Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV)

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

 

Introduction: Many Christians are understandably concerned about the present moral and spiritual climate in our nation. It seems that every day the news introduces a new incident of violence, immorality, breach of integrity or a legal ruling that distresses those who are seeking to serve Christ faithfully. At times we are tempted to think that things have never been so bad. The truth, however, is that the world of the Apostle Paul was very much like our world today. The relatively new Christians at Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia, were deeply troubled by events beyond their control that challenged their very existence. Philippians 2:14-16 provides much needed advice for Christians in difficult days like those in which we live. Please notice:

A Societal Crisis- The Philippians were living “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” There were many, many gods and rampant immorality. Christian virtues were not always appreciated and allegiance to Jesus as Lord could lead to serious persecution. (Acts 16:16-24; Describe the persecution Paul faced in Philippi)

A Recurring Temptation- When things are tough, it is easy for Christians to begin “complaining and disputing”. Though the Devil is the ultimate source of our difficulties, he is not a visible opponent. We can easily turn our frustrations toward others, especially our leaders. If we fall to this temptation, however, we will lose our opportunity to penetrate the darkness of a lost world. (Note the complaining of the Israelites as they followed Moses to freedom; Exodus 15:24, 16:2)

An Exalted Lord- Moving back to Philippians 2:5-11, we find the compelling example of Jesus Christ, Himself. He willingly left the glories of Heaven and took upon Himself our likeness that He might ultimately die for us on the cross. Having loved us to that extent, God has now made Him (Christ) the exalted Lord to Whom every knee will bow. We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of childish fussing and feuding before a watching world. Not in the light of who Christ is and what He has done (Expand upon this thought). We must obey:

A Crucial Command- We are therefore taught to be blameless, harmless, and without fault, that we might “shine as lights in the world.” The only possibility of dispelling darkness is to introduce light. Thus, the compelling reality of our crucified Savior and exalted Lord must move us beyond foolish behavior to sincere Christian living before a lost, but watching, world. Jesus taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

A Necessary Means- How do we live the demanding lives to which we are called? By “holding fast the Word of life.” We must know and obey the Word of God. By introducing us to Jesus Christ, God’s Word produces life in us, abundant and eternal. The word translated “holding fast” may also be translated “holding forth” as in the KJV and in essence in the NIV 1984. Only the context can determine whether it means to hold firmly (fast) or to hold something forth. It is interesting that in the first century this word was used to describe someone passing food to another person at a table. As I thought about that word picture, it occurred to me that to pass food you must get a good grip on the plate or bowl, so that it does not spill, and then hold it out toward the other person. This is how we are to live as Christians. We are to hold the Word of Life tightly in confession and practice (godly lives that shine) and then hold it forth to the lost around us. (Stress reading, studying and obeying the Bible)

What’s a Christian to do in this crazy, upside down American society of 2016? Read Philippians 2:14-16 and do what it says. (Introduce the invitation)