Philippians: The Joy of Life in Christ
Philippians 1:18b-26 (pt. 1)
In this section we meet one of the NT's most famous passages: "To live is Christ, and to die is gain" (1:21). And because this verse is so essential (both in Philippians and in the Christian life), we're going to look closely at this verse. And here's an essential idea that drove Paul's ministry...Paul could live for Christ BECAUSE DYING WAS GAIN. Here's how we'll look at this. Firstly, Paul said death is gain, but isn't death actually loss? Yes! And that's the only way the world can look at death. And yet we have organized all of society to ignore death. Secondly, we need to admit the truth; that we cannot ignore death. And when we look at death it is quite frightening, because death redefines our lives' importance, value, and purpose. Finally, we'll address that Paul's surprisingly joyful tone (even when addressing death) is because Paul knew that in Christ, death is gain. It reminds us that it is Christ who gives importance, value, and purpose to our lives (cf. 1 Cor. 15, Rom. 8:38).
Paul's main point: Paul wants to point to his own motives rather than these difficult Christians. All he cares about is Christ being proclaimed, rather than his own reputation being respected. He knows that drawing concern to him will distract from Christ, therefore he stops his critique of them short. We must learn something similar...we care SO MUCH about our own reputations, and it distracts from the gospel!
Paul is going to explain what the Philippians have been waiting for, which is a report on how he is doing personally, and if the gospel mission has failed. Yet Paul doesn't just give them details, but a whole theology on how to view our circumstances when they don't turn out as planned (cf. Gen. 50:20).
Paul's imprisonment might have seemed hopeless for the gospel to go out...but it hasn't! Instead, Paul has been able to evangelize Roman elites (v. 13), and encourage other believers by his joyful and faithful example (v. 14). The point for us is that we need to have a gospel perspective in our circumstances.
When we care about the gospel more than ourselves, we get to see all the ways God wants to use us in our daily lives. Only then can the Christian life be fully participated in, and real abiding joy can be found!
If the gospel is so important, how can I become a the kind of person who would represent it well? That's Philippians 1:9-11. In this single sentence (3 verses) Paul explains 3 things.
First, he explains how we should grow; we should be people which a mature and God-centered love.
Second, the 'why' we should is because we want our lives to have been honorable to Christ when he returns.
Third, Christ himself has promised this growth.
The same righteousness credited to us in salvation is promised to come from us in sanctification. What a blessing! Im so excited to get into this text with you all!
We're getting into the text of Philippians tonight with this thought: you can't just force yourself to be joyful (#nike). Joy is an attitude, not a feeling; but even attitudes need to be cultivated and grown. That's how Paul thinks of joy; as an attitude that naturally arises from considering the gospel. Specifically, consider 2 joys of the gospel: gospel partnership and gospel assurance (in Christ).
Too often, both believers and non-believers assume that Christian's live guilt-ridden, non-exciting, pleasure-denying lives...that's why I'm excited to start getting into the book of Philippians with you all! Because Paul explains the truth that, even in difficult circumstances and situations, the gospel of Christ guarantees a life of joy: because it guarantees life in Jesus himself!