Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Beware of Dogs

The triple overall theme of the New Testament includes:

1. The exaltation of Christ

2. The explanation of the Gospel

3. The warnings of false doctrine

 

We are repeatedly warned about false teachers and false doctrine, starting with Jesus’ warning in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:15-29.  Paul repeatedly warns us, as well as John, James, Peter and Jude.   Their Epistles are filled with warning against false teachers.

 

We’ve come now to Philippians 3 and in verse 2 Paul warns us against false teachers.  Then in verse 3, he describes true Christians. 

 

WARNINGS

 

First he warns against false teachers. He describes them as dogs, evil workers and the concision.   Though I am a dog lover, I am also aware that dogs love filth.  They love to smell it, roll in it and even eat it. An unbelieving false teacher, though he may have a pleasant personality and  great skill teaching, is spiritually as filthy as a dog.  Proverbs 26:11 describes those who reject God’s Word as spiritual fools, who as dogs return to their vomit. Though we can be loving and patient with sinners, we cannot afford to give an inch to false teachers.  They must be removed from their offices; whether deacons, elders, Sunday School teachers, pastors or seminary professors.

 

Secondly, false teachers  are described as  evil workers.  False teachers, though seemingly nice people and even smart people, cannot be trusted nor condoned.  They must be recognized as evil workers and removed from their teaching positions.

 

Thirdly, the false teacher is described as a member of the concision.  That was another way of describing the Judaizers who were poisoning the young Gentile converts with the need to be circumcised. Circumcision is the surgical procedure on the male organ of  a Jewish baby boy on the eighth day after his birth.    Many gentile boys are also circumcised for health reasons.  That is a decision between parents and their physician.  It has nothing to do with our spiritual standing before God.

 

The Judaizers in Paul’s day were insisting the male gentile believers be circumcised and observe the Jewish Feast Days and sabbaths.  Wherever Paul was preaching and leading people to Christ, these members of the concision followed to poison the young converts with requirements that had nothing to do with their salvation they had received as a gift of God’s grace.

 

Satan, the god of false religion, has always attempted to infiltrate God’s people to contaminate the Truth and weaken young Christians.   Jesus referred to them as those who sow tares in a field of wheat.  Paul referred to them as wolves who destroy the flock.

 

God has given us a way to recognize Truth from error. It’s found in Philippians 3:3.    There Paul describes the true circumcision, those whose hearts have been circumcised by God who saves and cuts away sin in our lives. A true Christians is not simply one who has determined to cut sin out of his life and do right.  Rather, he is one whose heart has been cleansed by the blood of Christ and his heart desires to please God.  When the heart is right, the right actions will follow.

 

A DESCRIPTION OF TRUE CHRISTIANS

 

So Paul in Philippians 3:3 describes the true Christian as one who worships God in the spirit,  who rejoices in Christ Jesus and  who has no confidence in his flesh nature.  That’s one of the most complete descriptions of a Christian in all of the Bible. 

 

The True Christian Worships God in the Spirit.

 

True worship is totally internal in nature and character, but it works itself out in a changed life.  A true Christian is one who adores and worships Christ in His heart. That worship is prompted by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

His worship is not  prompted by tradition, so-called worship music, culture, guilt or fear.

 

Nor does he worship to be accepted by others.

 

Nor does he worship to work up emotional feelings and feel good about himself. True worship slays self-righteousness as we give all honor and glory to God for who He is and what He has done for us.

 

In fact, true worship will make us aware of sin in our own lives as it did for Isaiah as he worshipped God. Read of his worship experience in Isaiah 6. It not only caused him to seek cleansing from sin, but also resulted in a desire to serve the Lord in whatever way God could use him.

 

Any so-called worship experience that does not result in a desire to confess and turn from sin and yield ourselves for Christ’s service,  is simply an empty emotional selfish feeling not worthy of the designation, worship.

 

He does not worship to solve problems nor to gain blessings.

 

He does not come to church to worship, for a true Christian can worship God 24/7 wherever he is

 

Rather, he comes to church to hear the preaching of God’s Word and as he hears the Word, he responds in corporate worship with other Christians, as well as private, secret worship too deep and too intimate to make a public show of piety. Such piety is vulgar, hypocritical and false

 

Worship is not just singing or saying words to God.  It’s partly that, but it’s much more. It’s  responding in praise and thanksgiving to God.  True worship always results in obedience in service and in sacrifice to God.

 

 

The True Christian Rejoices in the Lord.

 

Christianity is a personal loving relationship with God based on an understanding and acceptance of the Gospel. 

 

The Gospel is composed of objective facts.  Jesus is God in human flesh. He was born of a virgin mother.  He lived a sinless life  and then went to the cross and willingly shed His blood and gave His life for our sins.  Three days later,  God the Father raised Him from the dead.  He ascended back to Heaven.   Those who trust Jesus and His blood sacrifice are forgiven, cleansed of their sins and made fit to live with God throughout eternity.

 

But salvation is more than receiving these objective facts.  It is more than a mere intellectual understanding of the Gospel.  That intellectual understanding results in a personal, subjective relationship with God.  That personal relationship results in a life of rejoicing in Christ; just as a bride and groom who have given and received objective pledges from one another in their marriage vows are bound together in a new relationship with one another  that results in a lifelong relationship of rejoicing in each other. That rejoicing in Christ is the theme of Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. You’ll see that theme throughout the Epistle.

 

Notice, Paul is not telling us to be happy in our circumstances.  Happiness has to do with our happenstances.  Some happenings are good and some are bad.  Some bring happiness and some bring sadness.   God does not call you and me to be happy in our sad circumstances.   Rather God calls us to rejoice in Christ, regardless of our circumstances.  Such rejoicing acts as shock absorbers to cushion the difficult circumstances of life and to live a smooth, peaceful life, in spite of the bumpy experiences and emotions of life.  As long as we are walking in fellowship with Christ and rejoicing in Him, the circumstances really don’t matter.

 

Horatio Spafford, a lawyer and real estate investor in Chicago, was  an associate of D.L. Moody, evangelist and founder of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago,

 

After the Chicago fire of 1871 most of his real estate holdings lay in ashes. In November of 1873, many of the schools had not yet been rebuilt in Chicago, so he and his wife decided to travel to England and enroll their children in an English academy so they would not be held back in their education.

 

Just before they left America, a business development made it necessary for Horatio to stay in America and so he sent his wife and daughters to England on the ship, Villa de Havre.   In mid ocean, they collided with another ship and their ship sank, taking the four daughters to the bottom of the ocean.  Mrs. Spafford was able to cling to some floating wreckage and was saved from drowning. In England she telegraphed her husband, “SAVED ALONE.” 

 

With his financial holdings gone and now his daughters gone, he penned the following words which became a song Christians find great comfort in singing.

 

It Is Well With My Soul

 

When peace like a river attendeth my way

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul

 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come

Let this bless assurance control.

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

 

My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought,

My sin, not in part, but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul.

 

And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.

 

What comfort these words have brought to countless hearts.

 

He Has No Confidence in the Flesh

 

A true Christian has no confidence in the flesh.  By the flesh, we are speaking of our unredeemed humanness, our sinful self nature.

 

There is nothing wrong with our physical bodies.  The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made.    Though we are redeemed, if our trust is in Christ; yet our flesh or self nature is not yet redeemed.   Romans 7 gives us the most information concerning our flesh nature.  

 

Our self nature is basically selfish, proud and lustful.   Paul, the spiritual giant, confesses that there’s not one good thing about our self nature.  We are not to trust it nor feed it and our text, Philippians 3:3, warns us to have no confidence in it. In other words, if you are a Christian, don’t put yourself in a position where you could fall into sin.  Many, many pastors and other Christian leaders have not heeded this warning, thinking themselves spiritually strong enough to avoid sin.  In a moment of unexpected weakness they have allowed the flesh nature to lead them into sin.

 

May God help us as Christians to always be aware of dogs, evil workers and those who would lead us into religious bondage  and may we worship God in Truth and in the Spirit. May we rejoice in Christ and in what He has done and is doing for us and may we have no confidence in our sinful flesh nature.

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September 11, 2009 - Posted by | Philippians

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