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05-19-2013 message by Pastor Rich Doebler…

Part 2 in our lessons from the NT letter to the Philippians about being “energized” by God’s power—which is better than our best human efforts.

Phil 1:20 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.

Phil 3:16 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 19…Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven…

Too often we stop short of our potential in Christ—or we slip back into old ways, old patterns. There’s a problem when believers live like the unbelievers. If their mind is on earthly things, and our citizenship is in heaven, there should be a major difference.

At the same time, we’re all “on a journey”—on the way. We should be different, but we’re not perfect.

Believers are in the “not yet” phase of the Christian journey: we’re not what we were, but we’re not yet what we’re supposed to be. We can all be more than we are right now. We can all become better citizens of heaven. We don’t have to live like the world. We don’t have to live in spiritual defeat.

God wants to release power into your life: in your relationships, your home, your marriage, your job.

God wants to empower your behavior, your attitudes, your conversations, your character.

Would you like power to live? Would you like power to overcome your circumstances? This series of messages is about being energized! It comes from a word Paul uses in Philippians → energeo → so we’re talking today about living by God’s power.

1. Real living requires Christ. (1:21) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. NET: For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.

Real life is in Jesus. It’s NOT in extreme sports. NOT reality shows. NOT in cheap thrills or chemicals or an adrenalin rush.

You want adrenalin? Try lions and coliseums. Try nailing 95 thesis to the church door. Try hiding Jews from the Nazis in your basement. Try smuggling Bibles into a closed country.

“To live is Christ”: Jesus gives you power to LIVE! You can really live by God’s power. God’s power transforms your heart and mind (your behavior and attitudes)—a first step toward healthy relationships.

Attitude: How you think…your outlook or view on life… You can adjust your thinking!

(Phil 4:8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.

(Phil 2:15) …children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world

We’re to live lives that shine like lights in the dark places… (Song: This little light of mine…)

2. Living our best requires work. (1:22) If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.

Fruitful labor means doing something. It’s about action. It’s the same word as in 1:6 where it says that God began a “good work” in you. Work → ergon means to accomplish something! It was about doing, not merely believing. It was about action.

Our work—how we act and what we do—should be a response to the grace and power of God in us. If God’s grace has touched our lives (energized us), then we will invest our energy and effort in his work of salvation! We want to join ourselves to what God is doing!

(2:12-13) 12continue to work outA your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who worksB in you to will and to actB according to his good purpose.

AKatergazomai ergon (again): to perform, accomplish, achieve—to do something producing results; to bring about results in…

BEnergeo → energize! Literally: to be operative, be at work, put forth power; to effect. God is the one who works in us…who energizes us. It’s like a live wire—a wire with power flowing through it. It looks like any ordinary wire, but there is energy surging through it. An electrical current energizes a wire, bringing power to a thin wire filament so it can shine—a light bulb. [HELPS Word Studies]

  • MSG: That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you
  • AMP: …for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire]
  • VOICE: because God is energizing you so that you will desire and do what always pleases Him.
  • CEB: God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes.
  • NLT: For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

…work out your salvation with fear and trembling… This is not “fear” in the sense that something bad will happen to you if you don’t obey. It’s not “fear” as in trying to avoid being punished.

Rather, this is about motivation—what inspires you and equips you to do better. A good coach will instill some “fear” in the players. A good coach provides you with both (a) inspiration and (b) information—with both the will or desire plus the practical skills to do your best. Inspiration + information transformation.
 But when you go to a sports camp and you have one of the game’s greatest coaching you (say, a Tiger Woods or a Wayne Gretsky or …) everything is increased exponentially. There is additional motivation because of the awe-inspiring presence of the great athlete. You will perform at a higher level because of your respect for the “Great One.”

“fear and trembling” in the NET: “with awe and reverence”

And yet, there is more—because we not only have inspiration and information (the will and the work)—we have God within us: God’s power within changes us. We can live better lives because it is God is at work within us!

3. Living your best requires freedom.

Action. In Philippians 1 Paul talks about how we should act (1:27)—what we should do, and he uses the word conduct: Conduct (~behave) yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

KJV: let your conversation; CEV: live in a way. The word (politeuomai) literally meant: “to live or behave as a citizen.”

(1:27) NLT: Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.

Conduct yourselves: This was a special word (used only twice in the entire NT). You wouldn’t use this word for just anyone in the first century! It was a word reserved for those with certain rights and privileges as citizens. Living as a citizen, for instance, would imply NOT living as a slave—and there were plenty of slaves in Roman society!
Slaves could not live as citizens. Slaves were owned by someone else. Slaves couldn’t call their own shots. Slaves couldn’t make their own decisions. Slaves had to take orders from their masters. Slaves were controlled and manipulated by someone else. Slaves were subject to someone else’s rule and authority. Slaves could not live or behave as citizensbecause they were not free.
To live as a citizen meant to live free. Later in this letter, Paul used a similar word to say that believers are citizens of heaven: “…our citizenship is in heaven.” (3:20) [KJV: “conversation”]

The believers in Philippi would have recalled how Paul had appealed to his Roman citizenship when local authorities beat him and imprisoned him without trial (Acts 16:27-38). When the authorities learned he was a Roman citizen, suddenly they treated him with respect. Suddenly they acknowledged his rights and privileges as a citizen.

So to live as a citizen meant, among other things, to live free. In the first century a person could obtain citizenship in several ways, for example: (a) by birth—be born a citizen; (b) by sacrifice—a great price (or service) had to be paid (Acts 22:28).

Believers became citizens of heaven by (a) being born again; (b) accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their freedom.

In Christ, believers have rights and privileges that belong to citizens of heaven. Here’s the irony: by becoming slaves of Christ (1:1), we are set free from slavery to this world—to sin, to our old nature. We are set free from this world so we can behave as citizens of heaven.

In Christ, believers also have responsibilities—to live as citizens of heaven means to live up to the standards and expectations of heaven! Paul spoke of “enemies of the cross”:  19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship [politeuma] is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (3:19-20)

Implication: we don’t live like those whose mind is on earthly things; we live as citizens of heaven, waiting for our King from there to come and rescue us, living to please and honor Jesus.

(1:27) NLT: Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.

If you are a citizen of heaven, you can be free to do things you never could do before! Free to play the piano—because you were disciplined enough to practice the piano.

You can be free to be patient, kind, loving, gentle, at peace, self-controlled…

The move “42” is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black MLB player, brought up to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Branch Rickey, the owner and general manager of the Brooklyn franchise, knew Robinson would face fierce prejudice and opposition. He also knew that if Robinson retaliated, his baseball career would be ruined. So before signing him, Ricky tested him.

“Whatcha’ gonna do?” he snarled at Robinson, as he listed the insults, threats, and verbal abuse he’d get from players and fans. Ricky kept on needling and pushing Robinson, until finally  Robinson bristled and stood up, visibly agitated.

“You want a man brave enough to fight?” he asked.

“NO!” Ricky said, softening a bit. “I don’t want a player who can fight back. I want a player who is brave enough NOT to fight!”

“Jackie, no matter what happens on the playing field, you can’t fight back. You can’t fight back.”

Freedom can be much more than the freedom to DO. Often it’s the freedom NOT to do—the freedom NOT to react, NOT to fight, NOT act on human instinct.

Living By God’s Power