In his letter to the church in Phillipi, the apostle Paul writes of the joy which is his through Christ. Even though he is appears to be writing while under house arrest, with his earthly freedoms curtailed he has joy regardless of his circumstances.
Firstly, the chief source of his joy is Christ. Paul knows the joy of sins forgiven, the joy of the gospel. Through this, he takes great joy in making this gospel known to all around, even though he is in chains. He isn’t sitting there bemoaning the fact he’s under arrest, he is neither self-pitying, nor self-praising. All he is interested in is making Christ known.
Secondly, he takes joy in the fact that fellow Christians are praying for him and through the work of the Spirit in him. He knows that God is in control and will do what is right and will answer the prayers of the saints accordingly.
Finally, he knows that Christ has conquered death, and so he has nothing to fear form death. In a way, he is left in a win-win situation. If he stays on earth, he is able to continue spreading the gospel for the benefit of others. If he is called to heaven, he will be with his Saviour, leaving him to say:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Php 1:21
If we are Christ’s, we also have this joy – if we don’t stifle it. Oh that we would know Christ and experience his joy.
Today appeared to be a particularly Pauline day as the sermon this evening was continuing through Paul’s letter the the church in Ephesus, where he talks about the Christian putting on the armour of God, specifically the shield of faith.
For the Christian, faith in Christ is a gift of God, even though it appears to be an action taken by oneself. For we are not any cleverer, nor more spiritual than anyone else, but by the grace of God we have been chosen, and we have been given faith in his Son for our justification. If we have this faith however, no one can take it away from us, for he will complete the work he has started in us until the end.
This is not to say that those who have faith in Christ will have an easy life. Many Christians have suffered greatly because of their faith in Christ, some even martyred. Yet, true faith will withstand whatever is thrown at it, even though it is difficult.
For ultimately this faith which justifies us will triumph over God’s enemies, and will shield us from the attacks of the evil one, bringing glory to God. For it is not dependent on the strength of our faith, but the strength of the object of our faith. If that faith is in the almighty Son of God, nothing can stand against us, not even the evil one.
I pray my God will keep my faith in Christ, that I may come through to the end.