22 February 2022
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Life Worthy of the Gospel
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1: 25-30)
The apostle Paul wanted to strengthen their faith and help advance (grow) their faith (verse 25). And it says that he is planning to go to the Philippian church (verse 26). Since this letter is being read in the church, I imagine that everyone gave a big applause in this verse 26. I feel that the atmosphere changes a little from verse 27. From his own situation, he turns to the situation of the Philippian church and begins to talk to them.
Whether I go to Philippian church or not, I have something to say. Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (verse 27a). That is for the gospel to move forward. There is a battle to continue the Christian life and to keep the faith. Because the devil, the god of the world, is working. Our battles are personal, but not the only ones. There is a joint battle, a battle as a church that fights together.
But first of all, each person is required to stand firmly in the Gospel. It means living in the gospel of Christ. In another translation of the note, it is translated as ” Please live the life of the people of God’s kingdom .” This is a literal translation. The Greek word “polytuo” is used for “live”, but it is based on “polis”, which stands for Greek city. Politics comes from this polis.
The people of the Philippian church, who were residents of the Roman colony, understood the privileges, obligations and responsibilities associated with Roman citizenship. Although far from Rome, they obeyed Roman law and lived as Romans. But not only that, but remember that you are the people of the kingdom of God, Paul told the people of the Philippian church.
Paul in writing
In the same way, we live as Japanese, but at the same time, as a citizen of heaven and as a member of the church, Paul recommends that we live firmly in the gospel of Christ. As citizens of the kingdom of God, we have the privilege of having nationality in heaven, but with obligations and responsibilities. I think this is consistent with Paul’s epistles. Above all, it is the teaching of Jesus. A Christian is a person who follows Christ.
Each one lives worthy of the gospel and the inhabitants of the kingdom of God, and at the same time, the entire church stands firmly with one spirit and one heart, struggling together for the faith of the gospel (verse 27b). Unity is important. The unity of the Spirit. To unite our heart. A unity for the gospel faith, or more specifically, a unity for the battle of the gospel faith. Struggling means “engaging in competition and fighting.” The Beijing Olympics ended, I think the Japanese players really did their best. What impresses us especially is how they are united for the victory of the team. The word struggle in the original language seems to have a meaning like “form a scrum”. Therefore, as a unit, it is an image of forming a scrum, forming a formation, and moving forward with a shield and a sword.
There is a battle to live a Christian life. Paul wrote in his later years to Timothy, his disciple who pioneered the Philippian church with him. Brave the battle of faith and gain eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:12)
Becoming a Christian means that those who were originally enemies of God will be on the side of God. It means that those who were on the side of the devil leave it and become on the side of God. Therefore, when we escape from this world of sin, the devil, the god of this world, gets angry. And it attacks Christians and the church. Therefore, we need to be prepared to fight against Satan. What are we prepared for? Being a Christian is not only a belief in Christ, but also a suffering for Christ(verse 29). During this time, Paul and the Philippian church were persecuted. The same is true today. Many Christians have been persecuted. Afghanistan, North Korea, China, Myanmar, India, Nigeria, etc.
There is an international missionary organization called the Open Doors, in the latest edition of 2022, “at least 360 million Christians around the world are at a serious level of persecution.” The worst 1 is Afghanistan and the worst 2 is North Korea. There may be no persecution in Japan today, but there will be opponents (verse 28). Paul writes in Timothy. Indeed, anyone in Christ Jesus who wishes to live godly is persecuted. (II Timothy 3:12)
Remember that you, the Philippian church, saw me earlier about Paul (verse 30). You should know well that when we first came to the city of Philippi, we were persecuted and put in prison. You also know that I am in prison now. You are now experiencing a similar battle, Paul encourages the people of the Philippian church.
There are also battles in our lives. In some cases there are opponents. How should we fight in such a case? I will tell you three things.
① Know the enemy
The enemy is not human. The enemy is the devil. It is reported that Russia may invade Ukraine, but we must know that the fight is also happening in the invisible world. The Bible says. Like the roaring lion of the enemy devil, he roams in search of something to eat (1 Peter 5: 8). Therefore, we must stand firmly in faith and confront this devil.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:11,12. Wear all of God’s armor so that you can confront the devil’s plot. Our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against sovereignty, power, the rulers of this world of darkness, and all the evil spirits in heaven.
The devil hates the gospel moving forward and people being saved. Through all means, they try to keep people in this world, under the control of sin. The result of sin is death. It is spiritual death and destruction. The devil and demons know that they are going there, so they are trying to get many out of the way. Therefore, they try to show the glory of this world and to draw attention to something temporary, not eternal. We must remember that the devil is working actively. So we need to be awake.
It is important to unite in the Spirit and heart. I’ve seen on animal shows that when carnivores such as lions target herbivores, weak animals work together to confront and repel lions and drive them away. There is power in unity.
It is the spirit of the split sect that seeks to thwart unity. This is strong in the Christian world in Japan. Perhaps this is the biggest reason why Japan does not have a revival. The devil hates us Christians to unite. Because they know that the church can do great work if we unite. We believe that we can unite in one point: the confession of faith in the Apostles’ Creed and the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had a broad heart that he would be happy if the gospel of Christ was preached anyway, even though there were some who preached the gospel with the wrong motive.
③ Keep looking at the goal
The charm, temptations, and trials of this world can turn us away. John Bunyan describes it as “a swamp of disappointment” in his book The Pilgrim’s Progress. There are, of course, blessings in Christian life, but not just blessings. There is also suffering. People are “disappointed” when they are not their ideals. In some cases, they’ll get stuck in a swamp. The main character of The Pilgrim’s Progress, the Christian, was traveling with a friend for the journey to heaven, but the two fell into a “disappointing swamp.” Then this friend quit his journey to heaven and returned to his own home.
As John Bunyan describes in “The Swamp of Discouragement,” through discouragement, trials, and difficulties, the power to shake the Christian faith and separate it from the faith, from God, from the church. We need to remember. In our lives, our work has suffering and there are battles. It was experienced by the apostle Paul and by the Philippian church. They ran in front of us, fought, and are now waiting for us at the goal. Let us also unite and cooperate in this race of faith, and continue to see Jesus, the perfecter of faith, and move forward.