Series on Phlippians, I Thanksgiving and Prayer, B Prayer for Love Growing toward Glory, Text: 1:9-11, Title: Assurance and Love

Introduction

Most of us would like to be blameless. The President would like that. The CEO of Enron or Worldcom would like that. Every Pastor would like that, BUT if you're talking about performance, nobody gets that title of blameless.Yet this is what Paul prays for in verse 10, So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. You have passed through many scenes in your life that you wish you could replay. These were moments you regret. You may ponder these circumstances, or dream about them, but we all know that you are not blameless and neither am I. So what is Paul talking about here? Even the Apostle himself was not blameless. He made mistakes. In Romans 7:15 he says that that which he does he does not allow, but what he hates he does. I am sure that you have experienced this. The only way to be blameless is through trusting in Jesus and his death and righteousness. And this is the way to succeed in the Christian life. Purity and blamelessness are gifts from Christ that cover the sinner but you must persevere. This is what the Apostle is encouraging the Philippians to do, PERSEVERE. And remember, they travel lightly, whom God’s grace carries. So consider first,

I Reasoning

Paul is a great apologist. He knows that in every generation there are people who  Think that love is the answer, and Paul does pray in verse 9, And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, but love is powerless without knowledge. I think of the  mechanic  in Oklahoma that was called to help a woman on the roadside. He arrived and  discovered that her gas tank was empty. She said, “Will it hurt if I drive it home with the gas tank empty?” The car would not move without knowledge and neither can we. Paul  says your love must abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. The  Apostle says in Romans 10, Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We  live in an age of emotion where love is detached from world-views and understanding,  but Paul’s point here is that there is no love at all unless there is knowledge and depth of  insight. The post-modernists suggest that all that matters is how you personally feel, and how you think as a result. Paul and the Bible and Jesus are telling you that how you think should determine how you feel. So get with it and realize that without the Scripture, and without knowledge, your gas tank is empty.

II Righteousness

Notice that Paul speaks of the fruit of righteousness in verse 11 as he prays that they may be, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God. Fruit grows on a tree that is planted and prospers. What is the fertile ground in which this tree is planted? It is the grace of God given through Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us. We are not saved or justified by what we do, but by trusting in Christ alone for salvation. That is why when he speaks of their love abounding and of their understanding of life or discernment, growing, he says it is the fruit of righteousness. He doesn’t say what they are doing is righteousness. He says it is the fruit of righteousness. In other words they have no righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 says All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. The Hebrew for filthy rags refers to cloths used by ladies at a certain time of the month. Gross, but that is how God sees our righteous acts. Are you still ready to trust in your works? A group of 4-8 year old's were asked the question, “What does love mean?” There were sweet and sensitive answers like “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” “When someone loves you they say your name different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Then there were several gross ones. My favorite was “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy sitting on the toilet and she doesn’t think it is gross.” I am not insensitive. Listen to Paul’s testimony in Philippians 3:8, He says, I have suffered the loss of all things for Christ Jesus my Lord and count them but dung that I may win Christ. We only have two options. Our works are gross but Jesus righteousness is beautiful. Will you trust in Him or yourself? You can’t do it but Jesus did it for you. When you believe in Jesus you go from having no righteousness, for there is none righteous, no not one, to being perfect. Now your main task is to cling to that righteousness. There is a parable about a Pharisee and a despised Tax collector, or Publican, who went up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee said, I thank you Lord that I am not like other men. I am not an extortioner, or unjust, or an adulterer even as this Publican. I fast twice a week and give tithes of all I possess. Sounds like a very righteous fellow. The Publican said, God be merciful to me a sinner. Jesus asks, Which man went down to his justified, that is righteous. You know the answer. It was the man who did not trust in his own righteousness. We must cling with all our heart and all our might to the truth of the Gospel. Jesus is our righteousness.

III Reassurance

When you cling to the Gospel that teaches us where righteousness comes from and you teach this to yourself from the Scripture over and over and over, then there will be fruit to the glory and praise of God. This will have a marvelous effect upon your life. You will no longer wonder if you are saved. For many years I have attended at the funerals of non-believers. Invariably I have heard the perplexing statement that the sufferer is better off. I heard this recently from the hard-hearted advocates of euthanasia in the case of coma patient Terry Schiavo. She’ll be better off? How do they know? The Bible teaches that those who do not trust in Jesus Christ as their savior are lost and doomed. Now do we believe this or not? If we do, no one, no matter how great their suffering is better off passing into eternity without hope. Is this what you want for your loved ones and friends, and yourself? You can have assurance through trusting in Christ and demonstrating that it is a reality in your life. Christ assures you of His love, but you can only assure yourself through being filled with the fruits of righteousness to the glory and praise of God. Salvation is free, but assurance comes at the price of obedience. Many people go to church and hear the Gospel, but their lives do not change. The reason is they do not understand that true blessing comes as Jesus put it in Matthew 5, Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God, Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven.