“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
One of the most blessed things Christians are privileged to participate in is the life of a local assembly of believers. It might surprise readers to learn that the Bible in both Testaments speaks almost exclusively within the context of local bodies. The Old Testament speaks specifically about the nation, tribes, and families of the Hebrew people. Their story of failure and success in being obedient to God and in becoming the people He desired them to be is a primary storyline of the Old Testament. The New Testament reads like a manual for righteous living within the context of the local church family.
Think about this friends – Matthew wrote for a Jewish audience, Mark a Gentile audience, Luke for the benefit of Theophilus, John to Christians generally speaking, Paul to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae to name a few. One thing these letters have in common with the possible exception of Luke is that they were written to churches. One could argue that Paul’s letters to Timothy were written to an individual believer but even then Paul was instructing Timothy on how to handle issues within the body of believers.
In our previous study we learned about the deadly disease of affluenza or materialism. The reason that this is so deadly for the Christian is because it results in an unbiblical focus on the acquisition of things.
Materialism causes people to lose their ability to achieve contentment and leads instead to compromise and coveting.
Jesus tells us in verses 19-24 of chapter 6 to beware of the trap of thinking that possessions satisfy the soul because not only do they not satisfy but they cannot satisfy. We are not designed by God to be satisfied by material possessions.
Notice that verse 24 serves as Jesus’ summary of the result of disregarding this spiritual truth – you will be mastered by things.
I want to consider two questions and their answers this morning in light of what Jesus says –
Most of you know this but it bears remembering that chapter and verse designations are man-made. They were placed throughout the text of the Bible as a means to navigate through the Bible. In many cases they do make a clean break in the thoughts of the authors. In the Sermon on the Mount however, this is not the case.
Chapter 6 continues the explanation of Jesus on what constitutes true righteousness. He has contrasted true righteousness from false righteousness by using the religious leaders of His day.
Jesus makes the point in this chapter that what people do is a direct result of the righteousness they possess – whether their own, or the righteousness God gives us through faith in Jesus Christ.
That was certainly the intent behind what He said in 5:17-20. Up till that point Jesus had taught the people how godly righteousness was first of all apprehended and secondly how it was manifested. In that passage verse 20 is a pivotal verse in helping us understand exactly what Jesus was saying.