E53: You are a child of God. Shine as a light! – Philippians series

PODCAST: You can become blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Are you up for the challenge?

  • E53: You are a child of God. Shine as a light! – Philippians series
  • Do everything without complaining? Become blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation? (Philippians 2:14-15.) You can do just this! Are you up for the challenge? It actually boils down to faithfulness in the little situations of life. We can all do this! In this episode from our Philippians series, Julia and Kathy talk about how we can shine as lights in the world right where we are.

    Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 53: Philippians 2:14-15 – You are a child of God. Shine as a light! – Philippians series

    Welcome to ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we talk about how we can “live the gospel” every day, no matter who we are, where we live, and what our circumstances are.

    Kathy: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of “Living the Gospel.” I’m Kathy.

    Julia: And I’m Julia.

    Kathy: And today we’re on episode 3 of our series on the Philippians, or on Paul’s letter the Philippians.

    Julia: So today we’re focusing on a couple of verses in the second chapter of Philippians, starting in verse 14: “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14.)

    Kathy: OK, so I thought a good way to do this would be to kind of break down the verse a little bit. So just take it part by part and kind of review what Paul was talking about here.

    Julia: So, the first thing it says is, “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” Fairly straightforward.

    Kathy: Yeah. But it’s interesting, because when you think about, what are these things that we’re supposed to do without complaining and disputing? In the verse right before that, Paul writes about, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to do.” And we’re actually going to talk about that a little bit more in the next episode. But these things that we are to do without complaining and disputing are those things which God works in us to do, right?

    Julia: Right. Well, it can be easy to look at a verse like this and just think of it as like, obvious outward things that you have to do and nobody wants to do. Like, doing dishes after you eat or something …

    Kathy: Right. I’m going to do the dishes without complaining.

    Julia: Right. But it’s all these little things that God prompts in your heart for you to maybe give up or put to death in your own nature.

    Kathy: And then that second part too, about disputing, I thought like, sometimes I think when God shows us something that needs to be overcome, like laziness or selfishness or something along those lines, then we can almost start to argue with God about it. Dispute with Him, right? Or, you know, you kind of think to yourself, “Oh, it’s not that bad. It’s not like I’m doing some outwardly horrible thing.” You can come up with these excuses and in that way kind of dispute, with God, “I don’t need to do this.” Right?

    Julia: It’s actually, to do that, it doesn’t seem like a horrible thing, maybe. But it’s actually arrogance. What you’re doing, whether consciously or not, is arguing that you know better what’s good for you than God does. You know?

    Kathy: Right. As if, “That’s not quite right, God. I’m OK here.” But I was reading in some of our church literature, and Sigurd Bratlie wrote, “It is amazing that we should need such an exhortation when God is working. The reason is that God’s work goes against our human reasoning, our lusts and desires.” And then in another article he said, “Murmuring,” which I think in the Norwegian translation, they say murmuring instead of complaining, “is a terrible sin. It is, first of all, unbelief. One doesn’t believe that all things are for one’s good, but then one doesn’t love God, either.” So, the things that God works in us are 100% for our good! He’s not trying to make our life hard on us.

    Julia: God is also the one who knows me better than I know myself; knows every little thing about me. And my human reasoning can look at something and say, “Ah, this isn’t so dangerous, I don’t really need to do this.” But He knows exactly. If there’s a situation that I’m putting myself in that He knows where I’m weak, He knows better than I do that, OK, you need to leave that now. For example, I think back as a teenager, shows that I watched that were super funny and seemed harmless, but they’re a little crass sometimes, or whatever it is. And God just gently prompts me, you need to give that up now. And then it can be so easy, “Yeah, but it’s funny. It’s really harmless, I don’t really think about it afterwards. It’s not that bad.” But no! God knows where I’m weak. He knows what’s good for my spirit and what’s not. And He has specifically told me do this, because He knows it’s the best for me. And He loves me and wants it to go well for me. So, what incredible arrogance it is then, to be like, “Nah, I don’t think so. This is fine with me. I’ve thought about it and it’s fine.”

    Kathy: And then that’s actually faith in Him, when we just are obedient to what He prompts us to do, believing that He’s prompted it because He knows best for us.

    Julia: And that everything He does for us is out of love.

    Kathy: Absolutely. Everything. And then that leads right to the next part of that verse, or actually, it’s the next verse. Verse 15. “That you may become blameless and harmless.” (Philippians 2:15.) So, this first part, learning to do all things that God works in us, and to do them without complaining and disputing, but to be obedient to them, that leads us to become blameless and harmless, right?

    Julia: Because everything that God is saving us from is just those things that will cause hurt and harm.

    Kathy: Well, I was thinking about that then. What does it mean to become blameless? And we’ve talked a few times on this podcast about the accuser. And he comes and he tries to get a hold of you with little things. “Oh, you did this poorly and you did that bad, and you did this and that …” But when we are living before God’s face and we have a good conscience before Him… In other words, we are being obedient and doing as He shows us, as much as we are consciously aware, then actually, we are blameless! Satan actually has nothing to come to us with, right? Like, he can’t say, “Look, you did that,” when it wasn’t even something maybe that I did consciously choosing to go against God’s will. Obviously sometimes we slip and fall, but we haven’t consciously chosen to say yes to it. So as long as we are consciously doing the things that we know is right, and consciously denying that which we know is wrong, then we’re blameless and Satan has nothing on us.

    Julia:  Paul writes a lot more about that in Romans 7 too, which you can get into. But that’s exactly what it is, that the grace of Jesus is first and foremost intended for our salvation, but also when our heart is to become like Him, and that’s what we are working towards and we are, like you said, being faithful to everything that we know so far, then we are blameless, even though there are things that we don’t yet know to be wrong that we maybe do.

    Kathy: But we have a good conscience before God.

    Julia: And Paul actually, well not just Paul, but in James too, there’s so many other verses that kind of touch on the same topic. Like, James, he says, “Let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4.)  And then Paul says again in Ephesians, he’s talking about the bride here, he says, “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27.)

    Kathy: So, we are being transformed; we’re in this process of transformation, of sanctification, right?

    Julia: It’s incredible hope.

    Kathy: It is incredible hope!

    Julia: I feel like we say that all the time, but it really is.

    Kathy: I know, but I just feel like life becomes so much more. Like, you get such a freedom and an openness.

    Julia: Well, even just to think about the word harmless, for example. I don’t know if it can sound silly or it can sound small, maybe? But to think that I could be harmless, that I could not cause harm to anyone else. That would be amazing! Obviously I want that!

    Kathy: Yeah, exactly. Well, James writes in chapter 3:16, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” The interesting thing is that what we’re aiming for is the opposite. We’re overcoming envy and we’re overcoming self-seeking and all these things that cause turmoil and unrest, and then I can create peace and harmony and goodness around me, right?

    Julia: And then the next part of the verse says, “That we become children of God …”

    Kathy: Which is … Think about that for a minute. We become children of God. And that’s not just a saying we use, “Oh we are God’s children.” But it actually is written that we become brothers of Jesus and we actually inherit all things with Him!

    Julia: Like you said, we’re Jesus’ brothers. It’s written in Hebrews chapter 2, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11.) And that’s actually huge! That carries huge meaning, that we are… Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brethren. It’s like you said earlier, about as long as we are working and faithful to what we know so far, Jesus is not ashamed of us. We’re His brethren, and we’re children of God, just like He is.

    Kathy: And then in Revelation 21:7 it says, “He who overcomes …” That to overcome is to overcome those things that I find in my nature, those things like we read about, envy and self-seeking, for example. I overcome those through the power of the Spirit, and then, “…shall inherit all things,” it says. “And I will be his God and he shall be My son.” That’s just not something that we can actually, on a human level, figure out.

    Julia: I don’t think we can quite get our heads around it. That we can have that close of a relationship with God.

    Kathy: Right. Like Jesus says, we will sit down with Him on His throne, as He sat down with His Father on His throne.

    Julia: And that relationship can be that close because we are blameless and harmless. Like, God will not be united with sin; He will not be united with a mind that doesn’t want to be just like Him. So, if we’re working on ourselves that way, and we’re getting rid of sin so we can become like Jesus, then we have a mindset that’s worthy to be called a child of God.

    Kathy: And I think that whole … knowing that, and having that before us, first of all, just gives us this thankfulness, like that should just create this love in me and desire to be completely pleasing to Him in everything I do, right? And that’s what kind of drives me to live this life, where I want to do all things without complaining and disputing, for example. To choose His will over my own. Because in the end I want to be with Him!

    Julia: And then to end off with it says, “Then we will shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” (Philippians 2:15.)

    Kathy: The thing is, I think when God created the world, He wasn’t creating this crooked and perverse place. But He was creating a place where the intention was that people should treat each other with goodness and love and where that ruled, where that was the spirit that ruled, right?

    Julia: That was His intention, yeah.

    Kathy: That was His intention. And another way to say that is that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven, but of course we know that the truth is that sin did come into the world and ruined everything.

    Julia: Well, this is actually interesting. For me, when I was … So, we always do this based on kind of a rough outline, to make sure we hit all the right points. We don’t script it fully, but. So, I was reading through it beforehand, after you had drawn up the script, and it says here, and I was kind of reading it out loud to myself and I think I read it maybe, like, my tone was a bit funny, “Of course we see that sin came in and ruined everything.” And it kind of sounds funny. But then it just kind of hit me. Like, everything that has been ruined, it has been ruined because of sin. It is only sin that ruins things.

    Kathy: Yeah. Absolutely. When you think about all the horrible things that happen in this world. But why did that happen? Because of sin. Because of people’s selfishness, made that kind of situation possible. So, sin really did ruin everything. And that’s why Paul called this world “crooked and perverse,” in that verse there. And it probably is more now than ever before in history, right?

    Julia: And that’s why too, like, you can kind of, in a way get up in arms about all kinds of things and look for change, but the only real solution to anything is that sin needs to be gone! Jesus needs to be the head; that’s the only way anything is actually going to get fixed.

    Kathy: It’s true. We have to live this life where we’re following Him. And if that life is taking place inside of me, if I am in the process of sanctification, then I am doing God’ will on earth, and fulfilling His intention for creation actually, right? And then this life is born inside of me and starts to shine out from my life, like it’s written here. We will shine as lights in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation.

    Julia: And if you are walking, doing God’s will on earth, and walking in the light, it will come out of you. It’s impossible for it not to, regardless of whether your earthly circumstances maybe don’t look so flashy. But I just, I don’t know if it makes sense, but in my mind, I guess I’m a very visual person, but in my mind I kind of see like, this container that, there’s so much content and life in it that it’s almost bursting and shining through the cracks.

    Kathy: Like, you can’t contain a life like that.

    Julia: You can’t; people will see it, and they will notice it. And it can be like it’s written in Matthew, that a city set on a hill can’t be hidden. And that’s what we are to be in this world.

    Kathy: And then I thought about this too. It’s easy to think of the world in general and the spirit of the times as crooked and perverse, and of course that’s true, but I have to see that sin lies in my own nature, actually. And if I want to be separate from that spirit and be that light that shines, then I have to take up a cross against the sin in my own flesh, first and foremost. That’s the thing I can do, is take care of the sin within my own person. And then instead of just being helpless in the face of what we see in this world, we’re fighting against it and we’re overcoming it and we are fighting in that battle against Satan and his hosts of wickedness. And we know that one day in the end we’ll stand on Mount Zion with Jesus, right? As His brothers. As children of God. And then when He comes to fix this broken world, we’ll be there with Him.

    Julia: And we have to keep that in front of us.

    Kathy: We do.

    Julia: The other day at church we heard about … Moses was talked about. That he looked to the reward. And that Jesus too, that He always had the goal before Him. And that’s exactly what got Him through and helped Him to … I mean, if you want to say it in human terms, to achieve these lofty goals of being blameless and harmless. To look forward to that. That one day I’m going to come back with Jesus and we’re going to dry every tear and we’re going to set right all these horrible situations and things and cleanse the world of all sin.

    Kathy: So this is a goal you can set for yourself. You can be blameless and harmless in this crooked and perverse generation. And that is something that you can do right now. It’s not something that, maybe, in a few years, if you’re fighting … But you can be that right now and you can shine as that light, right now, in your day-to-day life. In your school as you’re walking the halls. At work when you’re dealing with co-workers or customers or whatever it is. If you’re with your kids, with your friends and your family. Like, you can shine as a light in your situation that you’re in right now.

    Julia: Yeah, so that they can get a taste of Jesus from you. That’s a goal worth having.

    Kathy: So thanks for listening again. And we also have an email address now, so you can reach out to us with any comments or questions you have as well there. And we’ll put a link to that in the episode description for today.

    Julia: Yup. So, we will see you next time.

    Kathy: Thanks for joining us. Bye.

    Julia: Bye.