Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Stand Firm


Rev. Ben Casteneda (Guest preacher)

The word for this evening comes fromPhilippians chapter three versus seventeen through chapter four verse, one. So I'd inviteyou, if you have your bibles to turn there with me, flippins chapter three starting with verse. Seventeen as we continue walking our way throughPhilippians brothers, join in imitating me and keepyour eyes on those who walk. According to the example you have in us, for manyof whom I have often told you, and now tell you even with tears, walk asenemies of the Cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is theirbelly and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things, butour citizenship is in heaven and from it. We await a saviour, the Lord JesusChrist, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body bythe power that enables him even to subject all things to himself and chapter four verse. One. Therefore,my brothers, whom I love and long for my joy and crown stand firm. Thus, in the Lord, mybeloved, a man, may God bless his word to us this evening. You may be seated so I have a two year old son Jonathan,as well as a three month old son as well David, but what's neat is that mytwo year old son has sort of gotten to the stage in his life where he imitateseveryone and everything he sees and hears and t going on around him. It'sreally enduring to me because he's copying me it's sort of flattering when I take my backpack of books and leave theHouse to go work and study at Rincon. Mountain Jonathan wants to come with me, and sohe picks up his diaper bag and says: Can we go? Let me get my shoes, let's go when I ride my bicycle and I'm leavingthe house he'll come along on his tricycle and say: Can I tag along? CanI follow when I'm washing the dishes he's rightthere washing the dishes to wanting to help whying to be there? Why to copy me? He does what he sees me doing, whatothers do around him, and so I've learned, though, that this is not justa particular stage in life. It's not just something! The two yearolds do it's something that all of us do it's. In fact, it's just the way,God designed us that one of the best ways that we learn is by imitatingsomeone else by copying them watching them, seeing how they do things andthen, following along, we learn by imitating others budding musicians theyimitate the techniques of the greates athletes will practice again and againthe moves of their favorite sports players. Parents, if you think about thisparents, often practice the same kind of disciplinaryhabits and interactions, what methods of interacting with their kids thattheir parents did with them. That's because you know it's what they've seenis what they've experience is what they know, but as that last example suggests sometimes imitating. Others can be adangerous thing.

What it really boils down to is: Whoare you imitating? Who Are you copying? Who are youfollowing? Who is leading you in this way and that's pause point in ourpassage this evening? Who Are you imitating b? And he says here basicallythat whoever you are imitating it's that shows where your allegiance is. Whoever you imitate shows where yourtrue allegiance lies, and I talk about allegianceintentionally, because in this passage- and I don't know if you caught it as wewere reading- but there's there's a lot of political language in this- it'sactually very politically oriented and charged passage it. One of the key phrases and terms inthis passage is citizenship, being a citizen off Philippi of Rome, and thenhe talked about being a citizen of Heaven, and so it all boils down toPaul says a question of citizenship. Where does your allegiance lie and Paulwants us to realize that, in terms of spiritual citizenship, there's reallyonly two options? Either you belong to the city of God orthe city of Man. You can't have dual citizenship, it's impossible, it's oneor the other and whichever city you belong to is then demonstrated by what you do, how you act, who youfollow so Paul flashes this out for us, in ourpassage first, by telling us to imitate him and then by giving us two reasonswhy we should be imitating him. So, first, the imitation of Paul breathedme again verse. Seventeen brothers join in imitating me and keepyour eyes on those who walk. According to the example you have in us and if you're a Christian here thisevening, Paul's words here imitate me can be kind of disconcerting imitate me. It's something that we're not toocomfortable with saying on our own. Is it when we talk about imitating me imitateme. Follow me, do what I do say what I say act, how I act when we say it we're saying: Look at me:I'm a cut above the rest. Just look at my work. It speaks foritself, I'm the top dog. This is something an honor that I'm worthy of,and so we wonder, is this: What Paul's actually saying it's he being arroganthere? Is He being frightful and that that too sounds kind of weird when youdon't want to say that so what's going on here? What is Paul talking about because it sounds like it's boastingand it's interesting as Chris preached a couple weeks ago here. If you look further back inchapter three Paul says I could boast. I have every right to boast. In fact,just look back with me at versus five and six. He says that he could boast about hisresume if he wanted to actually starting my first, for thoughI have reason reason for confidence in the flesh, also, if any one else thinkshe has reason for confidence in the flesh. I have more circumcised, on theeighth day of the people of Israel, of the tribe, of Benjamin, a Hebrew ofHebrews as to the law, a pharisee as to zeal a persecutor of the Church as torighteousness under the law. Blameless, he's saying: here's my pedigree, youcan see it for yourself just go and ask...

...anyone I could boast. If I wanted toabout my accomplishments and my achievements, he says that he could. He is someonewho should be imitated in the eyes of the world. Paul is the pinnacle of Judaism in a lot of ways, and yet Paul says all that is worthlesscompared to the righteousness that he has found in Christ compared to thatperfect obedience. That has been counted as his in comparison to thateverything is like done. It's worthless, it's filthy, it's vile! Has No value in meaning and worth, and so Paul here is telling us toimitate him, not in his strength but in his weakness, not in hissufficiency but in his dependency, not in his confidence in the flesh, but inhis confidence in Christ. He's telling us to imitate his faith.That's what he's talking about, and so this is completelycounterintuitive. We wouldn't this, isn't what we would think or say whenwe say imitate me, we wouldn't normally look for these qualities and a rolemodel, either weakness instead of strength. Humility insteadof you know, force of personality, he's saying that well, when we thinkabout role models when we think about who to follow or the question that comes to our mindis what will get me furthest ahead. Whom can I imitate? Who Can I studyunder? Who can I be apprenticed to that will be the most benefit to me. He Says No. This is not his thinkinghere. Paul is telling us to be deliberate and intentional instead about becoming, as Jesus said, in thebeatitudes poor in spirit. That's what Paul is talking about he'scalling us to realize that I had I and you have no resources, no accomplishments, no achievements,nothing that could earn us anything with God that in his sight, we come to him withnothing in our hands. So we have to cling solely to Christ. So imitate me is Paul's way of sayingimitate my hope and dependency on Christ. In addition, this command heredoesn't just tell us to imitate Paul what else is say. He says here in verse,Seventeen and keep your eyes on those who walk. According to the example youhave in us, and so he's telling here also to extendthis imitation to those godly Christians in your midst who arewalking in the same way, who have the same faith, who have the samedependency on God and howers. Paul is telling you to seekout these people and to, as he says here literally fixyour eyes on them to observe them. Watch them see how they react to certainsituations. Interact with them be mentored by them sit under their teaching as it wereunder their way of life and learn from them as well, and so, if I can make a bit ofapplication here, who here at covenant, would you see isbeing someone like that? Some one godly, whom you could imitate someone who you could be mentored byand matured by, because they are following the same,faithful way of life? That Paul is talking about here.

Obviously your pastor and your elders,but who else Paul talks and titus to versus two through five about whatgodly, men and women look like folks that you can sit under and learnfrom? Do you have any of those here that you could talk with or just listen to, listen to their experiences as they'vewalked through life, and so the last thing I want to saybefore I move on from this point- is that this task Paul says, is acommunity effort. That's that first word there that he talks about not inthe English English as brothers, but that join in. Imitating me, it's it's a utterly unique word. It'sactually the only time it's ever used in any Greek literature ever and so it's possible that Paul justcoined this word to describe what he's trying to get athe's talking about being co, imitators, Co, mimics, if you will those who areencouraging each other and building up each other as together, we as a bodyimitate Paul and the Godly ones in our midst. That is that idea and friends. That's ait's interesting because that is a picture of what the church is supposedto be. There are no loan ranger Christians,it's impossible! It's not how God designed it! The author to the Hebrews says inchapter ten: Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and goodworks, not neglecting to meet together, as is a habit of some but encouragingone another and all the way, as you see the day drawing near, and so we havethis responsibility together to be encouraging and pressing on keepingeach other accountable as we walk this walk of faith as we follow after Christand after those that he has put us under, and so that's the first point. The imitation of Paul and Paul gives us two reasons why it'simportant to imitate him, and the first reason is this: it's easy to bedeceived and go astray. Look with me again at versus eighteen and nineteen, for many of whom I have often told youand now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the Cross of Christ.Their end is destruction, their god is their belly and they glory in theirshame, with minds set on earthly things, and so Paul is saying here basicallydon't be deceived. He cares too much for the Christin at Philippi to letanyone pull the wool over their eyes as to what a true Christian is supposed tolook like a these people that Paul talks about these enemies of the Crossof Christ from the context seem like they are atleast claiming to be Christians. They are folks who are in the church, aresort of maybe on the periphery of the church, gathering they claim to belong to Christ, buttheir actions, their behaviors don't match they don't line up, and so, as aresult, you hear this sadness in Paul's voice here, which actually kind of rareto see this sort of emotion in his writings. He says I tell you even withtears, they walk as enemies of Christ, so who are these enemies? Let's, let'slook at this a little bit more?...

They are probably those who are claiming to be Christians, but they're,not their counterfeit Christians, and so Paul is already, in this chapter inchapter three introduced us to some phonies back in verse to Paul Talks About Lookout for the dogs look out for the evil. Doers look out for those who mutilatethe flesh, so Paula is introducing US here to those that we know as the Judiisers those who are trying to force Christians, those in the body of Christ,to follow the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, saying that these arestill applicable and valid for you today, particularly circumcision and aspecial diet, the Cocher Diet, and so they believe these Judi ijuts believedthat you had to do these certain things in order to be acceptable before God,you had to bring your works with you to him, but Paul's response to them in verse toas we read is harsh, he calls them dogs and mutilators of the flesh, but in verse. Eighteen, in our passage, he cries. It's an interesting contrast, even inthe same chapter, about two different enemies of Christ, and so as a result,these probably are not the same groups of people, the ones here in verse.Eighteen are probably those that we would term antinomians those who areagainst the law. Those who say the law doesn't apply to me any more at all,even the Ten Commandments. I'm I've been forgiven by Christ, his righteousness is mine and, as aresult I can live. However, I want essentially that's what they're saying and yet the whole point of our passagethis evening is that it does matter how you live, how you walk, who you imitate, faith, produces fruit. Friends, that's pretty good. Larationemfaith produces fruit. If Jesus had has counted you right in his sight than heis at the same time, also working in you sanctifying, you purifying you fromyour sin. You have to have both you have to have both as Jesus says. A goodtree will produce good fruit. You can't have one without the other, as Paul wrights and Romans chapter, sixverse two. How can we who have died to sin still live in it? It's impossible,it's wrong. It grates against the way that thing that the way that God hasdesigned it the way things are supposed to be, and so add of gratitude toChrist for all he has done for us. We should seek to be holy. We should seek to imitate Paul just asPaul in First Corinthians eleven verse. One says I imitate Christ, and so, tragically, these people are deceivingthemselves about who they really belong to Paul doesn't leave us and suspensehere as to their destination. He says that their end is destruction. Then hegoes on and says their God is their belly, which probably is not just referring togluttony. It's probably also referring to sensuality and lust. There's thiswhole self indulgent lifestyle that these people are involved in a deeplycommitted to, and so what's being communicated here, is that these pseudoChristians as a result, then glory and their shame. In other words, theirconsciences have been so seared by repeated sin over and over and overthat they don't feel anything any more.

There there's no pangs of conscience,no guilt when they do disobey God and as a result they boast in it they brag about itabout what they do and what they've done and then lastly, Paul says their mindsare set on earthly things. So this is where their true allegiance lies. As John says, in a first John Two versefifteen. If any one loves the world, the love of the father is not in him,and so these people, Pauly saying they've, been sucked into a love of theworld. They've been sucked into the things ofthe world and, as result, the love of the fatheris not in them, and so this it would be tempting to just sortof like move on. At this point, I think it's appropriate, particularlygiven Paul's grief over these people. Just just sit here and reflect for asecond on US and to ask a question: Do we love the world where have we exchanged the love of Godfor the love of the stuff of the world? As John Says, though, the lust of theflesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of possessions? Do you when you look at yourself? Doyou see such things in you? Maybe you're not going out. You know committing these committing itfornication and whatever else that these folks weredoing, but do you, when you look at Yourself, See Laziness, see self indulgence when you look at your heart? What doyou see? That's? What Paul is asking us to do to examine ourselves? What are yourdarling sins, as the other assistant passed at Rincon is fond of saying whatthings would you hold on to, and maybe you know are wrong, but you just can't quite give them up because they're too dear to you and so Fransisco Paul, says elsewhere, run to Jesus,give them to Jesus recognize if they have been paid for at the cross, butthat you and the penalty has been paid, butthat he is also freeing you from the power of son as well, not just itspenalty. The spirit is at work in you, changingyour heart and so give those things over to Christ. So that's reason number one why weshould imitate Paul because it's easy to deceive ourselves, but then Paul also gives us a secondreason. This one more hopeful and it's that we're citizens of Heaven. Will youread with me again versus twenty and twenty one, but our citizenship is inheaven and from it. We await a saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who willtransform our lowly body to be like his glorious body by the power that enableshim even to subject all things to himself and so that word citizenshipthere, citizens of Heaven it's a loaded term for the Philippians, becausePhilip Pi, the city was a Roman colony it and BC. Forty two, I believe, JuliusCaesar fought a battle or not Julius Augustus. Caesar fought a battle thereand defeated as enemies and as a result, granted Philip, I the right of being aRoman colony and as a result, if you...

...were a citizen of Philippi, you werealso a citizen of Rome with all the perks and privileges at that broughtwith it the legal system and good roads and protection. It meant a lot to the Philippians. Theywere very proud of the fact that they were Romans, and so the Philippians got. What Paul was talking about here,he's making actually a very subversive claim he's telling him that our citizenship, your primarycitizenship, is in heaven, not Rome, and that that is just mind boggling,considering the political situation. At that time, Rome was theworld, it was the world economically militarily politically, that was it. You sayingthis is more important than that. First and foremost, your citizens ofHeaven, then Paul Supports His argument by calling Christ two titles that wouldonly have been used at that time, at least publicly of Caesar the title Saviour and Lord and those two titles actually wereminted on the Greek coins of that day, as well, reminding every one just whowas in charge. Caesar is saviour, he rescued us, hedelivers us from disease in war, protects us and he'salso our Lord. He rules the known World Paul is saying, don't know we have a better saviour one who hasnot just rescued us from foes abroad, but one who has deliveredus from the punishment that we deserve. For our sin. We have a better Lord one, who doesn'tjust rule a small portion, a corner of the world, but one who, one day every knee willbow to, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, as Paul hasalready talked about here in Philippians too. This is your better saviour, and thisis your better Lord and then, as Paul announces here, he's coming back whenhe comes when he returns and in that day again, when Caesar came to a city when hevisited a city, it was a huge celebration. Our Saviour and our Lordis coming to visit, and Paul here is saying your bettersaviour and Lord is coming not to visit, but to stay and he's bringing with him somethingfar better than Caesar. Could ever give he's going to make you and he's goingto remake you he's going to give you a resurrection body conformed to his ownglorified body. So Paul's Point is that Christ isbetter than Caesar an he's coming soon Paul just sort of at the end of thisverse. Twenty one, then just rows out this sort of tag line at the end, it'sreally funny actually by the power that enables him even to subject all thingsto himself compared to the power of Christ in hiscoming the power that can totally change your body and transform you athis coming into his likeness perfectly to a body that will not experience,pain and sorrow and suffering when all evil has been crushed under his feet.

Compared to that kind of power. Thepower of Rome is nothing. Your truce is in ship, your betterSisan ship who you are as citizens of Heaven and then Paul. Lastly, to wrap this up sort of ties, all these things togetherand chapter four verse. One. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love andlong for my joy and crown stand firm, thus in the Lord, mybeloved, so Paul, began by telling us andteaching us to imitate him, but here at the end he tells us to stand firm there. Hetold us to walk in this particular way. Here he tells us don't move stay still stand firm, be rooted androoted in Christ. It's as if he's saying, let me simplify all this foryou. Let me just boil it down: Do you want to know what the mature ChristianWalk looks like? It looks like standing still on that sure, unshakable rock itlooks like sinking your roots deep into him, lest the that the storms of thislife would knock you over. It looks like giving up everythingsimply to grab hold of the one who has grabbed hold of us and brought us tohimself and in doing so, Jesus then redefines who we are. He takes the weak, the unlovely thedespised and makes us beautiful, beloved jewels in his crown. You are my crown and my joy. This is the one to whom we owe everything.We owe him our life. We owe him our allegiance. We owe him our obedience,and this friend is why we must trust him, trusting him with all that we are all,though we have, day in and day out, following after him, a man, let's pray. I.

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