INTRO: This letter to Philippi covers a variety of subjects and needs. No doubt the unity of that church and the discipless joy in Christ are the themes woven throughout the letter. Still, as any letter from friend to friends, a diversity of matters might be mentioned. ... some personal, some informational, some getting down to business. In the three verses I have just read is found some of the harshest language in this letter. The harshness, however, is not directed at the Philippians. It is really in the form of a warning (note v.2 the word beware occurs three times!) based on Pauls own experiences. He warns them about false teachers who could rob them of their joy.
I. PAUL REPEATS HIMSELF (3:1)
A. He is going to mention the same things
1. for a teacher to repeat himself is not bad indeed, repetition is still one of the most effective methods
2. but our tendency is to seek novelty ... I love to tell the story for those who know it best
3. previous letters? sermons? the subject of joy already mentioned in this letter? Im not sure
B. His repeating was safe for them
1. some warnings just never are over used
2. certainly the degree of danger and of love has much to do with how oft repeated warnings should/would be
3. in this case, danger was to our joy and the love was unbounded!
C. Point of focus: rejoice in the Lord
1. the only lasting joy is in Christ will not wear out; will not die; will not desert; offers genuine aid
2. in the Lord speaks of position - Gal 3:27 and Eph 1:3
3. in the Lord also speaks of contrast with other ways or systems of supposed joy
II. THE JOY-ROBBERS HERE MENTIONED? (3:2)
A. Two major errors plagued the church then
1. some believed freedom in Christ meant license - 1 Pet 2:16
2. some believed one had to be a Jew to be a Christian
3. the latter is the issue in this passage
B. How are they described?
1. dogs - name Jews gave to Gentiles (Mt 15:26,27)
a. in scripture anything unclean, impure - Rev 22:15
b. these Judaizing teachers were certainly enemies of Christ and not mindful of their citizenship and its blessings
c. use of this term makes plain Gods view of them!
2. evil workers - point is made they were workers
a. zeal not confined to truth, holiness, righteousness
b. greatest tragedy, danger was their appearance of holiness and their working from within to defile (Acts 20:30)
3. the concision - the mutilators
a. apparently a reference to circumcision which Judaizing teachers insisted was necessary (Gal 5:2,3)
b. physical act was all they were interested in binding - they totally misunderstood there was more than this (see Rom 2:25-29) circumcision as they taught it was mutilation
c. twisting, misusing Gods word, Gods ordinances places one among the mutilators
4. there are contemporary warnings in three bewares and perhaps the most obvious warning is that the danger to Gods people is not always as external threat
III. THE TRUE CIRCUMCISION (3:3)
A. Disciples whose joy is in the Lord!
1. not the Jews not the Judaizing teachers
2. but Col 2:10-12 the saved of God through Christ
B. Three proofs of the true circumcision
1. worship that is true - Jno 4:21-24 ... heart, revealed truth and ordinance combine to constitute this
2. boasting only in Christ - Gal 6:14,15 ... not in what I can do to save myself, but in what Christ has done to save me (far different from the works of the law)
3. no confidence in the flesh either in a fleshly lineage (the Jews) or any system of humanity - Mt 15:9
CLOSE: It seems to me that Col 3:1-3 would sum up for us. It is so necessary - and perhaps neglected - for us to keep on remembering that our joy is in the Lord and in following Him. Whatever diverts us - a false teaching, a course of sin - robs us of real joy.
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)