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No Joy in Division

Scripture: Philippians 1:15-18

I. There is no joy in division from other Christians.

A. The division between Christians in Philippi has to do with team anti-Paul preaching Christ from envy and rivalry. For some reason, they were jealous of Paul (vs. 15). These people are still proclaiming Christ. Paul then approves of their message. But their behavior of selfish ambition that Paul writes about in vs. 17 is sin. See Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit.” To seek to elevate yourself while tearing down another Christian is completely wrong.

B. To show you how wrong it is look at what other sins are found on a list that includes jealousy in Romans 13:13: “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” How bad is the jealousy that divides you from a fellow Christian? It is just as bad as participating in an orgy, getting drunk, or being sexually immoral. Jealousy that divides you from others is that bad.

II. There is no joy in division within your heart.

A. What is going on in the hearts of those on team anti-Paul? Five words show that the hearts of these Christians are not good. In verse 15 we see that envy and rivalry are in their heart. And in verse 17 we see that selfish ambition and a desire to afflict Paul are in their heart. Finally, in verse 18 that these rivals of Paul are preaching Jesus only in pretense. They pretended to be concerned about Jesus and the Gospel, but their real desire was to aggravate Paul’s sufferings.

B. Their hearts were divided within themselves. These preachers looked like they were committed to preach about a selfless, self-sacrificing, unself-seeking Christ, a Christ intent upon the eternal good of all whom he died to save on the cross. On the other hand, these preachers privately and secretly indulged a different set of values: self-seeking, self-regarding, moved by a desire to hurt one whom Christ had died to save. If you want joy then, you must guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

III. There is no joy in division about the truth regarding Jesus.

A. We see a Christian’s responsibility in vs. 15-18: preaching the truth about Jesus. There is no true unity in the church where there is no unity in truth. John gives three evidences that you are a Christian in 1 John 5:1-2: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”

Be united in a wholehearted love for Jesus and in believing the truth regarding Jesus.

The letter to the Philippians
Commentaries on Philippians by J.A. Motyer, Moises Silva, D.A. Carson & Steven Lawson

Sermon Discussion Questions

1) What reason did certain preachers have for being divided from Paul? Why could Paul still have joy even in this time of division?

2) How were these certain preachers revealing that they were divided in their own hearts? How were they being inconsistent in their own Christianity?

3) Some people today claim that it is only love that matters in Christianity. But what else matters according to Paul. What does 1 John 5 say are the three evidences that you are truly a Christian?