In the world of sports, the phrase “respect the process” is often used to remind people that there is no “magic wand” or “easy button” that can create a winning team. It takes hard work, discipline, and lots of “behind-the-scenes” effort to be successful, and anyone who thinks otherwise is most likely nothing more than a “consumer” with a lack of understanding about the dynamics and inner workings of these organizations.
The process is important. The process is the path to success. In fact, there is no success without the process.
Within the Lord’s Church, we often talk about the “steps of salvation;” drawing attention to the fact that, although salvation is certainly an “event” that takes place at baptism (Rom. 6:3-6; I Pet. 3:21; etc.), the New Testament teaches that it is also a process. Anyone who thinks that baptism alone can save us has not “examined the Scriptures…to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11).
For example, we can’t hope to be saved by the grace of God through faith before we even HEAR the good news about Jesus (Rom. 10:14). We also can’t expect forgiveness of our sins if we don’t repent/turn from those sins (Acts 2:38; Lk. 13:3,5). These “steps” (among others) lead us towards salvation, and to think that we can attain/obtain salvation without participating in this process is an idea that is not found in Scripture.
The process of salvation is important. We need to respect this process in our own lives and in the lives of those who are in need of the gospel.
This week, we resume our study of Philippians 1:9-11, where we observe another kind of process that leads to bringing glory to God. So far, we have seen that the following things will put us in a position to bring glory to God:
Step #1: Abound in love
Step #2: Use knowledge and discernment
Step #3: Approve what is excellent
As we get back into our text, the next “step” that Paul mentions is found in verse 10: “and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
This “step” seems to be slightly different from the preceding three steps in the sense that this is an inward and spiritual RESULT of doing these first three things.
The word translated “and so” literally means, “in order that,” or “so that” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon), and is a kind of connective tissue between two things. For example, you might say, “I take a bath so that I can be clean,” or “I work hard in order that I can provide for my family.”
In our passage, Paul is connecting the preceding ACTIONS with this important and vital RESULT. If the Philippian Christians will abound in love, exercise knowledge and discernment, and approve what is excellent (all of which require effort on their part), it will put them in a spiritual condition that is necessary in order to bring glory to God: they will be pure and blameless.
But what does it mean to be “pure and blameless?” At first, it seems like it might be a reference to spiritual “cleanness,” (and it certainly could include that idea), but upon closer look, it may have another meaning…
The word translated “pure” means “sincere, unsullied” or “found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun’s light” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). It also means, “without hidden motives or pretense” (BDAG Lexicon).
The word translated “blameless” means, “pertaining to being without fault because of not giving offense” (BDAG Lexicon). The same word is used by Paul in Acts 24:16 when he says, “So I always take pains to have a clear [blameless] conscience toward both God and man.”
In some sense, these words reflect a spiritual cleanness that is only possible in/through Christ; but it also seems that these two words are being used to describe a sincerity and genuineness that every Christian must have if he/she is going to bring “glory and praise” to God (not to mention being prepared “for the day of Christ”).
Are we pure and blameless? Are we genuinely seeking God’s will in every corner of our lives? Are we fully committed to Him and to His Word? Do we have a singular focus and goal when we wake up each day?
Or are our attentions divided? Are we trying to serve “two masters?” Do we have hidden motives behind what we do for the Lord? Are we pretending to be something we aren’t?
The condition of being “pure and blameless” is part of a process; it is not an “event.” This is a chosen lifestyle that has only one goal: to serve and please God. There are no ulterior motives with this kind of person. There is nothing for them to hide. There are no surprises in terms of who they really are.
In other words, we can’t “skip over” the first three steps and go straight to this one. It takes effort, work, and the help of God along the way in order to arrive at this point in our walk with Christ.
Are we pure and blameless? If so, we are in a position to bring glory to God; if not, we might want to back up and reexamine our approach to the first three things that Paul mentions in these verses.
Join us next time as we examine the final step towards bringing glory to God, and may God bless you as you grow closer to Him each day!