Interceding for Godly Character – Part 3
“9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11 NASB)
Previously, we saw that Paul prayed for the Philippians to live lives marked with love, wisdom and integrity. Paul continues to tell us in verse 11 what that will lead to. It will lead to their lives being filled with the fruit of righteousness, but ultimately to bring glory and praise to God.
Recently, I had a conversation with a brother in the faith whereby he was conveying to me the thoughts of another professing believer. This professing believer was under the assumption that one could be fully pardoned of sin, yet still live any way they desired. As anti-Christian as that is, that type of belief is still prevalent in the church today as it was in the first century. This type of thinking is antinomianism, which Paul specifically combated in Romans 6:1-3. Titus 2:11-13, as well as numerous other passages, conveys that Christianity has demands and practical results. Clearly, that professing believer did not truly understand what salvation really is.
So what does Paul mean by fruits of righteousness? First let’s look at righteousness. This righteousness that is being spoken of is a state of being that has been imputed to the believer graciously from God through faith in Christ. Before faith in Christ, we were unrighteous due to our sinful nature and evil deeds. But as Christ has assumed our sin by being the Sacrifice for sin, by faith in His death and resurrection, we have inherited a right standing before God and His righteousness or right-ness. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 3:22)
The fruit of this righteousness is godly thinking and actions. It is the visible evidence of our new life in Christ. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, we are to submit to His working daily that the character and work of Christ would be evident in us. Galatians 5:22 describes this fruit of character. As this becomes our character, practical works or actions of godliness will be evident as well. Ephesians 2:10 tell us that God has ordained good works in our lives as a result of our salvation. Along with our right standing before God, we were saved to have right character and behavior.
The only way this happens is as Paul says, through Christ. Sadly today, many churches don’t emphasize the gracious access we have to God through Christ. The centrality of Christ and the cross are detrimentally de-emphasized in our church culture. Christ is singularly the most important person in existence and too many professing Christians are ignorant of His matchless work and essence. As Peter said in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Are we bored with Christ? Do we thank Him daily for His sacrifice? Do we exult over Him? Outside of a redemptive relationship with Christ, we cannot please God. We are made accepted in the Beloved, Jesus Christ, whom the Father was pleased with.
The overarching purpose of our fruits of righteousness is, as Paul says, to the glory and praise of God. The implication ultimately points back to the main purpose of our salvation, which is the same. Though we are the objects of His salvation, we are not the primary cause of His salvation. That may be hard for some to hear as theocentric soteriology isn’t popular in many pulpits, but it is Biblical. The primary cause of His salvation is to vindicate His own mercy and grace as Paul tells us in Romans 3:24-26. This is why Paul says even the fruit of this imputed righteousness is for God’s glory.
Paul’s prayer awesomely echoes Jesus’ words from John 15:4-5,8, “4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ….8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” May we continue to show we’re His disciples by bearing much fruit through our abiding relationship with Christ for the glory of God!!