Gospel Thinking (Philippians 4:8-9)April 3, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
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Morning. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes, the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple precepts of the Lord are right giving joy to the heart commands the Lord are radiants, giving light to the eyes, the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous, they’re more precious than gold and much pure gold. They’re sweeter than honey, the honey from the honeycomb. That’s why we devote ourselves to the Lord’s word. Now, if you want to grab your Bibles open up the Philippians chapter four, we will be in verses eight and nine this morning, Philippians, four, eight and nine. As you’re turning there, it was in the 1800s, Lieutenant George DeLonge, led the USS Jeannette on a disastrous polar expedition. So it was disastrous, because it was based on deluded thinking and terrible maps. So the idea was that there was this fairweather sea at the North Pole, and there would be what they call the thermometric gateways, and it’d be this place to, you know, just go right across the top of the globe. Turns out, that’s not how it works, by the way, very cold there. So it’s all ice did not take long for their ship to be surrounded by ice. And it’s at that moment, of course, when they had to discard their worldview for a better one. Like if your thinking is wrong, at a certain point, you will bump up against reality. And sometimes that’s in the form of icebergs. But that’s the danger of bad thinking, is not getting an answer wrong on a test or a little bit of public embarrassment or something like that. But putting yourself in real peril, potentially eternal peril. Even. This is a serious issue for us today. Because we are not good thinkers in late modernity here in the West, we are actually really bad at thinking. It’s not just that we think often what is false. Because we lack logic, which is certainly true. We got misinformation and bias and all the rest. But it’s also that we devote our thoughts to things that aren’t worthy of them. What is impure and ignoble and unjust. I mean, think about them and think about this this week. But it really struck me there is almost nothing in our culture today that promotes discernment, or wisdom, or clarity. I could think of almost nothing apart from the odd book here or there that is actually worth reading. We have intellectual junk food, we gorge ourselves on it. And so we’ve actually reached the point where we can’t even really stomach protein and veggies when we need to just start scanning song lyrics, movies and TV, news, social media, the hot takes, we’ve trained ourselves to think quickly, superficially, and in the most comprehensive sense of this term selfishly. And most of our thinking is dedicated to ourselves, and our own advancements and wants and desires. So we need Paul’s imperatives this morning. The main point of Philippians were, as Kyle said, wrapping up next week, so I’m hoping we got it by now, to advance the gospel, we must emulate Christ. And Paul, Timothy Pafford, itis, Timothy, good. Other saints who are worthy of volunteer example, right, despite opposition, for our joy, and for God’s glory. But here’s what Paul is going to tell us this morning is that gospel advance and the invitation of Christ and the invitation of Paul and men like him begins in the mind. That might be a bit of a shock to us, honestly, we would think well begins in the soul, it begins in the spirit, doesn’t it? If your five year old before bed, now by the red side and prayed, Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my brain to keep you’d sit up and take notice. That’s kind of what Paul’s doing for us here. He’s hoping we’ll take notice of how important our thinking is in our spiritual lives. So we’re going to unpack what he means as we go. And so we’re gonna slowly unfold the main ideas, we put these three sections together so hence the fill in the blanks. That’s okay. It’s good for our minds, fill in blanks do some inductive reasoning here. So part one may read verse eight for us and want to just hit part of verse eight here, but I’m going to read it all. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent, or praiseworthy, think about such things.
This is a fascinating collection of words. Fascinating because it’s actually drawn from pagan moralism and not from scriptural categories, if you were to go out on the streets of Philippi and say, Hey, I’m thinking, you identify this quote for me, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right and you finish it off and whatnot. Where does that quote come from? They’re gonna probably guess something like Seneca or Cicero, or Epictetus, and probably not the Bible. Not Paul, not even the Old Testament, the closest parallel we have to anything like this in the New Testament, at least is actually James chapter three, he describes the wisdom that is from above, he describes it as pure one of the words that shows up here in fact, but James is the New Testaments only example of Wisdom literature. So he’s drawing from the Old Testament wisdom tradition, like proverbs and things like that. And we know way more Old Testament than we know Seneca, how many of you read Seneca thought so Okay, so we’re going to hear echoes of Proverbs in this passage. But that’s not how the Philippians would have heard it. The Philippians would have known you’re speaking my language here. This is what I grew up in, as a pagan in Philippi. So whatever is true, of course, whatever’s noble, that’s the idea of honorable is all that that word means whatever is right, which again, to a pagan philosopher would mean making the right decision, the right judgment, no matter where you are, whatever circumstances you’d face, you’d know how to respond pure, which is of course, a cultic terms. So whatever temple you are part of whatever God you were worshipping, are you acceptable in his or her sight? Lovely, which by the way, just means you know, the things you love, very broad category could be Debussy, could be the sunset could be Mother Teresa’s works, all of that would fall under the category lovely. And then admirable, what’s worthy of commendation?
What would get you noticed in society? So Paul looks at that list of these six kind of pagan terms and says, think about them. Now that word think about is interesting. It can mean a lot of different things, honestly. And it does not mean just fix your minds on. But really consider even take into account what you know, already, and reckon with the stuff that you grew up with. Think about that. So we saw back in Philippians, three, that we are citizens, as Christians of a future kingdom, we are citizens of heaven awaiting that future kingdom, but awaiting that future kingdom does not mean abandoning the present world? Of course not. We’re gonna be on mission here. So we got to look at think about this world. While we’re called City View and not heaven view. As a church, we got to have our focus here. So what did Paul say and then embrace the best of this world understood in light of the cross? We’ll come back to that. But there’s plenty to draw from then. So if I were to get up here, and say, for example, honesty is the best policy. That’s fair. To true statement. It comes from Ben Franklin, who was not a fan of Christianity, necessarily. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And it doesn’t mean I couldn’t quote it or say it in the sermon, Paul quotes a number of pagan poets at different points. For example, what an important reminder for us then because we are not good at this, especially in the US. Christians here tend to either uncritically isolate from the world or uncritically accept the things of this world, you can find us this term pejoratively. I don’t think it always is that but fundamentalists who hate being in the world, and you can find compromisers, who love being of the world. But as Christians, we need to be neither we need to be in but not of which is tricky. The delicate balance, no doubt. So we’ve got to be aware of engaging with reckoning with the world around us. And we don’t do this. Well, like I said, we’re very shallow in the way we do this typically. So that a lot of us I’m talking about people in this room for sure, we would reject the trappings of this world, while embracing its values. What I mean by that is, you might say, oh, man, I can’t see that movie because there’s swears in it, which is very stupid. Not that swearing is a good thing necessarily, but we go okay, can’t watch that movie. But I’m gonna watch this one over here is ready to G so I know it’s good, right? And that kind of stuff, even though the values that that one’s teaching are completely antithetical to the gospel. We do this all the time so that you know what, well this movie that maybe diagnosis the sin problem just right but it’s got the S word in it. You know, can’t watch that one but the one that teaches me expressive individualism and materialism or nationalism, whatever it may be, that one will listen to, without a second thought. Just listen to Christian radio sometime By the way,
maybe don’t I don’t know. I’m gonna talk about the worship songs. There’s problems there sometimes too. But if you listen to the like non worship songs like the special songs or whatever, then on Christian radio, it’s got the word Jesus in it. And it’s all about me. Like it is just American individualism. You see what I mean about the danger, there have gone, but the trappings look good, it’s wrapped in Christian packaging. We got to check what’s on the inside, of course. So what Paul’s challenging us to do here then is to be much more critical, and how we approach the things of this world. And this approach will train us both to embrace and challenge every facet of culture as we go. What can we accept? What should we reject? So let me just give you a quick example. Manga spend a lot of time on this part because I haven’t seen the movie yet. Okay, so full disclosure, turning red just came out, haven’t seen it. Read a couple of plot points about it. And so I got, you know, a little bit of a thought here, but no spoilers, because I can’t spoil it because I haven’t seen it. So this is about I want so badly to use the phrase Asian American, but it’s in Canada. I don’t know if you say Asian Canadian. I don’t know if that’s a thing. So Asian, North American, or Julik. Asian Canadian works. Yes. Okay. We got it here. So, all right. So this Asian Canadian family in Toronto, and the daughter basically chooses self expression over the desires of her parents, totally fits our culture. Right, because the self is king in the West. Of course, that does mean she’s rejecting her Asian Canadian Heritage, the Asian part of the heritage, at least were due to family is more important. It’s just really interesting. By the way, anytime we make movies like these, even though they look multicultural on the outside, they tend to be deeply, deeply racist, because they’re rejecting huge chunks of the global populations approach to life, which puts duty to others above self. So fascinating, right there to begin with. But it’s interesting. Now, how does a Christian respond to either of those dynamics? What comes first self or family? God. So that’s gonna mess with both of them, right? So you just see like this, what a fascinating conversation won’t get into all of it, what a fascinating conversation we can have coming out of something like that. It’s just layers and layers and layers of discussion. And this, by the way, is how we must watch and read. Whatever else we do as we engage with culture, especially with our kids. Your kids are gonna watch turning read, most likely, you watch it alongside them. You having conversations with them afterwards, because that’s what we need to do. Because that’s what Paul’s telling us to do. We got to train be trained to think about, consider reckoned with whatever is true, noble, right and the rest. To think about whatever is true, noble, right, and all the rest involves a double discipline. There is a positive discipline to it once you get to it more than next section. But you know, you’re thinking that’s a positive act. But there’s a negative discipline as well. To consider well, to think about these things requires the discipline of refusal. That is, if Paul’s telling us whatever is true, think about that. It means he’s also saying at the same time implicitly, don’t think about what is untrue, dishonorable, unjust, impure, unlovely and commendable. That’s probably a good word for us. Because the studies would show that the viewing habits of Christians are absolutely indistinguishable from those of non Christians. That’s probably a problem. Because you look at what our culture is producing. And some of it is simply not worth considering. It’s not worth thinking about there is no need to consider what we know at the outset is impure, or whatever. And our reading habits likewise, this isn’t just about what movies we watch, although that certainly falls into this Christians are among those most likely to believe conspiracy theories in this culture.
A part of that is because as I’ve said before, the word of angelical is meaningless. Now, I actually read a story this week of a Muslim who identifies as Evan Jellicle. Because Evan Jellicle is just a political category now. So God help us the word that means gospel ish. No longer has anything to do with the gospel, we’re gonna have to come up with a new word. I don’t know what that word is. So until then, I don’t know what we are. Okay. Something about the Bible. But Evan Jellicle polls are the group most likely to believe conspiracy theories. So I’m in danger here because I mentioned any conspiracy theory, I’m gonna get an email this week from somebody who believes it in this congregation. So I’m gonna choose the craziest one I could think of which is the pizza gate thing. I don’t think anyone believes that here. I could be wrong and I’m sorry. And if you believe it, you’re wrong. Give it up. Okay. But the pizza gate thing so you got Somebody who claims Christ who believes in this pizza gate scandal and also believes that a dead man rose from the grave. What is your unbelieving neighbor? Think about you? Then we got serious, didn’t it? Because we believe stupid things. Why would they ever take us seriously? But the other stupid things we believe like a dead man rising from the grave, which he did, that one is actually true. So you can see there’s this what Paul often talks about in Scripture the put off that kind of proceed the put on if the change of clothes that we have as Christians, you’re not going to sink honorable thoughts. If you steep your mind in the dishonorable the old adage is still true garbage in, garbage out. We got to be very careful what we think about and so there’s no Bob Newhart sketch. Certainly in the true noble right, pure, lovely, admirable category. Bob Newhart always is. Might be the best five minutes of comedy in the history of the world, no hyperbole, okay. He’s a therapist, and he promises to heal anyone with any problem in five minutes or less for like five bucks. So you come in and you tell him his problems, what it is you don’t want to do anymore, and he just goes, some of you are whispering stop it. Just stop it. What else do you need to stop? Okay, that’d be $5. Move on. Thank you. Such good advice for a lot of us in this room. That stuff that isn’t true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable. Just stop it. Just stop it. But I promised you I was going to go off on this rant last week. So here it is. We’ll see I’m gonna do my very best to take my own advice and tremble, but not sin in the process. There’s a lot of emotion in this subject. I want to talk about mental health here because this passage is often used as a cudgel to bludgeon those suffering with mental health issues. As if all they needed to hear was just stop it. Think about whatever is true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable. We’ve done such incalculable damage as a church, to those who are most in need of our tenderest care. Because we have a shallow understanding of both the brain and the Bible, not a good combination. Spurgeon, who was a tremendous man of faith, the lion in the pulpit, one of the greatest preachers who ever lived, also suffered from depression, throughout his life plagued him, he wrote this, he said, The mind can descend far lower than the body. For in it, there are bottomless pits, the flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds, and no more, but the soul can bleed in 10,000 ways and die over and over again, each hour. What a powerful word. That is, there are people in our people within our congregation, certainly, where if they suffered mentally, were instead done to their body, they’d be dead. That’s what Spurgeon saying, it would kill them, that type of wounding that type of suffering. And I don’t know that we’ve been sympathetic as we should be. Part of our issue, of course, is that we, we lose sight of the fact that the brain is physical. Like your brain is an organ, you know that right? The brain is physical. And so what happens is, we often talk about mental disorders, as though it were simply a lack of discipline. You’re not thinking about whatever is true and noble and right. Even if there are underlying physical issues that are causing some of this, like a person can be dying of cancer. With great faith, we see that we’ve seen that here in this congregation, you would never judge them because their body is wasting away because their faith is still strong. What about somebody who has bipolar with great faith? Does that one get treated differently? It does it has here in this room. Should it? Certainly not? Because there’s this involuntary aspect to it, much like cancer.
And I understand that there may be sin involved. Let me give you an analogy. But then when I mess up the analogy, at a certain point, somebody who suffers from chemical addiction, it will become involuntary. I mean, it is it is physical at that point. And you go okay, but they did that to themselves somewhere along the line, most likely they made a choice that led them in this direction. But what if you didn’t actually make that choice? What if that choice is made for you done to you, because of some trauma that you experienced, either abuse that you suffered or circumstances that One very badly. What is our response typically been? I can tell you I can quote people in the church, what our response has been. I’ve heard it said at points. One of the big ones is you need professional help. can’t do without here. Okay, get the Museum of saints, not a hospital for the sick, you’ve kept the wrong place, come back when you got your life together. The problem, of course, that mostly people are getting professional help, and I’m not opposed professional help, I think probably more of us need professional help, not fewer of us. But what they need from the churches community. They don’t need platitudes, which is what we often offer. We don’t need people who speak before they understand, which is a weekly occurrence. And people will simply to listen and to be there for them to bear one another’s burdens. That’s a command in Scripture, isn’t it? Is there an asterisk next to it? Does it say something like except for these people, because they’re too heavy. We shouldn’t have to carry them. To love one another care for another serve one another welcome one another, there is no exception. Our Communities ought to look like this. A community groups ought to look like this, our journey groups ought to look like this. The people we invite into our home from meals also look like this. You know what the stats are on mental disorders. I will grant maybe not all of these are physical. Like we’ve got issues. Sometimes we got anxiety because we spend too much time on our phone. That’s a very real thing. But the stats are something like one in five, how many people are in this room? How many people are in the church right now?
So there are 200 people in the building? It’s one in five. How many community groups we have? Roughly 10. How many should be in our community groups, each community group.
This is what it ought to be and where we need to move. Alright, rant over. Where are we so far? What have we gotten up to this point? What as Paul said, embrace what is good. Embrace what is good, consider your culture, cleaning to what’s best. And really refuse to think of the rest. As you discipline your mind. Part two, though, we’re still in verse eight. But we’re gonna zero in on those two words that I didn’t have to talk about yet. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy? See, Paul has a bit more to say it’s not just embrace what is good. Because of these two, if clauses that come after those six attributes, they’re meant to qualify what he just said. They’re meant to constrain our thinking to some extent, we need discernment as we sort through culture. That’s why Paul adds these conditions, the grammar change is significant. Paul could have said very easily in the Greek, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. Whatever is excellent, whatever is praiseworthy, sounds good. Sounds better, actually. Nice parallelism. He doesn’t he switches, if at all that stuff, anything is excellent, or praiseworthy of the stuff that culture says is true and noble and right and all the rest what a bat is really worth thinking about. Because these words mean something different. Within Christianity, biblically speaking, I mean, whatever is true, start there. This is not just something that’s factually correct. It’s deeper than that. Our knowledge of the truth starts with the fear of the Lord. We have to begin with that the Bible begins in the beginning, God, you don’t get that part, right. Everything else goes off the rails very quickly. And Paul reminds us in Romans chapter one, that we are tempted to suppress the truth by our wickedness, we know what’s true, and yet deny it. try and convince ourselves that it’s not true so that we can get away with our wickedness and our idolatry. As he says, There we exchanged the truth about God for lie, and the glory of the immortal god for images made to look like well, us. Plus, if we’re speaking biblical here, we don’t just want to know the truth, but we actually want to be true ourselves, like Jesus. Mark chapter 12, is a group of people come to Jesus to trap him in a question, but it’s interesting what they say to him. They say, Teacher, we know that you’re a man of integrity. Right? You know, brutally literally it reads teacher we know that you are true. And not that you speak truth, but you are true and we want to be like Jesus noble. That said this word means honorable. So it’s not like aristocracy or something like that honorable, the only time this word gets used in New Testament and Paul is when Paul talks about qualifications for church leaders, elders and deacons, there to be honorable. Well, who is giving honor here? What’s our standard? Probably, you know, sorts of things we read, like in Proverbs eight, verse six, where it says that wisdom speaks noble things, not how it gets translated most of our translations today, but that’s what they’re if you read, think it’s Young’s Literal Translation says something like hearken unto the noble things about which I speak, not how we talk. But there’s that word noble, honorable, that constrains us, especially important that we think in terms of wisdom here because culture, our culture today accords honor poorly. It’s not good, who’s worthy of honor, I’ve read a couple of articles. It’s shocking to me, I’ve read more than one article about a woman who decided to leave her husband and her children to pursue her lover. And in both cases, the article was commending this woman for living out her authentic self. That seems weird to me. But from a biblical perspective, that’s not worthy of honor. You do your duty, of course, and again, your self and expressing yourself. It’s
just not the highest good not by any means. So we got to be very careful about how we accord honor, it’s gotta be constrained by scripture, whatever is right. Specifically, as I said, making right decisions, how are we going to make the right judgment, we come to a fork in the road, how do we know which way to go how to respond, we can do that, without knowing God’s will. What is superior? What would please him in this moment? This is what the Bible means when it speaks of God’s judgment. You read in the prophets, all the times being God’s judgments, not just like the End Times judgment kind of stuff. It’s like God always does what is right. His judgment is always just do we do what is right and just in every situation pure. They said, this has to do with the temple. Well, that seems important for the church. We’ve been set apart, consecrated, made holy fit for the temple, not the one in Jerusalem, but because we ourselves as Tim mentioned to us earlier, being built into a living temple, the Holy Spirit dwells within our community. We want to be pure. We want to be a community that’s not tainted by evil. But that’s tough. Especially because, you know, the last time Paul used the word pure in this letter, is when he was talking about the impure motives of the false preachers who were preaching when he was in prison. And you see how tough that is, then they looked like what they’re doing on the outside was pure, but the inside was impure. That’s never happened to us, I’m sure. But you can see we got to work on that. So the motives themselves need a pure whatever is lovely. What will we love what pleases us? Is it what pleases God? Again, this is something the New Testament talks about. First Peter, chapter three, says that God delights in inward beauty, a quiet and gentle spirit, which is a great worth in God’s sight. That’s a paradigm shift for us. Are we willing to make it are admirable, little bit like that honorable thing? What gets praise in this culture? How often do we commend those who take a wicked stance? I mentioned it just because it happened to this week. But you know, the Oscars were on Sunday night, and how many Academy Award winning films honor God? I don’t necessarily mean like, they’re evil, we shouldn’t watch. I don’t, I didn’t see any of them. So I can’t speak to any of them whether you should watch them or not. Because that’s not really the standard that’s being used for these categories, nor should it be for the Academy, of course, but that’s not their standard, but it should be our standard. And so we run into this problem, a lot of sometimes the movies that we watch, they’re good, but they’re just not very good. And of course, then we got the flip side, by the way, there’s some of us as Christians who watch what’s good, and it’s terrible. Like as Christians, it’s okay to say it should be good and good. We should not watch what is just bad artistically, because we worship an infinitely creative God. And this stuff actually matters. That’s another rant, speaking as a writer. So I talked about the negative discipline in the last section, that discipline of refusal, but here is really the positive discipline. If we’re going to think about whatever is true and noble and right excellent praiseworthy, all of that. We need the positive have discipline of meditation on God’s Word, the point I just made and going through those six categories that we cannot rightly discern any of those without knowing scripture, every single one of them was, Well, you better be in Scripture if you’re gonna figure that one out, right? So we have to steep our minds in the truth. Busted is one who does not walk in step with a wicked stand in the way that sinners take. Sit in the company of mockers, there’s gonna be people who don’t think right. Well, how do you not become that person whose delight is in the law of the Lord who meditates on it day and night. David says, Psalm 119, verse 11, I have a hidden your word in my heart, I might not sin against you. Meditation, we have his word hidden in our hearts, we’re able to discern counterfeit truth, counterfeit nobility, counterfeit, Admiral ability, whatever it may be. So you see here at this point, we really have three choices. And it’s actually two choices in terms of what we think about in terms of how we’re going to make these decisions, what is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right. You can listen to God. Listen to the Bible, speak your mind in truth, or you can listen to culture. The third choice would be to listen to yourself, but that’s not a real choice. Because you breathe culture, have used this one before. I’ll use it again. We’re all dressed exactly the same.
We all just wear the same clothes. Don’t pretend you’re an individual. All right. We’re sheep. That’s just what we are. That’s why God keeps calling us sheep. Like the people who are like, I’m my own man, they wear a funky tie. That doesn’t make you that different, right? You’re not even wearing an ascot nevermind a toga. Okay, so you are a product of your culture completely. So you got two choices, God or culture, my encouragement to you? And again, especially those of you who are like, I’m not sure about scripture, I’m not sure about the Bible. I’m not sure. But Jesus is just consider that choice. Why would we ever think that our culture, got it right? Have you ever looked at any other culture and thought, perfection? They missed? Nothing? Of course not. But this one got it, right. The hubris involved in that nevermind and trusting yourself, of course, listen to God and trust His Word. So let’s put it together. And we keep going to embrace what is good in a discerning manner. We need that discernment. We need to filter of God’s word, what is really excellent and praiseworthy as we read culture, and think about what’s before us. And then one last section, part three, when we read verse nine for us, whatever you have learned, or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice, and the God of peace will be with you. With our two conditionals, in the last section didn’t make it clear. This one certainly does. I’m just gonna fill in the blank for you right away. Embrace what is good in a discerning manner. Well, how do we discern according to the gospel, the gospel is the discernment. The gospel is the filter itself. We know that because Paul, saying what have you learned? Received? Heard from it? What have they learned and received and heard from Paul? The gospel. So clearly, that’s the filter. Now, some of these words are kind of key, whatever you’ve learned or received, those are rabbinic words. So if you studied under a rabbi, you would learn from him you would receive from Him. So Paul was saying, I’m like your rabbi here. I’m your teacher. What have you learned? What teaching Have you received? And then these words, what have you heard from or seen in me? Well, that last got paired up in chapter one, verse 30, when he’s talking about his suffering, and the fact that the Philippians are going through the same thing. So that common experience of suffering you’ve seen even how I responded in suffering, how focused I was on the advance of the gospel, in that time, how I’m trying to imitate Christ? Would you imitate me in that and so this continues our invitation, theme, of course, to advance the gospel, we got to imitate Christ and Paul, imitate Paul, who is himself trying to imitate Christ in all this. The Gospel constrains our thinking, because it shows us what is truly excellent and praiseworthy. It literally we just came across Philippians chapter two, verse 11, in light of the gospel in light of the life that Jesus led his death and his resurrection, what is response? He’s given the name above every name every day On confesses every knee bows before him and he is praiseworthy. Just tackle some other things the American Dream sounds really good until you read Philippians 268. And then it sounds really dumb. Because what did Christ do? humbled Himself, made himself nothing didn’t consider what he was given to be used for his own advantage. The poured himself out for the sake of others, getting even when you are wrong, sounds really good. Until you realize, God did not get even with you. In fact, were commanded we saw this last week, to be gentle with your gentleness be evident to all even the people who wronged you love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. The PR campaign that we all run for ourselves makes a lot of sense. Did you see my trophies? Do you see the car I drive a title I’ve been given at work right up until you read Philippians three, whatever were gains, I now consider loss. I consider everything garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him. So you can see that we discern according to the gospel. But then Paul takes it an essential step further. Because he says all that stuff that you’ve been thinking about, put it into practice. You actually got to live this out. Like there’s no point in having the right map. If you don’t follow it,
ditto theology. Here’s the way lemon Strauss puts it. He says noble thoughts are of little value unless they be translated into deeds. Living surpasses learning, practice, outshines priority living supersedes learning. And don’t just think truth but be true. Live honorably and justly with purity and loveliness be worthy of admiration. We do that as we reflect on the gospel, let it shape our thoughts and our desires and our actions. I am so jealous to see this true of us in this congregation. Because the reality is that theologically conservative churches know more than they practice. This is why we work so hard in community groups and journey groups to apply the sermon because we want to be doers of the word and not just hearers of it. Because otherwise, the danger is that we will inoculate ourselves to God’s Word. We all know way more about inoculation than we ever wanted to, of course, you know how a vaccine works, right? Especially before the mRNA Trent technology, you would actually get a little bit of the disease stuck in you just enough to create that antibody response. That’s what can happen. Every Sunday. You can get just enough Christianity in you that inoculates you to the Gospel, musical, I’ve heard it, not doing it, but I already heard it. And so I can dismiss it. I don’t need to hear it again. I know what he’s talking about already. So like even now, think back through this series, would you? Maybe you need to pull out your notes. I hope you take notes. I hope you keep notes. What have you learned? Received? Heard, I hope to God seen and these past 10 weeks that you’re not doing yet that you haven’t put into practice? Are you still grumbling or arguing? You got a lot of that selfish ambition. More concerned about yourself. Instead of valuing others and their needs above your own. Need just take last week, are you still divisive, anxious and harsh? This is the time for Bob Newhart guys. Stop it. Stop it. But you’re not going to stop it by elbow grease, but by gospel grace, but the gospel get in, transform your thoughts, shape your desires, and let those shape your choices. And when we do that, Paul says the God of peace will be with us. That word peace is so important. It’s interesting. Paul actually uses the phrase God of peace quite a bit in his letters. He only ever uses it when there is disorder in the community. When there’s unrest like we saw last week with your audience and Tikki Do you not see what Paul’s point is there? Then? Why does he mention that God’s got a piece in the moment like this because God desires peace for us. That’s what he wants for us and that word peace is so important to the Hebrew mind. It means a wholeness, integrity, order, stillness. God wants that for you. The fullness of that peace of peace that surpasses understanding even Of course he does. Course he wants that for you. We know that we’ve got the cross and the resurrection to remind ourselves of that, to show us that He loves us that he wants better for us than we want for ourselves. That’s the message of the gospel right there. circumstances don’t rob us of peace. We Rob ourselves of peace. When we kick against the goads. As the risen Christ said to Paul, of that road, Damascus, when we go against God, when we see where we should go, we know what is actually true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable. And we we turn right instead, we turn left instead, we bump up against reality, we get surrounded by icebergs, and we get really confused about why our lives aren’t going the way we think they should go. So really, this just picking up last week point, right pick up arms to pursue peace, peace, in your own heart, peace in your life. Prayer, we saw that last week, don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer, and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, prayer, and then meditation. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right think about those things. was God’s say to us in Psalm 46, be still
you know what the word actually means? Means Hush, hush, stop running around, hush, be at peace, know that He is God. That’s where peace is truly incomprehensible peace is it is the peace of submission. It is the peace of saying I will do what God calls me to do we want especially today, especially in our culture, we want the false freedom to pursue false joy. But this is like the fish in your fish tank who wants the freedom of being outside to take that has no freedom at all? Okay, that is just death. That’s us. Yes. Does the tank have walls? Absolutely. That’s good that holds the water in so that the fish can live. Those are the commands of God for us. So what do we do with them embrace a trick you by the way. Patrick perogative embrace you all thought I was thinking about thinking No, no fully embrace, think and practice what is good in discerning manner according to the gospel. What a word for us today. Because those thoughts, those practices. That’s like the glass of the fish tank. Those are like the guardrail so you can look at the canyon. Enjoy its beauty without falling off the side. It’s not what we want. We live in an iconoclastic culture that hates rails, we want to think that we should be able to believe whatever we want to believe and do whatever feels good. So that truth is relative and morality is in the eye of the beholder. The only real sin is to call out sin. We say that a lot. You know, that’s not even true. We have a really dogmatic culture that we live in. But the point is, the rails, the walls of the tank, they’re there for our good. That’s not just the culture out there. Right? Like even among Christians, we don’t bring our behavior in line with our theology. We don’t put right thinking into practice. There is plenty of outright hypocrisy in the church, we know that there’s way more just half hearted following just half hearted, like we do the easy stuff. We leave the rest undone. God will take care of that and glory or something. It’s like a child who only does their homework when the subject comes naturally to them. Does it make it easy? More time to play outside? Sure. less effort but what a terrible reward. Same for us with our obedience leaves us half formed in our ignorance. So what do we do practice that you do you practice what you know, if you play your scales, you might be able to improvise jazz solos. You do your vocab flashcards you might be able to speak another language. If you obey the commands of God. You will enjoy the peace that he offers us. Like Lieut, the long we’re all trying to get somewhere. We’re never going to make it unless we have a good map and then actually follow it. Put it into practice embrace what is good in a discerning manner
according to the gospel. Let’s pray. Father, we need help to think well, it’s not that we don’t have the map we have the fullness of revelation in the word
and in the life, death, resurrection and ascension We have Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, you have given us everything we need to know for life and godliness. We have two problems. The first problem is that we don’t bother to learn what you reveal to us. And the second problem is that we don’t bother to put into practice what we have learned. This will not happen by our elbow grease. This will not happen as we try and white knuckle our sin into submission this will happen as we reflect on the beauty of the gospel. As we are captivated by the love that you have for us, Lord, help us to think deeply about to fix our minds on that truth, that goodness, that beauty. And as we do, that, Lord may have shaped the rest of our lives and shape our hearts so that what we desire most is to please you and to be in fellowship with you and then may that shape our choices, our behavior, our practices, Lord, as we seek to please you and all that we do. We pray this through Christ our Lord, Amen.