Friday, June 24, 2016, 3:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 2:1-18 (ESV).
Of the Same Mind (vv. 1-4)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
There is much talk these days about “unity,” but the question is, “What kind of unity?” With whom or with what are we uniting? In many cases “unity” means compromise of faith and convictions in order to not offend people with the gospel message of salvation from sin. Inside the institutional church, unity is being pushed strongly, but largely it is unity with human thinking and philosophy and not with God and with his word at all. World leaders are forcing unity among nations and religious groups in order to bring about a one world government and a one world religion. We need to be on the lookout for this so that we don’t unify ourselves with what is not of God, thinking we are doing the right thing.
So, in what way should we, as believers in Jesus Christ, be of one mind with one another? It should not be one mind with human marketing schemes, for sure, or with human goals and objectives which do not line up with scripture. But, it should be one in mind with Christ and with his word. We may not agree on every point of doctrine or interpretation of scripture, but we should be united in the essentials of the Christian faith and practice. We should be likeminded concerning what the scriptures teach concerning Jesus’ life and ministry, and the example he left for all of us to follow. We should all have attentive ears to hear what the Spirit within us has to say to our hearts on a daily basis, and we should be doers of the Word and not hearers only. And, we should all walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
Being of one mind, too, means we exercise humility, and we don’t have to have our own way. We make compromises in areas not essential to our beliefs so as to live in harmony with one another. I see so many Christians fighting with each other over things that don’t matter for eternity, and it just breaks my heart. We shouldn’t fight anyway, yet we should protect the truth and stand for what is right, but we should make sure it is truth. So many who call themselves believers in Jesus are fighting and arguing with one another over political views which may, themselves, be based in lies. I believe there is no right and left, politically speaking, but they are both two sides of the same whole, and they are united in purpose in moving this world of ours toward the rule of the beast. I would ask that you prayerfully consider this possibility, and especially that you not fight over these things.
Have This Mind (vv. 5-11)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If Jesus Christ, God the Son, could leave his throne in heaven, come to earth, be born as a baby, take on the form of a servant, and humble himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross, who are we to be so proud that we should demand our own personal comfort over following our Lord in obedience? If he says “Go,” we should be willing to go wherever he sends us, and to accept whatever circumstances in which he places us so that we can be used of him to touch other lives for Jesus Christ. God did not put us on this earth for our own comfort and pleasure. He put us here to be lights for him in a dark world, and to love people with his love, following his example. He also put us here to share his word, and to call people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, just as he did, and to bring healing and comfort to the afflicted and the hurting. We should be willing to give up our own comfort in order to be his servants and messengers in sharing Christ’s love with a hurting world.
Work It Out (vv. 12-13)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
So, what does this mean to work out our own salvation? Are we not saved by God’s grace, through faith, and not of ourselves, lest we should boast that we somehow earned or deserved our own salvation? I hear so many people these days say that, since we are saved by grace, and this not of ourselves, that it means we do nothing and that God does everything, but is that true? Does God truly require nothing of us? Then, why are we instructed here to work out our own salvation? How do we reconcile this?
It is true that we can only be saved by God’s grace, through the blood of Jesus shed on a cross for our sins. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Yet, we do have a part in it. It is called “faith.” Yet, that faith is not just a one-time experience nor is it a mere acknowledgment of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, or a mere desire to escape hell and to go to heaven when we die. In John 3:16, where it says that whoever believes has eternal life, that word “believe” is really “believing.” It is present tense. We are not saved on past belief. True faith is continuous. It is also active and productive. In other words, if we say we believe Jesus died for our sins, and that he has delivered us from slavery to sin, then we should live like we say we believe. We should forsake our sins, and we should walk in obedience to our Lord, and live holy lives, pleasing to God.
Let me put it this way. The Bible says that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). He didn’t save us just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He saved us out of bondage to sin so that we would be free to walk in his holiness and righteousness. Being saved from sin is not just about escaping punishment. It is about obliterating sin from our lives. Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die spiritually, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with our Lord for eternity (Ro. 8:1-14). So, faith involves our cooperation with God.
In other words, we are able to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. We don’t do this in our own flesh. We can’t! True faith lives in submission to Jesus Christ and to his will for our lives, and it submits to his Lordship and to the cross of Christ in our lives.
You Shine as Lights (vv. 14-18)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Yet, we live in a crooked and twisted generation which tries to get us to be one with the world or to face rejection and persecution. And, this goes on in the church, too! If we stand on the word of God and truly shine as lights in the world, we will be hated and persecuted for our faith, and for our witness for Christ and his gospel. There will be all kinds of people who will try to get us to compromise our faith and convictions for the sake of “unity.” And, they will try to shame us into this compromise, too, often via false accusations. Or, they will try to convince us that God requires nothing of us – no repentance, no obedience and no submission, as though God set us free so that we can continue sinning without conscience.
So, we should stand strong in our faith, but also in full humility of spirit, not thinking ourselves better than others, but willing to give of our lives to see others go free. We should walk in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh, so that we do shine as lights in a dark world, and people can see that we live what we say we believe. And, we should not compromise our faith and convictions (of God) for the sake of unity, but we should always maintain the mind of Christ, who held fast to the word of life, even to the point of being hung on a cross because people didn’t want to hear what he had to say. And, we should never give way to fear and intimidation, for our God will be with us, and he will direct our paths, and he will strengthen us and he will give us the courage we need to keep on keeping on. He will go before us, and he will prepare the way. So, be encouraged!
Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way…
Why don’ you give him all of your fears
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for…