Philippians 011 – The Practice of PeacePhilippians 4:4-9 • Dr. Andy Woods • June 14, 2020 • Philippians
The Practice of Peace
June 14, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the book of Philippians chapter four and verse four. The title of our message this morning is The Practice of Peace. The Practice of Peace. And if you’ve been traveling with us through the Book of Philippians, you know that Paul wrote this book from a Roman prison to a church that he had helped plant about 11 years earlier in Philippi. Hence, we get the name Philippians. And basically what he’s trying to do in this book is he’s trying to get them to walk in joy which is really something that’s lacking, I think, in the lives of most of us. You know, we know we’re saved, but do we really have the joy of the Lord? And a lot of us spend so much time looking at our circumstances. But Paul in chapter one tells us that no matter what your circumstances are, his weren’t optimal being in prison. The glass is not half empty, but it’s what? It’s half full. And if we live our lives by that standard and being able to see the hand of God in the midst of negative circumstances, we’re no longer a prisoner of our circumstances. Another reason why we really don’t have the joy of the Lord is our holy trinity consists of me, myself and I. And yet the Bible says it’s better to give than to receive.
And so to walk in the joy of the Lord, we need to develop a servant mindset. A service mindset, not a serve us mindset, but a service mindset. And he gives us four examples of how to do that in chapter two. And many of us don’t walk in joy because we’re trapped in legalistic bondage. And that’s why Paul in chapter three, tells the Christian to avoid legalism. He even explains his own journey, how he left legalism and began to walk in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord, he tells us. As we’ve seen the last few weeks, for things that we should embrace instead of legalism. And then many of us, as we move into chapter four, beginning at verse four, don’t walk in the joy of the Lord because we’re walking around with the weight of the world on our shoulders. We think the Christian life rests completely upon my strength. And it’s in this chapter that we learn that God has given us resources by which to live the Christian life. God never intended for us to shoulder the demands of Christianity through our own power. In fact, that’s an impossible burden. And if someone is walking under those circumstances, there’s no way they can experience the joy of the Lord. So what are, as we move into chapter four, are three resources for daily life? You’ve got three by birthright. Number one, peace. Verses four through nine.
Number two, contentment regardless of circumstances. Verses ten through 13. And number three, even though we’re very worried about money and provision and jobs and the stock market and retirement accounts. You have a promise from God that God will provide for our needs. Boy, that sure makes life easier. Verses 14 through 19. And so this morning, we start to look at the first of the three resources that we have for daily life which is peace. Now, when we talk about peace, we say, well, wait a minute, don’t we already have peace with God? Yes, we do. Romans, chapter five and verse one says, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse ten of that same chapter says, Before we came to Christ, we were enemies of God. But now that we are in Christ and our sin debt has been paid for as we’ve trusted Him by way of faith, the hostility between us and God has been called off. We now have peace with God. That is our position. Now what we’re supposed to do is to take our position, which is always yours and can never be altered. And now we begin to experience that position. So Paul is assuming that the position is already ours, which it is. But I can have peace with God and in my heart as a Christian, be troubled and concerned about many things.
And that’s why the Book of Philippians was written to people that already had the peace of God, but now they needed to learn how to walk in God’s peace. That’s why when you look at Paul’s writings, for example, like the book of Ephesians, first he gives doctrine chapters one through three. Once that doctrine is understood our position, then he says, Walk it out. Chapters four through six. So God has already decreed us to be Holy positionally, Paul says, Now act like it. Let your position excuse me– Your practice catch up with your position. He’s doing the same thing here with peace. You have peace with God. Now begin to walk in the peace of the Lord. And when Paul switches us from doctrine to practice, he’s got a word that he uses called, therefore. When we see the word therefore, in Paul’s writings, we ask What is the word “therefore” there for? It’s there to switch us typically from doctrine to practice. You’ll see Paul doing that in Ephesians four, verse one, Romans 12, verse one, Galatians five, verse one. And what’s our word there at the beginning of chapter four, verse one, at least in the NASB? Therefore. So Paul here is expecting that we’ve already received these riches from Christ. What he’s teaching us to do is how to walk them out. Not the least of which is moment by moment, appropriating something that is yours by birthright.
The Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. That word peace is an interesting one. It’s the Greek word irene. Where you get the word irenic. If you call someone irenic, they’re basically you’re calling them a peaceful, peaceable person. It’s the opposite of polemical. Polemical comes from the Greek word polomos, meaning war. If you call someone polemical, you’re saying they’re warlike. But irenic is the opposite of that coming from that Greek word, irene translated peace. By the way, a lot of parents will name their children or their daughters Irene. That’s where that name comes from. Basically means peace. And so what we’re learning here to do as we walk in, the joy of the Lord is to appropriate something that’s ours by birthright, related to our experience called the peace of God. It’s completely possible as a Christian, that you’re saved and your heart is churning about all sorts of things. And Paul writes the book of Philippians to tell us that these things ought not be so. Jesus said this in the upper room in John 14, verse 27, peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you not as the world gives. Give I to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You see, the world system essentially will tell you you can have peace or inner tranquility as long as your circumstances are favorable. But once your circumstances deteriorate, then all of a sudden the peace or inner tranquility that the world system gives disappears very quickly.
That’s why there are so many people on drugs, spend all of their time consuming alcohol, inebriated. They’re trying to find something that’s only available in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Because their circumstances have gone south and they’re in inner turmoil. And what we’re learning here in the Book of Philippians is you can walk in peace. You can even be in prison, as Paul was. And you can experience this inner tranquility, which is yours by birthright. On the Sea of Galilee in Matthew Chapter eight verses 23 through 27. We read these words. When he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea. So the boat was covered with the waves. Does that sound like your life today? Is there some great storm in your life? But Jesus was asleep. In fact, marks rendition of this in mark four verse 38, says, Jesus was in the stern back of the boat. In other words, asleep on a cushion. I mean, he was just having a good old-fashioned nap there. In the midst of a storm, Matthew eight, verse 25, says They came to him and woke him up saying, Lord, we are perishing. Mark’s version of it says, Don’t you care about us? Matthew eight, verse 26, says, he said to them, Why are you afraid, you men of little? Faith.
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and it became perfectly calm. They were amazed and said, What kind of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him? It’s interesting here that Jesus deals with two storms. The first storm he deals with. Is the storm happening in the hearts of the disciples who are in Panic Palace. They are hitting the panic button and he deals with that storm by rebuking them for their lack of faith. And then he deals with their circumstances. By causing the sea to become calm and placid as he rebuked the second storm. That is a reference to the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding that Paul is going to describe for us here in Philippians chapter four. Because let me ask you a basic question. Where does Jesus live right now? Galatians chapter two, verse 20, Paul says, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. You mean, the same Jesus that’s asleep on a cushion in the stern of a boat in the midst of a storm is the same Jesus that resides inside the Believer via the Holy Spirit? The reality of the situation is you have a resource. A resource that the world doesn’t have. In fact, when you begin to walk in this piece, oftentimes the world will get very frustrated with you.
Because to them it doesn’t make any sense. Because they have worldly peace, but they don’t have the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, not as the world gives, Jesus says, Give I unto you. And so that is sort of unpacked here by the Apostle Paul in verses four through nine. The first of the three resources that we have not positional peace that’s already years but experiential piece so we can outline verses four through nine as follows. Number one, we have the prerequisites for peace. What has to happen first before you can experience this peace, verses four through six? Number two, you’ve got the actual presence of the peace described, verse seven. But one of the things that’s interesting is you can be at peace one moment and then another problem hits you and you’re not at peace anymore. So how do you maintain that peace? How do you protect that peace? How do you keep that peace so you’re not an emotional yo-yo? Well, that is described for us in the protection of peace verses eight and nine, and we’ll see how far we get into this today. But notice, first of all, the prerequisites for peace. There are four things that have to happen. In the life of the Christian before they can experience the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, thus describe there in verse seven and those prerequisites are given in verses four through six.
And here they are. Number one is joy. Notice, if you will, Philippians chapter four, verse four, and no, I’m not going to sing this for you. And I was looking at this saying, wow, Paul the Apostle stole Bruce’s song here. It says, Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice. Now notice, first of all. This is a command. In Greek, the verb rejoice is in what we call the imperative mood and he’s not giving us a suggestion. He’s giving us a command to rejoice in the Lord. It’s obviously a very serious command because it’s repeated twice. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice. Now you’ll notice that the Apostle Paul doesn’t say Rejoice in the Lord, as long as you got that job that you were looking for. As long as you are able to make this month’s rent or mortgage payment. As long as you got that favorable report from the doctor, then rejoice in the Lord. He doesn’t say anything like that. He just tells us to rejoice in the Lord, regardless of our circumstances. Now I know what many of you are thinking, because when I read this, I think the exact same thing. I think, well, I just don’t feel like it. The reality of the situation is many people think they’ve got to feel a certain way before they behave a certain way. Feelings precede behavior.
Now, think about that for a minute. If feelings precede behavior, I doubt that we would show up to work all of the time. I doubt I would ever get out of bed because a lot of times I just don’t feel like it. I’d rather watch TV and eat chocolate donuts all day. So obviously there are things I do in my life that aren’t related to feelings. And so a lot of people think you’ve got to feel a certain way before you behave a certain way. And what you discover is the Bible knows no such doctrine. It just tells you to do something. And what I’ve discovered is feelings don’t precede good behavior, but sometimes they follow it. Now, last week I just went into one of those torture machines over there at the health club, started lifting weights. And to be completely frank with you, I sure didn’t feel like doing that on the front end. But you do it and you kind of get through it and you look back and you feel better about things. You feel better about your health, feel better about your body. And that’s how it works in the Bible. So many times people are waiting for a feeling before they do anything, and that’s not what God says. God just says Do X. Now the good feelings, whether they come or not, God says, Leave that to me. We behave our way into good feelings.
Not the other way around. And that’s why we’re not walking in the peace of the Lord, because we’re really not rejoicing in all circumstances. The second prerequisite for peace is gentleness. And you see that there in verse five, the first part of the verse. Verse five says, Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. If you want to experience the peace of God, then we need you need to be. I need to be. We need to be a peaceable person. I mean, there are so many people that are at war with everybody, at war with their family, at war with their church, at war with their friends. They get on social media. They’re at war all the time. How can such a person walk in the peace of God when they are not a peaceable person? One of the manifestations of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is gentleness. Galatians five verses 22 and 23 says, But the fruit of the spirit is love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, gentleness, Self-control. You notice that word “gentleness”. You know, you can get a completely different reaction from people just by having a gentle word or a gentle spirit. Proverbs 15 and verse one, obviously written before the days of social media, says A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. You know, if you disagree with someone on something, you could say, well, I don’t exactly see it your way, let me pray about it, but I’m learning from you.
Or you could say to that same person, You’re a liar. And you’ll have two completely different reactions from the person you’re interacting with just based on the choice of our words. And this is what it means to walk in gentleness. You’ll notice the way the NASB translates this. It says, Let your gentle spirit be made known to all men. It’s not so much an action of gentleness. It’s an attitude of the heart. It’s sort of who you are. It’s your makeup, your composition. You know, there are people that we avoid because they’re very warlike. But there are other people that we want to be around because they have such a gentle, sweet Christ-like spirit about them. It’s an attitude, really. And has been, as has been said many times, one’s attitude determines their altitude. I mean, what a person does in life and where they go and who they interact with and how they interact with it is largely shaped by the type of attitude that they manifest. So Paul the Apostle is very clear. Do you want to experience the peace of God that surpasses all understanding? Then watch your attitude very carefully. Look at verse five again. Let your gentle spirit be made known to– only people you agree with doesn’t say that. Only two believers. Doesn’t say that. Just to all men.
Doesn’t say to be gentle to those who like you in return. Just be gentle and let your gentle spirit. Let your gentle attitude be made known to all men. And if a person is bouncing from church to church to church, as many people do, having a conflict here, they go to another church and there’s another conflict and there’s another conflict and there’s another conflict. Eventually, you have to say to yourself, It’s not everyone else’s fault in the church world. It’s their fault because they have a pugnacious mindset. They’re not irenical at all. They’re polemical. And Paul says you can’t walk in the peace of the Lord with that mentality. A third prerequisite for the peace of God that transcends understanding is to develop an awareness of God’s nearness. And you see that there in the second half of verse five, it says, The Lord is near. You know, we think I’m doing X and God’s doing Y and he has no idea what I’m thinking. He has no idea about what’s going on in my mind. What’s going on in my heart. God, I’ll check in with you when I need you. And we neglect the fact that God is aware of everything. That’s the nature of God. He is omniscient. All-knowing. He’s omnipresent. He’s everywhere at once. Psalm 139 says, Before we speak, a single word, God knows what we’re going to say. And developing a mindset of the nearness of God certainly changes our attitudes, does it not? Second Chronicles Chapter 16 in verse nine says For the eyes of the Lord, move to and fro throughout the earth.
That he may strongly support those whose heart is completely his. We think God doesn’t know what’s going on. God knows everything. In fact, his eyes are moving to and fro, seeking to find people with the right heart. You know, that’s why David was chosen. When Samuel came to anoint the next king and. The father didn’t even bring David out. He was such an obscure runty little kid. I mean, how could this little kid ever be anointed the next king? For Samuel 16, verse seven is very clear. God doesn’t evaluate things the way man does. God sees the heart. He doesn’t look at the outer stature. He looks internally at the heart. And when we understand that God is aware, it changes certainly the scope of our attitude, doesn’t it? The attitudes of our heart are very important to God. I think it’s a book of proverbs. It says, As a man thinks, so he is. The Book of Proverbs says, Guards your heart with all diligence. for from the heart precede or proceed the issues of life. I mean, long before there’s actions, there’s attitudes of the heart that will shape those actions. God knows and is aware of all of them. Prerequisites for peace. Joy, gentleness, an awareness of God’s presence.
Number four, we have to become a person of prayer. Show me a person that doesn’t pray regularly and I’ll show you a heart that’s bound up with all sorts of storms and anxieties. Look at what he says there, beginning of verse six. Be anxious for nothing. Now this word anxious. What does that mean? It’s speaking of being emotionally unsettled. Due to a future contingency. So internally someone is in turmoil because they don’t know how the future is going to work out. When I come back from COVID-19, is my job going to be there? Is my job not going to be there? I don’t know. And so we’re unsettled over that. So there are all sorts of– Will I get married? Will I not get married? Will I get over this sickness? Will I not get over this sickness? Well, that relationship heal, or will it not heal? So there’s all these contingencies in our lives and we’re trying to navigate them and we can’t because they’re up in the air. That’s why they’re called contingencies. So our hearts are in turmoil. That’s what anxiety is. And what does the Bible say here? It says, be anxious– For what? Nothing, except the mortgage payment. It doesn’t say that. Nothing, except life in the church. It says, be anxious for nothing. Nothing. Here’s my translation of nothing. Nothing is no thing. Be anxious for no thing. Now, it took me several years in the Christian life to understand this because I did not understand this as a new Christian.
That anxiety. Is one of the worst sins that a human being can commit against God. Why would I say that? Because the verb “be anxious for nothing” also is in the imperative mood meaning this is a command. So if our hearts and minds are given over to anxiety, we’re violating the commands of God as Christians. Which is the classic definition of sin. And beyond that, the Bible says without what? Faith it is– What? Impossible to please him. What is faith? It’s trust. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Now, let me ask you a question. You know you’re not walking in faith. And I know I’m not walking in faith when my heart is anxious. When I’m anxious, I’m not trusting God. When I’m trusting God. I’m not anxious. You cannot experience both simultaneously because they are opposite ends. Polar opposites of the spectrum. So when I am anxious, I’m really not trusting God. I’m trying to fix the contingency through my own thinking and own mind. I’m not trusting God for my life. And so I’m anxious. And because I’m not trusting God, I’m not walking in faith, which puts me in a very precarious position because the Bible says without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Revelation 21, verse eight, is always a verse that fascinates me.
It’s describing unbelievers in the lake of Fire. And is describing their sense. And it says this, but for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and all idolaters and liars, their part will be in the lake of fire that burns with brimstone, which is the second death. And every time I read that, it jumps out at me. The first two sins that are mentioned. I mean, even before being a murderer, that’s pretty bad. Immoral. A sorcerer. An Idolator. A liar. What does it say? It describes them as cowardly. And then it goes on and it describes them as unbelieving. In other words, when God describes unbelievers, the first thing he notes is their cowardly and unbelieving state. He notes their anxiety. He notes their fear. Now, why is that mentioned first? I think it’s mentioned first because without faith, it’s impossible to please him. These are people, obviously, that never came to faith in Christ. And so their lives are gripped with worry, fear, and anxiety. Proverbs 28 and verse one says The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them. But the righteous are as bold as a lion. I mean, who are these unsaved people? Why are they so different from us? Well, they’re afraid. They’re afraid of their own shadow. They’re afraid someone is chasing them. We might call that today in modern-day psychology. What would we call that? Paranoia. When there’s no need to be afraid.
That’s how unbelievers are. That shouldn’t characterize Christians. By contrast, the righteous are as bold as a lion. Or why is that? Because the righteous walk by faith. Unsaved people do not. And so you start looking at this and you start to see that this issue of anxiety is a very, very serious issue. It’s one of the greatest sins that you could ever commit against God. Because it comes from a position of a lack of faith. And so what does the Bible say? Two words. It says Fear not. I googled this week how many times does the Bible say fear not? I came to a sermon by Lloyd Ogilvy and he said, the Bible says that 365 times. Hey, that’s once for every day of the year. I mean, that’s really neat. Over and over again. The Bible says Fear not. Fear not. Fear not. In fact, when Timothy was pastoring the church there at Ephesus and he was put in charge of this great task, What does God say to Timothy in second Timothy one and verse seven? He says, God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of love power, and a self-discipline or a sound mind timid. Timid Timothy, you’ve got all these anxious thoughts, but they don’t come from God. They may come from your fallen nature. They may come from the world of the Satanic and the demonic.
But they don’t come from God. Because God’s spirit is in you, and God has not given us a spirit of timidity. So when we don’t obey this commandment, not only can we not experience the peace of God, but we actually sinned against God. Be anxious for nothing. That’s a pretty comprehensive list there. No thing. The Christian when they become anxious about any single thing in their lives, rather than entrusting that to God, they walk in sin. We walk in sin. And we cannot experience the peace of God. Well, then, what exactly am I supposed to do with all of these anxious thoughts that I have? One of the things I really like about the Bible, there are many. But the Bible doesn’t say don’t do X without replacing it with something better. It’s interesting. The Bible to me doesn’t say, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. What it says is don’t. But here’s something much better for you. In other words, there’s going to be a void in your life, there’s going to be a vacuum in your life that’s going to be created by abstaining under God’s power from something that He wants you to abstain from. But at the same time, what’s going to come back in, in its place is something greater than you could ever imagine. And that’s how the Bible is set up. Jesus said, in John ten, verse ten. That the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the what? To the full.
The abundant life. You see, the legalists will never tell you that. They’ll just focus on all the prohibitions. But what about all the things that we are to replace that abstention with? And you see that here in verse six. It’s just a beautiful, balancing act. It says, be anxious for nothing but in everything. So you’ll notice that nothing and everything are juxtaposed. But in everything by prayer and supplication. With Thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. If I’m not doing that, then the peace of God, which will be described in verse seven, is an impossibility for me. So what then do I do with all of my anxious thoughts about all of the contingencies in my life? What you do is you keep trusting those to the Lord. Every time the anxious thought hits you, you just turn it over to the Lord and you keep and you keep doing that and you keep doing that and you keep doing that. You know what you start to experience in your life? Peace, which beforehand was an impossibility. He says, in everything by prayer. Well, what is that prayer? It’s very simple. It’s communication with God. We’re in a relationship with the Lord. You know, you run into some people and they’ll say, Oh, yeah, so-and-so is my best friend.
Oh, really? Well, when was the last time you talked to so-and-so? Oh, 15 years ago. Well, they’re not your best friend, because you don’t understand what friendship is. You don’t understand what a relationship is. If you come to anybody for marriage counseling, anybody that is worth their salt will ask you, what is your level of communication within your marriage? Why would that be any different with our relationship with the Lord? God talks to us through His Word. And we talked to God in response via prayer. But I don’t know what to pray about. Yeah, you do. You pray about whatever’s bugging you. You pray about whatever contingency is causing you to be emotionally unsettled, you give that over to the Lord in conversation by way of prayer. Again, Verse six: Be anxious for no thing, but in everything by prayer and supplication. Well, what does supplication mean? Supplication comes from the word supply. Rather than letting your mind fester on the contingency, which is causing all of the anxiety, Ask the Lord to supply. By the way, God is pretty good at supplying needs I’ve discovered. Rather than trying to figure everything out and, you know, this scenario, that scenario and exhausting yourself in the process. Why don’t you just spare yourself all of that emotional output? And just communicate to the Lord in prayer. And ask him to supply our needs. Are we allowed to do that in prayer? Are we allowed to ask God to supply our needs? Well, isn’t that how Jesus taught us to pray? Matthew six verses 11 through 13.
Give us this day our daily bread. Is that not supply? So what you pray about, the content of it is largely dictated by what you’re anxious about. First, Peter five verse seven puts it this way. Casting– not some– all your anxiety on who? On him. Well, why would I do that? Because the rest of the verse says, because he cares for you. I mean, he’s the shepherd. We’re the sheep. The very hairs on our head are numbered. He cares about you. He cares about you more than you realize He cares about you. So if he is in that position as our shepherd, he would also care about what is ailing you, what is worrying you, what is causing you anxiety. Give that over to the Lord. By the way, it’s very interesting. We quote that verse their first Peter five, verse seven, but we forget that that audience was under Nero’s persecution, many of them about to be marched into the Colosseum historically. Many of them about to be devoured by ravenous animals to the jeering of the fans. That’s Greco-Roman society for you. Nero is on the throne. He is lighting Rome on fire and blaming it on the Christians. He’s financing the Colosseum. He is taking Christians and lighting them on fire to illuminate his garden parties.
You see, you think you’ve got problems in your life. Look at what these people were facing. And Peter says to these people. Navigating adversity that most of us will never have to deal with. Casting all your anxiety. They had a lot of it. On him. Because he cares for you. Verse six: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with– what does that say? Thanksgiving. Well, why should I be thankful for a negative circumstance? Because Paul taught us about that in chapter one, didn’t he? Where he said the glass is not half empty, but it’s half what? It’s half full. God is always going to do something. In the midst of a problem. In fact, God is going to move his hand in the midst of a problem in your life, in a way in which he probably wouldn’t do otherwise. That’s why he gave you the problem. Because he wants to show you who the solution is. So if that’s my blueprint, if that’s my rubric, if that’s my paradigm. Then when I’m asking God to supply a need, I can do it with Thanksgiving. Lord, thank you that I have this need. Because I get the chance to watch you show up in your providence and in your timing. Verse six: Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your request be made known to… Your pastor.
To your best Christian friend. Isn’t it interesting that we’ll go and talk to everybody about everything that’s bugging us other than God? I mean, it’s almost like when everybody else is tired of hearing our sob story. All right. I guess I’ll talk to God about it. When Paul is saying God is not a last resort. God is a first resort. Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving. Let your requests be made known to God. The prerequisites of peace, which are your joy, gentleness, An awareness of God’s presence, and the matter of prayer. Turning things that are bothering us over to the Lord. And then we come to part two of the outline. What does God promise to do for us? Once those prerequisites are satisfied. It’s right there in verse seven. It’s an amazing verse. In fact, it’s so amazing, We may never get out of this verse. I don’t mean today, I mean ever. Verse seven: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your minds and are your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. So the prerequisites are met. God says, Here’s what I’m going to do for you. You’ll notice there, verse seven, It says, the peace of God. So what Paul is dealing with here is an inner tranquility that can’t come through drugs. Or the bottom of a bottle. Or the pursuit of pleasure. Or the pursuit of materialism or the pursuit of religion.
Or by checking out your horoscope every single day. That’s those things don’t deliver what Paul is saying here. The peace that’s experiential in nature that’s yours by birthright comes from God. And that’s why it is a peace, verse seven, Which surpasses all comprehension. The world’s system can’t even begin to understand this. In fact, when you’re in a storm in your life and you’re walking through it with a piece of God, not only will the world not understand you because they would be pushing the panic button a long time ago if they were in your shoes. But they actually get irritated with you. I mean, you can even have people in your own family, in your own church getting mad at you because you’re not panicked. What’s the matter with you? Because it’s a peace that, Paul says, surpasses all comprehension. Why does it surpass all comprehension? It surpasses all comprehension because it is not based upon externals. That’s why. It’s walking out what Jesus said in John 14:27. Peace, I Leave With You. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives. Give I to you. That’s why it’s without comprehension. It’s something otherworldly. It’s something that can only come from God. And in a book about joy, how can you walk in joy without this peace? That’s why it’s such a big deal to Paul here. In verses four through nine.
What does this piece do here? Look again at verse seven and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds. Now, guard is a military term. Now, Paul would know something about military terminology, because when he wrote this, he was in Roman prison. Chained to a prison guard. He told us about it. In Philippians chapter one, verse seven, he talks about my imprisonment in the book of Ephesians, and he wrote Ephesians around the same time as Philippians. He says, I am an ambassador in chains. I mean, he knew about military. He knew about guards. In fact, it was this military elite corps that was protecting Paul’s life. As the unbelieving Jews were trying to kill him. So that he could get his case heard before Caesar in Rome. And he’s basically saying just as this guard protects me, Once the prerequisites are satisfied, the Lord Himself is going to stand guard over your heart. And you’ll begin to internally experience the peace of God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will fix all of your circumstances. Doesn’t say that, does it? Well, guard your hearts and your minds. See, that’s why it’s different. God is after the internal of a person. It never promises here. It never says here, all of my problems are going to go away. God never makes us that promise. What he does say, though, is you can experience the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding in the midst of your problem.
And your problem may never go away. In fact, from a human level, your problem could get worse. I mean, I wish it said God is going to take out an eraser and just make my problems disappear. That’s not what the Bible says. That’s not what’s promised. What is promised is the peace of God that transcends all understanding while you’re being thrown into the lion’s den. While you’re walking through the valley. Because God, not so much is after changing our external circumstances. Now, don’t get me wrong, praise the Lord. He does change many of our external circumstances. What I’m saying is there’s a lot more for us to get out of this Christian walk besides making my problems go away. What he wants to get, what he wants us to get out of it is an internal tranquility. And then what follows verses eight and nine is the protection of peace. Because isn’t it interesting that you can have peace one day and the next day it’s gone? I mean, what happened? I was doing so well yesterday. Today I’m in turmoil. So how do you mean? Once you have this experiential piece, positionally, you have peace experientially. Hopefully you experience that. But how do you keep that experiential piece when it comes and goes so frequently? Depending on whatever problem you’re in, how do you maintain it? And the answer is a disciplined thought life.
Because as one person said, you cannot stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can certainly stop them from building a nest in your hair. I mean, we all have bad thoughts. They come right out of our falling nature. We all have anxious thoughts. The issue is, what am I evolutionarily deciding to dwell upon? Meditate upon? What I am allowing into the arena of the mind to contemplate, to consider the verb here is logizomai, meaning to consider. And what’s happening there between the ears is largely going to determine whether the peace that you had yesterday is going to be there today. So what we have in verse eight is a disciplined thought life. It’s content. Verse eight, what is a disciplined thought life? And verse nine, how do you practice it? Notice, if you will, verse eight, Philippians chapter four, as we talk here about maintaining peace. Finally, brethren. Now, this always cracks me up because they already told me, finally, in chapter three, verse one. So this is finally the upgraded version. Finally. He’s a long-winded preacher, this guy, Paul. Got to love that. Finally, brethren, see, brethren is a clue that what is being spoken here is not to an unsaved person. They don’t even have positional peace. He’s dealing here with middle tense, progressive sanctification stuff. Well, gee, Pastor, what kind of movies should I go to? Can I go to a G-rated movie? How about a PG-13 movie? Well, what kind of length of a dress size should I have as a female? Should I show off my knees or should I show off more than that? Or should I just show off my ankles? See those kind of questions don’t really understand the spiritual life.
The spiritual life is not about manmade rules. In fact, if you want to find some manmade rules. You don’t have to look any further than Satan himself and Eve who added manmade rules to the commands of God. You shall not eat it or touch of it. That’s not what God said. She just added a rule. She left out the word any or freely. Eve adds rules. Satan has rules. Satan, even subtraction, subtracts from what God said, you will not die. And if you’re not careful, you’ll get so caught up in your rules that the tail will wag the dog. Because the gospel and the Christian life is supposed to be simple. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11, verse three, But I fear lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness. So your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity. Simplicity. That is in Christ. This is Christ’s whole conflict with the Pharisees. Because they had invalidated the word of God by their tradition, which is manmade rules. I like to use this quote here from Lewis Sperry Chafer as he talks about the spiritual life.
This is what he said to his students around 1948. He says you have now you have the country just filled with preachers. If you could have stopped in all of the services that were held last Sunday between the Atlantic and the Pacific, you would have heard a mess of sermons. All of them boiled down to just two words: Be good. But how many sermons were preached last Sunday that tell people how to be good? They just don’t know anything about that. That involves the plan of deliverance from the reigning power of sin. And I have tried to tell you that this is one of the most neglected things. How To be good. God has a way, a plan, and a provision, but you must know and understand it. I’m ambitious enough to hope that you men are going to get out there and teach it. Don’t say it’s too big a job to make the average audience understand. They have to understand it. If they are to walk as Christians. Paul, the Apostle says, Are you so foolish, having begun by the spirit, or are you now being perfected by the flesh? You see, when we get into this issue of maintaining a disciplined thought life, what everybody starts going to are manmade rules. This TV show is off-limits, but not this one. This book is off-limits, but not this one.
This conversation is off-limits, but not this one. And what you have is is is a legalistic maze at the end of the day. And then what will happen is the rule and this is the whole problem with the Pharisees becomes more important than what God said, because God doesn’t give rules like that. Ratings of movies, dress sizes, any number of things, or dress length, any number of things. You can think about what God gives our principles. Not rules. And if you understand the principle, then you’ll understand what movie you should watch or not watch, or even go to a movie. What are the principles? What are the principles or the content for maintaining a disciplined thought life? There right there in verse eight. Notice what he says, verse eight. Finally, brethren, here we go. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything. Got my Bible falling apart here. That’s a good thing. If your Bible is falling apart, as the saying goes, you probably aren’t falling apart. If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, what does it say there? Dwell on these things. So rather than giving me a list of rules and manmade regulations, which really the only thing they do is inflame the flesh more. When you walk by that house or that wall and it says, “don’t touch. Wet paint”, What’s your first impulse?
Rules That are manmade without the enabling of the Holy Spirit to accompany them don’t do anything other than inflame the flesh and put you on a failure course. God doesn’t give us concrete rules like that. If he did, we would have a lot more than 66 books here. I mean, this would read like the IRS tax code. What he does is he gives us an eight-part test. Making a decision about what to allow in terms of dwelling into the arena of the mind. Number one, is it true? Aletheia. Number two, is it honorable? Number three, is it right? Number four, is it pure? Number five, is it lovely? Number six, is it of good repute? Number seven, is it excellent? The Greek word for excellent is arete. We have a camp that we promote here called Camp Arete for the Youth. That’s where that name comes from, excellence. Number eight is it worthy of praise? If it meets that eight-part test, then dwell, logizomai, on these things. If it doesn’t meet that eight-part test. And even though the thought may have entered your mind, you push it out. You put on the helmet of salvation. See that? Having the thought is not the problem. It’s what we do with the thought. That’s the problem. Because after all, Proverbs 23, verse seven, in the New American Standard Bible says, as a man thinks so, he is.
Private thoughts eventually lead to public actions. You know, the hijackers. 911. They did not have to take control of every square inch of the airplane. They just had to control a portion of it. Where the pilots sit. That little room up front. You control that, you control the whole plane. Satan is not after every single part of your life in the sense that if he can lodge a wrong thought into your mind and gets you to ruminate on it. Dwell on it without it passing this eight-part test, Satan largely influences you. He cannot possess you. But he certainly can influence you. And that’s why there’s so much in God’s Word about our thought life. Colossians three, verse two. Set your mind on the things above none of the things of the Earth. Psalm one, verse three. But his delight is in the law of the Lord in which he meditates day and night. Joshua one, verse eight. This book shall not to part from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night. So that you may be careful to do all that it is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and you will have success. So that is the content of maintaining peace. It’s a disciplined thought life. Paul ends here, verse nine, with the practice of it.
These things you have learned from me. Oh, Paul was a role model here. These things you have learned from me and received and heard and seen in me. What’s the next word? Practice these things. That’s why peace comes and goes. It’s mental discipline is not a habit of ours. It’s a I’ll try it when I hit an emergency kind of thing. Practice these things and the God of Peace. You mean I can only get this peace from God? That’s right. We’ll be what? We’ll be with you. It’s a reciprocal promise. So we have the content of a disciplined thought life which maintains the peace of God. And then we have verse nine, the practice of it where it becomes habitual. Now you start walking in that. Oh, my goodness. Are we going to see the joy of the Lord? Are we going to see a peace of God which transcends all understanding? What a paragraph would you not agree? The prerequisites for peace. The presence of peace. And then how you protect that peace. Through the disciplined thought life.
Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for your truth. We’re grateful for your word. Grateful for how it corrects us and puts us on the right path. I do ask Father if there’s anybody here that may not know you personally that you would convict them of this simple reality that today is the day of salvation. We know that Jesus has come into the world to bridge the gap between fallen humanity and a Holy God through what he did 2,000 years ago for us on the cross.
And you ask us simply to not save ourselves, but to trust in you. Not trust in our own good works for salvation, but the good work you did for us 2,000 years ago. If anybody within the sound of my voice has not done that, I pray right now as I’m speaking, no matter where they are in the room, not in the room, listening online, listening after the fact, whatever, that they would immediately come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Whereby this reality might be made known to them. So they trust in you and you alone for salvation. I just ask that people would do that right now as I’m speaking. I also ask if people are confused about this, that they would contact the church leadership, put a note there in the comment box. So that their questions might be answered because it really at the end of the day, Lord, is about friendship Prince of Peace. Jesus in Isaiah nine, verse six is called The Prince of Peace. Not only does he make us right with a holy God. But he equips us with the resources. Whereby we can walk an experiential peace. We ask Father that you will do this great work. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said.