Yesterday I preached on the topic of joy coming from a realization of God’s awesome holiness. God is a consuming fire, yet in Christ because of His righteousness given to us in the Gospel we have definite and permanent sanctification. Our standard of sanctification is seen in the command: “ Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God . The assurance of salvation is based on faith in the promises of God and in living a holy life which can be seen by others and our self. Nowhere is our faith tested more than by relating humbly to those in the church. It is crucial that we love all people, especially those of the household of faith. Our love for others is basic to any chance we have of credible Christian witness: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ( John 13:31-35)
Without love our Christian profession rings hollow and we are vulnerable to the Satanic fiery dart of hypocrisy which destroys the truth of our Christian walk. Therefore I want us to consider living in love within the church, not only FBF but relaying well to Christians of all denominations, even those who think they are the only true Christians. Philippians 2:1-18 is a clear call for love within the Christian community. This love is shown by prayer and fellowship together, bearing one another’s burdens, or as we sang yesterday: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” ( Hebrews 10:19-25 )
The incarnation of Christ, His humility, and cruel death calls us to have this same mind which was also in Christ. (Philippians 2:1-18) Christ put His life on the line and we are to do the same in service to others along with living out our faith in actual Christian living. Holiness is two sides of the same coin. One side is works of love and service to others, the other side is inward purity both in attitude and thought. This is an impossibly high standard so we must have the grace of Christ to work daily toward this goal of bringing every thought into captivity to Christ. In a sense we progress in holiness by seeing our regress in righteousness. That is, as we become more aware of our failures we throw ourselves more on the mercy of Christ. Through this process of repentance, faith and the experience of His mercy we grow to love Him more as we see and experience His great compassion for us.
Let’s say you envy your friend because he possesses some quality you believe you should have like talent, looks, or money. The Holy Spirit convicts you of envy, you repent through confession to Christ, changing your mind, and putting a practical program into action such as doing something for that person you envied, giving them a gift of service, blessing them through prayer, saying true and good things about them to others, not condemning them in your heart, and rigorously rejecting any further thoughts of envy. You may need to discuss this with a trusted and mature Christian friend who can keep confidences. Loving in theory is easy, putting it into practice is much harder. Practical day to day sanctification is only for serious Christians who want to grow up into Christ. Maturity of this kind will never happen if we only seek our own satisfaction and happiness. It only comes when we realize … “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
I will be teaching on two verses: “Philippians 2:12 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, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. All the “you” words are plural, the context is Christ’s resurrection life seen in relation to the community of believers. The healthy Christian life cannot be lived in isolation from others. It is God’s will we love one another from a pure heart and work at seeing the life of Christ through us manifested in our church. Sanctification is a relational word, we see it best modeled in the Trinity as each person of the Godhead serves and carries out the will of the Other Persons. We are to have the mind of Christ, this is our baseline for the Christian life.
See you Sunday,