Philippians 010 – Why Pursue Unity?Philippians 4:1-3 • Dr. Andy Woods • June 7, 2020 • Philippians
Why Pursue Unity?
June 7, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
All right. Well, good morning, everybody. Nice to see some friendly faces out there. Well, let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the book of Philippians. Galatians. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. Go Eat Pop Corn or God’s Electric Power Company. That’s just an easy way to keep the books of your Bible straight. We are in Philippians chapter four, taking a look this morning at verses one through three. And the title of our message this morning is Why Pursue Unity? Question mark. And here we’re dealing with unity, not with the world. We have no unity with the world. But why pursue unity within the body of Christ? And what I would like to do after just kind of a brief reminder of where we are in the book of Philippians, is to march through verses one through three with you this morning. And then once we do that, I want to kind of wrap up by giving you four observations. Concerning the concept or the pursuit of unity within the body of Christ. Paul the Apostle, of course, as you will recall, as we’ve been moving through the book of Philippians verse by verse writes a book from Rome in prison. To the Philippian church. And this is not a kind of book where he’s trying to get people saved. This, rather, is the kind of book where he is trying to help believers grow. And one of the things that he senses is missing in the walk of the various Christians at the Church of Philippi was a lack of joy.
Joy, of course, is the dominant theme of this book, because Paul keeps using that word joy over and over and over again. He uses it more times in this book in a concentrated way than anywhere else. So as Christians, how do we really walk in joy? And of course, what is joy? It’s not walking around with sort of a plastic smile on our face, denying reality when you’re hurting. But it’s basically a sense of peace, a tranquility that we can experience, a sense that all is well, and all hell could be breaking loose in a person’s life. In other words, it’s something that a Christian by birthright is entitled to experience in the midst of the storms of life. And our nation and our world, as you know, is in the midst of a major storm and so I thought it would be appropriate to deal with this book, which emphasizes this subject. The first chapter of the book, Chapter one is The glass is not half empty chapter, but the glass is half, what? Half full. Where Paul, I believe, is teaching us the mental discipline of looking at life through a different set of lenses or eyeglasses and what we have to do is we need to train ourselves to seeing the hand of God in every circumstance because God is there.
But the problem is we don’t really recognize it. And in fact, God is doing things in the midst of negative circumstances that he probably would not do and could not do without those negative circumstances. And so Paul explains that through four realities in Chapter one. Number two, the path to joy is to take self off the throne. And to live for something higher than oneself. That’s the walk of servanthood. And this is one of the reasons why many of us as Christians are so unhappy and so miserable is we really haven’t learned the walk of being a servant. And so chapter two is really all about servanthood. Paul actually gives us there four examples of servanthood. Of course, the highest example is Jesus Christ himself, who had a particular attitude. Now we’re going to see how there were a couple of people in Philippi not having that attitude. So that’s why chapter two is going to inform what we’re reading this morning in Chapter four. The third path or the third way to joy is to avoid legalism. Legalistic bondage. We’ve talked all about that. Paul in this chapter even talks about his own transition away from what he calls legalism. And one of the things that’s wonderful about the Bible is the Bible doesn’t just say, give something up. What it says is, instead of legalism, replace that with something better. And he’s given us better things to pursue in the place of legalism like maturity, avoiding licentiousness, and a heavenly and eternal perspective.
And we dealt with all of those last week, and we didn’t get a chance to deal with number four. The fourth thing that we are to pursue instead of legalism and I’m happy or thankful or might I even say joyous that the Lord set it up this way because I really think what he says here in Chapter four versus one through three deserves its own treatment and sermon. Which by God’s grace, I’m going to attempt to give you this morning. The pursuit of unity. Rather than being legalistic, instead, pursue unity. And specifically, he is talking about unity within the family. Unity within the body of Christ. So let’s look at verses one through three and then let’s come back and make four observations about it. Here’s our verses for this morning. They were already read verses one through three. Notice, if you will, verse one. Paul writes, Therefore, my beloved brethren, whom I long to see, my joy and my crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. Now when he says therefore this is his concluding section. These are his final remarks to the church at Philippi. And you’ll also notice this expression, my beloved verse one, which he uses not once but twice. The expression, my beloved is used about 60 times in the Greek New Testament.
Nine of those times, it refers to the love of the father for the love of the son, Jesus Christ within the Trinity. But 51 times, which is a lot of usages, it refers to a Christian. And so that’s why many times pastors will refer to their flocks as beloved, because that’s what you are in Christ. You are beloved, you are loved by God. So it’s very clear here that he is not dealing with unsaved people. He’s trying to complete something that is lacking rather in saved people. And it becomes clear when he calls them not just beloved, but my beloved brethren. There is no way that such a term could apply to a lost person. In fact, Jesus, I believe it’s in Matthew 12. He was told your mother, your brothers are waiting for you. And he said, Well, who are they? Who are who? Who are my brother? Mothers. Sisters. Family are not they the ones that do the will of my Heavenly Father? So Brethren is not an unsaved person. This is obviously instructions to a safe person. So here in the book of Philippians and particularly this chapter, we are not dealing with justification. What someone must do to be saved. We’re dealing with the middle tense, their sanctification. What must a saved person do to develop and grow correctly? This is not like John’s gospel. John’s gospel was written to unsaved people primarily. And we know that from John 20 verses 30 and 31, John explains why he is documented all of these things in his gospel about the life of Christ.
He says there and gives his purpose statement in the process. Therefore, many other signs Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. But these signs, in other words, of Christ are written so that you may believe. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name. John says, I’m not giving a theology lesson just to give a theology lesson. I’m revealing who Jesus is by virtue of his signs so that the loss can believe in Christ and be saved and have the gift of life. So obviously John is writing to people that hadn’t believed yet. And hadn’t received the gift of life yet. Not so the Book of Philippians. Philippians is more how to develop, how to grow as a Christian. And it’s interesting to me that the Apostle Paul tells the Philippians in verse one, whom I long to see. Now he’s going to deal with a couple of people that are fighting like cats and dogs here. And I would think Paul would say, Gosh, I’m glad I’m separated from you guys. I don’t want to deal with it. But as a pastor, he longed to see these people with their warts and all. And he wants to see them walk in joy.
He wants to see them walk in unity. So the type of friction and schism that’s happening here in these verses won’t continue on. Paul had planted this church 11 years earlier, and he looked at them as his spiritual family and his spiritual lineage. In fact, their progress in the Lord gave Paul joy. It reminds me very much of third John, verse four, where John says, I have no greater joy than this, to hear my children are walking in the truth. I mean, as a parent, isn’t that your greatest joy? When your children are walking in the truth? As a shepherd, isn’t that your greatest joy when your congregation is walking in the truth? And even though there’s a problem here that he surfaces. In fact, it’s the only problem I know of that’s directly dealt with openly in the whole book of Philippians. He acknowledges these people as his joy. He also calls them not just my joy, but my crown. Interesting because at the Bema Seat judgment of Christ, the judgment of rewards five crowns will either be given or not given to individual Christians. There’s the incorruptible crown for the believer that gains mastery over the flesh, the crown of rejoicing for the soul winner, the crown of life for the believer that endures trials. The crown of glory for the believer that faithfully shepherds God’s people. And then there’s the crown of righteousness for longing for His appearing.
It very well could be that Paul is thinking of Crown Number two, as he refers to them as his crown. I mean, they had their spiritual life because Paul is the one that brought them by God’s grace, to faith alone. So there’s a kind of a famous saying amongst pastors in the ministry, the ministry would be a great occupation if it wasn’t for all the people. I mean, Christianity would be great if you didn’t have to deal with Christians. And as my friend Randall Price says, it’s not catching the fish that’s the difficult part. It’s cleaning the fish. And it can become sort of an arduous task, dealing with all kinds of people and all kinds of issues and all kinds of personalities. It’s interesting to me that Paul never let any of that steal his joy. He saw them as his joy and his crown. And consequently, the apostle Paul says here, stand firm in the Lord. Now, that is a common expression that He uses other times. For example, in Ephesians six, verse ten, he says, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Verse 14, Ephesians six. He says, Stand firm, therefore. First, Peter five and verse nine says, But resist him, that is Satan, firm in your faith. So the Christian is called upon to stand firm in the things of God. Now the command would not be needed if we didn’t have the potential as Christians not to stand firm in the things of God. So it’s very easy as a Christian, to be blown to and fro. By all kinds of issues and not really be standing firm in the resources that God has given us. So therefore it’s necessary to have this injunction to stand firm in the Lord. We continue on and we go to verse two and here we start to run into the issue. I urge you Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Now, verse two notice this word urge. It’s parakaleo. It’s a word that means I strongly exhort. This is not a suggestion he’s giving. He’s expressing himself from the deepest part of his being that he urges these two individuals to stand firm in the Lord. And what then is the problem? We run into someone named Euodia and we run into someone named Syntyche, who are not living in harmony in the Lord. Now it’s interesting. Verse three He says, I ask you to help these women. So it’s two women that are causing the problem. Now, does this mean that men can’t behave like these two women were behaving? Of course, it does not mean that I’ve seen men go to blows with each other in the body of Christ, just like two women do and were. But he is singling out this particular issue of two women that for whatever reason, are at loggerheads with one another.
So what’s the problem between these two? Isn’t that what we always ask when Christians get out of sorts with each other? I mean, what’s the issue? It’s interesting to me that Paul doesn’t give the issue. I mean, if the issue was that big a deal, he would have told us about it, right? He doesn’t say that. Because what I want you to see is this with Paul the issue is not the issue. The issue is the attitude. Oftentimes there’s an attitude masquerading behind an issue. Paul doesn’t focus on the issue. He focuses on the attitude. Now this is very interesting to me. Verse two I urge you Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. And if you look that up in Greek, to live in harmony, it is the Greek verb phroneo– attitude. As I like to tell my daughter many times, and I need to have it told to me many times, Your attitude determines your altitude. The problem here is something was happening at an attitudinal level. What was happening? Well, we know what it was because Paul uses the exact same word, the exact same verb back in chapter two. When he describes our role as servants and he gives us an example of who to follow as servants, it’s Jesus Christ.
And in the process of that explanation, he says, Have this attitude in yourselves, which is also in Christ Jesus. And this is where we get the famous Kenosis passage. Coming from that Greek word there, verb here. The noun is kenosis. It means to empty oneself. And we’ve talked about what that means in our series, but the right attitude. Verse five is found in the Person of Christ. Verse seven Who emptied himself and taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men. And by resurfacing the identical verb in Chapter four, verse two, we learn that the issue here is not the issue. The issue is the attitude. And what had happened to these two, in this case, women, is that they had lost sight of their proper attitude as servants. Something happened here that we might call a power struggle, a turf war of some kind, someone not getting their way about something. Whatever it is, it’s irrelevant. What is relevant is the lack of Christ-likeness that these two here are exhibiting. And one of the greatest skills you could ever have as a shepherd is conflict resolution. You know, I’ve been at this church probably about ten years. I’ve seen multiple conflicts come and go. And as God is my witness in watching these different conflicts, the issue is really not the issue. Well, I mean, whatever it is, people are upset about that really 99% of the time is not the problem.
The problem is something has happened to people at an attitudinal level where they are no longer for whatever reason, walking out the kenosis or the emptying of Christ Jesus. He moves on there in verse three and he says, Indeed, true companion, I ask you to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the Gospel, together with Clement and also the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life. Now, notice verse three, he says, Indeed, true companion. Now, who is that? We’re not told. But the situation was serious enough where Paul wanted to get someone involved in helping this issue get fixed. And this person was sort of acting as someone that would intervene. Paul himself obviously couldn’t fix the problem or deal with the problem because they’re in Philippi, he’s in Rome, he’s in prison. He doesn’t even know how his trial is going to go exactly before Caesar. So he’s getting someone else, another party involved. And that’s how serious Paul took this issue. Now people look at this and they say, well, obviously these two women were not Christians because Christians couldn’t act that way. I think I don’t think there’s any shadow of a doubt that Paul here is dealing with Christians, Euodia and Syntyche, because he says to them, verse three You have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel.
In other words, you once stood alongside of me. And were a co-laborer with me in my ministry. It’s very difficult for me to believe that Paul would take people whose salvation was suspect and put them into that role. He also talks about a man named Clement. And I tried to look up some commentators this week on who Clement is and some of the best, like Lightfoot says, We don’t know who Clement was. We don’t have any real evidence of him. But Clement was a fellow laborer also. So these women were once helping Paul. They were a blessing, like Clement is. But something had gone off the rails. Well, what’s the issue? Well, the issue is not the issue. It’s the attitude that Paul begins to deal with. He refers to them here Euodia and Syntyche. He doesn’t say you all aren’t saved. He calls them my fellow workers. And then, of course, the clincher there is verse three. Their names are in the Book of Life. You say, well, what’s the Book of life? Well, the Book of Life is spoken of three times in the Book of Revelation. Revelation three, verse five. Revelation 20, verse 12, and verse 15. Revelation 20, verse 15 says, If anyone’s name was not found in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire. So I would understand the Book of Life as a record book of anyone that has trusted Christ as their savior.
And by the way, I once your name is in the Book of Life, God doesn’t get out, white out, and cancel you out of there because you go back to the flesh. They’re still in the book of Life because of the doctrine of once saved, always saved. John 10:27 through 29 talks about how we are in his hand and in the father’s hand, and you look that up and study that whole thing out. In the original languages of Scripture, you learn that absolutely nothing can take you out of the father’s or the son’s hand. So quite clearly the reference to the fact that these two warring women are in the Book of Life seals the deal that we are dealing with Christians. So with all of that being said, I want to introduce or give to you briefly this morning four observations about this issue of unity within the body of Christ. Getting along within the family of God. Number one. First observation is believers can– not saying they should– but can return to the sin nature and jeopardize at that moment, not only their fellowship with God, but their fellowship with each other. One of the things to understand about your status in Christ, not positionally, but practically is we are dual-natured. A lot of theological systems will deny that. But we believe it to be a biblical truth.
In other words, this side of the rapture, this side of death. The spirit is within me, the new nature is within me, and yet I can retreat to the flesh and go back to it at will. The old sin nature. If that weren’t true, why would the Book of Galatians say this after describing our freedom in Christ? Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh. I mean, if I’m already in a state of glorification, no sin nature in me at all, why would it tell me not to return to the flesh? Because the potential for returning to the flesh is alive and well within the Christian. The difference is, I don’t have to do it. Now, before I was saved, I was a hostage to it. Now, when I go back to the sin nature as a Christian, it’s a matter of choice. But the choice is there. If the choice weren’t there, why would Paul in Romans 13, verse 14, which, by the way, is the highest book you could ever read on The Doctrine of Salvation. I mean, there isn’t a higher treatise or treatment on the doctrine of salvation anywhere in the Bible. Paul describes our salvation in tremendous detail. And at the end of the book, he says this make no provision for the flesh and its lusts. Let me cycle back here just for a minute. To the three tenses of salvation.
Look at the very bottom of the screen. Before you get saved, you’re a single entity, a sin, nature, and that’s it. Once you get saved, the new nature comes inside of you. But you’re to a large extent, dual-natured. You can retreat to that sin nature at will. Now, you don’t have to. And the resources are given in Christ where we don’t have to. What I’m saying is not that it’s good, but the possibility is there. And then in glorification, far right of the screen, you’ll be single-natured again, this time having no sin nature at all. So are you guys glorified today? I mean, I’m looking out at you. Some of you I’m very happy to see you. Haven’t seen you for a long time, but you all don’t look glorified to me. And I doubt even though I’ve got my Sunday best on, I don’t think I look all that glorified to you. So prior to glorification, it is an absolute reality. And people that don’t teach this, mislead Christians into what the spiritual life is all about. We are dual-natured. I can go back to the sin nature. The sin nature is always there to tempt me and to pull me back. I don’t have to, but I can. And that’s basically what happened to Euodia and Syntyche, who had done great things for the cause of Christ. They were a tremendous asset in the Ministry of Christ.
And what, for whatever reason, they went back into the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are described in Galatians five, 19 through 21, just like the fruit of the Spirit is described in verses 22 and 23. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law. That’s how I know I’m walking in the spirit. At any given moment. Because my life will emanate the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But how do I know when I’ve gone back into the flesh? That’s what verses 19 through 21 are describing. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry. Going to verse 21, drunkenness, carousing. Now, look at these ones I have underlined here. Those are all sins that affect relationships within the church, every single one of them. Enmities. Strife. Jealousy. Outbursts of anger. Disputes, dissensions, and factions. Isn’t that what we’re dealing with here with Euodia and Syntyche? Verse 21. I don’t have an underline there. Envying. And I wasn’t going to make mention of this, but at the end, he says, I forewarn you, just as I forewarned, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Oh, so a Christian, if he goes back to that sin, loses their salvation, right? No. Watch the pronouns. This is what’s called the vice lists. And in every vice list he will switch from you to they.
And what he’s saying is, why would you imitate a pagan? By returning to the flesh because they don’t even have your same destiny. That’s what he’s saying. He’s not saying, oh, my gosh, maybe you weren’t saved and maybe you’re going to lose your salvation. That’s a gross misreading of these vice lists. And you can see correctly on this by watching the switch in pronouns from the second person to the third person. So what do we learn here is that believers have the ability to return to the sin nature and thus get out of fellowship with each other and with their Lord. Look at what Paul says. In first Corinthians three one through three and I what? Brethren talking to believers. I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not solid food. For until now you were not able to receive it. And even now you’re still not able for you are still carnal for where there is envy and strife and divisions among you, Are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? Now the world of Christianity has taken a concept and grossly oversimplified it. It’s called a logical fallacy called reductionism. And they divide the world into saved and unsaved. And that’s the only division they know. May I just say to you, beloved, that that is not how Paul understands the world.
Paul takes the world and divides it into halves, we could say, using this chart. Unbelievers and believers. But his understanding of the believer is so much deeper than the reductionistic error of modern Christendom, because within the ranks of the believer, he uses three different words. Number one, you’ve got those that are spiritual. Those that are progressing in the middle tense of year out their salvation, those that are not sinless but are sinning less. And those people will bless your socks off in the church. But then he has a different word here. The babies or the infants. Those are people that probably are new and Christ, they’re still sucking their thumb. It’s cute because that’s what two year olds and three year olds do. They suck their thumb. When you’re 16 sucking your thumb, the cuteness wears off, doesn’t it? But then he uses an entirely different word here, the carnal. He’s dealing with people in Christ, the carnal. Those are believers that are still living for the desires of the flesh, and they should have grown up a long time ago. He doesn’t call into question their salvation. He says they’re living like the carnal. Carnal means flesh or meat, as in carnivorous. Or chili con carne. Chili with meat– fleshly. He’s dealing here with believers that just keep going back to the flesh over and over again. And how are such people characterized? It’s very clear.
Verse three. There’s envy, strife and divisions. That’s the problem here with Euodia and Syntyche. Now, obviously, they had masqueraded their difference of opinion in their fight with some sort of spiritual issue. But to Paul, the issue is not the issue. The attitude is the issue. The lack of a servant kenosis emptying mindset is the problem. And this is what a Christian can become. Of course, the mere men here would be the unsaved. And let me tell you something, folks, the carnal Christian can outsin an unbeliever. And this is what Paul is dealing with in first Corinthians chapter five, where he says there is a form of immorality happening in the church that the pagans don’t even do. And so, my first point here is believers can return to the sin nature and jeopardize fellowship. This is a long-standing problem within the church, amongst God’s people getting along within the family. In fact, it’s so old that you find it 1000 years before the time of Christ in the Book of Proverbs, which says there are six Proverbs six verses 16 through 19. There are six things which the Lord hates, yet seven which are an abomination to him. That sounds pretty strong language to me. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly into evil, a false witness who utters lies– Oh, I’m glad the list stopped there.
Oh, it doesn’t stop there. Look at this last one. And the one who spreads strife amongst the brothers. Not someone who is at war with the secular world, but someone who is creating deliberate animosity amongst people. Within the community of God’s people. Saved people acting like unsaved people. Well, gee, Pastor, there must be some serious issue here at Sugar Land Bible Church for you to go into this. Well, as far as I know, there is no serious issue. But this is what verse by verse teaching does. You deal with everything in the passage as you move through it systematically. Observation number two: believers are exhorted to live consistently with their position. Do you understand or do we understand that in Christ, in the body of Christ, amongst fellow believers, positionally speaking, you’re already united in one body? I mean, that’s already happened. Ephesians 2 verse 14 of this, as for he himself as our peace, who had made both groups in this case warring Jews and Gentiles into one. And broke down the dividing barrier. Galatians three, verse 28 There was neither Jew nor Greek. There was neither slave nor free. There is neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. First Corinthians 12 and verse 13 says, For by one spirit, we were all baptized, identified in other words, into one body, whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free. We were all made to drink of one spirit.
So, if that’s already happened, a believer cannot sever themselves in a war with another Christian because that would be contradicting our position in Christ. You see, our position in Christ has not just united us vertically with God. It has united us horizontally with each other. Well, I don’t like Sister So-and-so. And I don’t like Brother So-and-so. Well, I don’t know if God is really asking our opinion about stuff. What he’s saying is walk out the emptying of Christ. Yeah, but so-and-so and so-and-so did this to me and did that to me. Well, is that what Jesus said was when he was dying on the cross. Was he saying you all offended me? And believe me, when I come back, I’m going to get you all. He said forgive them. They know not what they do. That’s what it means to walk out Christianity in community. That is what authentic Christianity is. Well, Pastor, isn’t it great that we have this ministry on the Internet, and we have this ministry on the website? And isn’t it great that all these people out there love us? You know why they love us? Because they don’t know us. I mean, I run into these concept, these people all the time. If I lived in Sugar Land, I’d be at your church, when the doors are open all of the time. And I’m thinking to myself, we’re all right. We’ll see how long that lasts.
You like us because you don’t know us. I mean, and I’m not I understand there’s a lot of people out there that can’t find churches and they depend on the Internet. And I think that’s great, and we want to expedite that. But here’s the reality of the situation. It’s easy to do Christianity through a computer screen. Because I don’t have to interact with anybody. I really don’t have to like anybody. And if the pastor is too long winded, I can just click the off button. Some of them are doing that right now. And by the way, we have these churches today that are like baseball stadiums full of people. And people love big churches. Why would you love a big church? Because you can duck in and out anonymously. You don’t have to interact with anybody. No one even knows your name. And you can get your kind of spiritual feel and liver quiver of the day without walking out authentic Christianity in relationships. First Corinthians 12 verses 20 and 21 says this. But there are many members but one body the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; Or again, the head to the foot, I have no need of you. And yet that’s what’s happening here with the Euodia and Syntyche. What do we call to do, beloved? We’re called to live our position. Isn’t that how the whole book of Ephesians is set up? Now that you know these things.
Chapters one through three. Blessed are you if you do them. Chapters four through six, why be holy? Because God already said I am positionally. Well, why bury the hatchet with another Christian? Why not take the wrong? Because God already said I’m one with another Christian. This is one of the great therefores. As we move from doctrine chapters one through three into practice. Chapters four through six. So how do you walk out your positional unity? Ephesians four, two and three says with all humility. See, if Paul were a modern-day psychologist, what he would do is he would give everybody a temperament test. And get people of similar temperaments to work together. Because that, according to modern day psychology, is what resolves conflict. The Apostle Paul knew of no such doctrine. He says in Ephesians four, two and three with humility. Well, that’s the problem. A lack thereof with gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another and love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. That’s how you walk out your united position. And we begin to practice the one another’s. Did you know that there are 59 “one another’s” in the New Testament? Except one another, greet one another, be kind and compassionate to one another. Don’t lie to one another, instruct one another, don’t bite and devour one another, serve one another.
I mean, on and on. Week ago, 59, I was shocked. I knew the one another’s were in the New Testament. I didn’t know there were that many. That’s what Euodia and Syntyche are not practicing. They’re not doing what Jesus role model for us. His emptying. They’re not having the same attitude as Christ. And that’s Paul’s point. Psalm 133 and verse one says, Behold how good and pleasant it is for the brothers. Not saved and unsaved for the brothers to dwell together in unity. Number three, when believers fail to walk out their position of unity, they neuter or blunt or destroy the church’s witness. Destroy it. Why is that? Because Jesus and Matthew 12, verse 25 said, A kingdom cannot be divided against itself. You get the church at war with the church, the church can’t stand. Jesus in the upper room. John, 13, verse 35, says, By all this, men will know that you are my disciples if you know Greek and Hebrew. If you got your theology ironclad. That’s what I want it to say. Doesn’t say that. If you love one another. John 17, verse 23. Jesus says, I and them and you in me that we may be perfected in unity, so that the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. How is the world even supposed to know about Jesus? By watching the love between Christians. That’s the evidence.
And this is why it’s such a tragic thing in first Corinthians six, where you have Christians, not only fighting with each other, but at war with each other to the point where they can’t settle their grievances in the church. They’ve got to submit their grievances to a secular court. Now, what’s the unbelieving judge supposed to think about that? What kind of what kind of testimony is that to him? First Corinthians six and verse seven, Paul says, Actually, then, concerning these lawsuits amongst Christians, it is already a defeat for you. You’re defeated already. You don’t even realize it. I mean, you’re so vigorous pursuing your personal rights that you’ve just neutered. You just destroyed the testimony of the church. Now, Paul doesn’t say you’re obviously not saved, as he never says that. Because of our first point, the believer can return to the sin nature, he says. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? I mean, so-and-so treated me unfairly. Well, absorb it. I mean, it’s better to absorb it than to air your differences with another Christian in front of an unsaved person. Because there’s no way that unsaved person could come to Christ other than a miracle of God witnessing that. Let me be very clear. The return to the flesh does not impact our justification. It doesn’t impact the standing of Euodia and Syntyche, whose names are in the Book of Life. Paul never says your name just got taken out.
Ha ha ha. You can never change your position, but what it can do is destroy your growth, your fellowship with God, your progressive sanctification, your rewards at the bottom of seat judgment of Christ. And you know what else it destroys? It destroys what this whole book is about. It destroys your joy. It will completely destroy your joy when you pursue personal vengeance. We pursue personal vengeance against a fellow Christian and don’t walk out the kenosis. This takes us to our fourth and final observation. And you see most sermons on this subject will end right there. But I want to talk about this fourth point, because there is massive, widespread confusion on this subject coming into the body of Christ through what is called the ecumenical movement. There is a big difference between a true unity and a false unity. The Bible never says tone down a part of the truth for unity. That’s what the ecumenical movement says. There isn’t a shred or a grain of truth to that. If anybody is putting you under pressure to not believe something about the Bible, whether it’s the creation days, the rapture, faith, alone by Christ, alone, free grace, and they’re using the unity card to get you to back down from those doctrines, they just went outside biblical parameters. Here is a pastor. It’s on his website. I don’t know if it’s necessary that I call out his name.
You can go to the slide, look at his name if you want. It’s no one that I don’t think anybody knows too well, but he’s basically arguing that in order for us to really be unified, we’ve got to get rid of the millennial doctrine. In fact, he says, if you post your views of the millennium on your church website, you’re in sin. That is not the unity that’s being spoken of here. That is a false unity. And you could recognize it as a false unity because it’s putting people under pressure to deny truth. The unity that God brings is not in spite of the truth. It’s because of the truth. God never calls his church to be unified by watering down truth. Now, the ecumenical movement will tell you that and they’ll tell you you’re in sin. And you’re not pursuing unity, but that is not what is being spoken of here. Unity is not at the expense of the truth. It’s because of the truth. And by the way, all unity isn’t good. They had unity at the Tower of Babel. I mean, they had one language and they were building their One World project and God says nothing will be impossible for them. And he scattered them by confounding the language. Yeah, but doesn’t John 17 verses 20 through 23– Didn’t Jesus pray that we should be one? As he and the father are one?
Every ecumenist that I’ve ever run into quotes these verses. In fact, on the pastor’s website when he says Dump Millennium. He’s quoting there. You see it in the quote If you take the time to go back and read it. John, 17, verse 21. What I want to show you is how badly the context is being abused there. Yes, Verses 20 through 23 promote unity within the body of Christ, but the last time I checked, verse 17 comes before verse 20. Why does everybody leave off verse 17? And the last time I checked, verse 19 comes before verse 20. Why would you just quote versus 2o through 23? And you don’t quote verse 17 and verse 19, which precede those unity passages where Jesus says, Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth. Verse 20. That they themselves may also be sanctified in the truth. Then he starts talking about unity. See the ecumenical movement says, get rid of truth to have unity. Jesus is saying, no, you have unity when you have the right foundation of the truth. May God help us to understand this. Lewis Sperry Chafer writes this, Thoughtless and absurd is the modern idea that in John 17, Christ was praying that denominations would exist in remote time and in a remote country, then unknown might become organically united into one. And therefore, it is the unity of all sects to help answer this prayer. That’s the that’s the siren song of the ecumenical movement.
Don’t be an independent Bible teaching church which causes you to part ways with this group over here or that group over there because you’d be violating Christ words. It’s what they’re saying. Chafer says, as indicated before, this unity is sought at the hand of the father, indicating that it is a divine undertaking it is that, and it results in unity as organic and vital as that between the father and the son. This prayer that Jesus is praying for unity, John, 17, began to be answered on the day of Pentecost. When believers were by the Spirit baptized into one body and is constantly answered whenever a soul is saved, and thus joined as a member to the Body of Christ by the same baptism of the Spirit. We don’t have to pursue unity. We already have it. And he’s not saying dump this doctrine and dump that doctrine to coalesce with some other group that doesn’t believe those things. It’s not what is being said here. What he’s saying is stand on truth and when it comes to excursions back into the flesh, not having the attitude of Christ, which creates dissensions and factions, that’s what you’re to avoid. And that’s his injunction to Euodia and Syntyche. But Pastor, look at the unity that existed in the early church. Yeah, it’s a great read. Acts two verses 41 through 47. They had fellowship.
They had all things in common. They’re sharing their possessions with each other volition only by the way. They’re taking their meals together. They’re having the favor with all the people. Why does everybody dump verse 42? Why do they do that? Why do they all quote verse 40 to be and following to promote unity? But no one ever quotes the very first thing the early church gave themselves to. Why is that? Because we’re being influenced by the ecumenical agenda. Let’s find common ground with Mormons. Let’s find common ground with Catholics. Let’s find common ground with Muslims. Last time I checked, the Bible says there is no fellowship between light and darkness. There is no commonality with those outside the parameters of biblical truth. The early church had unity, no question about it. But what did they give themselves to before they gave themselves to anything? It’s there in verse 42, they were continually devoting themselves. To what? Continually. It sounds like it was pretty regular in their minds, devoting the priority. They were giving themselves to apostolic teaching which is the word doctrine. The entity which developed in the early church came out of that initial commitment. And I feel sort of the need to explain some of these things, because when the concept of unity comes up and it’s a valid concept, the ecumenical movement comes in and perverts it. And by the way, folks, not all disunity within the body of Christ is necessarily wrong.
Did you know that fleshly disunity is wrong? But I’ve seen God work even through disunity. In fact, Paul the Apostle says this in first Corinthians 11, verse 19, and I’ve never heard an economist quote this verse, ever. And yet there it is in your Bible. Paul says, for there also must be factions among you. So that those who are approved may become evident among you. God can even use disunity. And in Acts 15 verses 39 and 40, you want to talk about a church split. It has to do with Paul wanting to launch out on his second missionary journey. And he was told, well, you need to take Mark with you. And Paul says, I’m not taking that brat with me on a missionary journey, two. That’s the same guy that bailed out of missionary journey number one. And Paul got into it on this issue. And it says in Acts 15 versus 39 and 40, there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. Can men of God argue with each other and not get along? There it is right there in your Bible. In fact, this wasn’t a disagreement. This was a sharp disagreement. And you know what? God worked through that situation.
Because you know what we have now in the Book of Acts? Not one missionary team, but how many? Two. And this is included in the Book of Acts because the Book of Acts is about the birth and the growth of the church. How did the message spread so fast in the Greco-Roman world? God worked through a church schism. So, if there’s a schism between Christians, God can use even that situation. And so, it really becomes a tremendous lesson for us on this subject of unity, as Paul. Is telling us, instead of being legalistic, to pursue unity. And here we learn just four simple truths: Believers can return to the sin nature and jeopardize fellowship. And they shouldn’t do that. Because believers are exhorted to live consistently with their new position. And when I go back into the flesh and disunity results, that can blunt the church’s effectiveness. But at the same time, number four, we have to learn the key difference between a true unity and the false unity spoken of by the ecumenical movement. It’s of course, possible that you could be here today, and you’ve never been unified with the God that made you. And our exhortation to you is simply to trust in the gospel, meaning good news. It’s called the good news, because Jesus did everything in our place through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. And he asks us to be saved, not to trust in ourselves, but to trust in what he has done for us, not to trust in our own works, but to trust in the good work that he has done on our behalf.
And so becoming a Christian, is that easy. Being justified before God is that easy. Where the spirit convicts a person of their need to do this and they trust in this message. They trust in the Savior. And immediately they’re made right with God. So, if it’s something you need more explanation on, I’m available after the service to talk. I guess I have to be up here, and you’ll have to stand down there on your appointed X in the middle of the carpet. No, I’m just kidding. I’m just trying to follow rules. But if you need to talk to me about it, I’m available after the service to talk. But for people that are listening, perhaps, or watching this after the fact, we just want to communicate the simplicity of the gospel which unifies us with the God that made us.
Shall we pray? Father, We’re grateful for the Book of Philippians. We’re grateful for how you allowed this book to come into existence by dealing with real people with real problems. And yet you were providential in allowing this sufficient completed revelation to be recorded for our benefit 2000 years later. We praise you for that. Help us to have a right understanding of these things and to walk these things out. This week, we’ll be careful to give you all the praise in the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said.