Philippians 3:17-21; 4:1 NASB
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
Stand Firm in the Lord
I read verse one of chapter four of Philippians first. It said, “in this way stand firm in the Lord.” So, in order to understand “what way?” I went back to chapter three, which is where I found the answer to my question.
For, remember that these books of the Bible were not originally written with chapter divisions or verse divisions. So, whenever we have phrases like “therefore,” or “in this way,” we need to look back to what came before.
So, in what way are we to stand firm in the Lord? In the same way Paul and the other apostles did. They are role models for us. They were not perfect people, but they didn’t use imperfection as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. They walked what they talked. And, they talked what the Lord taught them with regard to how each one of us is to live.
And, then there is a warning or a caution that we not become like those who do not walk in the ways of the Lord, but who follow after their own fleshly appetites, instead. And, this is not just in relation to craving physical food in excess of what is reasonable, but it is in relation to craving after anything which is contrary to God and to the teachings of Jesus and his NT apostles.
But, this may also include having an appetite for what is not sinful in itself, but to the point to where we make it our god. For example, food is not sinful, but gluttony (excess) is. Food is not sinful, but if we practice turning to food to make us feel better emotionally, making it our pacifier, then it is sinful because we are making food to be our god and we are turning to it instead of to our Lord for our emotional comfort and support.
But, the point of all of this is that if we let our fleshly appetites rule our lives and become our gods and be what determines our steps, instead of God, and if we let lust, impurity, hate, cruelty, lies, gluttony, etc. be what our minds are set on, instead of on God, then we are headed for destruction. For, if we live by the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God. So we must let God be our only God in our lives.
And, in this way we are able to stand firm in the Lord, because we are following the ways of God and not the ways of our fleshly appetites.
Philippians 4:4-7 NASB
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Peace, Not Anxiety
We are to rejoice in the Lord always. This does not mean we won’t ever be sad or hurting or crying out to God in our pain and in our suffering. As humans, we bleed. We hurt. We grieve and we mourn. But, even in these times we can give thanks to the Lord and praise His Holy Name. Amen!
We are to let our gentle spirits be known to all people. But, gentleness is not weakness. It is not backing down from the truths of God’s Word in order to not offend people. Jesus was gentle, but he was not weak. He stood up for what is right and he condemned what was wrong. He spoke the truth in love always, and often it was hard truth that people did not want to hear.
He was not legalistic, though. He didn’t put people under bondage like the Pharisees did. He was always concerned, though, about what was best for everyone. And, he was always fair in his dealings with all people. But, he understood that legalism does not change people’s hearts. What he desires is that our hearts are yielded to Him and that we live in his love and do his will, which is always for our good.
When we are dealing with the subject of not following after our flesh, and making certain that we guard against following after our fleshly appetites, there is a danger of becoming too harsh (too strict) with ourselves or with others with regard to what we can do or not do. Now, let me caution here against thinking a little bit of immorality here and there is ok with God. It isn’t!
What I am talking about are things like eating food. How much is too much? How strict is too strict to where we come back under the bondage of “do not touch, do not taste.” There is a balance in there somewhere that is right for us. This comes under the subject of being “gentle” (fair, reasonable). So, we need wisdom in this, but we need to consider the spirit of the law here. What is at stake if we consistently eat beyond what we need? What is the real objective of the rule against gluttony?
God doesn’t want us going around worrying all the time if we ate one pea too many. But, he also wants us to be sensible and reasonable about our eating and to not make food our god in place of him or to where it is harmful to our health. So, we pray for wisdom, we follow the teachings of scripture on this subject, and then we have the peace of God within our hearts.
Philippians 4:8-9 NASB
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Dwell on These Things
This is a wonderful guide to follow with regard to praying about what is good for us and what is bad for us; what should be a part of our lives, and what we should avoid. For, not everything may be all that obvious to us, especially if we have been desensitized to some things as being wrong so that we have no conscience about them. But, having no conscience about the wrongness of something does not then make it right, for our consciences can be seared or muted.
Now, I want to make perfectly clear here that what God’s Word clearly calls as sin is sin. There is no wiggle room in that for any of us. A little bit of poop in our brownies is still poop, no matter how much sugar you add to it. Thus, we are to make no room in our lives for willful and continued sin against God. What his Word says stands! We are not to make lying, stealing, adultery, lust, gluttony, slander, and immorality, etc. our practice.
But, some things can be hidden from our sight. So, it is good to examine our lives and our practices against these verses here to see if we are, indeed, giving way to sin in our lives or inviting sinful thoughts and attitudes into our lives by the things we take into our minds on a day to day basis.
For example, ten years ago my husband and I took it upon ourselves to examine all of our movies (we were avid movie watchers) against these verses here, before God, in asking him to show us what movies were bad for us to watch and which ones were ok.
I was really surprised by what I found, though, for even some of the ones I thought were innocent were not all that innocent, for they portrayed liars and rebels as heroes, they glorified sin, or they approved it or made excuses for it. And, subtle sexual innuendos I had missed previously were now jumping out at me.
This is not legalism, though. This goes back to “gentleness” and to looking at the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. It is not about taking everything out of my life that is fun. I still have fun! I laugh! I enjoy life! I just don’t find pleasure in what is immoral, or hateful, or wicked. I don’t choose to take those things into my mind anymore, because I understand that what I take into my mind impacts how I think and how I act, too.
So, it isn’t that we must become legalistic and rob our lives of any pleasure and enjoyment, but that we must rid of our lives of what is contrary to the holiness, righteousness and purity of God so that we can walk in holiness, purity and righteousness, too. And, in this way, we will have peace with God, and we will stand firm in the Lord.
An Original Work / July 15, 2013
My heart cries: Lord, won’t You hear me
Seeking You for the answers
To my heartache and questions
I have concerning my life?
Speak, Lord, to me right now.
“Oh, dear one, why don’t you trust Me
With your life’s circumstances?
Give your all on the altar
In submission of your will
To My purpose for you.
“Surrender your life completely
To your Lord and your Savior.
He has all things planned for you
For His glory and honor.
He’ll work all things for good.
“Believe Him. He will fulfill all
Of His promises to you
For your life and your future.
Trust Him. Rest in His love.
He’ll give you peace from above.”
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 – Yes, Lord, help us to rest in You and to trust You with our lives instead of yielding to our flesh, or instead of letting the sins of others get the best of us.