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2018-05-27 Philippians 1:27-28 God Always Wins (5): Citizenship Has Its Responsibilities

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:53
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GOD ALWAYS WINS (5): CITIZENSHIP HAS ITS RESPONSIBILITIES (Philippians 1:27-28) May 27, 2018 Read Phil 1:27-28 – There are 2 keys to this passage. First, “Let your manner of life” is all one word in Greek. It is formed from the root “city” and could be translated, “Let your manner of life as a citizen.” In 42 BC when Augustus defeated Antony at the Battle of Actium to unify the empire, he awarded full Roman citizenship to the Philippians. They loved their identity as “Little Rome.” But Paul reminds these believers they have a citizenship that far surpasses Rome. They are now citizens of Heaven. That supersedes any earthly identity. So, Paul urges them to live like citizens of Heaven as he did when he said, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” That was true because his ultimate identity was with heaven, not with earth. That’s Key # 1. The second key is in v. 28b: “This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.” That prompts the question – what is the sign of destruction to unbelievers and of salvation to believers? We need to know. And the answer is, for believers to live like citizens of a new city – heaven – is a sign of ultimate destruction for those who reject Christ, but a sign of ultimate salvation to those who believe. That’s Paul’s message. Now, it divides into two major parts. Citizenship has its Responsibilities (vv. 27-28) and Citizenship Has Its Privileges (vv. 29-30). The first section deals with the part we play as citizens; the second deals with God’s part. As often happens, Paul speaks at first as tho all depends on us; then turns around and shows that it is all of God. Which is true? Both. We are responsible for our actions; but God is ultimately sovereign. Today we see five responsibilities of citizenship that give us assurance of salvation, but point to the ultimate destruction of unbelievers. It pays to be on His side. So what is our part? I. Consistency “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” “You’re a citizen of heaven; so live like it!” The Bible is filled with instruction on how to live like a follower of Jesus. You’ll never get it all down in a lifetime, but start with what you do know and live that. Learn some more and live that – but don’t go back to the old lifestyle that defined greed as good, that selfcenteredness as a virtue, lust as normal and pleasure as the pinnacle of human existence. Don’t go back there. Act like who you are – a child of God. 1 So do we? The Princeton Religion Research Center measured the impact of faith on daily life in several areas (like pilfering supplies, lying on resumes, calling in sick, overstating tax deductions). They found “little difference in the ethical views and behavior of the churched and the unchurched.” What differences there are “are not significant or are of marginal significance.” That’s sad, isn’t it? But we can have no impact if we are not different. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Dad’s fav preacher, John R. Rice, wrote a challenging poem: “You are writing a gospel, a chapter a day, / By deeds that you do, by words that you say. / Men read what you write, whether faithless or true. / Say, what is the gospel according to you?” Great question? Does your life show what your mouth professes? II. Constancy 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm.” “I’ve seen you get it right when I’m there! But I want to hear that you’re living worthy of the gospel when I’m not.” Some were struggling! There was some infighting – some antagonism Paul knew wouldn’t be going on if he were there. So he challenges them. “Living out your faith ought not to depend on my presence. Live it out whether I’m there or not. Don’t be acting in my absence as you wouldn’t in my presence.” He’s being gentle, but I’m sure they didn’t miss his point. Their obedience ought not to depend on his presence. That would mean that they are playing to the wrong audience. It’s good to have accountability partners – friends who urge us upward. I hope all of you develop friendships with people who urge you upward along with them. It’s helpful and good. BUT our conduct must not depend on them. We must have the ability to control ourselves – to manage our own relationship with the Father. What happens if the pastor is gone tomorrow, or the friend is gone tomorrow? Will we still put Him first? He’s the audience, and some in Philippi had forgotten that. They were less than constant. Lord Nelson once said, “Every sailor is a bachelor when beyond Gibraltar.” Doesn’t take a genius to sort that out, does it? Married men were thinking single again when out of their wife’s influence. They forgot, the only audience that counts never left them! We must all remember that! We are not living our lives for others; we’re living our lives for God. Constancy is a citizenship responsibility – being the same during the week as we are on Sunday. 2 III. Commitment Paul wants to hear in 27c that “you that you are standing firm in one spirit.” Committed. Xn maturity comes from commitment to Truth. Eph 4:14: “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Spiritual spin doctors twist the truth; but responsible citizens read the fine print. They live the gospel; committed to Truth in a world that isn’t sure there is such a thing as Truth. They stand firm, whatever the cost. In Paul’s day, the cost was often severe. Some who heard this letter read later gave their lives simply for insisting Christ was Lord -- not the emperor. Would you die for that? Some in our 21st century world are! – standing firm rather than deny Christ. We’re not faced with death -- yet, but some have lost jobs, faced ostracism, been denied degrees, lost their homes and life savings because they would not compromise Truth to accommodate ungodly agendas. They don’t hate people, but they love Jesus and believe His ways are right. Two men asked Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts owner Barronelle Stutzman to arrange the flowers for their same-sex wedding. She’d sold them flowers before and had a friendly relationship with one of them for a decade. They hugged and parted amiably when she explained she could not help them celebrate their wedding, citing her “relationship with Jesus Christ” and her belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. However, in an unprecedented move, the Washington State Atty. Gen. filed a suit against Stutzman, arguing she had violated the state’s sexual orientation law. He sued the business and Stutzman personally. Keep in mind she didn’t protest the wedding, or disrespect anyone. The court ruled against her, for refusing to violate her conscience. This 70-year-old grandma faces the loss of everything. It’s happening right here, right now. Loss of religious freedom is coming to our town and there are no more sidelines to hide behind. Are you ready – to lovingly stand firm? It’s costly to be a citizen of heaven. And it’s no longer “over there.” It’s in our backyard, and the price of citizenship rises every day. IV. Cooperation Heavenly citizens cooperate; they don’t fight. They are dedicated to finding and doing the will of the King – together. Paul asks, “I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Look at it. Striving – not sitting. For many of us our faith 3 is sitting next to each other on Sunday morning. But it needs to go a lot further than that. Citizens of heaven are not only sitting but they are striving – side by side – of one mind to see the gospel going forward. We are often self-defeating, spending more time fighting each other than the enemy. We have private agendas and diva-complexes that have to be satisfied. Instead of striving side-by-side, we are fighting face to face. We’re more interested in having our way than in find His way. And it is wrong! Albert Exedine was a Cherokee Indian who was a key member of the Carlisle Indians most famous football teams early in the 20th century when they were a national powerhouse. He had never so much as held a football when he arrived on campus, but football reigned at Carlisle. His speed and skill soon led to him being drafted onto the official team. Years later he pinpointed the reason for the success of those teams. Students came from different Indian tribes from all around the country – some that were antagonistic to one another. But Exedine never forgot how school founder, Richard Henry Pratt he addressed the team: “Remember this. You are no longer Comanche, Kowa, Sioux or Apache – you are one student body. You are Carlisle Indians!” That’s a message we must take to heart. We are not here as McNeff’s or Hungenberg’s or Bowness’s or Bradshaw’s. We are Christians. It’s not our vision we must fulfill. It is His – and it will take everyone He has placed here to do it – striving side-by-side for the sake of the gospel. We are not here to destroy each other. The enemy is out there – and it is not other people. II Cor 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” Think of that the next time you are tempted to rake someone over the coals. Let’s destroy the strongholds of evil; the arguments of the Enemy, not each other. We all know how badly teams fail when it becomes about one man – no matter how good. So, let’s strive together for the sake of the gospel. V. Confidence 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents.” All believers have some natural fear of unbelievers – whether they are friends or enemies. No one wants to be thought different. But this is another place where togetherness is so important. Unity breeds confidence. It feels a lot better to go to battle with 4 someone by your side than to go it alone, doesn’t it? We need each other – to build confidence – to dispel the fear that comes naturally. Together it is so much easier to hear the voice of the Master and to faithfully represent Him to an antagonistic world. Citizenship builds confidence. Abe Lincoln had just been elected president when a Springfield banker, John, W. Bunn, saw Senator Salmon P. Chase, who had run against Lincoln, coming out of Lincoln’s office. Bunn told Lincoln, “You don’t want to put that man in your cabinet.” Lincoln asked, “Why not?” Bunn replied, “Well, because – he thinks he is a great deal bigger than you are.” Lincoln replied, “Well, do you know any other men who think they are bigger than I am?” Bunn said, “I’m not sure, but why do you ask?” Lincoln replied, “Because, I want to put them all in my cabinet.” And that’s just what he did. He found confidence in surrounding himself with the best he could find. And so ought we. But there will be times when we must stand alone. We will see compromise where we least expect it and find ourselves alone. But we must remember God is sufficient. When David went against Goliath, he was still a teenager. All of Israel feared the giant. No one was willing to fight, and no one was encouraging David. But he knew God. He could stand alone – “not frightened in anything by your opponents.” Such courage comes when we truly believe we serve a God who has already won the ultimate victory at the cross. David’s story is less about David’s courage than it is about David’s God. During the persecution of Xns under the Romans in AD 286, a Roman military commander named Maurice was given an order to kill a group of Christians in the Rhone Valley in Switzerland. When he received that order, he took off his Roman insignia, handed it to his assistant in order to join the Christians. He was killed as a fellow believer. Why would anyone conceivably do that. Only one reason. He truly believed that God is greater than Caesar. And today, he’s been with Jesus for more than 1800 years while those who took his life are into an eternity separate from God unless they, in the meantime, accepted the gift of eternal life freely offered by Christ to all who believe. In the end, God wins. But the only way to be on His side then is to have the courage to stand for Him now. True citizens know that and it gives them divine courage – courage that we will need in the days ahead, Conc – Paul says, “Only let your manner of life [as a citizen of heaven] by worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Why? V. 28b: “This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation.” When we exhibit the characteristics of heavenly citizenship – Consistency, Constancy, Commitment, Cooperation 5 and Confidence – when we live like that, it give us assurance of our own faith – and it points to the destruction that awaits unbelievers, inviting them to repent before it’s too late. Peter said it this way in a beautiful passage in I Pet 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Let me illustrate this way. A few years ago a friend moved into a new home. The yard had been let go and the weeds were high. But on the first morning, the man looked out an upstairs window and saw a beautiful rose among the weeds. He went to pick it, but the weeds were so high he could not find it. Returning to the window, he located the rose and surrounding landmarks. Upon returning he finally found it. As he pulled the weeds he discovered that the stem ran nine feet to its roots – in a neighbor’s well-cultivated garden. That is our calling as a Xn – to live the life of a rose grounded in heaven – the fruit of the Spirit – among the weeds of our worldly surroundings. Be a rose among the thorns. That’s what Paul did; that’s what he is urging the Philippians to do; and that is what our Lord is asking of us. Let’s pray. 6
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