Well we have entered day seven of our Philippians Study and have made it to verses 19-21 of chapter 1. I feel as though I have been challenged so far through this study to slow down and enjoy Scripture. I think so often we are so rushed to get through a few verses of the Bible in the name of “quiet times,” we miss out on a lot the Words of God have for us to enjoy. When we slow down and consider a few verses in light of a much larger context, we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us His understanding and guidance so that we can learn to be Christ-like. With that, we will begin once again.
“For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Prayers are valuable to Paul.
He has a big reliance on the Holy Spirit for his deliverance.
Paul never loses hope, despite his imprisonment. He truly believes that God will vindicate him from his prison life.
He really wants to make sure that his witness reflects Christ in every way.
For Paul – to live is Christ and to die is gain.
I think oftentimes, our perception of prayer is not strong in that God hears our prayers and that He answers them, according to His will. There are so many verses in the Bible about prayer; I won’t attempt to exhaust them. What I will say is that God hears the prayers of a humble person. He loves when people have real conversations with Him. Our prayers should not always be “Lord, give me this – Lord, give me that.” Our prayers should be that of worship and joy as well as sorrow and need. In Paul’s cases, he knows that there are people praying for him that are asking for God to release him from prison. He can sense it. He is thankful for it.
The Holy Spirit binds us when we are in need. There is a famous line that goes something like this: “It’s like the wind – I can’t see it – but I can feel it.” I think Paul is experiencing this moment in prison. As he writes to the people of Philippi, Paul feels the Holy Spirit and is strengthened by its overwhelming presence.
Not being ashamed is difficult at times. Sometimes, it is easy to cower in our circumstance and not stand boldly for the Gospel. We are more concerned about how someone would react to our Christian lifestyle rather than their need for salvation. In our concern, we back down and rarely allow our Christian lives to be known to others. Paul wants the people of Philippi to know that in prison or in their presence, he is not ashamed of Christ.
Honoring Christ with our bodies does not necessarily mean sexually – though it does imply it as a part of what Paul is saying. Since our bodies a temple, for the Holy Spirit, we must do our best to maintain it and keep it in good order. Paul goes beyond that though and puts himself front and center. Essentially, Paul is stating that he has nothing to hide from God. He wants to believe that God will be honored by his life. While in the body, Paul wants to be a vessel the Lord uses. This is something we should all want.
To live is Christ – how true that is. Without Christ, we are dead. We are dead in our sin and dead in the flesh. We ultimately have no hope without Christ. It is because of Christ, we can breathe. We are a new Creation – like the first Adam – when God breathed into his nostrils and gave him life. So we too are like Adam – through Christ.
To die is gain – another awesome statement by Paul. This is where some might be confused. So I hope to make this a lot easier to understand. The reason this statement is true has everything to deal with heaven and God. In heaven, there is no sin. There is no hate. There is no division, pain, crying, or lust. Everything is perfect – in every sense of the word. We are given new bodies, given new names, given a dwelling place to live with Christ, and given an unbreakable relationship bond with Christ. Until then, we remain here on earth. We have to deal with the pain and the hurt and the tears. We have to deal with sin, lust, anger, and hate. For Paul – death is gain. To put it another way: Paul can’t wait to be with Christ for eternity because that is so much greater than dealing with all this crap on earth.
No matter how we slice it, prayer is essential and important to every day life. It is one of the biggest ways we grow in relationship with God. It is not a crutch to get us through life but it is a means of communicating with God that we often never use. We need to honor God with our life. It isn’t easy but God requires it of us. Christ is life and being with God for eternity is far better than dealing with this world. We will see next time though how Paul contemplates all of this. And we will see how he resolves his thoughts for now. Until then, be blessed.