Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 2:14-16. These verses continue Paul’s word about working out our salvation. In verse 12 Paul charges us to work out our salvation, and in verse 13 he tells us that God is operating in us. Now in verse 14 Paul issues a warning: “Do all things without murmurings and reasonings.” Murmurings are out of our emotion, mostly on the part of the sisters; reasonings are out of our mind, mostly on the part of the brothers. Both frustrate us from carrying out our salvation to the fullest extent, from experiencing Christ to the uttermost.
The context indicates that if we murmur or reason, we do not obey. Obedience to God slays all murmurings and reasonings. In order to work out our salvation, we must obey the very God who operates in us. He Himself is our salvation, and our obedience to Him is the working out of our salvation. The sisters need to realize that when they murmur, they disobey the God who works within them. Likewise, the brothers need to see that whenever they reason, they are rebellious against the One who operates in them. Only by obedience can murmurings and reasonings be put to death.
Paul’s word in 2:14 about murmurings and reasonings is a further indication that his purpose in writing the book of Philippians was not related to doctrine, but very much related to experience. Murmurings and reasonings are important factors that frustrate our Christian life. From experience Paul knew that if we would work out our salvation, we need to do all things without murmurings and reasonings. Often in important matters we may not murmur or reason. But in small matters we are prone to murmurings and reasonings. Any kind of murmuring or reasoning is disobedience to the inner working of the Triune God. How we need the Lord to save us from our murmurings and reasonings!
In verse 15 Paul continues, “That you may become blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” The Greek word rendered that means “in order that.” We should do all things without murmurings and reasonings in order that we may become blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish. The Greek word translated guileless also means “simple, artless, innocent; hence, harmless” (Matt. 10:16). It comes from a root which means “unmixed.” The word blameless describes our outward behavior, and the word guileless, our inward character. To be artless means not to play politics. No one who is political can rightly be called guileless. If we are artless, we are also guileless and harmless.
In verse 15 Paul refers to “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation.” As children of God, we have God’s life and nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Being children of God with the divine life and nature, we are luminaries which reflect the light of the sun (Christ). As such, we are without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation. “Without blemish” is the total quality of being blameless and guileless. The Greek word translated perverted means “warped or twisted.” There can be no doubt that today’s generation is twisted and warped. In this kind of generation we should shine as lights in the world.
In verse 16 Paul goes on to say, “Holding forth the word of life, for my boasting in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain nor labored in vain.” The Greek word for holding forth also means “applying, presenting, offering.” As God’s children, we need to present the word of life to others. If the Philippian believers did this, Paul would be able to boast in the day of Christ that he had not labored in vain. The day of Christ is the day of the Lord’s second coming, also called “the day of the Lord” (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Thes. 2:2; 1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14) and “that day” (2 Tim. 1:18; 4:8). In that day all believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the reward each deserves (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:19-30).
Just as the Philippians could boast in Paul in Christ, so Paul wanted to be able to boast, rejoice, and glory in them in the day of Christ. He hoped to be able to boast that, as far as they were concerned, he had not run in vain or labored in vain. However, at the time Paul wrote this Epistle, he was concerned that his running and labor might be in vain. Whether or not his labor was actually in vain would be determined by the deeds of the believers in Philippi. Suppose the believers there did all things without murmurings or reasonings and thus became blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a warped and twisted generation. Suppose, moreover, that the saints in Philippi were shining forth as luminaries in the world and presented the word of life to those around them. If such were their situation, Paul would be able to rejoice and even boast at the time of the Lord’s coming back.
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