Philippians 1:17-30 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
The Philippians had an awesome privilege. Their church was founded by the Apostle Paul. They were continually under his personal, spiritual care. He was a source of encouragement, protection, correction and love to them. He was, in all respects, a spiritual father to them. But, like all earthly fathers, there would come a day when the Apostle would no longer play that direct role in their lives.
Last time we saw the Apostle Paul’s personal dilemma as he considered whether or not he would remain in this life, labouring for the spiritual growth of others, or whether he would depart from this world, and find himself in the presence of Christ.
The Apostle made it clear that his personal desire was to be with Christ, yet he understood that his continued ministry on earth was more needful for the Philippians. Convinced of this, Paul was confident that God would deliver him from his present distress and give him more time to labour among the churches.
Despite Paul’s confidence, he began the very next passage with authoritative instructions regarding how the Philippians were to behave – whether he was with them or not. Up until this point in Paul’s letter, he has shared mainly biographical information – he speaks of his love and care for the Philippians and shares his attitude toward his own struggles. Now, in the context of this loving relationship, he begins to instruct them regarding their behaviour:
Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
Whether Paul was able to come to the Philippians or not, he expected that they would live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ.
According to Paul, the duty of the Philippians, and all believers, is to live a life which properly reflects the nature of the gospel. Their day-to-day lives were to be living illustrations of the reality and effectiveness of the gospel of Christ. Conversely, Paul is indicating there is a manner of life which is not worthy of the gospel.
The good news of Christ is news of transformation. Through the New Covenant, God would put his Spirit within us and replace our sinful heart with a heart engraved upon with his Law (Jer 31; Eze 11). Although salvation through the New Covenant is an inward, spiritual change, that does not mean that it does not have an outward impact – far from it. Paul states that men and women who have been affected by the gospel of Christ have lives which are fundamentally transformed, so that, their entire manner of life becomes one which reflects the power and reality of the gospel.
This is not the first time Paul has encouraged believers to live in a manner worthy of Christ. Consider how the following passages paint a life “worthy of the gospel.”
Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
1 Corinthians 1:9-10 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-6 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
From these passages alone, we learn that a lifestyle “worthy of our calling”; “worthy of the Lord”; and which “pleases God” affects our attitude towards ourselves (humility); towards others (gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love; eager to maintain unity); towards our purpose (bearing fruit; increasing in knowledge of God); towards our bodies (abstaining from sexual immorality, controlling our passions in order to pursue holiness) and towards God (seeking to please Him).
A man affected by the gospel of Christ has seen his entire life transformed. His view of God, others and himself is changed so that it fundamentally alters, not only his attitudes and affections, but also his behaviour. As Paul said to the Corinthians: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Paul’s expectation for the Philippians was that they would live in a way which properly displayed a life affected by the transforming work of the gospel of Christ – whether or not he was with them. Anything short of this would be a life unworthy of the gospel, and displeasing to God.
The above is an excerpt from Pastor Rick’s study through the book of Philippians