In our last post we see that knowledge and discernment shape our growing love. In verse ten we are given the reason.
Philippians 1:10 so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,
Know What Is Best
The reason that knowledge and discernment shape our love is so that we would be able to examine what is right in front of us and determine what is excellent and what is best. Not only do we need to determine right from wrong, we also need to determine what is best from second best.
Now the word approve means more than just cognitively recognize, it’s embrace and delight in. Based on a growing knowledgeable and discerning love, we pray that we can joyfully choose the things that are best in this life. Our life is a series of choices. This is why we need discernment. What we choose day in and day out shapes our lives.
Foolish and sinful choices leave us unprepared for the coming of Jesus. We live in view of “that day of Christ” by knowing Jesus and passionately pursuing a life that matters. Now we can take comfort in the fact that this is a prayer. This is something that we are called to grow in. The reason we are praying this way is because we need to grow in being able to approve the things that are superior. We need knowledge to know what’s right and wrong AND discernment to know what is best for us according to God’s Word in each moment.
It’s easy to look back and see where discernment would have been needed or maybe discernment was there but it wasn’t brought to fruition in a way that it should have been. But the point of this passage is not to look back and beat ourselves up, but to direct how we move forward. It’s God’s desire that his church is a place where people can together walk in knowledge and discernment so that we can help each live out verse ten.
Pure and Blameless
Why do we need to be to approve things that are superior? So that we can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ. God wants us to be ready for the moment when Jesus comes back. Paul would often pray this way for those he wrote to.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you. May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. Amen.
Jesus is coming back and we should desire to be ready to meet him. Now this doesn’t contradict what we saw in verse 6 that told us that God will finish what he started. Our past justification, current sanctification, and future glorification are all of grace. What this shows us is that we are saved to live righteously. We are saved FOR good works, not BY good works. The fact that Jesus is coming should influence the way we desire to live our lives.
Live For His Coming
I can remember as a kid whenever my Mom would leave us at home she would give us a job to do that had to be done by the time she returned. She would leave and without fail I would go play and completely forget about that chore…until the moment I heard her car pull up into the driveway. Then there was that moment of panic – MOM’S HOME! I would race off to start what I was told to have finished.
Paul is reminding us that Jesus is coming. This truth should cause us to live pure and blamelessly. Now we may read this and think, aren’t we already pure and blameless in Christ? Positionally, yes. But Paul is not referring to our position in Christ. He is referring to the way we live. You can see this by the fact that he is asking for it. You don’t need to keep asking God to justify you. You’re justified!
Paul is praying that our lifestyle would be pure and blameless. Pure means sincere. It literally means to have been exposed by sunlight and found genuine.1
In ancient times, buyers would hold up a piece of pottery to the sun to make sure there were no cracks that had been covered up. In modern times we hold up a dollar bill to the light to see the watermark that proves it’s real. That’s the idea behind this word.
It means sincere. It denotes transparency of heart. Paul is praying for their moral transparency. He is praying that our purity would not be just be our position in Christ, but that our lifestyle would continually grow into more and more alignment with our position in Christ. Paul is praying for real moral change to take place as the Holy Spirit works in our hearts.
He prays that we would be pure. He also prays that we would be blameless. Blameless doesn’t mean sinless. To be blameless means the way I live my life isn’t leading others into sin. It’s not causing others to stumble. It means I have a clear conscience.2
The same word is used throughout the New Testament. Consider the following verses.
Acts 24:16 I always strive to have a clear conscience toward God and men.
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Aim To Please Jesus
Now, because of our position in Christ, it’s impossible to make God love us more. But just because we are totally loved by God doesn’t mean he is always happy with our choices. Every parent understands this on some level. You always love your kids, no matter what. But that doesn’t mean you are always pleased with how they are behaving.
God’s love for us is never in question. And it’s because of that love we want to live blamelessly. We make it our aim, our goal, our purpose, to be pleasing to him. This means we are continually waging war against the sin in our life through confession and repentance and actively pursuing holiness and seeking to please God in everything we do WHILE we are trusting in Christ’s sinless perfection.
Saved For Good Works
It means we increasingly become filled with the fruit of knowledge. You’ll notice between verses 10 and 11 that there is no “and” or “then” between pure and blameless and filled with fruit of righteousness. So it would seem that filled with the fruit of righteousness is what it means to be pure and blameless. Galatians 5:16-26 is a great passage that lays out for us the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. There are also many other passages that tell us good works are a fruit of grace.
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
The good works that God calls us to do are a part of living a pure and blameless life. It’s not just what we don’t do, it’s also what we do. Now at the beginning go verse 11 he prays filled with this fruit. These means there are no half measures! Paul ain’t playing. We will meet Jesus so let’s get at it.
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Living a life that was pleasing to God was a consuming force in Paul’s life. This is not a prayer for us to go clean ourselves up so that we can meet Jesus. It’s a prayer for us to grow in Christ-likeness, which flows from our union with Christ. It’s a prayer to become what we are because we are going to meet Jesus. And the fact that this is a prayer shows us that this is a work of God in our lives. Verse 11 says this comes through Jesus Christ. It’s not trusting in ourselves to grow in holiness. We can’t rely on how long we have been in church. It’s not about how polished you are or how articulate you are. Holy living comes through Jesus Christ.
What Paul is doing is praying in alignment with what God is doing. So the example for us is: Pray in accordance with God’s will and then live your life in a way that reflects you believe God is going to answer that prayer.
We diligently pursue growth in reliance to God’s answer to prayer for our growth.
Are you praying for specific, spiritual growth in your life and are you striving to experience that growth in dependance on the Holy Spirit?