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The Satisfaction of Knowing Christ

October 11, 2020

Phil 4:10–14



Bible References

Phil 4:10–14

Sermon Notes

The Satisfaction of Knowing Christ, 10.11.20
Well good morning, church family. I missed not being with you last week. As Pastor Derrick mentioned last week during the announcements, both Pastor Jesse and I were in quarantine last Sunday. It was nice to have some time off but I would much rather be here with you. Sunday mornings tend to be the highlight of my week. I really don’t like missing Sundays so I’m thankful to be back with you this morning.
I want to take this opportunity to thank brother Jacob Stinchfield for preaching last week, in light of both my and Pastor Jesse’s absence. Brother Jacob lives what he preaches. He is a model for us in what he preached last week. Jacob is a father of three small children, works a demanding job, and serves our church faithfully. Thank you, Jacob, for sharing the Word with us last week.
I’d like to preview with you where we will be heading in our preaching schedule for the remainder of the year. After this morning’s sermon, I will spend another two to three weeks in the book of Philippians. I’m thinking just two more sermons in Philippians. If that is the case, that will take us through the rest of October. If I spend two more weeks in Philippians, that means that November 1 will be the first week after I finish Philippians. Given that November 3 is Election Day, I’m leaning towards preaching a sermon that addresses pastoral issues concerning the election. I’m not sure exactly yet what text I would like to preach on and what issues I would like to address, but I’m thinking I will preach on something that addresses the coming election. Pastor Jesse plans on preaching from the book of Obadiah for the remainder of the month of November. Pastor Jesse will preach for four weeks. After that, I plan on spending most of the month of December doing an Advent series, as we approach Christmas. After this Advent series, I plan on jumping into a longer preaching series, although I’m still not sure yet what the preaching series will be. So hang tight and stay tuned, dear brothers and sisters.
If you have a Bible this morning, go ahead and turn with me to the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verse 10. This morning we will hear from our God regarding the topic of contentment. Contentment is such an important Christian virtue. One that I struggle with the most. Out of all the topics that Paul touches on in the book of Philippians, this topic of contentment hits home for me the most. During this time of COVID, I’ve had a restlessness in life. I’ve mentioned in a previous sermon, my desire to see that Amazon package at my door. Do you remember that? Wanting something exciting to happen. Being bored. Being restless. Being uneasy. Have you gelt this like me, dear friends? This is how I have felt. I need this contentment in Christ. This satisfaction in him so badly. You do too, brothers and sisters.
Let’s go ahead and read the passage,
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
We are going to tackle this passage this morning piece by piece. I am not going to go through it in sequential order. Rather, I am going to jump around in this passage drawing out certain truths regarding contentment and its application.
Before we jump into the specifics points of the sermon, we need to set the context a bit. In this portion of Philippians, Paul is drawing his letter to a conclusion. In our section, Paul discusses the financial gift he has received from the Philippians. If you remember from some time back, we talked about Epaphroditus, how he visit Paul in prison and brought to Paul the financial gift that the Philippians had given him to deliver to Paul. Do you remember that? In verse 10, Paul begins discussing his thanks for the gift that the Philippians had given him. Paul picks up on his thankfulness for the financial gift form the Philippians in v. 15. In our passage this morning, Paul discusses that even though he is extremely thankful for the gift, he has learned contentment and is satisfied in Christ.
Contentment is Not Hyperspirituality
What I want to focus on for the first point this morning in our discussion on contentment is to analyze what contentment is not. What contentment is not. That will concern our first point this morning. The first point is this: contentment is not hyper-spirituality.
Hyper-spirituality is approaching the difficulties of life or the difficulties of the Christianity and constantly saying that things are fine. It’s like this. Let’s say you have a friend who is really going through some difficult circumstances in life. Just really hard. Let’s say your friend’s husband just lost their job. Being a concerned Christian, you ask your friend how they’re doing. That’s what concerned friends should ask. The response that you get, though, is always positive. “You know, I’m doing good. We’re making it. We have so much to be thankful for. God is good all the time.”
Now, it’s not that God is not good. God is good. All the time. However, the difficulties of life can be so great that we must lament sometimes. We must recognize and voice that we aren’t always doing well. Life sometimes demands from us the response of sorrow, pain, and crying to God in desperation.
Listen to what Ecclesiastes says. This comes from Ecclesiastes 3.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
In life there will be times when we must laugh and times when we must weep. Hyper-spirituality doesn’t allow for this weeping, this mourning, this lamenting, this necessary part of the Christian life.
Now this type of always happy go lucky hyper-spiritualization is not what contentment is. To be content in Christ allows for lament, difficulty, and sorrow. You can be at one and the same time sad about your circumstances in life and yet content. That is what the Christian life is. It is a constant experience of sorrow and joy. Contentment allows for sorrow,
Let me show you this from the text. Paul is not unaware of the difficulties he is experiencing. He is well aware. Paul is in prison, remember? He is writing Philippians from inside a jail. Wow. Difficulty. Real difficulty. To be imprisoned for preaching the gospel, for doing the right thing. That is very hard. Yet that is where Paul finds himself. Is Paul unaware of the difficulty he is in? No he is not. He is fully aware of the difficulty.
Look with me at v. 14. I want you to notice how Paul describes his imprisonment in this verse. Paul says,
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
Paul here is talking to the Philippians. The “you” is the Philippians. How does Paul speak of his imprisonment here? Paul speaks of it at his “trouble.” This word “trouble” is a broad, general term for difficulty. It means,
trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation
Paul knows the difficulty of life. He knows the cost of the cross. He knows that the Christian life is not one of constant rainbows and sunshine.
We experience dark days, dark months, dark years, dark decades, beloved. Dear Christian, life is hard. Christianity does not entail a deliverance from the difficulties of this world. Deliverance is coming, dear friends. It’s coming. It’s future. We’re waiting for Jesus. In the meantime, beloved, we struggle, we strive.
It’s okay to say acknowledge that to God. It’s okay to acknowledge that. If you’re not doing good, won’t you tell the Lord the truth. Won’t you tell that to others. Contentment allows for that. Contentment is not hyper-spiritualizing of things. Contentment in Jesus Christ does not necessitate that you always think you’re doing good. To be satisfied in Jesus—which is what contentment is—does not mean that you have to be happy with your circumstances. Contentment allows for difficulty.
Contentment is about Satisfaction
So for our first point I discussed what contentment is not. Contentment is not hyper-spiritualizing. It allows for difficulty, struggle, and pain. You can be at one and the same time both sorrowful and satisfied in Jesus. That’s possible. That’s doable.
Now we move to our second point to discuss what contentment is. For our second point, write this down, brothers and sisters: contentment is about satisfaction. Contentment is about satisfaction.
The central term that we need to investigate in this passage occurs at the end of v. 11. Look with me at v. 11. Paul writes,
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
The central word in this passage and for our passage this morning is the word “content” at the end of the verse. The way I want us to understand this noun is this way: “satisfaction.” We could also translate the passage this way: “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be satisfied.” Contentment has to do with satisfaction. It has to due with what’s in your heart. It deals with our spiritual and emotional state, not our physical state.
Now I want you to see what Paul says at the beginning of the sentence. Paul says at the beginning of v. 11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need.” Very interestingly, though, look at v. 16. Look what Paul says there,
Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.
So in v. 11 Paul says that he had no need of the Philippians gift and in v. 16 he says that he did have need of their help. Hm. How do we pull this together? Is Paul contradicting himself? Absolutely not.
The way we bring these ideas together is this. Paul did actually have physical needs. That’s why the Philippians sent this gift to him that Paul mentions in v. 14. Paul had physical needs and the Philippians supported him.
But a person’s physical needs are not what is most important to a person. It is a person’s spiritual needs. And Paul knows this. When Paul says in our passage, v. 11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need,” what he is referring to is his spiritual state. Contentment refers to our spiritual satisfaction in life. Contentment refers to the idea that all of our physical needs might not be met and that’s OK. What ultimately matters is what is in our hearts.
Because of the finished work of Christ, because of the goodness of God to Paul even while Paul is in prison, Paul can say that he is content. That he is satisfied. That he has all that he truly does need. Yes, he has physical needs but he does not have spiritual needs. His faith, his identity, his wellbeing and sense of satisfaction is not determined by circumstances.

In the Bad
This idea of contentment, of emotional and spiritual satisfaction, Paul states, occurs in bad situations and good situations. We’ve already touched briefly on the bad things of life in our earlier point when I described that contentment is not hyper-spirituality. We can and should be satisfied in Jesus when circumstances are not favorable. We can both be content and sorrowful at the same time. We touched on that in a previous point.
And just to locate this idea in the text a little bit more. Look with me at vv. 12. It reads,
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Paul mentions both favorable and unfavorable circumstances in this passage. The unfavorable circumstances are as follows. They are “to be brought low.” This has the idea of humiliation. Paul says that he knows how to follow Christ in light of being humiliated. He knows how to be satisfied in Jesus when that happens. We don’t know exactly what Paul is referring to here, when exactly he was humiliated. It could refer to his imprisonment. We don’t know. The specifics don’t matter as much as the larger point that Paul, because of Jesus, is content with situations where he is humiliated.
Continuing in v. 13, Paul mentions being hungry: “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger.” Paul at times in his missionary journeys went without food. Paul is content in these situations. Yes, he wants food, but even if he is hungry, his satisfaction in Christ does not falter.
And then at the very end of v. 12, Paul mentions “need.” This is once again a negative circumstance. “Need” here could refer to being in need of food, water, safe lodging, money, really anything. There were times in Paul’s life when he had tremendous need. Nevertheless, through all of this, Paul was satisfied in Christ.
And in the Good
Contentment, though, is not just about satisfaction in Christ in and through difficult circumstances. It’s not just about being satisfied in Christ when you go without. It’s also about being satisfied in Christ when you have more than you need. Contentment is just as important when things are going well, as it is when things are going badly. Notice that Paul does not limit contentment to simply bad circumstances.
Looking at v. 12 once again. We’ve covered the bad circumstances that Paul went through. Now let’s look at the good. Paul says,
I know how to abound . . . [and then he says] I have learned the secret of facing plenty . . . abundance
All of these statements refer to the same reality: abundance. There are times when after my wife goes to the grocery store and buys groceries for the week and our fridge and pantry are bursting forth with food. An abundance of food, treats, chips, ice cream, bread, milk, eggs. I’m getting hungry. These are favorable circumstances. Think of surplus, excess, overflow. Paul here is referring to these types of circumstances. When he has had an overabundance of money, food, rest, and enjoyment.
Paul here is teaching that contentment, satisfaction in Jesus, is relevant and applicable when things are going bad and good. Paul experienced both types of circumstances. He knew what it was like to go hungry and he knew what it was like to have a full belly. And yet Paul’s faith was not contingent on physical circumstances.
In the Christian life, there is a temptation towards despair when things are going bad and there is a temptation towards idolatry when things are going well. When things are going bad, we are tempted towards being unhappy, moody, grumpy, thankless, and selfish. This is not the way of Christ. This is not contentment. Contentment is belief that God is in control of our lives. And that the circumstances he places us in he is faithful to us in. Contentment is the belief in your heart and in your emotions that God is good, regardless of where you are at in life.
When things go well, we are tempted towards fixating on them, worshipping those things, and trying to hold onto those good things in an ungodly way. We can love the gift more than the Giver. In surplus we must remember that it is God who satisfies.
Your identity cannot be on physical circumstances. Good and bad will come and go. Live is an ebb and flow of favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Dear friends, through it all, we need satisfaction on Jesus Christ. Gifts are nice but the giver satisfies. And when you’re struggling in life, God is faithful. He’s for you and he’s with you. He remains forever.
Contentment is Learned
Now for our third point this morning, dear brothers and sisters. It is this. Contentment is learned.
Paul’s Learning
I want us to see how Paul speaks of contentment. He writes in v. 11,
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
This contentment that Paul speaks of in this passage did not come immediate for Paul. Paul “learned” it. Through the constant beatings, imprisonement, and difficulty that Paul had to go through, Paul learned to be satisfied in Christ alone. Through the constant experience of loss and trial, Paul learned to be satisfied in Christ.
Now look at v. 12. Paul writes,
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Paul here speaks of “learning the secret” of contentment. I take what Paul is saying here is that he has been taught, trained in, instructed in contentment. Through the constant experience of loss and overabundance, Paul learned to not place his satisfaction in circumstances.
Some lessons in life must be learned through experience. Brothers and sisters, I still pinch myself that I’m the pastor here at CBC. Wow. What a tremendous blessing this is to me. I love this job. I love you. God has taught me so much through the experience of being a pastor. Mostly, he has taught me of his grace and my sin. Over and over again. That’s the same less he teaches all of us. It has been through the experience of being a pastor that he has taught me of his grace and love. I have learned through this job. God has taught me by means of being a pastor. God didn’t give me this information in a book, he taught me these lessons through the school of life.
That’s how contentment is. As Paul teaches, contentment is learned. God teaches us contentment. God brings us through difficult circumstances to teach us that his grace is sufficient for us. God walks with us through difficult times to show us that he is with us and with him we have everything. God took Paul to the prison to show Paul that he was faithful in the prison. God teaches us these things.
Also, God allows us to experience the dissatisfaction with this life to show us that only he satisfies. In this life, dear friend, you can have it all—money, power, fame, and sex—and be miserable. So many people go through life seeking satisfaction but never finding it. They move from job to job, hobby to hobby, location to location, spouse to spouse, bar to bar, drug to drug, and they are never satisfied. Well maybe if I had this I would be happy! Or this! Or that! Stuff doesn’t ultimately satisfy us. No amount of money, sex, pleasure, food, power, popularity satisfies.
Dear friends, don’t learn this the hard way. Stuff doesn’t satisfy, dear friend. Don’t learn that the hard way. If you live your whole life finding satisfaction in external circumstances, one day God will take those things from you. One day we all will die. If your hope is built on stuff that doesn’t last, you will be crushed in the end. Don’t learn this the hard way. Learn that God is good through it all.
Contentment Comes through Christ
Now we move to our last point. For this last point, we’re going to hone in on v. 13. This is the last point: contentment comes through Christ.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Funny Story
Now as you know this verse is one of the most misunderstood verses in the whole Bible. When I was in seminary, I visited a high school gym one time. This was a Christian high school. A very nice high school. In their gym, though, they had this verse painted in big, large letters on the side of the gym. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The meaning of the verse in a high school gym, in that context is considerably different than the meaning it has in the context that we find it in the book of Philippians. In a high school gym, it means that even me, as a short man, have the ability to dunk a basketball because of Jesus’ power. Now I do believe that Christ’s power can give me the ability to dunk. I do believe that. Even me as little Zacheus can dunk. Amen.
While that is true, that’s not what Paul is saying here. The “all things” is not anything and everything. Paul’s not talking about the possibility of anything and everything. When Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” Paul is talking about being contentment, not athletics. He’s talking about being content in any and every circumstance. He’s not talking about whether or not I or you can dunk a basketball. Paul is not talking about having super-human powers. He’s talking about godliness.
The point here that Paul has learned to be satisfied in Jesus Christ through the ups and downs of life because of Jesus’s power. It’s not Paul’s own power. Paul has no power. We have no power. Our power is the power of sin and disobedience. It’s all about Jesus. The Christian life, contentment, and satisfaction in Jesus is because Jesus strengthens us. He teaches us to trust him. He shows us his grace, his love, and his mercy. Salvation is by grace alone. Contentment is by grace alone.
Allow me to conclude this morning sermon with an illustration of contentment from the pages of church history. Augustine is one of the church’s most influential figures. He was a man who was on fire for God during the late three hundreds and early four hundreds. Prior to coming to Christ, he lived a life of sin and debauchery, trying to find his fulfillment in food and drink, knowledge, and sexual immorality. In God’s grace, he came to the end of himself and abandoned all the pursuit of finding satisfaction in created things.
In his Confession, which is his spiritual biography, he says this on the front page. This line motivated his whole life,
Because you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.
Stuff doesn’t satisfy. Only Jesus does.

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