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I was reading in Galatians and reminded of a statement in the fifth chapter where the apostle Paul says this in verses 14 and 15: “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” This is spoken to believers who are to live lives of love and not bite and devour one another and consume one another. It seems to be that that is a very important word to the evangelical culture of our day as well.

This is a very base, coarse, rancorous, angry, hate-filled, volatile, pejorative culture in which we live. It seems as though all normal restrained discourse has been replaced by ugly, bitter, attacking, devouring speech at all levels; and that has, as it seems everything does in the culture, made its way to church. And the Internet seems to be where all that is played out with a measure of escapability and anonymity where you can pour out your animosity, your hate and your ad hominem attacks and feel good about it, when, in fact, you should not. Doesn’t honor the Lord for Christians to be having a food fight on the Internet over every issue and pointing what’s wrong with everybody else, while the world watches this betrayal of everything that we say we believe and everything the Lord would have to be true about us as His people.

So I want to talk about this whole issue of unity in the church, but I want to Philippians chapters 1 and 2 to do that. So you can open your Bible to the opening chapter of Philippians; and I’ll just draw you down to verse 27 of chapter 1 and read down through verse 4 of chapter 2.

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents – which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose, doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” We’ll just stop at that point.

We have unleashed in our culture massive flood of identity socialization. Everybody has a certain group that they’re assigned to by certain gender or racial or social characteristics. This division of people into all these subgroups is part of an overall strategy to overpower those in authority in our nation. It attacks education, it attacks law enforcement. It attacks all authority. Everybody’s in a group and every group has an agenda. The justification of this on a social level has managed to corrupt the church, where the same kind of group identities are becoming hostile to one another.

As I said, when we went through Colossians 3, came to verse 11, “In Christ there is no Jew or Greek; circumcised, uncircumcised; barbarian, Scythia; slave, freeman,” – and you can add Galatians 3:28 – “male or female.” Our new identity in Christ is we are all the children of God: Christ is in us all, God is all and in all. We have a new family, we have a new Father, we have a new brotherhood and sisterhood, and all those old identities do not exist in the church. They’re artificial and they’re jammed into the church from the culture in order to do the devil’s work in the church, in order to rip and shred the church.

This is nothing new. As I read from Galatians, Paul’s concern was that people in the church were biting and devouring one another and consuming one another with various kinds of hostility. Here in the passage I just read to you, it is apparent that there were issues about unity in the Philippian church as well. He says to them, “Make my joy complete” – in verse 2 – “by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose, doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.” This is to address the fact there was division in that church.

In the fourth chapter, very specifically, in verse 2, Paul identifies two women: “I urge you Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” Now you don’t really want to be the two women who God called out in a biblical book. But these two women did. And in verse 3 he asks, “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help women.” You’ve got to resolve this hostility.

Now there’s a very, very basic, basic desire on the part of the Holy Spirit for the church, part of the Lord for the church and those who shepherd the church, and Paul identifies it in verse 27. This is where it all begins: “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Paul is writing from jail. He is writing under the duress of being a prisoner in a Roman situation. He is writing under the ugly reality that there are those who are basically his enemies, who are preaching Christ, and at the same time denouncing Paul. There are people who are saying he’s in jail because he has some great sin in his life. They are attempting to elevate themselves by pushing him down. So Paul is facing the rigors of incarceration in a primitive situation, and the deep disappointments of preachers condemning him.

In the opening part of chapter 1 he talks very personally, and he’s okay with this. He’s okay with prison. He’s even okay with people who criticize him as long as they’re preaching Christ, and he will rejoice that Christ is being preached, because in the end, he says in verse 21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” “It’s never been about me. I live for Christ. Whatever comes my way is within the framework of His purpose for me, and even death is gain.”

But in verse 22, he says, “If I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I’m hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.”

“Look, I’d like to go to heaven. I’d be happy to go right into the presence of the Lord from this stinking jail. I’m happy to be done with all the suffering. But as much as I would want to be with the Lord, which is far better, I am willing to stay for your sake, for your spiritual progress.” And he says, “I think the Lord’s going to let me stay.” As much as he wanted heaven, he would postpone heaven to help this church.

So what is it he wants? If you’re going to postpone heaven and say, “Lord, leave me here.” For what? To confront what? That leads us to verse 27. Here’s the issue: “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” That sums up every pastor’s heart appeal. If you’re going to say you’re a Christian, please act like one. Act like one. Live a life that is consistent with your profession.

Now look at verse 27. The first word is “only.” It’s first in English and it’s first in the Greek original text, because it is the priority. “Only” is placed there emphatically as the first word because he is pointing to only one issue that would cause him to postpone heaven. “This is the only issue, that you would conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” That is the pastoral passion, it simplifies everything. If the pastor’s concern is that you conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, then he’s going to do everything he can to see that that is done. That’s the direction of his preaching; that’s the direction of his praying; that’s the direction of his counsel.

Paul is not complicating ministry, he is simplifying it. “Only this, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” That’s the whole issue of being a Christian in the world. Conduct yourselves in your behavior consistently with your confession. Look, the Lord left you here after He saved you to be a shining light for the gospel: “Let your light so shine before men they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:16.

But look what Paul says in Philippians 2, verses 14 to 16: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Again, talking about the fact that there was discord and grumbling and disputing. “Do all things without that, so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.” You’re going to have to get rid of the ranker and the discord and the disruption and the distinctions and the division and the disputes if you’re going to live “above reproach in the midst of this crooked and perverse world and appear as lights in the world, holding hast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I didn’t run in vain or toil in vain.” Paul says, “Look, when I get to heaven, I don’t want to see that all of the efforts I made were in vain because you never let your conduct match your confession.”

This is not a small issue in our contemporary Christian culture. It seems like every day that goes by there’s another massive open public default of some Christian leader, or supposed famous Christian, famous for I don’t know what, who says, “I’m not a Christian anymore,” or, “I’m having to cancel my meetings because of immorality,” or whatever. It’s just endless. It’s endless at the leadership level, which means it’s everywhere at the level below that leadership.

So how do we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? What is the gospel of Christ? The good news that Jesus can deliver you and will deliver you from sin, that whereas you were the slave of sin, through Christ you’ve become a servant of righteousness. The gospel is that you’ve been born again, you’ve been regenerated, you’ve become a new creation, old things have passed away, new things have come. You’re not who you were, your life is different. And I’ve said this to you before. Now as a believer, your life is marked by love: love for the Lord, love for the Word of God, love for the church, love for the lost. Your life is marked by humility. Your life is marked by the pursuit of righteousness. Your life is marked by obedience – joyful, thankful obedience to the Word of God – and your life is marked by thoughtful worship. That’s all that he’s saying. That’s the kind of life that matches up with a confession that you have believed the gospel and been transformed.

Now notice the verb “conduct yourselves.” It’s very instructive, because the first part of that word in the Greek language is polis, from which we get politics and political. It’s the Greek word for state, for state. And the verb actually means to behave as a citizen of a polis, to behave as a citizen of a free state.

The ancient world was broken up into free states, mostly city states; and there was a lot of pride about your city states. Paul chose this term because it closely relates to the thinking of the Philippians and those in the ancient world. Philippi, for example, was a free polis, a free city state. Philippi was 800 miles or so east of Rome, but it was a Roman colony, and it had been elevated because of what Rome had done. That was pretty much true in the Roman Empire, as it expanded, it elevated people. It brought in all of the riches of the literature and the education and the advancements of Rome to the rest of the Mediterranean world. The Philippians were proud to be Roman citizens. They prided themselves in being a Roman colony. They therefore were protected by Roman law, as we see in Acts 16 when there’s horror over punishment that might be rendered to a citizen of Rome. There was great pride about the fact that they were the Roman city state of Philippi.

In Roman colonies, for example, the citizens never forgot that they were Romans because they spoke Latin, the Roman language. They wore the Latin Roman clothing. They called their magistrates and their officials by Roman names. They insisted on being stubbornly Roman however far they might be from Rome itself. They understood much about the privilege of being Roman and being protected by Roman power and Roman law. They understood that to be a Roman citizen carried with it some level of nobility. It brought about – these are words that are very important – duty and responsibility.

To the ancient Greeks and the ancient Roman colonies, the state was not just a place to live, it was a partnership with other people which had privileges and duties designed to promote the common good, the good of all society. In the state, the individual citizen would develop his capabilities and his abilities not simply for his own sake, but for the sake of the polis, for the sake of everyone else. Mutuality, interdependence led to pride, proud to be a Philippian. I can remember a few years ago when there was a song, Proud to be an American. I don’t think we sing that song anymore. They did in the ancient world.

So the verb means to live as a citizen. Paul is saying this when he says, “Conduct yourselves.” He saying, “Live as a citizen of the kingdom to which you belong, with the all the rights and privilges, yes, but with all the duties and responsibilities for the good of all. You can’t be in the polis of God, the kingdom of God, the city state established for those who trust in Christ and live for yourself.” That’s why down in chapter 2, verse 3, he says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but regard one another as more important than yourself.” That’s consistent with living in the ancient city state. He’s not talking about our earthly politics, he’s talking about heavenly reality. So Paul is saying, “This is my only concern, that you live as a citizen of heaven, with all the rights and privileges, and all the duties and responsibilities, partners with each other in the spiritual kingdom, for the good of each other, for the well-being of each other, not looking on your own things, but on the things of others, humbling yourself. Live as citizens governed by the life and law of God, governed by righteousness, faith, love, service, worship.”

Hebrews chapter 12 says that we are a part of heavenly citizenship. “We are a part of the general assembly and church of the firstborn enrolled in heaven.” And I told you this when we were studying Colossians 3:11, that those identities that were part of our former life before Christ are gone, and we are all one in Christ. God is our Father, Christ is our brother; we are brothers and sisters with all who are in Christ. This is our polis, this is our state, this is our kingdom, and we are to live according to the life and laws and duties and responsibilities and privileges of being a part of the Lord’s kingdom.

That’s why, as we saw some months ago in Colossians 3, Paul says this, verse 1: “If you’ve been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you will be revealed with Him in glory.” Set your mind on things above; you are a citizen of the heavenly kingdom.

Now that just gets us a couple of words into verse 27, so let’s go back. “This is my only concern, that you live in such a way as being consistent with the kingdom of which you have become a part. So you conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

Let’s take the word “worthy,” axiōs. Simply means comparable, or equal, or consistent. In other words, live in a way that is consistent with the kingdom you are in, consistent with what you believe, consistent with what you know to be true; consistent with what you confess, with what you teach, with what you proclaim. This is integrity. This is what it is to be a Christian: live a life consistent with your confession.

The worst of all possible things to undermine the integrity of Christianity is to profess to be a Christian and behave in a way that is absolutely antithetical to what it means to be a Christian. Better that you never say it than that you claim it and don’t live it. It is only when the church lives true to its message, true to its confession, true to its belief, true to the transforming power of the gospel. It is only when the church lives like that that its witness has any power. So if Christians are going to get on the Internet and spew hate at each other incessantly, they’re not living in a way that is going to enhance the gospel. Integrity says, “This is what I believe and this is consistent with how I live.” That’s integrity: your confession and your behavior are consistent.

Paul is fearful that the Philippians are coming short of that. And again, he’s willing to postpone heaven to hang around long enough to help them on the way. But he also acknowledges that they need to behave in the correct way whether he’s around or not; it shouldn’t depend on him. So in verse 27, he says, “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you.” Consistency, integrity in the church, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, worthy of salvation, transformation, regeneration.

“Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation?” Romans 1:16. “Does the gospel produce a new creation?” 2 Corinthians 5. The gospel is the good news that God loves and saves and transforms sinners from slaves of sin to slaves of righteousness. That ought to be manifest. So the life of a believer in the church is to be like the life of a noble citizen of a great state, only vastly more significant with a whole lot more at stake. How can we, according to Paul in chapter 2, verse 15, prove ourselves to be the children of God unless by blameless and innocent behavior in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation where we hold fast the word. So we hold fast the word, and our behavior is consistent with that word.

Look at chapter 3 for a moment, verse 17. Paul still speaking about the importance of behavior, says in verse 17, “Join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. You have had examples of how to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Follow my example, and others, you have seen. For many” – verse 18 – walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” He, no doubt, is talking about people who are connect to the church.

But they are actually enemies of the cross of Christ. Why? Verse 19, “Their end is destruction, their god is their appetite, their glory is in their shame, they set aside their minds for earthly things.” In contrast, verse 20, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” There are plenty of people professing Christ who are earthly-minded. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, their glory is in their shame, they’re proud about their wretchedness, and they mind earthly things. There are more people claiming Christ, but actually living in that category than we could ever imagine.

So the main verb here in Philippians 1 is a call to consistent conduct on the part of believers so that their lives are as Christlike, or Christian, as their confession. “Whether I come and see you, remain absent, this is what I want to hear.” This is a heart of a pastor. I can tell you, that’s what I would long for you long after I’m gone. I’m not always going to be here. But I would love to believe that the unity that is called for here between your theology and your behavior will continue.

Paul had reasonable fears, reasonable fears, because he was seeing things that weren’t right, because he knew, as he said in Acts 20, that wherever there’s a church, evil men will rise up to corrupt it theologically, and wolves will come from the outside, not sparing the flock. He knew because of his experience with the Galatian church. The people could easily be led astray even from the gospel, and that they could actually begin in the Spirit and think they were perfected by the flesh. He had reasonable fears for all that could go wrong in the church. So Paul says, “I just have this one issue, and that is that Christians behave in a way that is consistent with the transforming power of the gospel. If you’re going to confess Christ, then undergird the reality of that confession with your conduct.”

Now what does this look like? Paul’s going to give us four features of this kind of conduct. Number one, go back to verse 17, “So that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm.” Let’s stop right there. Here’s the first feature of worthy conduct: standing, standing firm. The Greek word stēkete. It is a military word and it basically looks at a soldier who doesn’t leave his post. No matter what happens, no matter what comes, no matter how great the assault, how difficult the task, he never moves, he never flees, he never cowers. This is where it all begins. Your conduct starts with standing firm, standing firm, unyielding fidelity.

To what? What is it that we’re supposed to be unyielding and devoted to in such a way that we are immovable? Over in chapter 4, verse 1, Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” “Stand firm in the Lord,” what does that mean? In all that is consistent with Christ. That would be doctrine and behavior.

At the end of 1 Corinthians in chapter 16 and verse 13, Paul says it another way: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Stand firm in the faith, “the faith,” not subjective faith; objective faith, the Christian faith, the body of revealed truth inscripturated. Stand firm in the faith. Be unwavering in your devotion to biblical truth.

Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Stand firm in the grace with which Christ has set us free from the law, and don’t go back into legalism. Stand firm in your doctrine. This is, of course, where our conduct is grounded.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter 3, Paul says, “Now we really live,” – verse 8 – “if you stand firm in the Lord.” Paul says, “My life is so bound up in the fact that you stand firm in the Lord that I don’t even really live unless you’re standing firm in the Lord.” That is deep into the soul of this man.

Everything in his life was about people standing firm in the Lord. “In the Lord” means in everything that is consistent with the Lord, and that would be, again, truth and conduct. “My life” – he says – “is tied up in that.

Second Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by letter from us.” Stand firm in the New Testament revelation from the apostles. Stand firm in the truth. So listen, folks. Unity in the church begins at the point of doctrine, doctrine. Doesn’t end there, but it begins there.

We are called to stand firm in the truth, firm in spiritual character, godliness, purity, virtue, holiness, obedience. Ephesians chapter 6, verse 11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The devil’s going to come after you. The devil’s going to assault you through the system. How do you stand firm? How do you stand firm doctrinally when the devil throws error at you? How do you stand firm in virtue and righteousness and holiness when the devil throws temptation at you? You put on the whole armor of God, the whole armor of God.

Verse 14 says – here’s the first part of it, “Stand firm, having girded your loins with truth.” This is a picture of a Roman soldier, and the first thing was that the Roman soldier got his tunic wrapped up and tied down tightly. He was wrapped up and tightly tied so that he could go into battle. No loose ends. That’s the truth. That’s the truth. Everything begins with the truth.

And then on top of that, “Put on the breastplate of righteousness.” So you have a commitment to the truth and you have a commitment to righteousness. Then you go into battle, knowing that “your feed are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” What that means is that you’ve made peace with God. God is on your side and you’re anchored in His power and His strength, and as Romans 14:4 says, “The Lord is able to make you stand.” And in that situation, you take up the shield of faith, put on the helmet of the hope of eternal salvation, take out the sword and go to battle, and the sword is the word of God.

So many are falling all over the place. So many are falling, and the church picks them up, dusts them off and brings them back again. They show up somewhere else. The collapse of known professing Christian leaders is epidemic. And the church is rejecting Scripture, there’s no real discipline in the church. Church is eager to push people back into prominence. Church minimizes their sins, doesn’t confront them; and the world watches and has no idea what a Christian is. We are called to stand firm both in doctrine and in obedience and virtue. So that’s Paul’s only reason to postpone heaven, to see a church that won’t compromise with error and it won’t compromise with sin.

You can look and survey the Christian landscape well enough to know that people say, “Well, there are a lot of different views. Everybody’s got a different idea of the Bible. Everybody’s free to interpret it any way.” That’s not true. There’s one accurate interpretation of Scripture, and every other interpretation is wrong. It doesn’t mean whatever you want it to mean, it means what God intended it to mean. And if you’re comfortable, if you’re comfortable with no accurate interpretation of Scripture, then you’re basically comfortable with no unity in the church, because it has to be unity around the truth. And the truth is available to us in the Word of God. So stand firm in the truth, don’t compromise with error. Stand firm in the Lord, don’t compromise with sin. This is essential. Stand firm.

Second word here – and we’ll see a lot more about this ahead – is “single-minded.” Standing firm, single-minded. Back to verse 27 of Philippians 1, “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind.” Not just standing firm, but firm in unity: unity of doctrine and unity of life, unity of behavior. This is an issue constantly in the church. Paul is frequently addressing this in his letters. Romans 12:5, “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Therefore, verse 10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Is that what we do, give honored preference to one another?

It’s essentially what he says exactly down in verses 2 and 3 of chapter 2: “Be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose, doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit; but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interests of others.” Constantly calling the church to this single-mindedness. You start with sound doctrine, a commitment to doctrine and holiness, and you go from standing firm in what is true and what is right to being of one spirit and one mind.

Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:10. “I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree,” how about that? – “that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.” “Stop it. Stop dividing up the body of Christ for your own petty reasons. Humble yourself. No divisions agree.” How can you agree? How can we all agree? We all agree on the truth of Scripture, what it affirms doctrinally and what it demands in behavior.

In Galatians – and we’ve made mention of this a number of times, but in this context I’ll expand it a little bit. Galatians 3:26, “You’re all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” That’s our family. “You all have been baptized into Christ, you’ve all been clothed with Christ. So there’s neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free man, neither male nor female; you’re all one in Christ Jesus.” “Why are you quarreling? Why are you fighting? Why are you biting and devouring, consuming each other?” Jesus said in John 13, 34 and 35 that you’ll know them by their love, right?

So Paul is speaking of unity in basically two terms: one spirit and one mind. “What do you mean, one spirit?” It’s not a reference to the Holy Spirit, although there is only one Holy Spirit. But it’s best to see this as an internal attitude, a kind of heart compactness, as one writer puts it, where we’re all together like in the book of Acts when they were all together in chapter 2 and they were all together in chapter 4. This is this inner compactness of spirits or minds and hearts solidly knit together in love and harmony and unity that resisted discord, disruption, distrust, division. And one mind is literally one psuchē, the word for “soul,” just another way to say the same thing. We are to be of one spirit, one soul, just using another term to make the force one degree greater.

People criticizing other people, tearing into other people, condemning other people, labeling other people, attacking other people shreds the body of Christ and devastates the testimony. We have to work hard to have unity, and the work starts in our own hearts. You can’t be of one mind and one spirit till you get your own heart in the right place. Internal harmony leads to unity, unity leads to effective witness; then you will be lights shining in the darkness. The church today battles all kinds of unfounded, unnecessary internal discord and hostility that divides and dishonors Christ. All these racial, social, sexual, individual agendas are not what honors the Lord.

So Paul wants us to conduct ourselves in a manner that is consistent with us as citizens of the heavenly polis, the heavenly kingdom. And that means that we stand firm for the truth and righteousness, and it means that we are single-minded, that we pursue the same spirit, the same mind, built around the same truth; and the only way to do that, as we saw in chapter 4, is by humbling ourselves and regarding others as more important than we are. Now there are two more things that flow out of this that are equally powerful and important, but we’ll save for those for next time. Let’s pray.

Lord, we are indebted to You for the transformation of our lives, this Your great sovereign, gracious, powerful, singular work of making us new creations. You’re fully responsible for that. You did that for Your own glory and for the sake of producing lights in the world who would so shine, that people would see their good works and glorify the Father in heaven. And yet, Lord, for all that You have done to regenerate us and to transform us and to convert us from sinners to saints, it seems as though Your church is fraught with people who feel very little obligation, though they have become citizens of Your heavenly kingdom, to live in a manner worthy of that citizenship. May we be able to declare openly, “I am Christ’s. Jesus is Lord. Christ has transformed my life,” and then be able to say, “Look and see the light shining”?

Lord, protect Your church from false converts who make false professions that are soon revealed to be hypocrisy. Make the gospel clear through Your true church. Lord, we pray that You would come into the chaos and confusion of what is seen as Christianity and somehow by Your Holy Spirit unmask the pretenders, and make those who are the real citizens of heaven be known and seen. And may our lives be shining lights, proving the power of the gospel to transform. Father, work Your work in our hearts, we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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