Living by the Word of God

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Philippians 2, Psalms 37
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 13

Living by the Word of God

(Philippians 2, Psalms 37)

Copr. 2020, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Most all employees get evaluated by their supervisors. That happens to me, too. I am also evaluated by my students. My law school teaching started late in life, after decades of litigating. As a result, a consistent comment by my students is “He knows what he is talking about.” When you explain your understanding of the Bible, do people react, “That teacher knows what he is talking about?” “She knows what she is talking about?” The people who listen to your view of the Bible look at your life to determine your credibility. Do you know what you are talking about? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible to learn about living what we teach!

  1. Lighting the Path
    1. Read Philippians 2:12. The text starts out, “therefore.” That means we are about to read a conclusion to something. What is that “something?” (In Philippians 2:1-8 we are told to love others in the way we live, just as Jesus showed us when He lived on earth.)
    2. Read Philippians 2:9-11. How did living a life of love work out for Jesus? (He was exalted “above every name.”)
      1. What, “therefore,” should we expect is the message in Philippians 2:12 and the following verses? (Showing love to others blesses us.)
    3. Let’s find out. Read the rest of Philippians 2:12. Do you see a tension between “as you have always obeyed,” and “work out your own salvation?” If we obey, we are doing what someone else told us to do, right? If we work out our own salvation, we are doing what we tell ourselves to do, right? How do reconcile this conflict? (The Bible tells us that our obedience should reflect our personal understanding of the Bible, not simply what someone else told us was obedience.)
      1. Would we obey more completely when we are by our self, and not observed by others? (This is just the opposite of human nature. If no one will ever know, we feel free to do things that would otherwise get us in trouble.)
        1. What point is the Bible making here? (We should be constrained by our own opinion. If we obey only when others are looking at us that shows our obedience does not arise from personal conviction.)
        2. Why is “fear and trembling” involved? (These are important life decisions. They make a difference.)
      2. How would you summarize the points made in Philippians 2:12? (Our religious beliefs need to be our own. Not necessarily what others have taught us, and not how we want to be seen. Rather, they should be genuine, coming from our personal beliefs and expectations about how we should live.)
    4. Read Philippians 2:13. Who is working in us to help us make the right decisions about living? (God. It gives God pleasure when we do His will.)
    5. Read Philippians 2:14. Why does the Bible mention this first? (I don’t think it is an accident. Grumbling and disputing are not attractive traits. They do not give us joy - at least not a normal kind of joy.)
    6. Read Philippians 2:15. What does this say about the world? (It is “crooked and twisted.”)
      1. How do you explain the importance put upon not grumbling or disputing? How does this equal being “blameless and innocent” when all around are crooked?
      2. How does the reference to us being a “light” help us to understand the problem of grumbling and disputing? (A light is something positive. It helps us to see and avoid dangers. The Bible contrasts those who have the attitude of making things better with those who simply want to complain.)
      3. What does God have in mind for us in the phrase “blameless and innocent children ... without blemish?” (God’s goal is that we live without sin. There was only one perfect man that was Jesus. But, God wants “without blemish” to be our goal.)
      4. How should those of us who believe in righteousness by faith understand the “without blemish” goal? Does it mean our goal is to put on Jesus’ robe of righteousness? (There are two things going on that we must not confuse. We are saved, as sinners, because of Jesus righteousness alone. Our works do not save us. But, once we are saved by grace alone, Jesus has a greater goal for us - to live as unblemished lights in a “crooked and twisted generation.”)
    7. Read Philippians 2:16. What is the “word of life?” (The gospel, what the Bible teaches us about salvation and how we should live. This is what holds us in place when surrounded by a “crooked and twisted generation.”)
      1. What is the “day of Christ?” (The success of Paul’s teaching to the Philippians becomes clear at the Second Coming of Jesus.)
    8. Read Philippians 2:17 and Numbers 28:7. How does the writer (Paul) view his work for the Christians at Philippi? (He sacrifices himself so that they can learn about the gospel.)
      1. Normally, we do not like to give up ourselves in order to benefit others. How many times have you heard the question, “When do I get my way?” What emotion does Paul feel as a result of his self-sacrifice? (He says that he is glad and rejoicing, and he asks them to join him in that.)
      2. Are people attracted to those who rejoice and are glad?
    9. Let’s take stock. We started out with the conclusion (therefore) that Jesus love for others resulted in His exaltation. Do the verses that follow (that we just studied) suggest that is also true for us?
  1. Having the Right Attitude
    1. Read Psalms 37:1-2. We just discussed that we are living in a crooked and twisted generation. Should we envy what they have? (No. The Bible tells us that they will not have it for long.)
      1. Is “long” your entire life?
    2. Read Psalms 37:3-4. The question I just asked was to make you think about whether your entire life here would be one of tolerating evil and waiting for vengeance. What do these additional verses tell us about our life here on earth? (If we delight in God, He will give us the desires of our heart.)
      1. What is the desire of your heart? Is it a Rolls Royce? Is it a life of peace and joy?
      2. Should your desire be consistent with delighting in God?
      3. If you are not certain, what should you do?
    3. Read Psalms 37:5. Is this the answer to the last question? (Notice that Psalms 37:3 also tells us to trust God. Trusting God is part of delighting in God. This combined attitude of trust and delight shapes what we desire in life.)
      1. The last phrase of this verse says “and He will act.” How will God act? (We are told that God will do something. He is not sleeping, and He is not too big to notice our problems.)
    4. Read Psalms 37:6. When we considered Philippians 2, we learned that a goal of our life is to be a light to help others understand the gospel. How does this Psalm tell us that we can do that? (It says that God brings forth our righteousness and justice. This relationship (trusting and delighting) in God produces a positive, attractive, lifestyle.)
    5. Let’s skip down and read Psalms 37:8. What attitudes should we avoid? (Anger and wrath. Sometimes when I see evildoing it makes me mad. This anger makes me consider taking “justice” into my own hands.)
      1. What does this text tell us about that kind of attitude? (It “tends only to evil.” The instruction is “fret not” - “don’t worry about it.”)
    6. Read Psalms 37:9-10. Who administers justice? (The great God of heaven will give us the land and will cut off the evildoers.)
    7. Friend, have you done an “audit” of your life? Are you living by the word of God? Are you light and not darkness? Is the attitude of your heart right? If not, why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to come into your heart and give you the attitude that results in delighting in life and rejoicing. If you live a life like that, people will think that you know what you are talking about when you teach the Bible!
  2. Next week: We start a new series on “Making Friends for God: The Joy of Sharing in God’s Mission.”