not accept our worship when it comes from defective, guilty, and reproachable lives.
I can leave us all convicted here and down about the fact we do not live up to God’s expectations. I do not live up to it. I fall far short. But are we sorry enough to change? Because it is up to us. Paul is not telling us things that are completely out of our reach but to care about how we live our lives before a God who sees. Do we need to make radical changes about what TV we watch or books we read, hobbies we have and so on? It is easy to make excuses. Can we stop ourselves complaining and disputing? Just how different are we from the world for surely this is the mark of the light of God shining through us. We live in the world, as crooked and perverse as it is, shall we, then, leave it just as dark as we found it?
For every generation is a crooked and perverse generation for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. As proof of this we can see in Scripture in different generations the same thing:
In Moses’ day:
Deuteronomy 32:5 NKJV
5 “They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish: A perverse and crooked generation.
In Jesus’ day:
Matthew 17:17 NKJV
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
In the Apostles’ day:
Acts 2:40 NKJV
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
A revealing illustration of the corruption of men is in this:
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 5723 “All Is Discovered”

There is a tradition to the effect that Noel Coward sent identical notes to the twenty most prominent men in London, saying, “All is discovered. Escape while you can.”

All twenty abruptly left the town.

We are lights for this generation – how bright we shine is up to us. When we murmur and complain, when we fight with one another, when we do not live blameless and harmless lives, it is at those times when we place our light under a basket. We make our light useless. So we need to shine. And in a corrupt and perverse generation – need I remind us that this is the case - when fornication, homosexuality, abortion are all accepted without question and now the latest things up for non-discussion; transsexualism and the choosing of ones own gender. Up until less than fifty years ago we called these things sin, now we call them alternative lifestyles. Those who still hold to the morality in the Bible are called religious fanatics, old-fashioned, dinosaurs or homophobic but the greater the darkness the more we shine. Let others see the good works we do in the Lord and give glory to our Father in heaven.
To the extent we live in the light we shall be light. This is evident even from the Old Testament.
Exodus 34:29–35 NKJV
29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.
The more time we spend with God, with His Word then the more we are going to shine for Him. We will reflect his light as the moon reflects the light of the sun. Of course it means that we need to practice what we learn from Him.
This light is rightly translated as stars in the NIV. Do you notice that the darker the sky the more the stars shine? In the darkest sky you can see so many stars, it is only then they have a change to shine and be noticed. It is a wondrous and awesome sight. I have that sense of wonder when looking out at the sky in my back garden for I see stars I have not seen before for in Cardiff there is a great deal of light pollution. If we all shine then we are polluting the world with the right things. And as Paul and his companions were once accused of: they are turning the world upside down.
Philippians: Verse by Verse A Pure People in a Crooked World (2:15)

Believers are to shine so brightly that the people of the world are mesmerized

Paul finishes in verse 16 talks of holding onto the word of life which is the truth of the Gospel that is proclaimed by word and deed against all opposition. We need to take a firm stance upon the word. It is the Word of life in the sense that those who respond to it receive eternal life, it brings God’s life to a dying world. But not all will receive it, unfortunately.
Doing this can lead to suffering:

The sixteenth-century English bishop, Hugh Latimer, was one of the first preachers of social righteousness in the English-speaking world. He was imprisoned for his courage and enunciations. While in the Tower of London, he wrote, “Pray for me, I say pray for me; at times I am so afraid that I could creep into a mousehole.” This was the same Latimer who later walked bravely to the stake in Oxford, saying to his companion, Nicholas Ridley, as he went, “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

When we stand against the world and for Christ our light will shine. Some will receive the light and some will shun it. Paul is quoting from
Daniel 12:3 NKJV
Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
And Luke tells us
Acts 13:47 NKJV
For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
Just how bright do we shine?

Benediction

Jude 24–25 NKJV
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.

Bibliography

Hughes, R. K. (2007). Philippians: the fellowship of the gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (1996). Galatians–Colossians. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed.). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
Osborne, G. R. (2017). Philippians: Verse by Verse. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 14:37 11 May 2018.
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