by Mike Ratliff

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:27-30 ESV)

Please read this article by my friend Ken Silva before continuing. Most of you know I wrote briefly about this the other day here, but as you can see, as we dig deeper into this, it can seem a bit like following Alice down that rabbit hole into Wonderland. In any case, I am going on record right now, as I am sure as no surprise to any of you, that what these people are doing has absolutely nothing to do with Biblical Christianity. They are not living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. They are not standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. No, they are going after all sorts of extra-biblical religious manifestations and trying to intermix them with their Laodicean version of Christianity, which is not Christian at all. 

Notice in the passage above that Paul’s call for believers to stand firm together in one spirit, with one mind striving side for the faith of the gospel. Notice that those who do this are to do so with no fear of anything that opponents of God’s truth try to do so say against them and the message of the Gospel, that is, the real Gospel, not the Laodicean gospel or social gospel. In any case let us look at the Greek word the ESV translates as “striving” in v27 above, which is συναθλουντες a present, active, participle version of συναθλέω or sunathleō, which is a compound word made up of ἀθλέω or athleō from which we get our English word athlete and athletics and means to strive or contend, to be a champion in the public games, such as wrestling, boxing, et cetera. This word pictures a completely dedicated, single-minded striving that would equal that of committed athlete.

As I have shared in earlier posts, in my younger days, I was a long distance runner. There was a period between 1979 and 1983 that I was running around 40 miles a week in training and then running in some race on weekends like a 10k, 5 miler, or 10 miler. That was what I lived for. I did it alone though. There was no teamwork there. The only time I ever involved anyone in it was when I had to go see my orthopedic doctor about my sore knee or something. In any case, it was all about my own personal commitment, but notice that this striving that Paul is talking about here is not like that at all.

He put the prefix συν or sun in front. This word means “together.” Paul adds the idea that Christians are to “strive and contend together, as a would a team.” As only a unified team can be effective, so must there be unity among God’s people, as the context indicates. Take a step back and look at what is really dividing up the visible church. It isn’t doctrine, that is, genuine Biblical doctrine. It is opinion, which is all about self-righteousness. If Christians would forget that junk and get onboard with listening to God’s Word instead of what men say and what their man-focused traditions say, then perhaps this lukewarm, Laodicean bottleneck could be flushed out.

For what are to be striving? It is not for who is right and who is wrong, but it is for “the faith of the the Gospel!” (Jude 3)

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “Striving

  1. Dear Mike,
    Interesting thought – Every page of the Bible is expressing the same theme; man is lost in sin, God in His infinite mercy seeks man, and makes a way where there was NO way, through the sacrificial death His only Son, Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin.

    Men should be “striving” with one heart, soul and mind to THANK God for His indescribable Gift in Christ and proclaim this message of hope and redemption and ultimate love to everyone who has not yet heard about our precious Savior!

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments;” (Psalm 111:10)
    Which leads to what may be considered the most sobering passage in Scripture:
    “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace?…It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-29,31)

    We must try and grasp Holy Fear. If someone is going to present themselves as a “Christian” they need to understand the seriousness of the commitment they have made before the God of the universe.


  2. As you know I hold an emphatically redemptive hand out toward the lost, including lost gay people. However, once we embrace sin within the church we create two problems:

    First, we cease to be salt and light.

    Second, we create an atmosphere that lends itself to shallow and false conversions.

    Who cares if the world legalizes gay marriage. We are not of them. But now the church, with amazing speed, is moving to mirror the world. I remain baffled as to why homosexuality has become so prevelant. I cannot believe it was always this way, so perhaps a permissive culture ignites certain sins that are part of all fallen natures?

    We must always remain redemptive toward lost sinners, but we must rebuke those who claim to know Christ.


  3. It is baffling Rick. Homosexuality was prevalent in the Greco-Roman world, but the early church stood firm against it being legitimized WITHIN the church as we should too. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that some of them USED to be Homosexuals, but now they were Christians and so weren’t anymore. Why have we lost that?


  4. Thanking the Lord that He strengthens those who are are His and keeps and guards them by His power through faith.
    He shows us His truth- not our own truth, which conveniently allows us to remain in our sin, and we will be able to sift through all these bizarre and confusing examples of “christian” life by the Holy Spirit showing us through His word.

    One sentence you read or hear from some of pastors or teachers sounds pretty good and the next can be a complete opposite and everybody still says amen. This mix of error and “sort of truth” is what is deceptive. Makes your head spin….but God is faithful, isn’t He!!

    God bless!


  5. Mike — I think this is less about “Laodicean” Christianity than it is about the infusion of NEW AGE “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils”. As Ken Silva noted, there are many references to universalist pagan beliefs, e.g. “the place in U where the whole Universe”, ad nauseum.


  6. Sure Lizzie, but I consider Laodicean Christianity, which is Lukewarm, the mixing of what is Christian with what is not, which is what I see these people doing with their Mega Church and then going after all of their mysticism junk.


  7. Whatever one decides to label the latest slide into apostasy it reaffirms over and over the trustworthiness of God’s unchanging word and the depth of man’s unbelief and bent towards self in all it’s damming forms.
    Thanks to those that remain loyal and unwavering,unwilling to compromise to please mere men;men who obviously value their reputations more than the One they profess to follow.


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