Realizing God’s Plan in Life – PT.2

Realizing God’s Plan in Life – PT.2

Editor’s Note: In this writings, A.T. Robertson gives a good insight of Philippians 2:12-18

Cheerfulness Under Orders (verse 14)

Having committed our lives to the control of God’s will we are under orders. It is unmilitary and peevish to fret at God’s commands. “Do all things without murmurings.” The allusion may be to the conduct of Israel in the wilderness (Ex.i6:7+ Num. 16:5,10). The Israelites murmured bitterly against Moses and against God repeatedly and with dire results. “Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured and perished by the destroyer” (l Cor. 10: 10). These inward murmurings against God’s will would easily turn to grumblings towards each other. People do not usually stop with resentment against God, but wish to blame somebody. Disunion had already manifested itself in the church at Philippi. If God is supreme and does all things why did He allow this thing to happen? It is easier to ask than to answer that question.

The next step is to become sour towards one another. “Without disputing’s.” This word is used for questionings, then doubting’s, then disputing’s. This is the usual course of our intellectual revolt against God. Probably the moral revolt (murmurings) comes first. The skeptical spirit follows resentment against some crossing of our will by God’s will. The final result is “intellectual rebellion.” (Lightfoot) Thoughts of hesitation or doubt turn to distrust. Distrust ripens into open disputes when a public stand is taken with others against God Doubt leads to dispute even over trifles. (Kennedy) So then, as good soldiers, Christians are to carry out the orders of the Captain of their salvation. Explanations, if they come at all, come after obedience, not before. Into the Valley of Death rode the Six Hundred.

Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.”

Soldiers go to the charge with a smile on their faces.

Perfection in the Midst of Imperfection (verses 15-16)

Paul here expresses his purpose about the Philippians. It is a double purpose, their own highest development and the greatest service to others. The first is a prerequisite to the other, though they can- not be wholly separated. They are to become “blameless and harmless.” They are not so in the state of nature and do not easily become so in a state of grace. Certainly none are absolutely free from blame in the eye of God and men can usually find some fault with most of us. But, at any rate, we can give men as little ground as possible to pick flaws in our character. Whimsical critics cannot be satisfied, but we do have to regard the sober judgment of God’s people in ethical matters. Lightfoot takes “harmless” to refer to the intrinsic character as in Matthew 10:16 “harmless as doves.” The word means literally “unmixed” or “unadulterated” like pure milk or pure wine or unalloyed metal.

In Romans 16:19 Paul says; “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil,” a noble motto for young and old. It is a great mistake to feel that one must know evil by experience in order to appreciate good. An unsullied character a man wants in his wife and the wife equally so in her husband. It is this sheer simplicity of character that is so delightful in children and, par excellence in the “children of God” in the full spiritual import of this term. The children of Israel, when they murmured, were not acting like children of God. Paul here quotes Deuteronomy 32:5 and applies it to the Philippians.

The children of Israel were full of blemish, while the Philippians are to be “without blemish” like the freewill offering (Lev. 22:21). The Israelites had themselves become ” a crooked and perverse generation.” But the Philippians must not fall to that low level, as they will if they give way to inward discontent. They must exhibit marks of perfection “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” It is an indocile or froward and so “crooked” (cf. Acts 2:40; I Pet. 2:18) generation. The word was used of crooked paths (Luke 3:5) and so of crooked steps and crooked ways. The word “perverse”‘ means twisted or distorted and is a bolder word like the Scotch ‘”thrawn” with a twist in the inner nature (Kennedy). Surely our own generation is not without its moral twist and means many straight men when so many are crooked (“crooks”), twisted out of shape.

Paul changes his figure, but goes on with the same idea, “among whom ye are seen as lights in the world.” These are the very people, the twisted and blinded by the darkness of sin, who need the light. Jesus is the real light of the world (John 8:12), but the followers of Christ also pass on the torch and so bear light to others (Matt. 5:14). Here the Philippians are pictured as “luminaries” rather than as lights in the world of darkness. As the moon and the stars “appear” in the night, so the Christians come out to give light in the darkness. In the dark night of sin the church of Philippi is a lighthouse in the breakers, “holding forth the word of life.”

The gospel has the principle of life in it John’s Gospel unites height and life as descriptive of the Logos (1:4) and Christ offers to men “the light of life” (John 8:12). Paul naturally blends the two figures here. Vincent rightly calls it “hypercritical” to change the figure in “holding forth. It is common to personify a luminary as a light bearer.” The figure can be either holding on to the word of life or presenting the word of life. In this latter sense one naturally thinks of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, holding forth the torch of freedom. Every church is a lighthouse in a dark place. The darker the place the more the light is needed. It is sad to see so many churches deserting the downtown districts where they are so much needed. Rescue work must be carried on where sin has done its worst. It is like fighting the plague. Thank God for the men and women who do take the light into the dark corners of our world. The word of life quickens to life and brings light to the darkened soul.

Be continued tomorrow

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