Study 9 ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST
(Scripture Portion: Philippians 4: 13-17)
What an amazing verse Philippians 4:13 is! If we take the first half of the verse alone we might be tempted to think that these are the impudent words of a proud boaster or the words of some superman; but the explanation of the first part of the verse, “I can do everything …” is in the second part - “through him who gives me strength.” Here is the statement of a man who had learned the secret of a victorious Christian life. A fair rendering of the verse is, “I am master of every situation through Christ.” Now, that surely is the secret we most want to learn - to be master of every situation which arises, and can arise, and to live victoriously day by day; to be victorious in the midst of temptation, over our problems and perplexities, and at all times to be able to say, “I am master of every situation through Christ.” And, according to the testimony of the apostle Paul, such a life of victory is gloriously possible for every Christian, and therefore for you and for me. Let us notice:-
1. THE EXAMPLE OF THIS LIFE OF VICTORY
Here, in Philippians 4:13, we have a living example of one who actually lived such a life of victory. “I can live this life,” says Paul; and if he could do so, then so can we. If there is a secret which was open to Paul, that secret is open to us also. “But Paul was a very outstanding man, and the fact that he could be master of every situation is not surprising. I’m a very ordinary person.” We are quite wrong if we reason like this. The very fact that Paul was such a “giant” makes it all the more wonderful that he should have learned this secret. The more natural ability a man has the harder it is for him to learn the secret of victorious Christian living, for the greatest hindrance to a victorious Christian life is any feeling that we can live it. If Paul, with all his natural ability, his ego, could live a victorious life, not in his own strength at all but through Christ, then it is possible for you and for me to do the same.
2. THE EXTENT OF THIS LIFE OF VICTORY
What is the measure of it? How far is victory possible? Notice that Paul’s answer to these questions is “everything …” - “every situation …” That is real victory! No situation can be too trying, too baffling, too perplexing, too disturbing, too troublesome, too wearying, too exacting but that through Christ we may be master of them all - look up 2 Timothy 4:18. Look into this fourth chapter of Philippians and consider some “situations” in which every believer may be victorious through Christ.
- In verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always… ” Most of us rejoice when things are going well, but we become sad and depressed when they are not going well; but to live victoriously means to rejoice at all times (Psalm 34:1), just as much in the sad times as in the glad times: e.g. when tested (James 1:2); when persecuted (Acts 5:41); when supplies are short (Habakkuk 3:18). Look up 1 Thessalonians 5:16, and Psalm 68:3!
- In verse 5: “Let your gentleness be evident to all… ” The meaning here is forbearance towards others. It is very difficult always to be patient, gracious, “gentle and humble” like our Saviour (Matthew 11:29). But remember his attitude of forbearance towards others in chapter 2:5-8.
- In verse 6: “Do not be anxious about anything… ” How wonderful to go through life without a care, to meet sickness, losses, setbacks and not to be perturbed by any of these testings! look up Psalm 37:1-11.
- In verse 6: “In everything, by prayer… ” Not many of us succeed here. We pray about the “big” things in life, but we often fail to pray about the less important matters. We should pray about all things and live in the atmosphere of prayer - look up 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Probably most of our failures can be traced to the neglect of prayer.
- In verses 8-9: “Think about such things… ” What a list, and how these virtues are needed today! We need to take heed to these “marks” of the victorious life, for that is what they are. To live a life of victory means to be true, honest, just, pure, lovely and good. Notice that in verse 8 we are exhorted to “think” on these things, and in verse 9, to “put it into practice”.
- In verse 11: “I have learned to be content …” In sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth, in failure or in success - content!” “Content to fill a little space if Thou be glorified”. That is real victory.
- In verse 22: “Saints in Caesar’s household.” Christians in unlikely places, but more than that - Christians in difficult places!
3. THE EXPLANATION OF THIS LIFE OF VICTORY
How was Paul able to say, “I can do everything… be master of every situation”? How can I say it and experience it? The answer is in the words, “through him who gives me strength.” These simple words mean:-
- I cannot live the victorious Christian life apart from Christ. The life of victory is impossible of achievement apart from Him - look up John 15:5. The victorious Christian life is not my life at all.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is the Victorious Life. Two thousand years ago He lived this life in a human body and was “master of every situation”. For example, He was the embodiment of the great virtues mentioned in verse 8.
- He who has lived this life in one body is able and willing to reproduce this life in any body that is yielded to Him. The victorious life is the life of Christ reproduced in and through the Christian - His life and His victory.
When He becomes my Master, then I become “master of every situation” through Him.