We want to look this morning at the ingredients of glorifying God. Paul is praying in verses 3-11 of Philippians 1. Verses 3-8 are a prayer of thanksgiving. Paul is thanking the Lord for the Philippians and the joy that they have brought him. Now, in verses 9-11, we have a prayer of petition. Paul is praying for the continual spiritual progress of the Philippians. In verse 6, Paul expressed his confidence in their continued discipleship or fruitfulness and now he prays for that continuance.
Paul's constant concern was for the maturing of the people to whom he ministered. That was his burden and the desire of his heart, that the people to whom he ministered would mature. That is the burden of any teacher. Let's look at Paul's prayer for these Philippians.
Philippians 1:9-11 (NKJV) And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul had a passion for the spiritual development of his people. That was his great concern. We see this passion revealed in his prayer life. As Paul prays for the believers, he prays for their maturity. This is the very focus of his prayer life.
Ephesians 1:15-19 (NKJV) Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
Paul is saying, "I want you to grow." He is praying for their spiritual development. Look at chapter 3.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
He prays for their spiritual health. Let's look also at:
Colossians 1:9-12 (NKJV) For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Paul prays for their spiritual maturity. This was Paul's passion, the spiritual maturity of believers. Combining them, we noticed that the apostle prays that those addressed may abound in wisdom, knowledge, power, endurance, longsuffering, joy, gratitude and love. He prayed for their spiritual needs.
We don't find Paul praying on behalf of physical needs. I'm sure that there were believers at these churches with physical needs. He did pray for Epaphroditus who was sick. We'll see that in chapter two. Paul didn't pray for generic church success and blessing. He ties his prayers directly to their spiritual needs. That was his passion and burden.
What is the content of your prayer life? Are your prayers characterized by thanksgiving as were Paul's? Do you pray for the spiritual health of other believers? What is more important than a believer's spiritual health? A.W. Pink writes, "How different are the prayers of Scripture from those which we are accustomed to hear in religious gatherings!"
Behind each of our request is a desire! We often pray only for physical or material needs....why? We believe that health and material thing will bring us happiness. This is not true. Our happiness comes from our relationship with God. Paul gloried in his physical problems. Do you?
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Why did Paul glory in his physical problems? Was he some kind of sick sadomasochist? No! He gloried in his problems because God was glorified in them.
So, Paul cut through the all the superficial stuff and prayed for their real need-- growth, which will bring blessing.
James 1:25 (NKJV) But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Blessings, spiritual and material, are connected to spiritual progress. As we grow in our relationship with God, we will be blessed.
Prayer is our duty. Do you realize that?
Luke 18:1 (NKJV) Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Romans 12:12 (NKJV) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
Prayer is our duty. Prayerlessness is a declaration of self-sufficiency, which is pride! On the other hand, prayer is a declaration of our dependency. Does your prayer life declare that you are dependant upon God for everything?
It is a leader's duty and desire to pray for his people.
Acts 6:4 (NKJV) "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
It is every believer's duty and should be our desire to pray for each other.
In verse 9, Paul says, "I pray." The Greek word for "pray" here is proseuchomai. It is in the present tense which gives us the idea of repeated action. Paul continually prayed for them. What did he pray for? Four things -- he prays that their love would abound; that they would grow in excellence, and in integrity; and he prays for their fruitfulness, which all results in God's glory.
Paul prays for their LOVE-- this is the greatest spiritual virtue. It is the sine qua non of the Christian life.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The greatest Christian virtue is love. Faith and hope are embodied in love.
1 Corinthians 13:7 (NKJV) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love is the surpassing virtue, it is the most essential factor in the spiritual life. Life without love equals ZERO.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Paul, in this prayer, is focusing on their love for one another. Paul is not focusing on their love for the Lord, but for each other. But do you know that your love cannot be horizontal if it is not first vertical?
1 John 4:20-21 (NKJV) If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
Are you a liar? If you don't love your brother, you don't love God either.
The Greek word for the love that Paul is praying for is agape, which is divine love. God is its source. We partake of the divine nature so we have the ability to love.
2 Peter 1:4 (NKJV) by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
We share the very nature of God. Love is one of God's moral attributes. 1 John 4:8 says, "God is love."
Romans 5:5 (NKJV) Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Galatians 5:22 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Apart from God, we don't have the ability to love. But as believers, we have the ability to love others with God's love.
This is not human love he's praying for. It is not an object attraction, not a sentimentality or emotion. We're not talking about a feeling. We are talking about a divine virtue given by God. This love is not the result of an emotional attraction. God didn't love us because we were attractive:
Romans 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Philippians already had love, but he's calling for a greater expression of it. He wants their love to abound. In Acts 16, Lydia showed them love and so did the jailor -- he washed their wounds and fed them. The Philippians had been sacrificially giving to Paul, which was an act of love. Paul wants them to increase in their love. Paul was never satisfied with anything short of perfection, he was always striving to live a more Christlike life and he encouraged his followers to do the same.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Love is the single greatest virtue in the church. It is a mark of our discipleship. Rinehold Neibor, the German theologian said, "The church reminded him of the ark, you couldn't stand the stink inside if it wasn't for the storm outside." Too often this is very true. The church too often lacks love.
Agape, divine love, the love of choice or will, is not object drawn. It is not impulse, emotion, or sentiment. It is not drawn to something because of its beauty or attractiveness. That is the world's love, not agape. The world says, "I love you because you do something to me, you make me feel good." That is not the love of choice, that is the love of impulse.
You have heard someone say, "I fell in love, I couldn't help it." Biblical love is not a hole that you fall in. Divine love is the love of the will:
John 3:16 (NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
It wasn't because we were so attractive that God's emotions got out of hand and he fell in love with us. If that were the case, what if he fell out of love with us? God's love is a sovereign act of his will, not an emotion.
Let me show you why God loves you:
Ephesians 1:4-5 (NKJV) just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
God loves you because he chose to, it was an act of His will.
Ephesians 1:11 (NKJV) In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
Agape is a sacrificial love of choice. You must choose to love. It is expressed in meeting a need, doing a deed of kindness, caring for someone in a practical way. It is not the love of feelings, but action. Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (GWT) Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn't jealous. It doesn't sing its own praises. It isn't arrogant. 5 It isn't rude. It doesn't think about itself. It isn't irritable. It doesn't keep track of wrongs. 6 It isn't happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
These are all verbs! Love is action, a series of actions. It is what you do, not feel. It is sacrificially meeting needs. The world's love is totally the love of impulse and emotional attraction. It knows very little about the love of the will. It plays on emotion-- fund raisers, showing sad little children-- they want to deal with your emotions, not your mind. All that human love knows is response to a feeling.
We have the love of God, divine love. We are to will to love. Paul's great desire was that the Philippians and all other churches would exercise this love no matter what others do or don't do to us.
Agape is always to be growing. Paul prays that their love would "abound." This is the Greek word perisseuo. It means to overflow, to excel to the max.
He prays that their love would abound "more and more." This means even to a greater degree.
They were loving, he prays that they'll do it even more. We have to work at this. The second law of thermodynamics comes into effect even with love. It says that anything left to itself tends to digress. It is the law of entropy. It works in the spiritual dimension also.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
We are to love like Christ loved. He gave his life as a sacrifice. Our love is to be sacrificial also.
Paul prays that their love will abound in two areas; knowledge and judgement. The word "knowledge" is epignosis. It means full or exact knowledge. This is the means of growing in love. Vine says, "It lays stress on participation in the truth." There is no other way to grow but through knowledge of Bible doctrine.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Epignosis is advanced knowledge in God's word. How do you get advanced knowledge in God's word? Study!
Love is not an uncontrolled emotion; it is linked with truth. It is not unregulated impulse; it is regulated by truth. If you know a believer who is in sin you are to break fellowship with them. Someone will say, "I can't break fellowship with them, I love them too much."
2 Thessalonians 3:5-6 (NKJV) Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. 6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 (NKJV) And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
In 1 Corinthians 13:2, we see that knowledge without love equals zero. In Philippians 1:9, we see that love without knowledge equals sentimentalism. As you learn the word and grow in the word it will effect your love.
They were not only to grow in love but also in "judgement." The word "judgement" is the Greek word aisthesis. It means discernment. It is only used here. First epignosis than aisthesis. People who don't know doctrine have no discernment. It has to do with practical application of that deep knowledge. So, your love is controlled by your theology, and your insight in the application of that theology.
Years ago a man came to our church looking for a place to stay. I told him that we supported the Union Mission and that I would be glad to take him down to the mission. He responded by telling me that he couldn't stay at the mission because he needed a private room. I told him that I would take him to the mission but that was the best I could do. He said to me, "I thought that Christians were supposed to love?" I said, "We are, but we're not supposed to be suckers." That is a paraphrase for discernment. This made him angry and he got violent. We ended up calling the police and he was taken to jail. We need to be discerning. Feeding and putting up a person who is too lazy to work does not help them. Do you know what God's cure for slothfulness is? Hunger!
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NKJV) For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
Most Christians have no discernment -- this can be proven by seeing who the preachers are on television who are being supported by Christians.
Paul prays that their love may keep growing within the guidelines of knowledge and discernment.
The second thing that Paul prays for is Excellence:
Philippians 1:10 (NKJV) that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
True love desires things that are excellent because true love is controlled by a deep knowledge of the word which enables the believer to be completely discerning and discriminating, and that leads him to a pursuit of things that are excellent.
"That you may 'approve' things that are excellent." The word "approve" is the Greek word dokimazo. It is used in classical Greek to refer to testing something or someone. It is a technical word for testing money to determine whether or not it is counterfeit. It occurs in a political context for the testing of a candidate for office. It is used in Luke 14:19 of testing oxen. And in Luke 21:56 of testing the sky to discern the weather.
Paul is in effect saying, "My prayer for you is that you would have the capability to evaluate and determine the things that are excellent."
To be able to set proper values on things, it is not so much the ability to distinguish good from bad, but good from the best; to focus your time and energy on what really matters. It is the ability to prioritize; to test for the purpose of approval.
He wants them to approve things that are "excellent." This is the noun dia phero. It means things of greater value. A translation could be, "With the result that you may approve after testing the things of greater value."
It starts with epignosies -- full bible knowledge. If doctrine isn't first place in your life than Christ isn't first place in your life. You cannot divorce the Living Word from the written Word. Jesus Christ is the Living word. The Bible is the written word; it is the written word that reveals the Living word. It is the written word that causes us to grow spiritually that we might glorify the Living word, Jesus Christ.
The majority of believers don't test anything, they live by their moods and not by their minds. People don't want to think, but be amused. They don't know how to approve things that are excellent because they can't control their mind and they just react.
Too many people are like the pilot who said to the people, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we have lost all instrumentation and don't know where we are. The good news is we have a tail wind and are making great time." That's how too many believers live, by mood and emotion.
The ability to distinguish is a mark of maturity. When a baby learns to speak, everything with four legs is a doggy.
In order to approve things that are excellent, there must be a standard with which we can harmonize our choice. That standard is not found in the varied philosophies of men but in the word of God. If we are going to prove what is excellent, it starts with the mind.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We are told in Thessalonians to examine all things and to hold fast to that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV) Test all things; hold fast what is good.
Look at your life are you approving and pursuing things that are excellent? Or is your life filled with trivia?
Example-- mothers, to pursue things that are excellent, would be to pour your life into raising godly children. But too many mothers today have forsaken that calling to go after a career.
We must learn to discriminate the higher spiritual blessings from the lower material blessings. You must be able to carefully examine the things of this life which compete for your allegiance, and then embrace and apply yourself to those that are excellent.
So, Paul prays for their love and excellence and he also prays for their Integrity.
Philippians 1:10 (NKJV) that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
The word "sincere" means spotless inner character. And "without offense" means not giving offence to others.
The literal meaning of "sincere" in the Latin and Greek give us a good understanding of this word. The Latin word sinecera is where we get our word "sincere." This Latin word literally means, "without wax." The Greek word elikrines comes from krino, which means to judge and heile, which means sunlight. It means, "to test by sunlight," to be pure, unmixed, genuine, not a hypocrite.
In ancient times, the biggest industry in the world was the pottery industry. And pottery varied in quality just as cars vary today, or office supplies, or household goods. The cheapest pottery was thick and solid and did not require much skill to make. It is found everywhere at archaeological sites. The finest pottery was thin. It had a clear color, and it brought a high price. Fine pottery was very fragile both before and after firing. And it was often the case that this pottery would crack in the oven. Cracked pottery should have been thrown away, but dishonest dealers were in the habit of filling in the cracks with a hard pearly wax that would blend in with the color of the pottery. This made the cracks practically undetectable in the shops, especially when painted or glazed; but the wax was immediately detectable if the pottery was held up to light, especially to the sun. In that case, the cracks would show up darker. It was said that the artificial element was detected by "sun-testing." Honest dealers marked their finer product by the caption sine cera-- "without wax."
Paul is saying that the flaws in the lives of believers must not be covered up with wax. Our lives are not perfect. In this life we will always have flaws, but we must not disguise them artificially. We must be sincere and not hypocrites.
Paul is praying for their integrity, their purity. The sunlight of the word of God will expose our true character.
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Romans 12:9 (NKJV) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
2 Corinthians 1:12 (NKJV) For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
2 Corinthians 2:17 (NKJV) For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
Paul calls for genuineness, integrity, honesty; of transparent character; clear as crystal, so that the world will see Christ in our character and conduct.
Paul also says that they were to be "without offense." Which is from the Greek word aproskopos. It means blameless, without cause to stumble. The word is transitive as in 1 Corinthians 10:32 and means, "not causing others to stumble."
This is relational integrity. Some people look good, but away from where they wear a mask, their flaws are glaring and they cause others to stumble. Does your life encourage others to godliness or does it cause them to stumble?
Matthew 18:6-7 (NKJV) "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 "Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
He is saying, "You are better off dead than to cause another believer to sin." Think about that. Parents, do you cause your children to sin? The Bible says that the sins of the father are visited upon the children -- this is a reference to influence.
"Till the day of Christ" -- We looked at this phrase last week. It is referring to the second advent of Jesus Christ. Paul is telling the first century Philippians that THEY are to live sincere and without offense until Christ returns. Would he tell them this if Christ wasn't going to return in their life time? If Christ wasn't going to return for thousands of years, why would Paul say this to the Philippians? The day of Christ was an event that all of the first century saints expected in their life time. I believe that many of the Philippians lived to see the second advent in AD 70 with the destruction of the Jewish temple. "Till" is a point of reference. It doesn't mean that once Christ comes they can stop being sincere. It's like the father who tells the children, "I'm going to the store, be good until I get back." Does he mean that once he gets back they don't need to be good anymore? No. It is simply a point of reference.
Philippians 1:10 (DNT) that ye may judge of and approve the things that are more excellent, in order that ye may be pure and without offence for Christ's day,
Love guided by knowledge and discernment leads to excellence which leads to integrity, which results in fruitbearing. In verse 11, Paul prays for their Fruitfulness.
Philippians 1:11 (KJV) Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
"Having been filled" -- perfect passive participle from the verb pleroo. Something that's happened in the past with continuing results. Pleroo means to be controlled by or influenced by. The word "fruit" is karpos and means result or outcome. "Righteousness" is dikaiosune, which means Christlikeness. Being controlled by the production of righteousness. Righteousness is the product or fruit.
Isaiah 5:7 (KJV) For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
"Which is by Jesus Christ"-- you don't produce your own righteousness. Christ does it through the obedient believer. Jesus said in John 15:5, "Without me you can do nothing."
Christ's parable about the vine and the branches also teaches that the power of Christ's life will flow through him. When Lawrence of Arabia was in Paris after World War 1 with some of his Arab friends, he took some time to show them the sights of the city: the Louvre, the Arch of Triumph, Napoleon's tomb, the Champs Elysees. But they found little interest in these things. The thing that really interested them was the faucet in the bathtub of their hotel room. They spent much time there turning it on and off; they thought it was wonderful. All they had to do was turn the handle, and they could get all the water they wanted.
Sometime later, when they were ready to leave Paris and return to the East, Lawrence found them in the bathroom with wrenches trying to detach the faucet. "You see," they said, "it is very dry in Arabia. What we need are faucets. If we have them, we will have all the water we want." Lawrence had to explain that the effectiveness of the faucets did not lie in themselves, but in the immense system of water works to which they were attached. And he had to point out that behind this lay the rain and the snowfall on the Alps.
You are a faucet, but unless you are connected to the pipeline, you'll put out no water.
Psalms 1:1-3 (NKJV) Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Why all of this? Why are we to abound in love, pursue excellence, have integrity, and produce fruit? Paul tells us in the end of the verse-- "Unto the glory and praise of Jesus Christ." "Glory" is doxza the sum total of all God's perfections. "Praise" is epainos, the homage given to God for that perfection. He receives the affirmation for perfection, then the praise which is elicited by that perfection.
This is why we were created-- to glorify God. God's glory by his own decree and choice is wrapped up in the behavior of his people.
Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The glory of my God is wrapped up in your life, this causes me to pray for you and it should cause you to pray for me.
The ultimate goal of Paul's prayer is not only the transformation of the Philippians, but through this to bring glory and praise to God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
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