Chapter 17

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Notes on Readings on Philippians 1:27-30, 2:1
"Conversation" as used in verse 27 means "manner of life." It is frequently used in that way. In the 3rd chapter it is altogether different. There it is another word: "Our conversation is in heaven." There are a number of different standards that the Christian is to measure his conduct by. Here is one: "Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ." Another is: "Walk worthy of the Lord." Another: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." Another: "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Here it is, "Let your conversation (manner of life) be as becometh the gospel of Christ." It would include all—cover all the others.
The only way the walk can conform to those rules is by having Christ as the Object. It is very simple for one who has received the gospel of Christ, "contending for the faith of the gospel," the whole truth of Christianity. Christianity is so different from Judaism in that way. They had so many "Thou shalts" and "Thou shalt nots." The Christian has nothing of that kind. He is partaker of a certain calling and his walk is to be consistent. The Holy Spirit does not teach or show anything except by Scripture. If that were not so, we would be exposed to Satan's attacks and the imagination of our own minds. Everything must be tested by Scripture, not by any sentimentality, feeling, or anything of that kind.
Satan has two ways of attacking: one is by seduction and the other is by terrifying. If he cannot seduce, he will seek to terrify. On the mount of temptation with the Lord, it was rather seduction, but not in Gethsemane. "He began to be sore amazed." That was seeking to terrify Him. "The devil...showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time"; that was seduction. That was just the opposite of drinking that cup from the hand of God. "In nothing terrified by your adversaries." "Whose children are ye as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement" 1 Pet. 3:66Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. (1 Peter 3:6). (The margin reads "children" as do other translations.)
In Gethsemane the Lord had to meet the devil. If we do not see that, we lose a good deal of what Gethsemane is. The cross was before Him, and the devil was seeking to turn Him aside. From all the quiet, calm and communion and love of that upper room with the eleven (and of John 14), out of that room to Gethsemane. "Hereafter, I will not talk much with you." As it were He says, "I will have all I can do to attend to Satan." When He left that upper room He went out to meet, not God but Satan; but He went out to meet him as the dependent Man, dependent upon God. The more the devil pressed the cup, the harder He prayed. "And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly." He met the devil in dependence upon God, not in His own power or might.
We find often that Satan seeks to terrify us. He did not succeed in terrifying the church though he persecuted it for about three hundred years. So he decided to try another scheme. He won in that conflict and the church accepted what his seducing power offered—a place in the world. "I know...where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is." That is the thought in the verse "In nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition." The adversaries often are made to feel the superiority of those they are persecuting. You get something of this in the history of martyrdom, how they were sustained in their sufferings.
Then we have that word "salvation." We get it several times in this epistle. It is always in connection with our circumstances, and not our souls. Notice in the first part of the chapter, verse 19, "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation"; so here, "But to you of salvation and that of God"; and in the next chapter, "Work out your own salvation"; that is, without the presence of the apostle. He says they will have to do it themselves; he will not be able to help them. "Not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence." He felt not being able to be there and help them, but he says, Remember "it is God that worketh in you," go slowly, be patient.
The 29th verse: "For unto you it is given on the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Here it is suffering for, not with; suffering for Christ's sake. Suffering with Christ is a natural and necessary result of having been born again and having the divine nature, the same nature that made Him a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We are made partakers of the divine nature. He felt the wretchedness and misery into which poor man had plunged himself in his departure from God, but where do we find the Lord blaming man for being in the pit into which he had fallen? He did not come to blame him but to lift him out of it.
Is there any place where He really condemned the sinner? He did the religious Pharisees. John 16:88And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (John 16:8): "He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on Me." All our sins are sunk into comparative insignificance in the presence of this: "because they believe not on Me." Of course, He has nothing but condemnation of the severest kind for the Pharisees. "Master, thus saying, Thou condemnest us also."
"Suffering for Christ" we take to be the result of testimony. There are two classes of suffering typified in the meal offering: the one is typified by the frying pan and the other by the oven. The frying pan gives what is external and as it were, its intensity, but the oven would bring before us those inward, quiet sufferings of the Lord, those unseen. The oven calls for endurance, so to speak, but it is constant steady pressure. We get the Lord in the frying pan in Gethsemane, but there was that which went on inwardly, constantly. The condition into which poor man had fallen bore on His heart. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him," but with: "If so be that we suffer with Him that we may be also glorified together."
It is important to see the difference between with and for. One is what goes on constantly, inside, feeling what sin has wrought in this world, and the other is the result of testimony. Sometimes you speak to a man about his soul and he turns on you and reviles you. That is suffering for Christ. If we are suffering with Him, the chances are we will also suffer a good deal for Him. 2 Timothy 3:1212Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12), "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Suffering with Christ is inward and a deeper thing. Consider the poor deaf and speechless one brought to Him. He sighed and looked up to heaven without saying a word; that was what He Himself felt. Then He said, "Be opened." He felt the awful condition, the result of sin, in what that poor one was suffering.
The character of Christian suffering is all alike; degree is different. Way back all those hundreds of years ago, the same suffering spoken of in Philippians has continued with the saints of God down to this day; the only question is as to degree, called in another Scripture, "the sufferings of Christ"—"as the sufferings of Christ abound in us."
What a wonderful link it will be when the church is gathered home to Christ in all its vastness and perfection; it will be seen as that which partook of the sufferings of Christ. Each member in its own little way, some more, some less; but there the whole body will be seen as those who partook of Christ's sufferings. When the church is seen by this world in glory, it will be seen as those who partook of Christ's sufferings. In that way God justifies Himself in having those people with Christ in glory. That is the teaching of Romans 8, of 2nd Thessalonians 1 also: "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us," rest to the troubled ones then and trouble to the troublous ones. These ways of God are remarkable and needful to be understood. When in the Father's house, all will be rest, ourselves the objects of His sovereign love and grace. When manifested to the world, that will be another thing. That is one point in Revelation 17, "They that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
What would you say if one were to ask what is the doctrine of the epistle to the Philippians? One can tell you about the Corinthians, Galatians, Hebrews, 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus, but what about Philippians? Many, many years ago, Mr. R.G. said, "I think Philippians is Christian experience on Ephesian ground," and that comes pretty near it. In no epistle is Christian fellowship so developed as in the epistle to the Philippians.