That’s Biblical, you know. It says in 2nd Corinthians 3:2–3:
You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.Right living is crucial to our witness. This is probably why it is so difficult – why Satan does everything in his power to trip up our lives. But simply living in the flesh, we will struggle with our walk. It really is too easy to drift away from the right Christian path. Unfortunately, living as a Christian is like trying to swim upstream against the current. Our human nature is always trying to pull us back. If we stop swimming, we lose all the ground we gained. The current pulls us back away from right living and back into sin. So it takes constant effort.
But, falling away doesn’t usually happen instantly. Falling back into sin is a gradual thing. As John MacArthur says,
“Falling into sin usually happens in stages. First a believer merely tolerates something he knows is sinful, perhaps criticizing it but taking no strong stand against it. Next, he accommodates it, a little at a time, each time becoming less concerned about its wickedness, until it ceases to become an issue. Next he attempts to legitimize it, by making excuses for it, embracing it as part of a normal lifestyle.”Do you find yourself on that slide?
Alexander pope expressed it this way in An Essay on Man:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,Live your life right. Right living is critical. The World is watching. And for the Philippians, so was Paul. Paul was really concerned for their conduct, as I am for yours.
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Philippians 1:27 continues:
. . . so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospelNotice that Paul expects their conduct to be right whether he is there with them or whether he stays away. What we do shouldn’t be dependent on other people. We shouldn’t be pulled into sin by peer pressure – we shouldn’t let it drag us down. But we shouldn’t need other believers to have to hang on to us and keep us out of mischief either. We have a free will, and we need to exercise it for good, not evil. We need to take responsibility for our own conduct and make sure it is right.
Paul longed to hear this good news about them: “that [they] stand fast in one spirit.” He wanted to hear that the people in the Philippian church had kept their conduct right. That’s what we want to hear about you too.
In Philippians 1:27, where it says, “Stand fast,” it means to steadfastly hold ones ground. That sounds like Stonewall Jackson, doesn’t it? He was the General who always stood his ground regardless of the danger or the opposition arrayed against him. The single Greek word “stand fast” translates was used of a soldier who holds his position at all cost. We need to hold onto right conduct no matter what - at all personal costs. We must never be willing to compromise on right living.
That’s what Paul longed to hear about them. That’s what any pastor longs to hear about the congregations he leads – that they “stand fast” morally.
But, Paul also threw in the phrase – “in one spirit, with one mind.” This is obviously talking about our unity. Unity in a church is critical to a church. But right conduct leads to unity, if we are all pursuing it.
Paul will address this more in Chapter 2, but as a preview, look at verses 1-2.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.Nothing destroys the testimony of a church any quicker than for a church to tear itself apart with conflict. A church split will set a church back at least ten years as people refuse to forgive and hold onto grudges. So many churches are like a pack of dogs constantly snapping and growling at one another over a scrap of meat. They are like the warning Paul gave the Galatians in Galatians 5:15, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”
And the community watches – the world watches – your family watches. If we don’t love each other enough to get along, how can we love them, they think? And our testimony is again destroyed.
But, the best way to keep that unity, as you can see from verse 27, is “striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” This is talking about team work - bout joining arm and arm to accomplish the goals of Christ. Too many congregations strive against each other. They are constantly undermining each other with negative comments and criticism. They are politicking and choosing up sides. That is all of Satan.
But we are to strive together for the faith of the Gospel