Phillippians – the benefits of the present Christ moderating us (4:1-23)

Php 4:1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

Notice the words in this address – Brethren, “dearly beloved” and “longed for”. Paul longs to see them but remember in Chapter 1 he said he longed for them in the “inward parts of Christ Jesus.” This is Christ’s own longing for the fellowship. Jesus Christ longs for fellowship with us! This is not just Paul’s feeling. He already said that God is his witness how he longed for them in the “inward parts” of Christ Jesus. That would include all of us who are the brethren. We are dearly beloved and longed for by Jesus Christ Himself. We are also His joy and crown. On the one hand, they are Paul’s joy and crown, meaning that He is the one who led them to the Lord and was the steward furnishing them with the riches of Christ and raising them up in Him. But Paul is an extension of Christ. In a sense, we all are. We are members of His body. When we function, it is the operation of the measure in “each one part” and that measure is Christ Himself. That is why we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus at the Bema. It is all His work. We are His crown. We are His joy. We are His dearly beloved and longed for. This is worth meditating on. “Thank you, Lord, I’m a brother of Christ. I am a co-heir with Christ. I am dearly beloved. I am longed for. I’m His joy and crown.”

He tells them to stand fast in the Lord. He says, “so stand fast in the Lord”. You could say, “In this way stand fast in the Lord.” He has already shown them the way: To beware the evil workers, the concision and the Judaizers, to be the true circumcision, to learn to forget everything that is behind and to pursue Christ to know Him and gain Him. Stand in the Lord. Do not stand in your own righteousness. Be found in Christ.

Then he says “dearly beloved” again! He is warming them up because He is about to address an issue that was apparently enough of a “big deal” to have him address it. It got back to him through Epaphroditus, probably. Euodia and Syntyche had some kind of issue, but it must not have been that serious. But even little issues, when the fellowship is really fine-tuned and rich, tiny little issues can be the “foxes to spoil the vine.” Clearly neither of these people are off doctrinally. They are his laborers and they are so appreciated. They must have had some little thing pop up that triggered somebody’s “hot button” or their flesh or their vanity. It was threatening to become an issue. He is getting it at the root. I believe it could be a big issue, but it was not yet.

The root of bitterness can spring up and defile many (Heb 12:15). We have no idea the level at which the devil works to despoil any chance we have at fellowship (2 Cor 2:10-11). He does it through misperceptions, vanity, hurt feelings, exaggerating, etc. He puts the “emphasis on the wrong syllable” of what someone said to make it sound more intense than it was. Then someone gets offended and then they try to interpret it and it goes back and forth. Before you know it, more people are involved as witnesses and it just goes out of proportion. This can be true of a healthy fellowship. How much more does the enemy send people who are enemies of the gospel? We just need to beware of those altogether! The enemies of the cross, you avoid altogether. But these do not fall into that category. They are not dogs or Judaizes or anything like that. These are precious sisters in the Lord.

Php 4:2-3  I beseech Euodia, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.  (3)  And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

The admonition is given equally to each of them as an induvial to come back to the “same mind”. He already told us what that same mind is. It is “one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel” (Phil 1:27). It is a mind to contend for the gospel. You get your focus back on the gospel. Whatever it is, you have lost sight of that to some degree. He also entreats the “true yokefellows”. This word is awesome. It means we are bound together bearing the same yoke. However, the Lord is the one who is the “ox” with the strength to really carry the load. It is His burden. It is light for us. He asked the Church as yokefellows to help them. He reminds them that they are held in honor. He is admonishing them to not let their flesh right now cause them to forget who they are in Christ and how they are valued. He wants them to help these two get along. In other words, “don’t take sides, help make peace.”

Moderation versus Extremes

Php 4:4-5  Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.  (5)  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Php 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Php 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Regarding moderation, we should be characterized by moderation and not extremes. In Ecclesiastes we are admonished to not be “overly righteous” (Eccl 7:16). Everything, even in righteousness, needs to be handled in moderation so that you do not lose your humanity. You know, some people are so strict. They are an intolerable burden to everyone. You have got to be able to condescend to men of low estate (Rom 12:16). You have got to be able to deal with common people if you are going to be in fellowship.

Another extreme is a lack of sobriety. Moderation to me sounds like “sobriety” or “sober minded”. You know the Lord is “at hand”. He says, “Let your moderation be known to all men, because the Lord is at hand.” Does it sound like moderation when the Christians are saying, “Oh my gosh there’s baby parts in the vaccine and if you take it it’s going to be the mark of the Beast and you might even lose your salvation! Jesus is coming you better get right with God! Urgent, now! Rapture now!” No, that is not moderation. That is embarrassing, when you think about it.

It is precisely because the Lord is “at hand” that we should be moderate. We should be aware what is going on in the world, but not “freaking out” about it. We should be able to discuss it without getting “all freaked out.” If you are freaked out, it is because your mind is not renewed. The Lord is at hand. That means He is not only coming but He is also present! The reason we are able to be moderate is because no matter when we are in history related to His coming, we are in His hand now. We enjoy Him and we rejoice in the Lord always. We are a rejoicing people because of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We enjoy the Supply of the Spirit and we enjoy the fellowship, and we do all things in moderation because the Lord is at hand.

Being at Peace

Then He says, “be anxious for nothing.” Anxiety is not a fruit of the spirit. If so-called ministries are producing anxiety you need to stop paying attention to those ministries. Those are not ministries! They are not dispensing food, if your reaction is anxiety. I do believe in conspiracy theories and the Illuminati and the antichrist and the prophecies and everything. I have studied it for years. But I hate to see people merchandised and I hate to see people caught up in it to where they cannot approve of that which is excellent because they are so bound up in fear! You go to some of these “prophecy channels” and you can see the comments and watch what people say. You can see the people are not in the word. They are hanging on every word that this so called “watchman” is saying, and they’re hoping that “Watchman” is right about the rapture because he has spent several years describing in detail how it is going to be hell on earth. They are full of anxiety. Their hope is that they can get “Rescued” from the picture that the watchman painted. That is not ministry!

He says that we are let our requests be known to God “with thanksgiving”. We are praying with thanksgiving because we already know that it is finished. I used to spend a lot of time praying for “practical” things because I thought I “had to”. However, it felt like a burden. I never had any life in it. I did not enjoy it at all. I would think, “why do I have to pray for these things if God already knows what I need before I ask? Can’t I just keep it simple? Cannot I just say thank you that you provide all my needs. You know my needs. I just trust you. I put myself in your hands and I trust your goodness. Thank you for supplying for me.” That is actually how I pray now. I have problems like everyone else. My response is to say, “Lord, thank you. I trust You.” I have learned to pray that way because I do not have the tenacious strength that some people have to specifically pray over every detail of their life. I do believe that there are some people who have a calling for “intercession” and get burdens from the Lord to pray. However, I like this verse because it says, “don’t be anxious.” When you come across anxiety, just give it over to the Lord and thank Him. He is the provider. Just keep the Lord in mind. That is the important thing. That is the focus of prayer – to be refreshed in the Lord and stay with Him.

The peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep or guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. I heard so many teachings in religious Christianity where they said “pray about that thing until you have a peace. If you don’t have a peace you didn’t give it over to the Lord.” You would pray and pray about something and by the time you were done praying about it you did not feel any better. It was rooted in unbelief. Your whole focus was on the situation. It is true you didn’t give it over to the Lord but I’ve found the best way to give it over to the Lord is to forget about it and instead spend my time acknowledging who He is and what He has provided. He is the answer to all my problems. As many as are the promises of God, they are yes and amen in Christ. Every promise in scripture finds its “yes” in Him. He has promised to abundantly supply all my needs and take care of me. If I go through anything difficult, He is there with me. So, it has become a lot simpler for me. That is not to say that I do not get hit with anxiety, but now my response to anxiety is to start thanking the Lord and “preaching the Gospel to myself.” That pretty much gets me through. It is the only answer I know.

The Peace of God which passes understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus. That is the present Christ. He is the Lord who is “at hand.” You can be in the middle of a really anxious world and be free from anxiety and kept by the power of God. You have His peace guarding your heart and mind in Christ. That is your moderation. “Let your moderation be known to all me, the Lord is near.” You are not just “freaking out”. You are not moved. You are still plodding along because to you one day or another is all the same in the Lord. He is the I Am.

Php 4:8-10  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  

To me, this is “preach the Gospel to yourself.” That is the stuff that edifies and the only thing and the only Person in the universe that has all these characteristics is Christ Himself. That is why it is the Gospel that brings these things out. It is as we explore the riches of our inheritance in Christ that we have a mind like this. It is not just “think happy thoughts”. It is not just “listen to Tony Robbins so you can learn to be a happier person.” I need wisdom and discernment and revelation. I need a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I can approve of the things which are excellent and be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ. Only by this can I be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory of God. I need the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I want Christ to be magnified in me. I want to be found in Christ. I want to know Him in His excellency.

We tend to read Chapter 4 as if its separate from the previous chapters. He is talking about these things. He is talking about Christ and the excellency of the knowledge of Christ and knowing Christ, and being found in Christ and seeking to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings and to taste the sweetness and even become a drink offering. All of that language is the basis for what Paul is speaking of in chapter 4.

I have heard people pray in prayer circles. They will pray from Philippians 4 and talk about the true, honest, pure, and lovely things and will start thanking God for trees and flowers and for the weather. You have to sit there and endure it while you listen to them say “Lord thank you for the beautiful weather we’ve had and thank you that you made flowers for us.” It is so boring I want to fall asleep. There is no Christ, no life. But when you attach this chapter to the previous chapters chapter you will be filled with the kind of language that comes from those chapters. “Thank you, Father, we don’t have any confidence in ourselves. WE can do nothing. WE do not have confidence in the flesh. Lord we thank you that we have died with you and that we are abundantly supplied by your Spirit. We thank you that all of our situations turn out to salvation for us. Lord we thank you that Christ is being put on display in us. We would seek to know you and we want to be filled with you and satisfied with you. We want to be found rejoicing in you and overflowing with you.” This all comes from the previous chapters. In Chapter 4 Paul is not talking about something else.

The Present Christ

(9)  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.  

These things are the things he has been speaking of. And Paul is showing himself as the pattern. He lives in this reality. What has he shown them to do? Be found in Christ. Acknowledge Him! Discern Him. Approve of Him. Be found in Christ. Behold Him and rejoice in Him! Or, as I like to say, “preach the gospel to yourself.” And the God of peace will be with you because the word and the spirit bring the presence of Christ Himself. That is what we want. We do not want to just think about Jesus. We want the present Christ.

  • “Let your moderation be known to all me because the Lord is at hand!” “The peace of God which passes understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!”
  • “These things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do. The god of peace will be with you!” “
  • Let your moderation be known of all men because the Lord is “At Hand!”

We are talking about the present Christ. We are talking about the bountiful supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ working out to your salvation (Phil 1:19). We are talking about God operating in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure so that you shine as luminaries. We are talking about being found in Christ and counting everything as dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ and seeking to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. This is the intimate knowledge of a present Christ. That is our salvation. Not just, “we will go to heaven one day” but Christ is my life today. That is why I am not anxious. I am not anxious because I have the indwelling Christ and I am getting filled with Him to overflowing.

(10)  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

They went through a time where they were not able to meet his present need, but now Epaphroditus has come.

Php 4:11-14  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  (12)  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  (13)  I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.

Here is again it is the present Christ, the spirit of Jesus Christ, working all things together for my salvation so that Christ is magnified in my body. For me to live is Christ! God is operating in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure! I am not anxious for anything but the peace of Christ is guarding my heart and mind. The Lord is at hand. See, He is a present Christ strengthening Paul through the supply of the Spirit. That is how he can go through everything. It does not matter if he is in prison or in shipwreck or in a situation of bounty. His inward state is the same because he has been trained to live Christ.

Php 4:14-20  Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.  (15)  Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.  (16)  For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.  (17)  Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.  (18)  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.  (19)  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  (20)  Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

With the words, “an odor, a sweet smell, a sacrifice pleasing to God” in verse 18, he brings again the priesthood language that he used when he spoke of being a “Drink offering poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith.” This is all based on Christ, the real offering.

Php 4:21-23  Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.  (22)  All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.  (23)  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus.

In 22 we see the victory of Paul’s life. His most victorious statement is here because the gospel went all the way to Caesar’s household and pretty much guaranteed that it gained a foothold in the center of power in the Gentile world and had a secure place and wouldn’t fade out.

We’ve seen this Epistle is full of joy but it is not just an admonition to be joyful. It is a joy supplied by vision, by approving that which is excellent, by having a spirit of wisdom and revelation to see the Present Christ, and by the supply of the Spirit to enjoy Him. I pray that we learn to lay hold of Christ not as just a mindset but as a Present Person and that we would learn to be full of appreciation of what He is accomplishing in us!

[catlist name=”Philippians” numberposts=11]

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