Thursday, 8 December 2016
…being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:11
The context needs to be given in order to follow what Paul now says –
“…that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
He asks us to “be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” He then explains that thought. The words translated here as “being filled” are better translated as “having been filled.” It is a participle in the perfect tense. In other words, it is done; we have been filled. And the filling was with “the fruits of righteousness.” Again, there is disagreement as to whether the word should be “fruit” or “fruits.” The Old Testament speaks of the fruit in the singular in verses such as this one from Proverbs –
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30
It is also singular in Amos 6:12. In the New Testament, the “fruit of righteousness” is mentioned in James 3:18 and in this verse from Hebrews 12 –
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
Thus, it is more than probable that the correct rendering of this verse is also singular. Regardless of this, the filling with the fruit of righteousness is not ongoing until the day of Christ. Instead, we have been filled with the fruit of righteousness (meaning it was imputed to us upon belief in Christ), and that will sustain us until the day of Christ. It is already available to us and it is up to us to tap that source and act upon it.
And this filling with the fruit of righteousness is “to the praise of God.” He so filled us with the righteousness of Christ so that He might be glorified in us and through us. In the Bible, fruit is the outcome of something. Christ’s work confirmed His righteousness and thus it is symbolized by fruit – the end result of what He accomplished. In our receiving Him, we are granted that outcome as if we had ourselves accomplished it. This is what is called “imputation.” God imputed Christ’s righteousness to us, having filled us with this fruit. Now we are asked to demonstrate that by being “sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.”
Life application: Proper theology comes at a cost of time and effort. We don’t just get it by an external infusion of the Holy Spirit. That is a cheap and easy way of looking at doctrine, but it is wrong. It says, “I will rely on the Holy Spirit to form me while I do all the other things in life that I want to do.” Sorry… it just doesn’t work that way. The Bible tells us to study to show ourselves approved. Get to work.
Glorious God, Your word puts it on us to learn proper doctrine, and that involves hard work and study. How sad it is that so many Christians feel that all they need is an external infusion of the Holy Spirit in order for them to know what You expect of them. When You admonish us to study in order to show ourselves approved, it is because the onus is on us. Help each of us to be responsible, faithful servants of Yours. Be with us as we seek out Your word and then rightly apply it to our lives. Doctrine may be hard work, but the benefits are heavenly. Instill in us a hunger for right doctrine. Amen.