Philippians: A Life Worthy of the Gospel

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Our obligation to live a Christ-like life is independent of the circumstances of life.

Text: Philippians 1:27-30
Theme: Our obligation to live a Christ-like life is independent of the circumstances of life.
In our society, there are any number or organizations and institutions that require participants to take an oath.
On January 20th somebody will take the Presidential Oath of Office. He will swear “to faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States.”
Upon graduation from Medical School, doctors take the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm to their patients.
To become a citizen of the United State of America you must take an oath that includes swearing to support and defend the Constitution and laws.
When you are called before a court to give evidence in a case, you are administered an oath whereby you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
When you become a soldier in any of the armed services of our nation, you take an oath.
Even professional magicians swear an oath never to reveal how a trick is done.
Oaths bind us to a certain behavior. When we repeat them we are voluntarily committing ourselves to act in accordance to a prescribed course of behavior demanded by the promise we have just made.
Christianity does not require a specific oath to become a Christian. It does, however, require a confession and profession that aligns our lives with a King and his kingdom. Our unqualified allegiance is to Jesus, and that allegiance demands a certain behavior ... what we would call a lifestyle ... and what Jesus called a disciple.
Paul has just told his beloved Christian friends at Philippi that his situation is dire. He might live and he might not. He might be pardoned or he might by martyred. He greatest wish is that God might call him home so that he might see Jesus face-to-face. But he also has a passionate desire to see these Philippian believers again so that he might help them progress in their faith and bring joy to their hearts through his presence (vs. 25). But whether he lives or dies, whether he can visit them once more or not, he encourages them to pursue a course of conduct that is consistent with the life of Christ. This is what he taught them while he was with them. This is what he modeled before them in his own life.
In this passage of Scripture, Paul exhorts his Christian friends to keep on, keeping on for Jesus. Regardless of what might happen to him he wanted them to honor and glorify Christ. How do they do they do that. Listen to Paul's suggestions:


“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27, NIV84)
1. conduct yourselves Paul writes in a manner worthy of Christ and his gospel
a. this phrase was full of meaning for these believers
1) as is often the case in the New Testament, it takes a number of English words to translate the meaning of one Greek verb
2) such is the case when Paul writes, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy
3) it’s a verb that essentially means to live like a citizen
2. Philippi was a Roman colony which meant that its inhabitants were Roman citizens
a. Roman colonies were considered “little Romes”
1) the residents of the city gave unqualified allegiance to Rome which included worship of the Emperor as lord
2) they adopted Roman architecture, Roman dress, Roman culture, and Roman language which was Latin
b. to be a “little Rome” was a great honor that entitled citizens to certain rights and privileges
1) Roman colonists were treated as if their land were part of Italian soil
2) they were considered to be citizens of Rome, itself, and enjoyed the full rights of Roman citizenship, including exemption from taxes
ILLUS. If you remember, Paul the Apostle was a natural-born Roman citizen, and he used his citizenship on several occasions to get out of trouble.
3. what's the point?
a. the Philippians knew exactly what Paul was getting at


1. Christians are citizens of heaven and while on this earth we are ambassadors for Christ
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, ESV)
a. just as the Philippians were proud of their Roman citizenship, and sought to live in a manner worthy of that citizenship, so too, they must remember that they are citizens of Christ’s kingdom and must behave accordingly
1) just as Roman colonies were “little Romes” Christians are “little Christs” which is what the word “Christian” actually means
2. nothing is more important for an ambassador of Christ then to present a consistent walk and conduct before the people of the land he serves in
a. an ambassador must behave so that those who see him will believe that all citizens of his country must be just like him
3. how does the believer serve?
a. Paul writes that we must conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ
b. the idea is that we are to be consistent in our Christian living
5. there are many reasons a lost person may argue for not accepting the gospel, but the consistent conduct of a Christian over many years is the one proof that cannot be dismissed
a. Paul encourages these believers to be consistent in their Christian walk


“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27, NIV84)
1. whatever happens the believer must remain faithful to Christ and his kingdom
a. we must not act one way when things are going well and then act another way when we're afraid or when life does not deal fairly with us
1) Paul tells them that his heart’s desire is to know that you stand firm ... for the faith of the gospel
b. it's easy to conduct ourselves in a manner that brings honor to Christ when things are going well, it may be more difficult to do, however, when things get tough
ILLUS. Remember John Mark? He was a young man who accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey. In the beginning it must have been an exciting venture for a young man. I'm sure Mark thrilled at the adventure and travel. But then the realities of the missionary life settled in. Maybe he found himself in jail with Paul. Maybe he was beaten or stoned or run out of town with Paul. The gospel, after all, can irritate people to the point of violence. Whatever happened, somewhere along the way, Mark became disenchanted with the missionary life and he abandoned Paul and Barnabas to go home.
1) whatever happens the believer must remain faithful to Christ and his calling
2) in this, Paul was a great example to the believers
“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20, ESV)
c. neither must we act one way when we find ourselves among a particular group of people and then act another when around a different group of folk
ILLUS. Remember Peter? Paul publicly rebuked him at one point for acting disingenuously with the gentile believers of Antioch. When it was just him and Paul, Peter openly ate with and enjoyed the fellowship of gentile believers. But when some Jewish friends came from Jerusalem, Peter became aloof and standoffish from the Gentile believers because, Paul said, Peter “feared the party of the circumcision.” What would people in Jerusalem think if world got out that Peter was eating and fellowshiping with "those" people? Peter acted one way in one group of people and another way with a different group. The Bible has a word for that. Can you say the word h-y-p-o-c-r-I-s-y'
1) whatever happens the believer must remain faithful to Christ and his calling
2. when Paul writes whatever happens I think he has a dual meaning in mind
a. regardless of whatever happens to him, Paul encourages these Christians at Philippi to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ
1) if Paul is executed, he’ll not be able to return and instruct them in the way, he’ll not be able to be a role model in their midst
2) his prayer is that they will carry on the legacy
b. but I also believe that he is thinking of their present situation in Philippi—whatever happens to them conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ
3. what's the point of Paul's encouragement?
a. the believer's obligation to live a Christ-like life is independent of the circumstances of life
ILLUS. In one of his devotional books, the late New Testament scholar William Barclay describes an ancient Roman coin that pictured an ox standing beneath an altar and a plow. The altar symbolizes a sacrificial death. The plow symbolizes a life of service. Along with these images is the caption, “Ready for Either.” The ox had to be ready either for the supreme moment of sacrifice on the altar or the long labor of the plough on the farm. The meaning, Barclay explains, is that the ox’s purpose in life is for service and sacrifice—which may be expressed by either a lifetime of pulling a plow or by one consummate sacrificial death.
b. the image has an application for us as well
1) devotion to God finds expression not only through martyrdom in one spectacular sacrifice but also through a lifetime of service—a lifetime of many small sacrifices
c. and the true believer must prepare in his or her heart for either
4. a great illustration of this concept comes from the Gospels, in which the disciples James and John – two ambitious brothers – ask Jesus for the positions of greatest authority and honor in the Kingdom of God
a. Jesus, knowing that His own arrest, crucifixion, and death were imminent, asks them a haunting question: “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?" Mark 10:38
1) without hesitation – or understanding of their request or of Jesus’ question – they answered, “We are able”
2) Jesus’ response is interesting; He replies, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism, I am baptized with you will be baptized,”
b. it’s an interesting response considering the lives of James and John took dramatically different courses
1) James became the first of the apostles to die a martyr’s death, not long after Jesus’ own crucifixion
2) John, however, was the last surviving member of the twelve apostles—he lived to be nearly 100 years, finally dying of natural causes
c. one served God through one spectacular sacrifice and the other served God through a long life of many sacrifices
1) yet, according to Jesus, they both drank the Lord’s cup and both partook of His baptism


“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 in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” (Philippians 1:27, ESV)
1. the Philippians must present a unified front to the world if they are going to win the world
2. they represent the family of God in their community and they must be as attractive a family as possible
ILLUS. If all a community sees are the local churches fussing and feuding and fighting, then it's no wonder they don't want to have any part of it. When Linda and I announced our engagement, my mother took me aside and gave some words of advise. She said, "David, remember, you're not just marrying the girl, you're marrying the whole family!" Well, that's all right because I really like her family. They’re a joy to be around.
3. Paul's point is simple: "Who wants to marry into a family that fights all the time?"
4. there must be unity with a local body of Christians


1. Paul talks about being of one spirit and one mind
a. this is the first place in the letter to the Philippians that we catch a hint at some discord
1) in chapter 4 Paul will actually name names
2) Euodoia and Syntyche are immortalized as two Christian women who didn’t get along
a) hopefully they patched things up after this letter
““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” (John 13:34–35, NIV84)
b. Paul urges believers to strive toward unity
c. the things that unite us in the local church are far more important than any personality clashes that divide us
1) Satan’s strategy has always been to conquer the body of Christ by dividing the body of Christ
2. unity does not mean uniformity of opinions or beliefs, but of identity with a supreme Lord and His purpose, that sets our own purposes and agendas aside


1. Paul writes that we must strive or contend together for the faith of the gospel
a. Paul uses a term that refers to a team working together in a athletic contest
2. contending for the gospel requires steadfastness, earnestness, and concentration so that the team acts as one person
a. Paul’s concern was that the saints at Philippi unite in the task of getting the gospel out


“and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” (Philippians 1:28–29, ESV)
1. the word frightened here is often translated as terror and refers a frightened horse when it is suddenly startled or spooked
a. Paul says that the world should not spook us
b. a contemporary translation of vs. 28 says ... “Don’t be scared out of your determination to live out your heavenly chtizenship by anything your enemies might try to do to you.”
2. people with a biblical worldview cannot be intimidated because we understand that to live is Christ, and to die is gain
a. this is a reminder that the disciple is not above his master
b. Paul’s call to courage in the face of opposition has been heeded down through the centuries by millions of believers whose exploits have earned them mention on the honor roll of heaven
1) nowhere has man’s inhumanity to man been more dreadfully displayed than in the persecution of believers
2) for over 2,000 years now, untold numbers of believers have dies with hymns on their lips, forgiveness in their hearts, and the light of Heaven on their faces



1. the church at Philippi faced difficulty within a culture loyal to Rome
ILLUS. Remember that it was at Philippi that Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned. Because the city was a Roman colony, its citizens were fiercely loyal to Rome and intolerant of any activity that bore the appearance of disloyalty or insurrection.
2. such a culture created a difficult environment for Christ-followers
a. while they were subject to Roman authority, their loyalty was to Christ alone
3. like the Philippians, we are living in a society where some political authorities are demanding increased acquiescence to their demands, and were many citizens are increasingly giving supreme loyalty to the state, and condemning those who do not fall in line
ILLUS. A couple of weeks ago, Supreme Court Justice, Sam Alito gave a speech warning of the growing threat to religious liberty and free speech in our culture. On the restrictions of personal liberty he said in part, “I am not diminishing the severity of the virus’s threat to public health. All that I’m saying is this, and I think that it is an indisputable statement of fact: We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.” On the issue of religious liberty he said, “In certain quarters religious liberty has fast become a disfavored right. For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often [seen as] just an excuse for bigotry and it can’t be tolerated even when there’s no evidence that anybody has been harmed ... Religious liberty is in danger of becoming a second-class right,”
3. but here is the irony, the Christian’s heavenly citizenship makes us better human citizens, better neighbors, better workers, better soldiers, better teachers, better parents, better children
a. but the Confessing Church is seen as the last bastion of moral sanity, and it’s driving the enemies of Christ nuts
b. we’re constantly urged to be on the “right side of history” concerning any number of agendas
1) the Book of Revelation reminds us that they are the ones on the wrong side of history
4. while are struggles are different, we too are forced to deal with the same dilemma face by the Philippians —an increasingly hostile culture
a. I am thankful and proud to be an American, and I am willing to obey the authorities up until they begin to demand my supreme allegiance
b. my loyalties are, first and foremost, to Christ


1. Paul exhorts the Philippians to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, worthy of the Gospel of Christ
a. regardless of his physical presence in Philippi, Paul expected to hear of their faithfulness to the Lord, and continued righteous living
2. even in America this will be increasingly hard to do
a. gone are the days of a majority of our fellow citizens embracing our faith
b. the enemies of the gospel will continue to seek ways to silence our voice and hinder our work
1) but we have nothing to fear from man
3. the Apostle’s closing word of chapter one are just as poignant for us today as when he penned them to the Christians at Philippi
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” (Philippians 1:29–30, NIV84)
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