Lesson #14 Title: As Children of God, Blameless and Harmless - Page 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Philippians)
by John Lowe
Title: As Children of God, Blameless and Harmless
Scripture: (Philippians 2:14-16, NIV)
(14) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, (15) so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (16) as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
In verses 14-16 Paul focuses his attention on our relationships with fellow believers as well as the unbelieving society around us. To form those relationships we must work toward living worthy of the Gospel, which means displaying an honorable testimony to the world through loving unity within the church. These verses give specific instructions on how to work out God’s “good purpose” (v. 13) in relation to daily Christian living.
(2:14) Do everything14.1 without grumbling or arguing,
One of the most common failures of Christians who have lost sight of the wonder of God’s grace is the tendency to complain, often about little things such as food and drink, as illustrated by the children of Israel during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Such complaining, however, is a symptom of a deep-seated spiritual problem—failure to really trust God and failure to be submissive to His heaven-sent provision. In the case of Israel it brought forth from God the most severe judgment. In the lives of Christians, complaining is a symptom of being out of touch with God.
These verses tell us how God feels about “grumbling” and “arguing” among Christians— “everything”14.1 was to be done “without grumbling complaining, murmuring; it describes the low, threatening, discontented murmuring of a mob who distrust their leaders and are on the verge of an uprising. or arguing”disputing with our fellow man —everything a believer does. “Grumbling” is the translation of a word which suggests a bad attitude. The apostle may have had in mind the behavior of the Israelites during their wilderness wandering, who often complained to Moses and in turn to God― “And do not grumble, as some of them did―and were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Corinthians 10:10).
“Arguing” suggests a legal aspect of disputing and may refer, at least in part, to the practice of going to civil courts to settle their differences (1 Corinthians 6:1-11). It is more likely, however, that the apostle’s instruction refers to the internal dissension which was disturbing the peace of the church. The Philippians must avoid all unholy strife, in order that they may become the kind of people whose witness will commend them to outsiders.
Although the Christian life is not unreasonable, the will of God may seem unreasonable at times to a Christian. Whether one disputes with God or disputes with his fellow Christians, such dialogue often suggests a lack of submission to the will and revelation of God. A Christian is called to unquestioning obedience, and in his relationship to other Christians should not be argumentative. If we refuse to “grumble and argue,” we put the powerful truth of Jesus Christ on display. As a result, the community of unbelievers sees us as genuine sons of God. Therefore, our holy living within the church demonstrates our identity as “the sons of God” and shines Christ’s light on the surrounding world (v. 15).
Special notes and Scripture
14.1 The order of the words is quite significant. The word “everything” stands out. Most Christians do most things “without grumbling or arguing.” The challenge is to
do “everything” in this spirit.
(2:15) so that you may become blameless and pure, “children “sons”
of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shinenote 15.1
among them like stars in the sky
The importance of the kind of behavior called for is set forth in Philippians 2:15-16. Before their testimony for Christ could ever be effective in the community where they lived, the Philippians needed to set some things straight in their own assembly. The Philippians lived in a “warped and crooked (depraved) generation.” Again, it seems that Paul had the unbelieving Israelites in mind. The world today, like theirs, is unscrupulous and perverted. Most people have turned their backs on God and truth. In this kind of world God’s people are to “shine like stars” (Matthew 5:14-16). They are to be “children of God without fault.”
Evidently the believers were complaining (to God and each other) and “arguing” (with each other). As a result they were not “without fault” among the unregenerate; they were not shining like stars in their world. The Philippian assembly needed to show themselves as united and as one in Christ. Non-Christians we’re not being attracted to Him by the saints’ strife and controversy; therefore, Paul continues his call for them to have an attitude like Christ’s. Not only does Paul call the Philippians to humility and service, but he also warns them against spreading disunity in the Christian community.
“Blameless” means “above reproach.” This does not mean sinless perfection. The corporate testimony of the church is in view. All believers are called on to live out the salvation God has worked in them—to progress in their spiritual maturity. The people were to live so that those outside of Christ could not rightfully point an accusing finger at them. A Christian walking in fellowship with God is in a good spiritual state to assure any who will hear that the Word of God which he is offering will satisfy the hungry heart.
“Pure” translates a word that was used for wine which had not been diluted and of metal which had not been weakened in any way. Jesus also used the word when He told the 12 to be “innocent” as doves (Matthew 10:16). Paul wants them (the Philippians) to be “Pure and blameless,” living out the Christian life with inner unity and outward holiness in spite of the condition of the world around them. The Christian life should be of such purity that none can find anything in it with which to find fault; and it must be such that it can be offered like an unblemished sacrifice to God. It is often said in courts of law that the proceedings must not only be just but must be seen to be just. The Christian must not only be pure, but the purity of his life must be seen by all and his motives must be unmixed. Christian purity must emanate from a complete sincerity of thought and character, blameless in the site of the world, sincere within itself, and fit to stand the scrutiny of God. The Christian offers and demonstrates straightness in a twisted world and light in a dark world. Their purity of life and character would make them stand out as lights in the darkness in a world which is crooked, that is, dishonest and perverse crooked; perverted; misled
, even to the point of becoming “depraved” or “morally perverted”.
Special notes and Scripture15.1
Shine means “appear” or “show yourselves.” Christ is “the Light of the world” (John 8:12); believers are only “light bearers” reflecting His light.