Philippians 1:10
so that you can discern what is best, that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
Sermons
Christian RectitudeG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:10
Discerning with a PurposeD. G. Watt, M. A.Philippians 1:10
Discernment the Result of ExperienceR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 1:10
Life WorkJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:10
One Fault May Spoil a LifePhilippians 1:10
Sincere and Without OffenceJ. Aldis.Philippians 1:10
Sincere and Without OffenceJ. Aldis.Philippians 1:10
Sincere ChristiansPhilippians 1:10
SincerityR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 1:10
SincerityJ. Tesseyman.Philippians 1:10
Spiritual DiscriminationG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:10
The Day of ChristJ. Aldis.Philippians 1:10
The Discernment of Things ExcellentJ. Aldis.Philippians 1:10
The Things that are ExcellentPrincipal Tulloch.Philippians 1:10
True Religion IsJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:10
Without OffenceJ. Aldis.Philippians 1:10
A Cheerful PrisonerFamily ChurchmanPhilippians 1:3-11
Blessed Remembrance and Joyful PrayersWeekly PulpitPhilippians 1:3-11
Christian RemembrancesJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:3-11
Expression of InterestR. Finlayson Philippians 1:3-11
Happy MemoriesG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:3-11
My GodG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:3-11
Pleasant Memories and Bright HopesR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 1:3-11
Retrospect and ForecastJ. J. Goadby.Philippians 1:3-11
The Apostle's Intercession and AssuranceR.M. Edgar Philippians 1:3-11
The Introduction to the EpistleJ. Daille.Philippians 1:3-11
The True Spirit of PrayerJ. Lyth, D. D., J. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:3-11
Aboundings of LoveA. Raleigh, D. D., J. Parker, D. D.Philippians 1:7-11
Ministers Carry the Images of Their People in Their HeartsPhilippians 1:7-11
Reasons for Paul's ConfidenceWeekly Pulpit., J. Lyth, D. DPhilippians 1:7-11
The Apologetic Value of Paul's BondsPhilippians 1:7-11
The Fellowship of the GospelJ. Parker, D. D.Philippians 1:7-11
The Heart of Paul and the Heart of ChristG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:7-11
The Unifying Influence of Christian LoveThe StudyPhilippians 1:7-11
The Things that ExcelW.F. Adeney Philippians 1:9, 10
Love -- the Heart's EyeS. Martin.Philippians 1:9-11
Perseverance to the Day of ChristW. B. Pope, D. D.Philippians 1:9-11
St. Paul's Prayer for the PhilippiansC. Lawson., J. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:9-11
The Apostle's PrayerT. Croskery Philippians 1:9-11
The Augmentation of Christly Love Ensures the Improvement of the Whole ManD. Thomas Philippians 1:9-11
The Life of God in the Soul of ManV. Hutton Philippians 1:9-11
The Recorded Prayers of St. PaulG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:9-11
True Christian LoveS. Martin.Philippians 1:9-11
He had spoken of praying for them. This was the purport of his prayers: "And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and in all discernment."

I. THE INCREASE OF LOVE THE MAIN THING IN RELIGION.

1. The language implies the existence of this love as well as its imperfection. It had been manifest in many ways; but there were social rivalries and jealousies and disputes at Philippi. Therefore the apostle prays that their love may abound more and more.

2. absolutely that he speaks of, the grand principle, the motive power of Christian life. Matthew Henry says it is the law of Christ's kingdom, the lesson of his school, the livery of his family.

(1) It is Divine in its origin, for "love is of God;"

(2) it is the principle of the Divine indwelling, for "he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him;"

(3) it is the spring of all holy obedience, for it is "the fulfilling of the Law;"

(4) it is "the bond of perfectness;

(5) it has no metes or bounds like law, for we are to love with all our powers. The gospel lays the believer under a weightier line of obligation than the Law; for we are not to do this or that particular duty prescribed by the Law, but to do all that we can do through the constraining force of the love of God.

3. It is love fed by knowledge and guided by judgment; for it is to abound "in perfect knowledge and universal discernment."

(1) Knowledge here is the thorough grasp of theoretical and practical truth.

(a) This is needed to feed love. We cannot love an unknown person; we cannot love an unknown gospel; we cannot love one another except so far as we know one another. The more we know of our blessed Redeemer the more shall we love him. Love is not a blind attachment.

(b) It is needed to regulate love. Love without knowledge may lead a Christian into mistakes, irregularities, improprieties, like a foolishly fond father who spoils his child. Love may waste itself on worthless or frivolous objects, or it may attempt impracticable projects by unwarrantable means; but if knowledge be the guide, these mistakes will be prevented.

(2) The love is in "all discernment." This is more than knowledge. It is more even than the application of knowledge. It is that discriminating power, which enables a man to appreciate the true nature of things presented to him in the sphere of religious realities.

II. THE ENDS ACCOMPLISHED BY A LOVE THUS REGULATED.

1. Christian capacity to discern excellent things. "That you may be able to prove things that are excellent." Love, rightly guided, penetrates through all disguises of error. It is, in fact, a mighty preservative against error. The Christian is able "to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." He does not lose sight of the true proportions and relations of truth. But the spiritual capacity of believers is found to differ like the natural capacities of men. Some are very deficient in the power of spiritual discernment, yet this may be mainly due to the weakness of love. Those who are strong maintain the tranquillity of their own mind, and will be a stay to the timid and the weak. Cecil says, "A sound heart is the best casuist."

2. Sincerity. "That ye may be sincere." Love, rightly guided, brings out the deep reality of Christian character, and presents it in a holy simplicity without stratagem, diplomacy, or manoeuvre. A sincere man has all the strength that springs from an undivided heart: his love is without dissimulation; his sincerity is a godly sincerity, which realizes the impossibility of uniting the interests and pleasures and pursuits of the present world with those of true religion.

3. The absence of offense. "And void of offense." It seems hard to be so in a world to which the gospel itself is an offense. Yet, though we are not to compromise the principles of the gospel, we are to live peaceably with all men, to take wrong rather than give offense, to have a good report from them that are without, to be "blameless and harmless as the sons of God." The duration of this temper of sincerity and inoffensiveness is "against the day of Christ " - the day of final account before the Judge, as if to imply the undeviating consistency of a life thus divinely ordered.

4. Positive fruitfulness in Christian life. "Being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which is by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." There is more needed than mere harmlessness: there must be a positive development of Christian life.

(1) The fruit of righteousness. The righteousness is not of nature, but of grace; it is not of the Law, but of faith; and is essentially fruitful. Therefore those who possess it are "trees of righteousness," and the quality of the tree is known by its fruit. The whole system of redemption has for its end to make men "fruitful of good works."

(2) This fruit is by Jesus Christ, because it is bound up with the life of Christ. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me" (John 15:4).

(3) The end to which all is directed - "to the glory and praise of God." The glory is the manifestation of God's grace, the praise is the recognition by men of God's attributes.

(4) It is implied that believers are to be "filled" with the fruit of righteousness. Not a branch here and there, but all our branches are to be loaded with fruit. Thus there will be the more glory and praise to God. - T.C.







That ye may approve the things that are excellent
I.THE HIGHEST INTELLIGENCE.

II.THE FAIREST ACCOMPLISHMENT.

III.THE MOST ENDURING POSSESSION.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. RESPECTS judgment — motive — action.

II. REQUIRES energy — till the day of Christ.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. DEMANDS the exercise of the most intelligent and sensitive charity.

II. COMMANDS a wide field of effort, viz., the bad, the good, the better, the best — in character, life, doctrine, practice, enjoyment, attainment.

III. IMPLIES the admission and use of a noble liberty of thought, judgment, and action.

IV. INVOLVES a weighty and far-reaching responsibility.

V. Is ESSENTIAL to a pure and blameless life.

(G. G. Ballard.)

I. A SUGGESTION THAT A SPIRIT OF DISCERNMENT IS REQUIRED FROM BELIEVERS IN CHRIST JESUS. The reference is founded on the common action of comparing one thing with another, so as to find the best. A capability to prove which is best for us bodily in food, e.g., would save us from many physical ailments. How many spiritual troubles might be avoided if, in prayer and preaching, we always fixed upon what best presented the glory and grace of Christ. Possessing this faculty we should —

1. Know what course it would be right to take in spiritual difficulties. The banker draws his finger across a bank note and says, "That is forged," or "That is genuine." His senses are exercised to prove them. So we ought to be able to perceive the signs of evil, however covered up, and the marks of God's will, however faint.

2. Understand the relation between duty and comfort.

II. A PURPOSE PLACED IN VIEW OF THIS SPIRIT OF DISCERNMENT.

1. It has respect to the day of Christ, when every man's work will be tried.(1) So we are not to purpose our own satisfaction. Many endeavour to attain certain excellencies so that they may stand well with themselves.(2) We are not to purpose to be satisfied with the opinions of the world. There are men who think that if they secure the approbation of their neighbours, they are as good as they need be.

2. It has set before it sincerity and blamelessness.(1) The Christian is seen standing in the light, and gives no occasion for others to stumble against him. Seeing him in family, business, party, or Church, they have no cause to say, "He acts so as to stand between me and Christ."(2) To be counted sincere and without offence is the proof of a high attainment. The Christian must not be behind, but before men of the world in good points of character and conduct.

(D. G. Watt, M. A.)

Two things are necessary for all noble life.

1. That we have some ideal of duty.

2. That we are honest in trying to realize this ideal. The words before us suggest these necessities.

I. AS CHRISTIANS WE OUGHT TO APPROVE THINGS THAT ARE EXCELLENT.

1. Not merely things which are opposed, or differ, as good and bad. It requires no gift of grace to do this. Natural conscience tells us what is right and wrong. All know that truth is better than falsehood. When men call good evil, they are condemned as much by the world as the Church. It is melancholy to think, however, that some have fallen as low as this in Christian communities, and make a gain of godliness.

2. Paul had a higher level of thought in view — a certain spiritual sensitiveness which recoils from evil, and is drawn to good.

3. We all fail more or less in the cultivation of this higher mindedness. The world is too much with us, weighing down our desires, and whispering a religion of convenience, rather than of aspiration. Our frequent failures, too, tend to keep us contented at a low level.

4. The fineness of spiritual perception is of value in the world. It is a key which unlocks secrets of character. It is not easily deceived. It knows what is true and excellent in art, literature, society, and politics, more readily than others who let their moral ideals grow dim.

II. THE FURTHER NECESSITY OF OUR BEING SINCERE AND WITHOUT OFFENCE. Our life and thought must be knit together, our ideal translated into fact.

1. Sincerity is the basis of all good character. A man whose inner and outer life is a contradiction loses even the respect of the world. It would be better if all Christian Churches were more intent on the realities of Christian character; their reward would be greater, and their contentions less.

2. We are also to be without offence.

(Principal Tulloch.)

I. A FEW WORDS AGAINST INSINCERITY.

1. Against all forms of it. We are all in danger of it, and its sources are numberless, insidious, and within our own breast. It arises from the prevalent excitement; men pleasing, fiction, ritualism.

2. Against religious insincerity. Here the danger is greatest. Men don't counterfeit copper, but gold, He that takes a bad sovereign loses twenty times as much as he who takes a bad shilling. Hence the Word of God is singularly full, and strong against this evil, and religion is described as "wisdom that cometh from above;" without hypocrisy; faith unfeigned; unfeigned love of the brethren; love without dissimulation.

3. Remember our Lord's conduct against it. Every other form of evil is condemned, but with pity and hope. Hypocrisy is branded as beyond the reach of mercy.

II. A FEW WORDS TO PROMOTE SINCERITY. A life sincere and without reproach is sure to be —

1. Harmless and useful. No stumbling block is more fatal than insincerity. We naturally trust the appearance of goodness; but if it proves rottennesss, and gives way, we stumble and hurt ourselves. Few things stagger young Christians more than the inconsistencies of older Christians. Sincerity, however, silences reproach, inspires confidence, commands respect, kindles affection, draws to fellowship.

2. Strong. St. James speaks of a "double-minded man," i.e., a man with two souls — one his real self, the other what he pretends to be. These are sure to play at see-saw. Such a life resembles ploughing with an ox and an ass, always ungainly and inefficient. Such a life is sure to stifle prayer. Reuben was unstable as water, and he did not excel. In opposition to this, the Bible commends the single heart and the single eye. What a man sees clearly he can grip tightly: when he sees his course plainly he goes on confidently.

3. Happy. When conscience smiles all is sunshine; when it frowns it will be to a man what Mordecai was to Haman. "Our rejoicing is this: the testimony of our conscience," etc.

4. Pre-eminently a life with God.

5. Will find its consummation in the coming of the Lord.

(J. Aldis.)

The word "sincere" means a life which has the brightest light flung upon it, which is tried in that light, and approved as genuine. Christian rectitude consists in —

I. INTERNAL SINCERITY. This involves —

1. A concentratedness of heart upon one object.

2. A thoroughness of life's uniformity to that one object.

3. An unostentatious but manifest integrity.

4. The completeness of that manifestation shall be proportionate to the brightness of the testing light.

II. EXTERNAL BLAMELESSNESS,

1. Without being found guilty of an offence.

2. Without giving one.

3. Without taking one.

III. A PRESENT STATE OF LIFE, WITH A GLORIOUS FUTURE DESTINATION. Then —

1. Life shall be judged.

2. Life shall be made manifest.

3. Rectitude of life shall be approved.

4. Rectitude of life shall be rewarded.

5. The "good work" begun in grace shall be crowned in glory.

(G. G. Ballard.)

A housekeeper very rarely buys a supply of food without going through the process of noting different kinds so as to get that which is good. The man who works effectively on the Stock Exchange is the man who discerns the little differences which make one stock preferable to another, and who first observes the indications that a stock is about to take a more excellent place in the mart. I believe it is a habit of religions people, when they come into a new neighbourhood, to go from one place of worship to another, making comparisons amongst them, so as to prove that one which will best suit their temperaments — perhaps they would say, so as to approve that which is excellent.

(J. Aldis.)

When offered food, a child takes palatableness only into account, and will as readily eat, if it be pleasant to the taste, what is unwholesome or even poisonous, as what is most nourishing. The power of discriminating, so as "to refuse the evil and choose the good," comes by experience. Now the skill which experience, to a great extent unsought, thus gives in the physical sphere, must, in the spiritual, be sought by definite pursuit. Observation and reading, the reading particularly of the biographies of eminent Christians — and especially the Bible biographies, which have an absolute truthfulness seldom even approached in others — these will supply materials, the thoughtful and prayerful consideration of which will produce acuteness of moral perception. There are Christians in whom natural delicacy of feeling and accuracy of judgment, fostered by various helpful surroundings, give, from the very beginning of their religious life, a faculty of spiritual discrimination which acts almost with the readiness and certainty of an instinct.

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

are words closely connected. "Sincere" seems to be an allusion to a practice common then and now. In the bazaars in the East goods are stored away in very obscure places, and persons go in to make their purchases, and purchase them in that dull light. Those who wish to know the matter thoroughly take the goods to the open space where the sunbeam plays, and then, under the full blaze of the light, if no flaw, and if no stain shall be revealed, the article is pronounced "sincere" in the sense of the text, and consequently without offence. He that walks in darkness knows not where he is going. He strikes against this, and he strikes against that, and he cannot understand it. He gets bewildered and ultimately overthrown.

(J. Aldis.)

Some of us have seen the glorious blue of the Rhone, as it leaves the Lake of Geneva. A little way down, we have seen the Arve, loaded with mud, rush into the same channel. We have watched the two streams flow side by side, each in its own division of the channel, as if the pure could not permit the impure Co mingle with it. But the earthly insinuates itself fully at last, and the river flows on, its colour still blue, but sadly changed from the heaven-like blue of its beginnings. Have we not often mourned, brethren, to see something like this in a Christian life — the hue of earth spreading itself lamentably over the hue of heaven? Faith in Christ brings the water from "the upper springs," to make the stream pure and sweet; but the muddy and bitter water from the world ever presses in, to mar and pollute. But "love, abounding in knowledge and in all judgment," can keep the stream clear, so that it reveals itself truly as a branch of the "pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, which proceedeth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb."

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

In the palmy days of Roman prosperity, when her merchants lived in their marble palaces on the banks of the Tiber, there was a sort of emulation in the grandeur and artistic adornment of their dwellings. Good sculptors were eagerly sought after and employed. But tricks were sometimes practised, then as now; thus, if the sculptor came upon a flaw in the marble, or chipped a piece out by accident, he had a carefully prepared wax, with which he filled in the chink, and so carefully fixed it as to be imperceptible. In process of time, however, heat or damp would affect the wax, and reveal its presence. The consequence was, that when new contracts were made for commissioned works of art, a clause was added to the effect that they were to be sine cera, or without cement. Hence we have a word picture of great significance.

(J. Tesseyman.)

A flying fish sometimes attempts to fly, but it is no bird for all that. It only takes a little flight and then it is in the water again; but a true bird keeps on the wing, especially if it is such a bird as the eagle, whose untiring wing bears it above the clouds. Let us beware of prayers which leap up like a grasshopper and are soon down again. Let our prayers have the wings of a dove, let them fly away from earth and rest in God. Hypocrites pray by fits and starts; the genuine Christian "prays without ceasing."

Did you ever write a letter, and just as you were finishing it let your pen fall on it, or a drop of ink blot the fair page? It was the work of a moment, but the evil could not be effectually effaced. Did you never cut, yourself unexpectedly and quickly? It took days or weeks to heal the wound, and even then a scar remained. It is related of Lord Brougham that one day he occupied a conspicuous place in a group to have his daguerreotype taken. But at an unfortunate moment he moved. The picture was taken, but his face was blurred. Do you ask what application we would make of these facts? Just this: "It takes a lifetime to build a character; only takes one moment to destroy it."

The word as used in the New Testament does not mean what we mean when we use the word now. You say you gave So-and-so "offence." You mean you made him angry. Well, if you put anything in a man's way in the dark and he strikes against it and he falls over it and hurts himself, most likely he will be angry. But the Bible does not concern itself about feeling. That is of no consequence. The Bible concerns itself with a man's being hurt — the mischief done. Hence always in the New Testament it means, concerning a man himself, that in his conduct and temper and speech he should not put anything in his practical course of life that may cause him to stumble and fall, not because he would be irritated but because he would be hurt. And so, with regard to others, we are to do nothing which might prove as a stumbling block in a man's way as he is going on in his life, lest he also should strike against it and fall over it and be hurt.

(J. Aldis.)

It is striking to observe how diversified are the appellations given to that day: "The day of judgment," "the day of wrath," "the day," "that day," "the great day," "the last day," "the day of God," "the day of Christ." Here it is, "the day of Christ" — the day that is coming, when He will give the crown of righteousness to all them that love His appearing. The day of His finished work, when grace brightens into glory. The day of Christ, when His doctrines will be made clear, no longer veiled in mystery, or troubled by debate; when the merit of His righteousness and sacrifice will be shown forth in the safety and honour of His redeemed and justified; when the splendour of His example will shine out full-orbed in the millions of imitations of that example, each one peculiar, but each one by grace made perfect at last, and all its perfection being the harmony betwixt itself and the example that had been set. "The day of Christ." The day of His triumph, every obstacle surmounted, every foe vanquished; the day of His recompense when He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall receive the joy set before Him, and "present to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle," etc.

(J. Aldis.)

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