THE DILEMMA OF JOY

                                      Antonio Baldovinos | Christianity

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

This is not a statement you would expect from a prisoner.

Yet it is the call of the Gospel message and is the entryway to Christianity (Matt. 16:24).

I have been studying the book of Philippians, written by Paul. In this book we see a perspective unlike what you or I would assume a prisoner would write.

Yet prisoner and the Apostle Paul writes this letter to Philippi as a thank you. Reading it you can sense his sincere and heartfelt affection for the Philippian church.

I hope you would read it. It won’t take you long.

It is an incredible book. The more I learn about it, the more I am challenged and encouraged in my life and ministry.

As he writes, Paul offers reminders that challenge us to Christian maturity.

However, he first lay’s the foundation of the journey of salvation.


  •  We are justified through faith in Him alone, not by works. There was a price to pay and Jesus paid it by dying to take the penalty for our sin.
  • Paul says elsewhere, “we’ll be glorified.” Just like Jesus rose from death, one day we’ll be perfected and we’ll rise from death and live forever with God in His Kingdom.
  • Sanctification is renewing of the mind by the Word. It’s walking by the Spirit and not by the flesh. It is not effortless but can oftentimes be exhausting. That’s why Paul tell us in Philippians 2:14 and 15, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”

Wrongly preached today is a message of justification and glorification without the process of sanctification. Yet the process of sanctification is where life happens and maturity is perfected.


1.    JOY

We live in a nation and generation that is founded upon the pursuit of happiness.

“More, more, more” has become the motto of a restless and discontent generation…yet no one stops to consider the insanity inherent in the endless pursuit of more.

This culture has engulfed us. (Eph. 4:17-19)

Even religion entangles by feeding us the lie that  “Unless you do good things, God won’t love you.”

Our God gave His life and desires a relationship with us. He’s not asking for perfect behavior but a reach towards Him. He provides grace, mercy and help.


  •  We set ourselves up for despair, disappointment and discouragement because we fix our hope on something that can never fulfill.
  • When (if) we do get that person or that thing we realize they’re not that fun. We often have false expectations and they will fail us time and time again.
  • “We tend to be miserable. That we don’t like to think about being miserable, so we create diversions. We think about something else. We do something to take our mind off our misery.” (Blaise Pascal) The pursuit will always continue because nothing can fascinate us but Him.


God made everything very good in Genesis 1 and 2. Then Genesis 3 happened: sin.

We tell people, “God made everything very good,” yet we neglect the sin problem. 

We’re setting people up for constant failure. When they’re hurting, or can’t pay their bills, or are victimized (and the list goes on) they ask God, “Where are you?” “I thought you were good”.

We preach a gospel that speaks of happiness more then denying yourself and taking up your cross. That’s not the true gospel message.


There are no seven steps to joy because joy is more than an emotion.

True joy is complete only in Him. True Joy is a lifestyle

2.    FELLOWSHIP (Koinonia)

This book is a mature church. This is our aim: koinonia fellowship.

This word is not just socializing around a cup of coffee.

The strength of the meaning is seen best by the way the word was used in the New Testament times. Siamese twins born in the ancient world were said to have koinonia blood, for if one died the other would die too.

In the same way, our fellowship with one another is to be of that quality—what happens to one will happen to the other.

There is a great need today for community and fellowship: to know and be known.

(Phil. 2:1-2) Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.


Don’t be content searching for happiness that is void of true joy or satisfied wading in surface level relationships.

We are challenged and encouraged by Paul to possess joy in spite of circumstances and display genuine koinonia fellowship.

If Paul could demonstrate this from prison, what is our excuse?