Heavenly Conduct – Pt. 1
“27Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28in no way alarmed by your opponents–which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.” (Philippians 1:27-28 NASB)
After thanking God for the believers in Philippi (vv 3-8), praying for them (vv 9-11), and encouraging them (vv12-26), Paul now exhorts them concerning their conduct. It is my firm belief that the greatest witness of the gospel is a person’s life bearing evidence of submission to Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It also is a person’s life that can hinder the gospel.
Though the recurring theme in Philippians is joy, this epistle reveals several other issues in the church at Philippi that Paul addressed. After giving them an encouraging and a comforting report of his perspective of his present circumstances in vv12-21, Paul turns his attention toward them. Apparently, there was disunity among the Philippians. In addition to v27, 2:1-4 and 4:2-3 reveal such division. Also, such behavior would be counter-productive to the persecution they were experiencing.
In verse 27, Paul uses the word politeuomai for conduct. This word comes from its root word politēs which means citizen. Essentially, Paul is commanding the Philippians to live according to the laws and customs of their citizenship. While Philippi, a Roman colony, was their earthly residence, the citizenship Paul is referring to is their heavenly citizenship (3:20). Jesus prayed to the Father that the disciples would conduct themselves accordingly because they were not of the world (John 17:16). Likewise, Paul was exhorting them to display heavenly customs in their everyday manners and course of life.
However, to walk worthy of the gospel of Christ, one must first understand the gospel and its accomplishments. It is imperative to understand the gospel’s judicial aspects to appreciate Paul’s command. These judicial aspects are:
- It is propitiatory – Jesus’ sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross satisfied God’s just judgment against sin. And because of this, He is able to extend mercy toward those who come to Christ and reconcile Himself toward them.
- It is expiatory – God cleanses us from our sin upon faith in Christ.
- It is justificatory – Not only does God cleanse us from sin, but also declares us righteous or imputes righteousness to us based on the work of Christ.
- Adoption – The depth of our reconciliation brings us into God’s family receiving the eternal promises thereof.
These judicial aspects convey God’s moral aspects and actions of love, grace, humility, forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation, which we’re called to walk in.
Worthy is the Greek word axios and it means being of like value or weighing as much. In other words, our lives are to carry the same weight practically as the judicial benefits we’ve received and the position we now stand in by God’s grace in Christ. Paul displayed this worthy conduct while in jail as verses 12-26 describe and by example he authoritatively implores the believers in Philippi to the same standard in their current situation. May we take heed as well.
Prayer Jesus, thank you for your work on the cross and what it accomplished. Forgive us for not meditating on the depth of what it took to render us acceptable toward You. Forgive us for not living worthy of the gospel at various times in our lives. Enable us by your Spirit to live worthy lives! Amen.