Calvary Road Baptist Church

“CONTRAST”

Philippians 2.15

Although my 250-pound frame may not look like much now, I was an all-star football player in high school, playing both center on offense and linebacker on defense. We were pretty good for a school our size, racking up an undefeated season in league play my senior year. As good as we were we really did not have any outstanding athletes on our team who were huge, overwhelmingly strong, or incredibly fast. Except for one guy named Jim. Jim was an extraordinary fellow who was the fastest man on the team, was without doubt the strongest man on the team, and though he was just a shade shorter than I am could dunk a basketball from a flat-footed jump. Jim was the only white guy I have ever heard of who had better than a 40 inch jump and reach.

He had all the tools that any coach could want from a high school football player. He had a real work ethic. He loved to practice and be around the guys. In addition, he was bright enough to understand the nuances of our complex and unusual offense. There was only one problem with Jim. He was like a few people we have had around Calvary Road Baptist Church from time to time. He was the kind of guy you could count on until you needed him.

If he was playing defense during a game and the other team was running a sweep, you could count on Jim to stick his face in the dirt a few feet in front the blocker leading the sweep so he would not get hit. If he was running a fly pattern and there just happened to be someone on the other team who could keep up with him, you just knew Jim would drop the ball when he heard the pitter patter of feet that meant he would get tackled after catching the ball. So, Jim would conveniently drop the ball. As I said, he was the kind of guy you can count on except when you needed him.

Folks, there are some parallels between a high school football team and a church. More than you might first imagine. In both situations, you find yourself part of a team that must function in unison to experience victory over a determined foe. In both situations, you find yourself teamed up with others of varying skills and experience levels, varying degrees of commitment and awareness of the situation, and varying levels of determination to strive for victory despite the level of pain and disappointment. As well, in each situation your ability to experience victory is in great measure dependent upon the performance of others on your team.

It is no wonder, then, that Paul lays such stress on the need for Church members to humble themselves so that God might bless them with unity, the unity that is critical for a Church to function as a team bent on the common goal of spiritual victory against a determined foe.

In Philippians 2.12-13, we saw Paul’s directive for obedient Christians to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, with the understanding that it is God Who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. In other words, believers are responsible to see to their own victory over sin in their Christian lives, and they will as God works in their lives.

In Philippians 2.14, we see that Paul warns against murmurings and disputings when the going gets rough. Remember how the Israelites always seemed to blame Moses and Aaron, and, by implication, God, whenever things were not going the way they had anticipated? It absolutely amazes me how quickly unsaved people and spiritual babes will turn on leaders when they are stressed out. They also have a tendency to turn on each other, which is disputing.

Thank God, the Philippians were not that way. Nevertheless, Paul was not taking any chances. He knew, as I hope you folks are beginning to figure out, that you simply have no idea what is in store next. You don’t know where Satan’s next attack is going to come from, and you don’t know until the battle is raging who is really going to fight with you on the Lord’s side and who is going to turn out to be a traitor and a turncoat. But for those of you who plan on sticking by the stuff, those of you who plan on pulling your load instead of being a load someone else has to pull, those of you who plan on being crew members on this ship instead of passengers, Paul has some definite direction of the positive variety.

In Philippians 2.15 we are given, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, goals to shoot for and strive for in our Christian lives. Before we read that text, while you are turning there, let me warn you of something: What we are about to see written by Paul stands in marked contrast to the way most modern day churches function. Consider whatever evangelical churches you might be familiar with. Consider the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches you have attended. Reflect on the local so-called Christian television programming you have seen. How much like the world they strive to be. How they strive to imitate with their production values, their music, their appearance. In the face of that modern day tragic reality, listen to what Paul writes about the personal goals and objectives believers and church should strive for.

Philippians 2.15: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Church members? Do not murmur or dispute. Instead, strive to be different.

 

STRIVE TO BE DIFFERENT, FIRST, BY MEANS OF WHAT YOU ARE TO BECOME

 

“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke . . . .”

 

A quick reading of this portion of the verse gives the impression that Christians are to strive to become blameless, are to strive to become harmless, as to strive to become the sons of God, and are to strive to be without rebuke.” A careful examination of this statement, however, coupled with an understanding of what God’s Word teaches elsewhere, will show that such is not what Paul is teaching. Consider this statement under two headings, immediately and eventually.

A person becomes a son of God immediately. John 1.12-13 shows us that a person becomes a son of God when he receives Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. This event is elsewhere in God’s Word described as being born again, being justified, or being saved. The reason I speak of being saved under the heading of immediately is that a person is not saved gradually. A person is saved from his sins instantaneously. You are either completely lost and on your way to Hell, or you are completely saved and on your way to heaven. There is no in between concerning being saved. So, when Paul refers to “That ye may be” here, he is not referring to “that ye may be” a son of God, since these Philippians are already saved people.

These folks were saved exactly the same way the Philippian jailor had been saved when Paul first planted this church in the city. Like his conversion, theirs was immediate upon believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the kind of son of God Paul wants these Philippian believers to come to be is something they can only become eventually. You see, being saved occurs the moment you place your trust in Jesus Christ, the moment you believe to the saving of your soul. The three characteristics that Paul would like to see in every believer’s life are individual character traits that only come some time after you are saved through faith in Christ, grow, and mature spiritually. Some grow more rapidly, while others grow more slowly. However, every genuinely saved child of God can, by God’s Own abundant grace, attain unto these three personal goals.

First, you are to become blameless, Christian. In other words, God can so richly bless your life that though you will never be sinless, you can live a life that is essentially free of justifiable accusation. Oh, people will always accuse you. In fact, the more you do for Christ the more people will accuse you. In addition, I am living proof that it will be those who love you when times are good who will accuse you of wrongdoing the loudest when times seem for them to be bad. However, living a life, which is essentially free of justifiable accusations of wrongdoing, is an attainable goal for every Christian, and as the pastor of this Church, I have a right to insist upon and expect that from each member.

Second, you are to become harmless. This word harmless translates a word that refers to metal that is uncontaminated by impurities.[1] In other words, it is within your reach as a child of God, though you will never be without sin (I cannot stress that too much), to have an inner heart condition that is markedly different than that of an unsaved man, Romans 16.19: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”

Finally, you are to become one who is without rebuke. This refers to spots and blemishes.[2] These things stick out and are noticeable flaws in your character and behavior. In other words, you new Christians, who seem to be continually shooting yourselves in the feet when you try to take a stand and when you witness to relatives? There can come a day, by God’s grace, when those you deal with not throw back in your face the faults in your life that they see. Your life can become a beautiful tapestry woven by the God into strong fabric of consistent Christianity.

Ponder these three things for a moment. Blameless, harmless, without rebuke. All of this in the context of taking a stand for Christ in the midst of persecution and opposition. Doesn’t resemble anything like the counterfeit Christianity I have seen on Christian television lately.

 

STRIVE TO BE DIFFERENT, NEXT, BY MEANS OF WHERE YOU ARE TO BE

 

“. . . in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation . . . .”

 

As to the description we see here.

Three words used by Paul that deserve our attention:

First, the word “nation.” This phrase is very similar to one used by Moses in his last address to the nation of Israel. Realizing this, the King James translators used the English word “nation,” even though the Greek word used by Paul is most frequently translated “generation,” and was used by the Lord Jesus Christ and by Paul here to refer to those who stand condemned in the sight of God by their sin and needing to be saved.

Second, the word “crooked.” Ever heard of scoliosis of the spine, where kids have to wear a big brace for several years to straighten out their spine? Well, this Greek word translated “crooked” is the Greek word “skolios.” Here the word is used to refer to being morally crooked instead of spiritually straight.

Finally, the word “perverse.” This word refers to something that is twisted to such a degree that it is distorted.[3] We live in such a world that right is though to be wrong and wrong is thought to be right. Homosexuals are no longer thought to be given over to perversion, but to an alternate lifestyle. Child molesters are no longer thought to be wicked and vicious predators who will sacrifice the futures of helpless children on the altar of personal pleasure and gratification, but as victims who are sick and who are to be pitied and felt sorry for. God help us if we cannot keep our moral compasses aligned correctly that we are unwilling to put away from among ourselves that wicked person.

As to the location we see here. Paul writes, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.” Beloved, we are Right Square in the middle of it, just as the Philippians were. Do you see anything about retiring to the country here? Do you see anything about moving to less sinful territory here? No mention of relocating to Kansas. No mention of Hesperia, or Palmdale, or Apple Valley, or Temecula. My friends, Paul wanted those Christians to become what they could be for Christ right in the middle of the hot spot, right in the middle of the crooked and perverse generation. You and I are supposed to be soldiers of the cross, advancing, not retreating. Bless God, that is part of what is wrong with Christianity these days. Every man looking out only for himself and thinking nothing of the cause of Christ, nothing of our Christianity legacy, nothing of the nation we leave behind for our children if we run to the country and stick our heads in the sand like scared ostriches. Let us be different, people. Let us obey God.

 

STRIVE TO BE DIFFERENT, FINALLY, BY MEANS OF WHAT YOU ARE TO DO

 

“among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

 

Consider the metaphor. Just as the Lord Jesus told His apostles, “Ye are the light of the world,” so Paul recognized that church members, like the Philippians, like you members of Calvary Road are lights in a dark place. Without you, there is no light. If you do not stand apart, if you do not dare to be different, if you do not stick out amidst the lost of this world, what hope have they? What will they do?

Consider the message. You and I both know that the Lord Jesus and Paul used the concept of light to represent the gospel message. My friends, it is all about getting the gospel to lost people.

 

You are saved by trusting Jesus. An event occurs immediately, instantaneously. However, Christian growth occurs gradually, and the goals Paul has set for us can be achieved eventually, by each of us. You are to become blameless, harmless, without rebuke. But where are you to become this? Right smack in the middle of a crooked and perverse nation. Which should not surprise us, since that is us before we trusted Christ.

Additionally, that should not surprise us since the reason we are to become blameless and harmless and without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, is so that when we let our lights shine some of those sin-darkened people will come to the light and get saved.

Do you see it, folks? You do not get people saved by becoming as much like them as you can, but by becoming as much unlike them as you can. Not weird or bizarre. But spiritual, mature, and godly.

This is where your involvement in our church comes in. We are in the world, but not of the world. We are a counter-culture congregation that reaches out to the lost around us and seeks to bring them in by means of the gospel.



[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 552.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org