Bible Passage: Philippians 2:12-18
This morning we are going to talk about obedience to God’s Word and it is imperative that we acknowledge our questions around obedience in general. For some of us as soon as we hear the word obedience, we start having flashbacks of when we were younger, and people were always telling us what to do and nobody likes to be told what to do. In some ways, we think being an adult means nobody tells you what to do anymore. Then, we get job, we get a boss telling us what to do, and then we think, “I want to own my own business so I can be the boss and get to do what I want to do.”
But it never ends. The government tells us what to do. The city of Austin tells us what to do as a church in Austin. Law enforcement tells us what to do, and then we come to God’s Word and we see God’s Word telling us what to do, so sometimes our natural push back on obedience to God’s Word can be resistance. But this is why we study God’s Word so we can have a biblical understanding obedience, so that this morning we will see three sub-points; 1. Work Out. 2. Without. 3. Poured Out.
1. Work Out.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
The passage we are reading is written by the Apostle Paul to the Philippian church. The Philippian church is made up of men, women, and children like we see in this room, and last Sunday we saw the Apostle Paul give the greatest description about Jesus in God’s Word. It is majestic! If you missed it last Sunday, please do yourself a favor and go to our YouTube Channel to catch up because it is an amazing passage of God’s Word.
This morning we see God’s Word linking the two passages together with a “So then.” Do you see that in verse 12? In verses 5-11 we see Jesus’ is amazing. Jesus’ is glorious, humble, sacrificial, exalted. Jesus is king of kings and Lord of Lords, right? Then verse 12, “So then, my beloved, work out your faith in Jesus with fear and trembling.” Now, I am guessing that when most of us see the words “fear and trembling” it doesn’t sound good. Fear and trembling sounds scary. Fear and trembling sounds negative but the “fear and trembling” of verse 12 simply means reverence for God. “Fear and trembling” is an acute sense of all that we have in Jesus. “Fear and trembling” is taking in verses 5-11 in such a way that it catches our breath.
It is an awareness of awe that this new life in Jesus is going to change how we approach all of life, so that the call to “obedience” in verse 12 isn’t punishment but the call to “obedience” in verse 12 is is learning how to live life the way He intended life because He is the Creator of life. Obedience to the God of Scripture is learning how to live life the way He intended life because He is the Creator of life.
Think of it like bringing a new puppy into your home. Imagine you have a new puppy at home in north Austin. Imagine you move into your new home, and everything is perfect. You put in new furniture, new window features, new outside furniture, new grill, and it looks great. One day you decide to bring a new puppy into your new home and the moment you bring that new puppy into your home that puppy is going to start running around the house, biting everything, licking everything, chewing on everything, chasing everything, and eventually peeing and pooping on everything, right?
The little puppy in your house in Austin is amazing, the cuddles are amazing, the puppy breath is amazing, the fat bellies are the best, but if you don’t create some structure and guidelines for that little puppy to OBEY then that little puppy is going to be like a little tornado in your home, right? This is similar to what verse 12 is teaching us this morning. The God of
Scripture has brought us into His creation, and everything was perfect, but our sin (Genesis 3) destroyed everything so that all of humanity is like a little puppy with sharp puppy teeth and we are all running around chewing on everything, licking everything, biting everything, chasing everything, and peeing and pooping on everything.
In God’s grace He doesn’t leave us in this chewed up puppy world but by grace through faith in Jesus He slowly and gently begins to bring OBEDIENCE into our life through His Word.
At first, just like that little puppy, we’re not sure what we think about this call to obedience in our life. At first, just like that puppy, we are confused, we are frustrated, we are resistant, but over time, just like the puppy, we begin to see the benefits of living the life He created us to live because He is the Creator of all life.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world
How many times have we “worked out” our obedience to God’s Word, so that it feels like we aren’t making any progress? How many times do we feel like we’ve been stuck in the same place in north Austin? How many times have we found great enthusiasm for the Lord only to be met with hardship so that we end up thinking to ourselves, “Maybe this Jesus thing doesn’t work?” Maybe some of us are in that place this morning? Therefore, God’s Word challenges us, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing (complaining).” Oh my gosh! How much grumbling and complaining is in our life right now? When I read that verse this week, I thought to myself, “What would I talk about if I didn’t grumble and complain?”
But listen to me, as a church in Austin, in light of what we just went over in verses 12-13, why would we give ourselves over to grumbling and complaining? Are things going to happen in life that we don’t like? Absolutely but the God of Scripture is at work in us, both to will and work for His good pleasure. Are we going to fall short in obedience to God? Yes, but the God of Scripture is at work in us, both to will and work for His good pleasure. Listen to me, the God of Scripture has called you His through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He didn’t just declare that you are His. He didn’t just imply that you are His. He purchased you at the cross. He paid the price in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; therefore, you are His and He is not disappointed. He’s not giving up. He’s not tired of us. He’s not asking, “How much longer are you going to struggle?”
Therefore, why would we give ourselves over to grumbling and complaining? In fact, if we see grumbling and complaining in our life right now, we can rejoice! Stay with me. Imagine how much grumbling and complaining is happening in our life and we don’t see it, therefore, if we see grumbling and complaining in our life it means the Spirit of God is at work in our life. It means we can repent. It means we can receive His forgiveness. It means we can move toward obedience to God’s Word. Praise God when we see grumbling and complaining!
Listen to me church family, praise God when any darkness in our life is exposed. That’s the hope we have in Jesus! Praise God! When we are in Christ and we see sin and brokenness in our life, when we see where we fall short of God’s Word, we don’t need to beat ourselves up. We don’t need to ignore it like it didn’t happen. We don’t need to cover it up
so that nobody finds out. When we see sin and darkness in our life we can rejoice because we can repent and turn to Jesus. That’s why the Apostle Paul reminds us of verse 15. Did you see verse 15?
“So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”
Oh my gosh that is so powerful. If we’re not careful we could read verse 15 and think to ourselves, “Well, that’s impossible.” We think God’s Word is calling us to be blameless and we know we’re not blameless. We think God’s Word is calling us to be innocent and we know we’re not innocent but verse 15 is reminding us, we who we are in Christ, we have been made blameless. Did you know that?
Positionally before God, in Christ, you have been made innocent. That’s Colossians 1 and Ephesians 1. Jesus not only takes our sin but Jesus gives us His righteousness. In John 8 Jesus was standing in the temple near the brightest candle set up they had in their day and Jesus said the word, “I am the Light of the world.” In verse 15 God’s Word is reminding the follower of Jesus, “When you are in Christ, you too become the light of the world because Christ is in you.” That’s what made our statement so important: Obedience to the God of Scripture is learning how to live life the way He intended life because He is the Creator of life.
3. Poured Out.
17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
This phrase “poured out” is a Jewish and pagan ritual as an offering like an act of worship and the assumption is that Paul is going to pour out his life for the people of the Philippian church like an act of worship unto the Lord. Do you see that in verse 17? And Paul’s response to this sacrificial offering of his life is to rejoice. Do you see that in verse 17? The Apostle Paul might sit in prison for the rest of his life and his joy is that he is getting to pour his life into the spiritual life of those around him. Poured out for Christ!
It’s that simple church family in Austin. We have to work a job in Austin, but the hours in the office are going to come and go. We need to stay involved in current events in north Austin, but the hours arguing about the headlines in the news are going to come and go. We need to save money, pay bills, buy clothes as a church family in Austin but those things are going to come and go, but the opportunity to put Christ first, follow Him, and pour into others is for eternity.
That is the invitation of God’s Word this morning. It is to see Christ high and lifted up in all His glory. Look at His life. Examine His death. Search out His resurrection, so that we see who He is and all that He has done so that we willingly and joyfully want to obey Him and invite others to obey Him as well. That’s what the Apostle Paul does in verse 18. Do you see that? He writes, “You too!”
Most of us probably won’t travel around the world like the Apostle Paul starting churches but we can start with ourselves. We can start with those who are in our immediate circle of life. We can start with those we come in contact with on a daily and weekly basis, so that the bulk of our life is poured out for Christ! I will close with a story. This week our teenagers got to spend the week getting trained for BYBC. Arianna is our summer intern leading our teenagers and I got to spend one of the nights with them, and it was amazing. he teenagers are being challenged to love their city in Austin. Teenagers are being challenged to share their faith in Austin. Teenagers are being challenged to confront fears in their life that keep them from putting Christ first, following Him and inviting others to do the same.
A part of their training is go into different parts of north Austin and gather kids in the community to meet at parks so they can play games with them, sing songs with them and share the gospel with them. The day I was there was called “Wet and Whacky Wednesday.” They literally run around soaking each other with water. It’s awesome! I had the privilege of driving them down to the city that night and most of them went into that time really tired, a little frustrated with each other, not really sure why they signed up for this week. But on the way home every one of them got in my car and said, “That was awesome.” The whole way home they told stories of connecting with children, sharing the gospel with children and how much fun it was as a church in Austin.
That’s a little bit of what our passage is teaching us this morning. We often time go into obeying God’s Word like, “Why am I doing this?” We aren’t sure it will make a difference. We aren’t sure why it is important. But what I have found is that every time I get on the other side of obedience to God’s Word in my life my response is, “That was awesome.” It’s because He created life and knows how life is supposed to work. Won’t you follow Him?