Philippians 1:10-11

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 18, 2002


Paul has a great fondness for the folks in Philippi.  The church was established under very difficult circumstances, such as Paul and Silas being beaten and thrown into jail.

Paul himself is writing this letter under very difficult times, being currently imprisoned in Rome, under constant guard by Roman soldiers.

Oddly enough, the theme of this letter is … joy.

Paul has been writing about how confident he is that God is going to be doing good things for them (Phil. 1:6)

We’ve been looking at how Paul prays for these Philippians.

He is praying that they would have a growing love, a love that overflows continually.

He is praying that their love would overflow with real knowledge – that theirs would be a love like that in 1Corinthians 13, one that is patient, kind, forgiving, enduring.

He is praying that their love would overflow with “judgment” or, “discernment”.  He is praying that their love would grow in being able to tell right from wrong, in making wise, moral decisions.

:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent;

This is what results from having discernment.

ye may approvedokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

The Greeks in Athens used this word to talk about approving someone as “fit for office”.  It was also used to describe boys who were examined to be admitted to the rights of manhood.


Examine things

Sometimes we can get confused when people say to us, “We shouldn’t be judgmental about things”. Or, “Don’t judge me”. 
We may be confused at times when we think about our love “abounding” and then “examining” things.  But our love for one another doesn’t mean that we turn a blind eye to problems.
In reality, there are several things we are asked to “approve” or “examine”.
We are to examine our own selves.

During communion:

(1 Cor 11:28 KJV)  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

To see if we’re really believers, if we’re really “in the faith”.

(2 Cor 13:5 KJV)  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Your own “works” need to be “tested”.

(Gal 6:3-5 KJV)  For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. {4} But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. {5} For every man shall bear his own burden.

It’s good to examine the things you do.  We are each responsible for what we do.

The “spirits”, the things that people are speaking prophetically:

(1 John 4:1 KJV)  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Deacons, those who serve in the church:

(1 Tim 3:10 KJV)  And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

All things need to be “tested”:

(1 Th 5:20-22 KJV)  Despise not prophesyings. {21} Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. {22} Abstain from all appearance of evil.

As we test things, we are to find the things that are “good” and hold on to them.

good – kalos – beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable

things that are excellentdiaphero – to bear or carry through any place; to carry different ways; to differ, to test, prove, the good things that differ,; to distinguish between good and evil, lawful and unlawful, to approve of things that excel, to differ from one; to excel, surpass one

Finding and doing the things that are “excellent” is a component of learning to abound in the right kind of love for one another.


Put excellence into your life

We need to learn to put things in life through a sieve of discernment, and the “excellent” things that make it through the sieve are the things that we ought to be incorporating in our relationships with each other.
Not only is this to affect our relationships with each other in how we “love” one another, but it simply affects our whole life:
(Phil 4:8-9 KJV)  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. {9} Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

God doesn’t just want us to “think” on these things, He wants us to do them as well.

When we “do” the things that are excellent, we experience God’s peace.

:10  that ye may be sincere and without offence

The purpose of having this kind of discernment is so that we may be:

sincereheilikrines (“sun” + “judge”) – pure, sincere, unsullied; found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun’s light

To judge (krino) by sunlight (heile) - maybe even like holding it up to God's Sonlight to judge it by. We are to stand the test of judgment in His light

Our English word “sincere” comes from the Latin word “sincerus”, meaning “without wax”.  In Roman times, a person bought a piece of pottery after asking if it was "sincere", or that there was no wax covering up the cracks (which potters would do to sell a piece of cracked pottery). We are to be without wax, without anything covering up our faults

We are also to be like a pure metal, unmixed with another substance, pure.


The real thing

God doesn’t want us to be play-actors at Christianity.
He doesn’t want us to be people who say one thing and then do another.
He wants us to be people who mean what we say and do what we say.
Sometimes we mix impure motives with our love, I'm going to love them because Jesus says to, even though it helps that they are cute, rich, and popular too.
The expression “face the music” is said to have originated in Japan.  According to the story, one man in the imperial orchestra couldn’t play a note. Being a person of great influence and wealth, he had demanded that he be given a place in the group because he wanted to “perform” before the emperor.  The conductor agreed to let him sit in the second row of the orchestra, even though he couldn’t read music.  He was given a flute, and when a concert would begin, he’d raise his instrument, pucker his lips, and move his fingers.  He would go through all the motions of playing, but he never made a sound.  This deception continued for two years.
Then a new conductor took over.  He told the orchestra that he wanted to audition each player personally.  One by one they performed in his presence.  Then came the flutist’s turn.  He was frantic with worry, so he pretended to be sick.  However, the doctor who was ordered to examine him declared that he was perfectly well.  The conductor insisted that the man appear and demonstrate his skill. Shamefacedly he had to confess that he was a fake. He was unable to “face the music.”
When we continue to love each other correctly and are putting “excellent” things in our life, we can always “face the music”.  We don’t have to be concerned if people examine us because they’ll only find Jesus.

In his book Living the Christian Life, George Duncan told of a remark made at the funeral of Fred Mitchell, chairman of the China Inland Mission.  One of the speakers said this:  “You never caught Fred Mitchell off his guard because he never needed to be on it.” Duncan called that statement “one of the most remarkable tributes I ever heard paid to any Christian.”

without offenceaproskopos – having nothing to strike against, not causing to stumble; of a smooth road; metaph. of not leading others to sin by one’s mode of life; not striking against or stumbling; metaph. not led into sin, blameless; without offense, not troubled by a consciousness of sin


Love doesn’t stumble another

We are not to become a stumbling stone to someone else.
(Rom 14:13-23 NLT)  So don't condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path. {14} I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. {15} And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. {16} Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is all right. {17} For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. {18} If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too. {19} So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. {20} Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble. {21} Don't eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christian to stumble. {22} You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right. {23} But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn't eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

When you do something that causes another person to stumble, you are not acting in love.

If I have God's discernment, I can better see situations that may cause others to stumble; I can better see their weaknesses and avoid them.

In reality, you’re going to cause people to stumble.  People will misunderstand you.  Some people won’t like you.  But when we walk in love, we won’t knowingly cause another person to stumble.

If I am having dinner with a friend that I know is an alcoholic, and I order a glass of wine with the meal (which I WOULDN’T do anyway), I’m not walking in love.

:10  till the day of Christ;

The purity that Paul desires for them is a purity that lasts right up to when Jesus comes back again.  Sometimes it’s hard to stay pure just through the day, let alone right through to the second coming.

We can’t do it without God’s help.  We need prayer.  We need to pray for one another.

:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

being filledpleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; I abound, I am liberally supplied; to render full, i.e. to complete; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim; to consummate: a number

the fruitskarpos – fruit; that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result

righteousness  - dikaiosune - in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting

(Phil 1:11 NLT)  May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation--those good things that are produced in your life by Jesus Christ--for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

When we let God work in our lives in this way, it will bring glory to the Lord – and that’s what our lives should be all about, causing others to give praise to God.


Let Jesus do the work

If we’re not careful, we can fall into a trap of keeping a list of things we have to do today to be pleasing to God.
In reality, we simply need to be close to Jesus.
Jesus wants to do the work in us.  The good things that happen in our lives happen as a result of our relationship with Jesus.
(John 15:4-5 KJV)  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. {5} I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Jesus produces the fruit in our lives.