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Sermon Audio

Philippians 1:9(b)

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound even more and more

with real knowledge and all discernment,

10 so that you can approve the things that are excellent,



Our text this morning continues our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians.


Notice at once where we are in the letter. We are in the introduction or introductory section of the letter (vs 3-11). Importance: Paul uses this opening section of the letter to introduce the major themes and ideas that he intends to develop throughout the remainder of the letter.


Notice then the story thus far: in verse 3-8 Paul has provided the theological foundations of a living and heathy faith (that is, Paul has shown us those things that are essential to a healthy Christian walk)


Notice then the essentials of a healthy walk that Paul has given us so far.

·      A living and healthy faith is an active faith (it actively pursues the Gospel in self and others)

·      An active faith is the result active grace. That is, active faith is the result of God’s ongoing and active grace at work in the life of the believer (Why? The grace that saves you is a grace that changes you)

·      An active faith is a visible faith. It bears fruit in and for the lives of others


Notice the result, if verses 3-8 establish the theological foundations of a healthy faith, then our text this morning shows us how we are to respond.



Verse 9a (Review)

Notice at once, Paul prays that the Philippians’ love may abound/increase more and more. Importance: at once verse 9 tells me how I am to respond to the salvation and living faith that God has given me. How? I am to grow in it more and more. However, please note, Paul does not prescribe just any sort of growth. Instead, he is very specific. Paul wants the Philippians to grow/abound even more in their love for Christ and the things of Christ. Why? A Christ-centered love is the only legitimate and sustainable basis for active faith. How? Think about it: Our salvation is a gift of God’s grace that originates in and is defined by His love alone. Not only that, salvation means that God has saved us into a real relationship with Himself and His people. Therefore, it is no surprise to find that love for God and all that God loves is to be the way we engage/participate in that relationship. In turn, it is this very same love that is to be what motivates us to grow in that relationship FN #1.  Bottom line: first and foremost, Paul prays that the believer will grow in his love for Christ and all that Christ loves. Why? It is from this love that every detail and every aspect of a healthy Christian walk proceeds.



Verse 9b

Next notice how Paul wants the Philippians’ love to grow: Paul wants Philippians’ love to grow with or according to real knowledge. In other words, for Paul biblical love is not open-ended. It is not a matter of opinion, convenience, or popular consent. Instead, biblical love is always based on, defined by, and practiced according to God’s Word.FN#2 That is, I am to love God as He is (not as I would prefer him to be). In turn, I am to love what God loves and I am to love the way God love. Simply put, my love is always to be based on the real knowledge of God’s love as God has revealed it in His Word. Notice the result: biblical love (love based on God’s Word) is a love that makes God known (both to myself and to others). Importance: first, verse 9 underscores the importance of staying in God’s Word on a daily basis. Second, notice the corrective verse 9 provides for today: when we base love on what we desire, on what is popular, or on what we think is best (anything instead of God’s Word) we inevitably distort who God is and bring harm to others FN #3. Bottom line: verse 9 reminds me that true love is always based on God’s love as that love is revealed by God in Scripture.



Next, notice the second way Paul wants the Philippians’ love to grow: Paul wants the Philippians’ love to be according to true knowledge and by way of all discernment. That is, for Paul biblical love requires more than an abstract head knowledge of cognitive facts about the Bible. Instead, Biblical love requires a living and active faith. That is, real love requires a faith that because of practice, because of experience, and because of a consistent faithfulness to follow God’s Word in everyday situations has the ability to discern/understand a situation in light of God’s Word. As such, it knows how God’s Word applies to various circumstances around it. In turn, it is able to discern God’s hand at work and to identify the sort of things that please God and promote His Kingdom. In short, true love requires a living faith that because of practice is able to navigate the complexities of life according to God’s Word with precision and faithfulness FN #4.  Importance: notice, Paul does not merely pray that the believer will have some discernment nor does Paul pray that they will have discernment every now and then. Instead, Paul prays that the believer will have all discernment. That is, Paul wants the believer to be able to see every detail of their everyday life in terms of God’s Word. Notice the result: at once verse 9 reminds me that my knowledge of God’s Word is to be active. That is, I am to read God’s Word expecting to put it into daily practice. In turn, I am to live everyday with God’s Word as my continuous and ongoing point reference. Bottom line: living faith is living and active because it loves God and the things of God. Therefore, it knows God’s Word, lives God’s Word, and has become good at applying God’s Word. As such, it loves God as He truly is and is able to love others according to God’s love for them.




Verse 9

1] Over and again Scripture tells us that ours is a relationship based on love. Jesus said

 John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

The idea is here is not that you better keep my commandments in order to prove your love otherwise you won’t get into heaven (such would be back door works righteousness). Instead the idea here is that those who love me will want to be with me and will love the things I love. In the same way John tells us,

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Notice in both verses love comes first and then out of this love flows a desire to please God (a desire which is a joy not a fear driven bourdon). Again, this does not mean that we don’t ever feel guilty or that we are not ever deterred from doing something by fear of the consequences. Instead, what it means is that fear and guilt should drive us back to the security and healing of God’s great love. Notice then we come to church confessing our sins and acknowledging our guilt. However, the reason or motivation in coming is because we know that we will be greeted by the great love, forgiveness, and healing of our God and Savior.



2] ἐπιγνώσει (true/real knowledge)- biblical love is always based upon and practiced according to God’s Word. Notice then we find this same idea in I John:

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

In turn, notice the example that Jesus Himself gives:

Matthew 4:3 And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"

By contrast Scripture warns us again and again about the danger of surrogate standards

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires;



3] Notice the result: as many well-meaning believers today have traded God’s love for what seems best in the world’s eyes, the witness of the church has become fractured. That is, instead of presenting a unified witness of who God is and the true direction of His ways, we have presented a mixed, confused, and often times flat out false witness of God. At the same time, this false witness blurs sin, legitimizes the false idols of man, and inevitably brings eternal hurt to those we are claiming to love.



4] Biblical love requires a living faith that because of practice is able to navigate the complexities of life according to God’s Word with precision and faithfulness Notice we find this same idea over and again throughout Scripture:

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.



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