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Tested, True and Triumphant

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 7, 2024 12:00 am

Tested, True and Triumphant

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 7, 2024 12:00 am

In this lesson, Stephen Davey explores Philippians 1:9-10, examining how to make godly life decisions in a world that distorts truth. Discover Paul's prayer for believers to develop discernment, examine their lives according to God's Word, and live with purity by rejecting hypocrisy.

Key takeaway: The Bible is our ultimate guide for evaluating all information, attitudes, and actions. It helps us pursue excellence for God's glory.

Want to learn more? Head over to Wisdom Online ( for additional resources and deeper exploration into the wisdom of Scripture.


A faucet by itself doesn't produce any water. Jesus Christ said, You believe in me and from you will flow rivers of living water. John 7.

It's being connected to Jesus Christ. Jesus said to his disciples in John 15, You abide in me. You surrender to me. You commune with me. You fellowship with me. My strength and my vitality in and through you, you will bear fruit. And by the way, he says in that same text, without me, you can do what?

Nothing. Sometimes the things that we think are good turn out to be surprisingly wrong. In the heart of the Bible, the Apostle Paul reveals a prayer list to help us navigate life's tricky decisions.

It's a spiritual thermometer designed to help us find God's best for us. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Today, you'll discover how to develop love for what's excellent, live with sincerity and find joy in the middle of life's challenges. When this message is over, you'll walk away inspired to live boldly for Christ.

This message is called Tested, True, and Triumphant. If you were with us in our last session, you saw as we together explored Paul's own personal prayer list. As he prayed for the believers in Philippi, certainly for us, this would remain. This would be a reflection of the prayer list of Jesus himself who intercedes for us. He prays for our passion, that is our love to overflow the banks of our lives and touch everyone. But he said, make sure that that love is according to knowledge, so he prays for our progress, not just our passion, that we learn to love according to biblical knowledge, not what we think love might be or how we think we might want to express love, but love according to the truth of God's Word. We found Paul praying for our practice in life to be guarded by discernment, passion, progress, and practice. Now Paul continues in verse 10, we'll pick it up there, as he adds to his list a prayer for our partiality, our partiality.

Let me show you what I mean. Let's back up to verse 9 and get a running start. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. Note, so that you may approve what is excellent. In other words, he's saying, I want believers to become partial toward that which is excellent.

So make sure you approve those things. That word approve comes from a verb which means to test, to examine. It's used in a lot of different contexts, in different nuances. It's a word that can refer to testing something to determine whether or not it's true or false. But the word is also used to refer to evaluating the difference between something that is good and something that is better or maybe even best. It's also a word that can refer to determining the difference between things that matter and things that don't matter. Paul is actually saying here, within that context, don't assume anything.

In fact, he even wrote to the Thessalonians that he that is spiritual judges everything. Same verb. He puts everything to the test.

What is the mantra of our culture? Don't judge me. Don't judge anything. Well, that's fine, but if you want a believer who's going to grow and walk with the Lord, you're actually going to put everything to the test. You're going to test it to see if it's excellent. It might be good, but there might be something better.

There might be something best for your walk and your life and your mind and your heart. So you test it to make sure it's true and not false. You don't get your reading from polls or from people or your friends.

They might be giving off false readings five to ten degrees off. The thermometer is inspired scripture and the God behind it. Paul moves on in his list here to give us some help in determining what exactly is excellent. He not only prays that we determine or learn to develop partiality, but he also prays that we develop purity.

Look at verse 10 again. So that you may approve through testing what is best or excellent. Notice, and so be pure. In other words, testing and choosing the best things will always lead you toward purity and away from impurity. So if you've got a decision to make, one of the questions you can ask, is it going to make me impure or pure?

Is it going to lead me toward purity or is it going to lead me toward impurity? Now the word Paul uses here is used only this one time by Paul. It's always interesting to me whenever there's a rare word. It opens up again in Peter's writing, 2 Peter 3 and verse 1, where Peter writes that he wants to stir up the mind of the believer toward, and he uses this word, it's translated integrity or sincerity.

The word found here for pure, it's interesting and it's a compilation of two Greek words. One word for sunlight and the other one to judge. And I love this, Paul says, take it out, whatever it is that you're trying to decide on, and hold it up to the light. Hold it up to the light. Hold it up to the light and see what you can see. Don't make a decision in the dark.

Don't pull the shades and decide it's okay. Open the shades, hold it up to the light. What do you see? The believer's life then is light tested.

The idea. David writes, thy word is a lamp into my feet and a light to my path. Let me examine my path by the light.

What does it tell me? Psalm 119, 105. He also wrote in that same chapter, verse 130, the unfolding of your word gives light. Paul refers to the gospel as the glorious light of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4, verse 4, and maybe if you've come to faith in Jesus Christ, you came to that moment where the light of the gospel flooded your heart and your mind and you saw everything is dirty, everything is evil, everything is sinful and you ask God in repentance for forgiveness. See, you hold your life up to the light of the gospel and we don't do a little repair.

We do major reconstruction. We've been called out of darkness, Peter writes in 1 Peter 2, 9, and into a marvelous light. Listen, the test of your character is not determined by a thermometer planted in the middle of your city, the middle of your campus, your office.

The readings are probably distorted. The purity, the integrity, the sincerity of your life is not measured by what people say or approve or what your student body approves or what your professor approves or your neighborhood approves or your board in the corporate boardroom approves. But what the Word of God, shine the light of this on that to determine what's right or wrong. In fact, Paul is probably thinking in his mind, I'm praying for you Philippians and he's recognizing that for them everything that they thought was wrong is right and everything they had been taught was right was probably wrong. Test it in the light of the gospel. I'm praying for you, Paul, effectively says to hold up your attitudes and your actions and your habits and your desires.

Hold them up to the light of the Word. What do you see? Is it cloudy? Is it contaminated? Is it corrupt?

Or is it clear? In fact, Paul writes to the Corinthians, we have this treasure in jars of clay. I love that, in earthen vessels. The treasure is the gospel. Treasure in earthen vessels. Those are cheap. That's cheap pottery he's talking about. But we have the gospel in us.

Why? To show that the all surpassing power is of God and not us. We are to allow God who reigns within us show through us.

Cracks it all. Paul says, I'm praying that you will develop a sense of partiality for what's best and become genuine and pure in the process. Thirdly, he prays for their prudence. Look at verse 10, so that you may approve what is excellent and so be pure and now note this, and blameless.

One British author, New Testament scholar, wrote that purity, previous request, more than likely referred to the inner person and blamelessness refers to the outer behavior. The word means wouldn't lead no stumbling without stumbling. Be prudent in your behavior.

That is, walk carefully lest you stumble. Doesn't mean you never will, but be careful. In fact, a growing believer is going to become more careful. You, if you've been a Christian for 10 years or 20 years or 30 years, you're not going to tell a younger believer, you know what, the older you get, you can just kind of slack off. It gets easier.

Now what are you telling younger Christians? Oh my, it gets harder. You have to be even more careful.

Just like growing older, physically. I've reached that age where I have to be more careful than ever. I mean, I can walk through the house, I know that cabinet's there, and I stub my toe on the edge of it.

I've told my wife, I've got this theory. I don't know if it's true, but I told Marcia the other day, you know, you seem to have this automatic pilot, and when you're young it works wonderfully, and you can be driving, you ever driven down the road, and 10 miles later you have no recollection of where you've been, but you're right where you ought to be. That automatic pilot is just sort of guiding you. When you walk, when you drive, you get older, that thing kind of fades away. Now you've got to concentrate to stay in the lane. If I look left while I'm driving, I fade right.

I don't know what it is. If I look right, I fade left. My wife says, stop looking, honey, because I've got to concentrate.

You walk through the house, you've got to actually concentrate. We have to be careful the older we get. Just as the more you mature in Christ, the more care you're going to give in being prudent, cautious, walking with discretion. Paul is praying fervently, these believers will be careful in their Christian walk. Now there's an issue here that is of some debate to grammarians as to whether or not this word is an active sense or passive sense, and I'm not going to bore you with all the grammatical details, but from my reading, Paul could either be telling us to walk with caution so that we don't stumble, that's passive, or he could be writing, telling us to walk in such a way that we don't cause someone else to stumble. That's active sense. Frankly, either understanding works simply because if you walk in such a prudent and spiritually careful manner, you are not only less likely to stumble, but those following you, imitating you, watching you, will be less likely to stumble as well.

In fact, the older you get, the more you're concerned about people who might be watching you. You don't want them to stumble. Paul lived this way. He didn't just live for himself, but for those around him that he wanted to encourage and protect by his example. One author said, One of the marks of maturity in the life of any believer is that they want to be a stepping stone and not a stumbling block.

It's well put. And I think there are two questions that come out of this use of this word for the believer who wants to be prudent, and it's these questions. If someone else imitated you, would you be alarmed?

Would you say, Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. If, secondly, if Jesus Christ watched you, would you be ashamed? Says Paul's progression in this prayer list. Live in such a way, such a manner, that you don't stumble and those watching you aren't led to stumble as well.

Because they may be watching, but actually Jesus is. That's Paul's progression in this prayer list as he adds a closing thought at the end of verse 10. Notice we're to be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. We'll call this fourth prayer request a prayer for their perspective. To be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. This is Paul's second reference to the day of Jesus Christ in this letter.

It's a reference to that day. A number of things are going to happen. Church raptured.

If we're alive at that point, we'll experience that. But when we see the Lord, we'll be rewarded for our service to him. We'll be assigned a place in the coming kingdom when Christ comes to establish his kingdom. Church is described in Revelation 19 as returning with the Lord, dressed in white linen as a victorious army as Christ comes to establish the kingdom on earth. Jesus doesn't come for his church. In Revelation 19, he comes with his church robed and ready in victory.

Paul is attempting to elevate our perspective. Don't just look at today. Get your calendar out.

Yeah, I got next week all mapped out. Not even that. Look to that day when you're in the presence of Christ. For Paul, the day of Christ wasn't some kind of prophetic obsession.

It wasn't some kind of distraction, some millennial distraction. It was the way he lived. It was the way he thought. By the way, this helps you. You've got to decide, is that good or better?

Is there something best? Why? Because of that day.

Should I do this or not do that? Well, how would it relate to that day? So Paul effectively says to them, and to us, I am praying that in light of Christ's appearing, you will be pursuing what is best. And with that then, their request naturally and logically follows. He prays for their productivity. Verse 11, that you'll be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Which is, by the way, a good reminder that anything good we do for Christ is Christ working in us to fulfill his good pleasure. Philippians 2, 13, the cause of the fruit is the work of Christ. The agency here is the internal working of Christ. Certainly the spirit of Christ, the spirit of God. As we submit to the spirit of God internally, he is at work so that externally we bear the fruit of the spirit. It's his work. The fruit of righteousness is the fruit of a right relationship.

The Apostle Paul was daring to assume that we're not just forgiven, but that we're going to be fruitful. And by the way, this isn't something we're going to work up the steam to go be fruitful. It's being connected to him. Submissive to him. No limb on an apple tree says I'm going to work really hard this winter so that come spring and summer I can pop out a few apples.

If I work hard at it, no, it's connected to the tree. Let me drive this home a little further with another analogy. When Lawrence of Arabia was in Paris after World War I, one author said he took some of his Middle Eastern friends with him to see Paris. They'd never seen a modern city.

Cars, traffic. They lived in the desert tending goats. And they saw all the sights. They heard all the sounds. They saw the museums.

They saw the places where Napoleon's hand print was on those magnificent structures and the kingdom of France and all of its glory. He said that they really weren't terribly impressed, which surprised him. He said what really impressed them, what really grabbed their imagination was none of that. It was the faucet in their bathroom. They could not imagine, look, with the little turn of the lever.

Water. He'd turn it again and it stops. He'd turn it again and water. He didn't make much of it. He didn't say much of it.

He just was chuckling to himself. When it came time to pack up and leave, Lawrence went to their room and he found these men in their bathroom trying to detach the faucet to pack it away and take it home. They explained it's so dry where we live. We need this faucet and we get all the water we want. He had to explain to them, stop and describe to them, no, that faucet's connected to plumbing, which is ultimately connected to the reservoir.

The faucet by itself doesn't produce any water. Jesus Christ said, you believe in me and from you will flow rivers of living water. John 7. Wow, I'm something.

Oh, no, no, we're cracked pots. Remember? It's being connected to Jesus Christ. Jesus said to his disciples in John 15, you abide in me. You surrender to me. You commune with me. You fellowship with me. My strength and my vitality in and through you.

You will bear fruit. And by the way, he says in that same text, without me you can do what? A few things. Oh, wait. Nothing.

Nothing. We're just a faucet in somebody's suitcase. We're a limb lying on the ground. See, Paul isn't just praying that we'll bear fruit in bushel basketfuls. He's praying that we'll understand that we must stay in fellowship and submission and communion with the one who ultimately produces in and through us fruit. And he says, I'm praying that you will be fruitful. Why? Because there's a day coming when you can thank him for having worked through you.

And then you'll give all those rewards back to him. With that, Paul nearly concludes his introductory comments to these citizens of heaven stationed temporarily in the city of Philippi belonging to and serving through God's embassy. That local assembly.

He's diligently praying for them and this would be the prayer for your life and mine for their passion in love. Their progress in knowledge. Their practice with discernment. Their partiality toward excellence. Their purity with transparency. Their prudence with caution.

Their perspective with anticipation. Their productivity in fruitful living and that makes perfect sense, doesn't it? For Paul to end his prayer list by adding a final prayer request for that which is the choicest fruit of all. He prays for their priority in thanksgiving. Look at the end of the paragraph, verse 11. Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Notice, to the glory and praise of God. Paul is saying to these citizens of heaven, look, I want you to have bushel baskets full of fruit.

But let me tell you what the choicest one is. It's a fruit that ultimately gives all glory and praise back to God. I remember a demonstration of this from one of my children. He was around five years old at the time. He was terribly ill at the time. It was obvious to Marsha and me that he had come down with yet again another case of strep.

Seemed like he got a case or two of that every year. But mom and dad can't go to the pharmacy and say this is what we think it is. Give us some antibiotics.

You have to go to the doctor. So Marsha stayed home with the other kids. That afternoon I got home from work. I took him to the doctor's office. Not exactly my favorite place on the planet. I don't know about you. If you're a doctor, I love you.

But I don't want to see you. But anyhow, it was the end of the day. My little boy was feeling terribly poor. Fever was high. We eventually made it into the examination room after bribing the receptionist. When the nurse came in, I told her I think it's another case of strep. She said I'll need to take a swab of the back of his throat.

She took out an instrument about that long. She swabbed the back of his throat. He's gagging and I'm gagging over sitting in my chair. She left, he was sitting on the examination table and he's just completely wiped out. Poor little guy. He looked so pitiful. I said, hey son, why don't you just come over and sit on my lap?

He did. We just sat there for different reasons, both exhausted. I can still remember him saying, hey dad, let's sing. Not what I normally do in doctor's offices. I said, well, what do you want to sing? He said, let's sing Hallelujah. I wanted to say for what?

This is a doctor's office. You've got a fever. This is no time for Hallelujah. But I didn't. I'm a pastor.

I said, okay. We sang Hallelujah. It echoed all around that room. In fact, the nurse had not shut the door and it echoed all the way out there up and down the hallway.

In fact, I knew it wasn't very spiritual to think, but I wondered how could I close that door without him noticing, and I couldn't. So we sat there and sang Hallelujah. Got to the end of it, silence. Then he said, hey dad, let's sing another stanza. I said, what do you want to sing? Let's sing I Love Jesus.

So we did. I'm not going to be rewarded for that afternoon. None of it.

He will be. Offering the choice, gift of praise, and I just kind of limped along. The thermometer readings in the city of Philippi would have never read. This is a great time to sing I Love Jesus. I mean, this is one of the strongholds of the Roman Empire.

This is a favored city of the emperor who was completely pagan. I mean, if Paul is reading into the settings from where he sat in Rome while he's writing this letter under house arrest, chained to two guards, giving him enough slack to hold the parchment and write, he would have never ended his prayer list by saying this is a great time to sing Hallelujah. I love Jesus.

But he did. And in so doing, he models for us this kind of passion and progress and practice and partiality and purity and prudence and perspective and productivity and this priority. No matter where you are, no matter what the thermometer of your culture might read, your world, your health, even your spirit, even your heart, sing Hallelujah to the glory and praise of God.

Ask yourself, is this decision bringing me closer to God's best or leading me down a less desirable path? Well, with this message, we've come to the end of this series. Today's message is called Tested, True and Triumphant. And it's the last message in the series to the citizens of heaven. We've taken all seven sermons and packaged them into a beautiful set for you to own and listen to again. If you'd like to own the CD series, please call us and we can tell you more about it. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. We're in the office each weekday from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. and we'd be happy to help you.

We're located in the Eastern time zone. These and all of Stephen's Bible teaching resources are free and on demand at You're welcome to go there and download the audio file, listen online, or read Stephen's printed manuscript. Once again, that website is But if you'd like the CD set of this series, give us a call at 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Next time, Stephen begins a series from Revelation entitled Four Horsemen and the Coming World Madness. Don't miss it here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-07 00:19:11 / 2024-05-07 00:29:40 / 10

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