Welcome to the third and final part of our study on good works! Last week, we discussed how (1) good work will be completed in the day of Christ, (2) good work partakes in grace, and (3) good work defends and confirms the gospel. Feel free to check out the first or second post in the series if you haven’t already!
Today, we are wrapping up our study in Philippians 1:3-11 by focusing on verses 8 through 11.
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:8-11
As Paul prays for the church’s love to abound more and more, he seems to be referring to a good work (love) that has already started. We also see another reference to the day of Christ, pulling us back to Philippians 1:7. When we study this prayer, we can find four more descriptors about good work, starting with knowledge and discernment.
#7: Good Work Involves Knowledge and Discernment
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ… – Philippians 1:9-10 (emphasis added)
Paul doesn’t pray for the church to love more and more impulsively, but more and more strategically. Our good work should be done in wisdom. Good work involves discernment of “what is excellent” so that we go after Christ in the right direction. When we love, we love the sinner and not the sin. We promote the glory of God and not the glory of man. We are motivated by the gospel.
When we do good work in knowledge and discernment, we are ultimately looking to God’s example, who created the Heavens and Earth in wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-31). His great and perfect plan is established and fulfilled through His wisdom, which is ultimately culminated in the person of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). God’s good work in us is not an accident, but a purposeful part of His master plan.
#8: Good Work Is Pure and Blameless in the Day of Christ
In the last post, we talked about how God, who has begun a good work in us, “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:7). That tells us that the work will be complete in the end—there will be no more for us to do. Christ said, “It is finished,” when he paid the price of our sins on the cross.
This verse, where Paul prays that the church will be pure and blameless on the day of Christ (Philippians 1:10), adds a new element to this beautiful mystery of the gospel. The good work that God is doing in us will not only be complete, but it will make us pure and blameless in His sight. There won’t just be some good in us to balance out the bad. We’ll be perfect.
#9: Good Work Is the Fruit of Righteousness
“filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” – Philippians 1:11
Good work is the fruit of righteousness. Whose righteousness? Not ours, but the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Through His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, He has cleansed us of our sins and made it possible for us to follow Him and have eternal life. The gospel is like a seed planted in our hearts, and it’s God who makes it grow. It’s God who brings the fruit.
#10: Good Work Is for the Glory of God
Paul finishes His prayer off by proclaiming that the good work being done in the church—the abounding love, the pureness and blamelessness, and the fruit of righteousness—is to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:11).
So often when we pursue good works, we hope that there will be an immediate reward: that we’ll be noticed. But how often do we hope that God will be noticed? How often do we remember to give God the glory and praise?
This takes us back to Philippians 1:3-5, where Paul intentionally thanked God for the Philippian church and their partnership in the gospel. Paul gave the glory to God by thanking Him for His good work. Here in verse 11, Paul again makes it clear that the fruit of righteousness is all for God’s glory.
Today, we talked about how good work involves knowledge and discernment, is pure and blameless, is the fruit of righteousness, and is for the glory of God. We made it to the end of this series, but we’ve only dipped our toes in the richness of Paul’s letter to the Philippian church.
Even as I was writing this series, I noticed other points I could have added to the list. For example, we could have studied the Philippian church’s loyalty to Paul during his imprisonment, or how Paul prayed for their love to abound more and more. If you can think of other points, please share them with me! There is so much to be found in this short passage.
Here is your final assignment for this week, should you choose to accept the challenge:
- Find a way to love with knowledge and discernment.
- Praise God for His promise to make us pure and blameless in the day of Christ.
- Praise God for His righteousness in Christ living the life we couldn’t live and dying the death we deserved, all in order to offer us eternal life.
- Bring the praise and glory to God.
Thank you for joining me in this study of Philippians 1:3-11!