Constant Practice – Lester Kamp

Lester Kamp

Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do…” (Phlp. 4:9, emph. added, LK). William Hendricksen, in his commentary on the book of Philippians, offers this translation of the verse: “The things which you not only learned and received but also hear and saw in me these things put into constant practice.” Kenneth S. Wuest, in his Philippians in the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, offers translation for the term “do”: “habitually practice” or “practice as a habit.”

The Context

Notice that Paul’s instruction to “do,” “put into constant practice,” to “habitually practice,” is preceded by his instructions to “think on these things” (Phlp. 4:8). It should, therefore, be noted that behavior originates in thinking. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). Scripture notes how the thinking of several individuals determined their actions. First, Elisha instructed Naaman, the leper, to “wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold I thought…” (2 Kings 5:10-11). Naaman’s thinking on this occasion caused him to decide that his own ideas were superior to God’s instructions. His thoughts caused him to doubt God’s requirements. He “went away in a rage,” according to verse 12, thinking that there was no benefit in doing what God through Elisha had commanded him to do. Consider the loss of blessing that this wrong thinking would have resulted for Naaman. Wrong thinking always results in wrong behavior, which causes one to miss the blessings that obedience to God provides. Because of the sage advice of his servants, Naaman thankfully changed his thinking, obeyed God, and was cleansed. Second, recall the rich farmer in Luke 12 that God calls a fool. Remember that his harvest had been so great that he had no place to store his crops. Jesus said of him, “And he thought within himself…This will I do…” (Luke 12:17-18). His thinking was that he had plenty of time later to think about spiritual matters; therefore, he determined to take it easy and enjoy his success without concern for his relationship with God. The result was catastrophic: “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul is required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). Third, the one we call the prodigal son after living in a rebellious way finally “came to himself.” When he did, he thought about what he should do. His thoughts resulted in his actually going to his father and acknowledging that he had “sinned against heaven, and in thy sight” (Luke 15:21). But, notice again that before he returned home, he thought through what he should do and say. Behavior starts with thought! If we are to live a faithful Christian life, we must guard our thoughts and direct them toward those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. “Think (i.e., meditate) on these things,” Paul said.

Christianity is Doing

The religion of Christ is not just of the mind; Christianity is doing. It is certainly essential that we believe the right things—the Truth (John 8:32). One can be doctrinally sound but wrong in practice. Consider the scribes and Pharisees of whom Jesus said, “All therefore whatsoever they bid you to observe, that observe and do, but do not after their works; for they say and do not” (Matt. 23:3). Jesus referred to them repeatedly as hypocrites because they knew what was right without doing what was right. There is a definite emphasis on doing in the New Testament. A few examples will suffice. When Jesus described the judgment, He spoke of those who acknowledged Him as Lord but failed to do the Will of God (Matt. 7:21). Later in the same sermon, He spoke of wisdom as not only hearing the Word but also doing what the Word teaches (Matt. 7:24-25). Paul spoke of those who are saved by grace through (the) faith as those “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:10). James tells us to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jam. 1:22). Jesus asked, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say” (Luke 6:46).

Constant, Habitual Practice

There is to be a constancy and consistency in our doing! Far too many Christians today are vacillating between faithful and unfaithful service, between being active and being AWOL soldiers, between being regular and being sporadic worshipers, between being fervent and being apathetic in our commitment, between being hot and being cold followers, and between being dedicated and being indifferent disciples of Christ. Being acceptable to God surely requires constant, habitual practice of those things that are taught in the New Testament. Christianity is not obeying God when it is convenient; obeying only when it fists into our schedule; obeying only when it does not interfere with what we deem to be the pleasures of this life (2 Tim. 3:4)! One of the first things that inspiration tells us about the first Christians was that “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). There is a persistence and consistence inherent in the terms “continued steadfastly.” Some translations render the idea by the phrase “continually devoted themselves.” Some brethren are grossly lacking in this concept. Their practice of the faith once for all delivered is hardly constant or habitual. When even attendance for the worship assembly is considered, there is rarely an assembly, if any, when all members of any given congregation who are able to attend are actually present. Sporting events, relaxation, leisure, and other activities of various kinds are preferred by some rather than assembling with the church to worship God, yet most of these (even if absent from the assemblies most of the time) consider themselves to be faithful Christians! Absurd!

There is to be a pattern of obedience to God for the Christian which is both constant and habitual. We are to “yield (our) members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19). In reality, to whom are we the servants? Paul tells us, “…his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom. 6:16). The life of a servant is constant, habitual obedience to his master. Jesus warned us that we cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). Some think they can. Some even try. But, the truth is that when we try to do this, we are not the servants of God (Matt. 12:30).


Lastly, Paul was able to commend his own example to the brethren for them to follow. He realized the need to “practice what we preach.” The Philippians had “learned, and received, and heard” many things from Paul, but they had also seen them in Paul. These were the things that they were to do, that is to constantly and habitually practice. What a great lesson! Lessons that are seen are quite powerful (Matt. 5:16). Paul was able to say, “Do as I do as well as what I say.” Many sermons and lessons are negated by the behavior of the preacher or teacher. How sad!

Live the life! Others are observing what you are doing. Be constant and habitual in your practice of the Words of Christ.

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Author: Editor

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