Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
The apostle Paul writes to the Philippians concerning the testimony they have to the unbelieving world. He encourages them to stand strong in the faith and not be frightened at all by those who oppose the gospel. Then Paul makes a very interesting comment about what happens when believers stand united together not at all frightened or intimidated by those that are enemies of the cross. He states that this type of resolute stance is a sign for their destruction. When believers stand strong and are not intimidated by anything that the enemies can do, it is a sign that these people that are opposing them are slated for destruction. How does this work?
First of all, this does not mean that Christians are to go around boldly yelling at anyone who disagrees with them. Look at the context. Immediately after this, Paul states that it is given for Christians not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for Christ. So what Paul is saying is not that believers are to stand resolute and not take any guff from anybody who wants to tell us what to do. On the contrary, Christians stand up for what they believe, and if there are any consequences in the way of suffering or persecution, we endure it patiently. When we endure this suffering the way Christ endured His suffering, this is a clear token that those who are inflicting the suffering are going to experience God’s judgment. We demonstrate by submission that we have done nothing wrong by believing in Christ, and we are completely willing to suffer the consequences for doing what is right.
The conclusion of this thought is that this is how Christians are engaged in the conflict. Would you like to be engaged in the Christian conflict? Stand firm in your faith, patiently take any persecution by unbelievers, and this will be a prophetic sign of their destruction. While functioning as a sign for their destruction, this also functions as a sign for our salvation. When we see other believers who endure suffering for Christ patiently, we identify them with the Christ of Calvary. When we see Christians who are unwilling to suffer for Christ, but must instead have their rights, we see people who are not identified with the Christ of Calvary.
Think of Paul and Silas in the very city of Philippi. The Philippians witnessed this story firsthand, Acts 16:12-40. Paul and Silas had done nothing wrong. They were falsely accused and thrown in prison. At this point, they could have objected being Roman citizens. Instead, they patiently took the punishment without complaining. They sang songs of praise to God in the presence of the jail keeper and other prisoners. As they took this punishment without complaining, it became obvious to all that they had done nothing wrong. Then when the earthquake hit and the chains fell off, the jail keeper knew that he must repent or face God’s judgment. Why? He had been party to the false accusations against these men. His only hope was to repent in the sight of God and these men because it became evident that they were a sign of judgment against him. God’s judgment was not manifested because Paul and Silas stood up for their rights, but because they relinquished their rights and suffered for Christ’s sake. Can you imagine the joy of the Philippian jailer when he reads this letter from Paul about suffering for Christ. It was through the suffering of Paul and Silas that God’s conviction came upon him in the middle of that blessed night.
Let’s project this forward into the end times. As we draw closer to the end, we can expect persecution against Christians to increase. What should be our course of action? Will we fight for our rights? Or will we patiently suffer for the sake of Christ? How about when the church enters the great tribulation? How will we live out our Christian faith? Are we prepared to suffer for Christ? Remember how II Thessalonians 1:4-7 holds out hope for the churches who suffer persecution for the kingdom of God. Here again is plain evidence of the righteous judgment of God demonstrated through suffering for the sake of Christ. Only in this passage, it is clearly linked to the glorious appearance of Christ in flaming fire, in vengeance, with the holy angels, repaying those that have been persecuting the church.
Do you want to be a prophetic sign against unbelievers?
Suffer patiently for your faith.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
II Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,