Calvary Road Baptist Church

“NOW, DO RIGHT!”

Philippians 4.9

 

Imagine what it must have been like for the Philippian church members. Closed in on every side by spiritual opposition in a city given wholly over to state sponsored idolatry, beset at every turn by problems arising from family members being opposed to your lifestyle and your faith, crippled in your ability to take care of your family the way you’d like to because of the terrible economy and the regional poverty that affects everyone, and on top of that finding out that the man you sent to see the Apostle Paul, because you were worried about him, almost died himself. Things just seem to pile up. You know, there are times when you conclude that you just can’t take it anymore. You feel as though you’ve run out of steam, the batteries are run completely down, you are out of spiritual gas, and you’re in a daze as your problems loom before you as an oncoming tidal wave that threatens to overwhelm you.

My friends, there are charlatans out there who will say that such feelings as these should never come upon a Christian, and that you should always and in every case rise above your circumstances and feel good about yourself. Let me tell you something. Such thinking as that is not only nuts, it’s also unscriptural. I remind you once more of what the apostle wrote about himself in Second Corinthians 1.8. Not only was Paul writing in Philippians to people who had gotten discouraged from the circumstances of life and over concerns they had about the welfare of others, but Paul had experienced such feelings himself:

 

“For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.”

 

What do you do if you are a person who is well-grounded in scripture, as the Philippians were? The fact that Paul’s letter to the Philippians contains almost no direct doctrinal instruction shows us that these were already well-grounded and well-taught people. Their belief system was right on. What do you do if you are spiritual, as the Philippians were? Second Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 hold up the Philippians and the Thessalonians as models of spirituality and sacrificial giving in the face of deep poverty. What do you do if you have been instructed about the control of your thought life, as Paul has just done in Philippians 4.6-8, but you still feel as though you have come to the end of the line? You still feel overwhelmed by the circumstances you face. You still have that elephant sitting on your chest and it’s just so hard to breathe. What if you are so down that all you can do is sigh and cry? What do you do if you can no longer even cry, but just sit for the longest time, stunned by what you face that you know you cannot overcome, and you just sigh?

My friend, when you find yourself at the absolute end of your rope, when you simply cannot figure a way out of your dilemma, this is what you do: You do right! In our text for today, Philippians 4.9, sent to a congregation of Christians facing things just like I have described to you, Paul wrote these words:

 

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

 

Are you facing such things as I have described? Do you find yourself on the horns of a dilemma, not knowing what to do? Then, do right. In our text Paul not only describes the desired (perhaps demanded is a better word) behavior of believers, but he also shows the divine blessing that is enjoyed by those believers who do what God wants them to do.

 

IN THE BEGINNING OF THE VERSE PAUL PROVIDES FOR HIS READERS THE DEMANDED BEHAVIOR

 

Let me caution you, however, to remember who this information is provided for. Paul is not, here, counseling people with serious sin in their lives. Neither is he providing counsel for folks who are confused about spiritual truth because they have not been taught or because they have not studied the Word of God themselves. This is direction given to folks who are already faithful in church, already committed to serving Christ, already sacrificial in their giving, and already energetic in their evangelistic efforts. In short, this is advice given to wonderful Christians, proving that even when you are doing everything right things can feel like they are going wrong. Here is what you should do, Christian:

First, with regard to the behavior Paul declares to them God desires, mention is made of their observations.

 

“Those things, which ye have both learned . . . .”

 

The word “learned” refers to that which a person learns, especially when the learning is the result of inquiry or instruction.[1] The idea here is that the child of God is supposed to take the initiative to discover God’s truth. Do you study your Bible at home? Do you read your Bible? Are you willing to receive instruction? Do you come to God’s house ready to learn God’s Word?

 

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received . . . .”

 

The word “received” refers to something that you have obtained from another person, usually something akin to a tradition.[2] Understand that receiving handed down tradition is not necessarily bad, unless it conflicts with the truth of God’s Word. Remember that when Paul wrote this the canon of scripture had not yet been completed. As well, how many problems have been created in the world today as a result of preachers following Charles Finney and others like him who abandoned beneficial practices handed down from pastor to pastor before him for effectively ministering to lost people? As well, how many young Christian couples learn how to raise their children by receiving from others at church, which are somewhat older, valuable lessons and insights in child rearing? So you see, refusing to receive good lessons handed down by others can create no end of problems. Be receptive.

 

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard . . . .”

 

Not everything taught by Paul was taught consciously or by verbal instruction. This word “heard,” taken in light of the words “learned” and “received,” can only logically refer to things you hear from other people.[3] It would be like someone saying, “Paul prefers that we do it this way.” You don’t actually hear the man himself, but you hear from others about the man’s positions on things or approaches to the ministry. This shows us that you not only learn from Paul, but also from those who have themselves learned from the apostle.

 

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me . . . .”

 

Here we find personal observations referred to. You’ve never heard Paul or anyone else comment about prayer before meals, but you’ve always noticed that the man prays before he eats. Though you’ve never known him to teach on the subject specifically, or anyone else, you notice that he is always kind to people, even when he is extremely busy.

In these ways, Christians can pick up a great deal about proper Christian conduct from observation. And so long as your observations are of the right people you can gain valuable insights about how to apply doctrinal truths you’ve learned to the practical living of the Christian life. But what do you do with what you have seen?

 

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.”

 

Do what? Do what you have seen Paul do. So, what we have here is the fine art of imitation. As I preached some months ago from Philippians 3.17, Paul wanted these people to be mimics. However, he doesn’t want them to do what they have seen him do just once or twice. This word “do” refers to that which is engaged in, that which is routinely practiced. In other words, Paul wants those Philippians to behave the way he behaved, to engage in what he engaged in, to keep putting into practice what he kept putting into practice.[4] Do you see here yet another reason why church is so extremely important for Christians? Church is the place where the Philippians would have seen Paul live out the Christian life. Or, after Paul was gone, church is the place they would see those who had learned from Paul how to live out their lives, and where they would hear about Paul’s life and ministry. The same kind of thing is true for you. There is much to be gained from godly leaders, and much to be lost from being so proud that you think their direction and example for you to follow in your life is not needed.

 

WE NOW COME TO THE END OF THE VERSE, WHERE PAUL SHOWS TO US THE DIVINE BLESSING

 

God blesses obedience. As a father raises his children to obey him, so God raises up spiritual children to obey Him. And just as a good dad rewards only acceptable behavior in his child, so God blesses those who are obedient to Him. When you begin to do those things that you have learned and received and heard and seen, then God will bestow a wonderful blessing on you that is not otherwise guaranteed. Two things related to this blessing:

First, an observation about God’s person. What is it about God’s person that Paul emphasizes in this verse? That He, God, is the God of peace. Consider this: When you have a right relationship with God through faith in Christ you have peace with God, as Paul declares in Romans 5.1. Additionally, when the Spirit of God indwells you without grief you experience peace in your heart. As well, when you honor and highly esteem the man of God you have peace with each other. And when you seek God out in prayer and cast all your cares on Him, His Own peace will keep your hearts and minds. Just as surely as His Son, Jesus, is the Prince of peace, so God the Father is the God of peace.

Then, an observation about God’s presence. We know that God is omnipresent, that He dwells everywhere. However, in a special sense God is the God of heaven and His glory is at this moment in heaven. Scripture tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.[5] This being true, there is still a special sense in which God will be with the obedient Christian. Perhaps this is a reference to God being with you in a special way by means of the indwelling Spirit of God. Or, perhaps it means something else. The important thing to remember is that God promises to abide in a very special way with that Christian who puts into practice the things of the Christian life that he has learned, or that he is supposed to have learned, from Paul, from scripture, and from Christian leaders and mentors.

 

So, when you feel like you can’t go on, do right. When you feel like you are about to pop, do right. When you think you can’t serve God any more, do right. When you are so discouraged that you don’t want to go to church ever again, do right. There are too many so-called Christians in the world today who love to study God’s Word, who love to fellowship, who love to be Christians. However, they don’t like to do right when it costs, when it is tiresome, or when it is painful. Christian? Let’s be different. Let’s respond to Paul’s exhortation and do what we are supposed to do. Amen? As a matter of principle, decide right now to do right no matter how hard it may seem.

 

SERMON:

 

I’ve enjoyed this portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, with his emphasis on peace in all its manifestations as a result of knowing and being obedient to the God of peace. However, we must acknowledge that God is not a God of peace only. I grow somewhat weary of the evangelical and charismatic Christian television tendency to portray God as a shallow and one dimensional being. Ever notice how they always portray God has being a God of love only, without showing, as well, that God is also holy, and that without holiness no man shall see the Lord?[6]

In like manner, I want to faithfully portray the God of the Bible as more than just the God of peace, because He is more than just peace. God’s Word shows this to those of us who will inquire of it. I hope you have your Bible at hand, because we have some verses to look up.

 

Exodus 15.3: “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.”

 

How do you reconcile the fact that God is a God of peace with the fact that He is also described by His choice servant Moses as a man of war?

 

Revelation 12.7: “And there was war in heaven.”

 

How do you explain the fact that in the future, in heaven, there will be a war between those angels that serve and worship God against the dragon and those angels who follow him?

 

Ephesians 6.12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

 

From this verse we see that even God’s Own people are engaged in spiritual warfare.

 

Galatians 5.17: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these contrary one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

 

Does it surprise you that the Holy Spirit of God wages war against your flesh, your sinful urges and the temptations to commit sin each of us face?

 

Revelation 19.11: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”

 

Even the Lord Jesus Christ will wage war on those who oppose Him at His second coming.

Never thought of God or the Holy Spirit or the Lord Jesus Christ as waging war before, did you? You always assumed it was against their divine nature to wage war, didn’t you? Just goes to show you that we sometimes don’t know what we think we know about God, or about the Holy Spirit, or about the Lord Jesus Christ. Over the last several weeks we’ve learned some things related to peace, so now let us consider some things related to war. Specifically, let’s consider the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We know that Jesus Christ is the Prince of peace.[7] We know that He is the Lamb of God Who came to take away the sins of the world.[8] We know that Jesus Christ extends a challenge to sinners to come to Him for forgiveness, for salvation, and for cleansing.[9] What some people fail to consider is what this same Jesus Christ will do to you if you are not saved, if you die without ever having come to Him. Poor fellow, the Lord Jesus Christ will then wage war against you. This One Who is so gentle and kind in His present session will look at you with eyes that are as a flame of fire, Revelation 1.18, He will breathe smoke from His nostrils and fire from His mouth, Psalm 18.8, He will thunder in the heavens, Psalm 18.13, and He will make war against you. And His war against you will be righteous.

But why will the Lord Jesus Christ someday make war against you, unsaved friend, rebellious friend, cold-hearted friend, self-sufficient friend, fearful friend, unbelieving friend? Will He make war against you because you did not “accept” Him? No. He will someday make war against you:

 

First, BECAUSE OF YOUR NATURE

 

Ephesians 2.3 very clearly identifies you as someone who is by your very nature a child of wrath. You see, your primary problem is what you are. The root cause of every problem you have ever had, presently have, and will have, is the sinfulness of your being.

Understand, there is nothing whatsoever that you have ever done that caused you to be the way you are. You just are the way you are. Romans 5.12 informs us that you are sinful because the first man, the head of our race, was sinful:

 

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

 

The result, of course, is that since you are descended from Adam you, too, are by nature sinful.

Oh, dear friend, do not overestimate yourself in Jesus’ eyes. Do not overvalue yourself because you compare yourself with others. The Lord Jesus Christ looks upon you with the penetrating and probing gaze of omniscience. And what does He see? He sees sin, only sin, always sin. Sin that defiles you. Sin that perverts you. Sin that enslaves you. Sin that corrupts you. Sin that condemns you. Sin that has killed you.

And because it is your nature there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Can a leopard change its spots? Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin?[10] Yet it’s because of your nature and its unalterable animosity toward God that Jesus Christ, the lion of the tribe of Judah, will someday make war against you.

 

BUT THAT’S NOT THE ONLY REASON THE LORD JESUS WILL SOMEDAY MAKE WAR AGAINST YOU. HE WILL ALSO MAKE WAR AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF YOUR DEEDS

 

It’s not just what you are that will cause King Jesus to storm and fury against you, though your nature is sufficient in itself to merit His wrath. It’s also what you do that enrages Him. It’s your deeds that enrages Him. It’s the sins you commit, both consciously and unconsciously, that will someday unleash against you unspeakable wrath and fury.

Whether you be a great man or a king, whether you be a rich man or a peasant, there will come a day when you will seek to hide yourself in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.[11] And you will say to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Why will you then run? Why will you then hide? Why will you then fear? You will run and hide and fear because you will know in that day that Jesus Christ seeks you out, He pursues you, to punish you and to harm you and to damn your soul to Hell in the great day of His wrath, Revelation 6.15-17. But for what will He do this to you? For your sins. Sins you have committed against heaven and sins you have committed against your fellow man. Sins against the Holy Spirit of God and sins against your mother and father. Sins against the church of Jesus Christ and sins against your own conscience.

You were warned against idolatry and the love of money, but you still refused to tithe. You were commanded to love the Lord your God with all your heart, yet you insisted on loving yourself still. You were prohibited from dishonoring your parents, yet you disobeyed and went your own way. You were urged to avoid sins that would tempt church members, yet you scorned the temple of God.[12] You were begged not to lie and cheat and steal, yet you sinned against your conscience time and time and time again, until your conscience was so seared and callused that you could only believe that what you wanted to do had to be God’s will, if there be a God.[13]

Do you want specifics? Do you want to know each and every sin for which Jesus Christ will someday war against your soul? Are you that curious? Then continue in your own wrong-headed way. Go ahead and be stubborn still and stiff-necked some more. For there will come a day when you are standing before God in heaven and the books will be opened, and those specific sins will be read out loud to you, one at a time, and you will howl in awful anticipation of the torment that awaits you.[14] The temper tantrums, the lies, the deceitfulness, the hatefulness, the sensuality, the seductiveness, the conniving, the bullying, the pride, the haughty looks, the rebellion, the stubbornness, the immodesty, and the false humility. Each and every sin will someday be read aloud to you, and then your curiosity will be satisfied in a way you had never imagined. Yes, Jesus Christ will make war against you then because of your deeds.

 

Finally, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WILL MAKE WAR AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF HIS NATURE

 

Hebrews 7.26 describes the Lord Jesus Christ as “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” I want you to consider, in closing, the holiness of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1.16 tells us that by Jesus Christ all things were created. Colossians 1.17 tells us that by Jesus Christ all things consist, or hold together. So, it was Lord Jesus Christ, specifically, of the persons of the Trinity, Who created all things. And as a reflection of His Own pristine nature He created things holy and without offense to Him.

But then sin entered in. Sin which defiles. Sin which destroys. Sin which contaminates. Sin which offends. Sin which corrupts. So, what is the Lord Jesus Christ to do? Is He a hypocrite? Is He untrue to His Own nature? No. He is entirely true to Himself and consistent in every way. So, because He is holy, and because His holiness is an active attribute and not some passive characteristic, Jesus Christ’s Own nature demands that He move against that which is unholy, sinful, and corrupt.

So, because of what you are Jesus Christ will someday make war against you. Because of your deeds Jesus Christ will someday make war against you. And because of His own holy nature Jesus Christ will someday make war against you. And the war He will wage will be eternal and without resolution. He will reign victorious, and you will suffer torment in the lake of fire forever.

 

Please listen very carefully. Jesus Christ is not angry with you at this present time. It is a Roman Catholic lie to say the Lord Jesus is presently angry with you. He is not at this time angry with you, sinner. He is at present kindly disposed toward you, lost though you happen to be. However, there will come a day and a time when He will be angry with you. There will come a time when He will no longer challenge you to come to Him for salvation and forgiveness and cleansing. There will come a time when He will grow weary of waiting.

During this present hour He is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. During this present hour His Spirit in this world working to persuade the lost to come to Him. During this present hour He beckons you to turn from your sins and believe in Him.

I urge you to respond to His command to come, all you who labor and are heavy laden. He will give you rest. Come to Jesus Christ and He will forgive your sins and take the burden of sin off you.



[1] Peter T. O’Brian, The Epistle To The Philippians - NIGTC, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), page 509.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., page 510.

[4] Ibid., page 511.

[5] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 14.2-4; Acts 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[6] Hebrews 12.14

[7] Isaiah 9.6

[8] John 1.29

[9] Matthew 11.28

[10] Jeremiah 13.23

[11] Revelation 6.15

[12] 1 Corinthians 3.16-17

[13] 1 Timothy 4.2

[14] Revelation 20.12


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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org