Philemon 12-16 – Repent and Return (sermon notes & audio)

Posted on January 16, 2015


This is the fourth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Philemon. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the evening of January 11, 2015. This message deals with the importance of repentance, and returning to the Lord. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

Sermon Audio:
Philemon 12-16

Sermon Notes:
Sending Onesimus back must have been difficult for Paul, as he again stresses how very dear Onesimus is to him.

According to Paul, he is “my own heart.”

Apparently, Onesimus was ministering to Paul, and Paul certainly would have loved for that to continue.

However dear Onesimus may have been to Paul, the right thing for a wayward Christian to do is to return to his master.

This is really the overriding principal, return to the Lord. . . it’s called repentance.

Onesimus was now a changed man, transformed by Christ.

As such, he needed to right his wrongs. Paul, as his mentor was gently pushing Onesimus in the right direction by sending him back.

At the same time, Paul was setting the example for intercession, buy guiding Philemon in the correct response to the return of his slave.

It is critical that we repent and turn back to the Lord when we have gone astray.

In fact, repentance is the very message with which Jesus began His ministry.

Matthew 4:17

Luke 5:32

In fact, believers are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.

Romans 8:29

That means that God has already willed that believers will change. That means repentance is a must!

We need to understand the nature of repentance. We often feel sorry for our sins, we may even tell God we are sorry, yet we turn around and do it again.

Feeling sorry is not repentance!

2 Corinthians 7:8-9

A Godly sorrow (conviction by the Holy Spirit) will lead to repentance, but sorrow by itself is not repentance.

We should never fear that we cause someone to feel sorry for their sin, if that sorrow produces repentance.

Repentance means that you turn from your sin and turn to Christ.

The message is the same today as when Jesus gave it.

Our primary response should always be to return to our master, just as Onesimus was being instructed to do.

Paul wanted Onesimus to minister alongside him, but only if Philemon openly and gladly agreed to release him.

First things first, and first, Onesimus had to return to Philemon.

God always has a purpose.

It may have been viewed as an evil act for a slave to run away; however, for the believer, God can use a bad situation for good.

Genesis 50:20

Romans 8:28

One good thing to come from this was salvation for Onesimus.

There was also another purpose, and that was for Philemon to learn a lesson in forgiveness.

What a difference Onesimus’s status as a Christian made in his relationship to Philemon.

He was no longer merely a slave, but he was also a brother.

That meant that both Onesimus and Philemon were members of God’s family—equals in Christ.

A Christian’s status as a member of God’s family transcends all other distinctions among believers.

Do you look down on any fellow Christians? Remember, they are your equals before Christ.

Galatians 3:28

When one repents, we are to accept them back. . . period!

How you treat your brothers and sisters in Christ’s family reflects your true Christian commitment.

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