March 22, 2009
This chapter is one of my favorites. I claimed this chapter in 1997 when the Lord saved me. I had to lay aside all my confidence in the flesh, and I had plenty of good works to have confidence in. I could not claim all the works according to the Jewish rights, rituals and traditions as Paul did. But I could claim all the rites, rituals and traditions so common in the Fundamental Baptist movement.
The Lord showed me that I was trusting the wrong thing, and that I had to come to him.
Paul has spent the previous two chapters encouraging these people at Philippi in their faith, actions toward God and toward one another.
This chapter continues his exhortation for these people to walk worthy of the name of Christ, which they claimed. There are about 15 references to Christ in these 21 verses, with 8 of them in vs. 8-10.
Vv. 1-3 is the first section.
These first three verses that start this passage are an extremely strong warning against false teachers, Jewish in this case. He follows his warning with an explanation to expose these false teachers.
As we pointed out in Galatians, the Judaizers followed not only Paul but all the New Testament preachers, determined to undermine the message that Christ fulfilled all of the Jewish rites, rituals and ceremonies required by the Mosaic laws, particularly Circumcision. They sought to put the new Christians back under the rituals required by Moses, as well as back under the traditions of the Jewish elders which held the people in bondage.
V. 1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
We saw a little of this in John, as we looked at 16:21, 22. The context here in Philippians is talking about salvation. The evil workers were teachers who supposedly represented the Lord God. They may not have arrived at this church yet, but their doctrines were making their rounds among the churches, and the teachers would get there sooner or later.
The doctrine of the evil workers would load the people down with all kinds of work of the flesh for their salvation. Paul tells them to rejoice in the Lord because they don't have to worry about doing enough works to assure their place in heaven.
If good works were required along with the work of Christ, how much work would be required on our part? How would we know when we had enough added good works to make it?
Finally... It was their supernatural joy in the Lord that would see them through the dark days ahead. It is this same joy in Christ which will see us through whatever the Lord might have in store for His people, and that could easily be some extremely dark days.
Rejoice is a command. It is the duty of every Christian to rejoice in the Lord.
1 TH 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit.
Notice where this rejoice is right after the command that none render evil for evil. The Lord tells us here that we are to follow that which is good, not only toward the brethren, but toward those outside of the faith.
Thus, if our relationship is proper with the Lord, nothing can remove that joy. We are commanded to have joy, and to keep our relationship right with him.
Some Reasons for Joy:
1. our sins are forgiven;
2. the grave is not our home, rather our home is in heaven;
3. we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son, Col. 1:13.
4. He has called us according to His eternal purpose, and will give us the needed grace, power and ability to fulfill that purpose (I am proof of this, if proof is needed.);
5. we now have free and open access to the throne of the Father's mercy and grace in the time of need;
6. the world, flesh and the devil are defeated;
7. our God reigns and the heathen rage against Him to no avail.
8. We have his word, so we know how to please him. We also know our way around in this dark world of turmoil.
9. our joy is in him, and not in the things of this world.
This list could go on and on. We can not count the blessings which are ours in Jesus Christ our Lord. Christianity is not sadness and sorrow. It is joy:
Rom. 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Many Christian groups try to show their young people joy by adapting the world's standards. So rather than Christian joy, they find fleshly joy.
The command here is Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
rejoice in the Lord... All through this chapter, he reminds them of their position in Christ, which should be enough to make anyone rejoice in the Lord who is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
The more we are able to find our joy in our relationship with Him, the more strength we will have to stand for Him. The more discouraged we are in our relationship with Christ, the more difficult it is to stand in the face of opposition.
To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Paul implies here is that when he was at Philippi, he had warned the people about the false teachers who were following him around with their doctrine. Now he adds to that verbal warning a written warning. What he had said for their ears, he is now repeating for their eyes and the eyes of many generations to come (although he probably didn't realize this at the time).
It was not a burden to him to repeat the same warning, though he was a busy man.
I have heard folks who might have a question or concern which they feel they need to talk over with the pastor say, "I don't want to be a bother or burden to him." Then they would take that concern to someone else.
It certainly is not grievous for a pastor to help his people with their questions and concerns.
Furthermore, Paul points out that it is for the peoples' safety to bring their questions and concerns to their pastor, particularly questions about doctrine. We are told in Ephesians 4:8-16 that pastors are given to a church to protect them from false doctrines:
Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
To write the same thins to you... We need the truths of the word of God repeated often in order to strengthen us against the many false doctrines going around today. We all know many 'babes in Christ' who have been carried away by false teaching because they were not strong in the word of God, which was a concern Paul is dealing with.
The false teachers and their heretical doctrines are dealt with in almost every New Testament book, especially Galatians and Hebrews.
V. 2 is one of the harshest verses in Scripture, and shows us the reason for Paul's letter. It was to warn of the false teachers. My hostility toward false teachers and their doctrines of destruction can't hold a candle to Paul's.
Paul begins this chapter with his warning against evil workers.
We see from places such as 1 Corinthians 2:1 & Colossians 2:4, that evidently these men had very winning personalities, moral lives and nice words, but they were evil workers. It takes evil people to do evil deeds. Their deeds (doctrine in this case) made them evil or their evil deeds proved they were evil. This will go either way.
Their doctrine did not line up with the Old Testament doctrine, for that was the only measure they had at the time.
Moreover, we can safely assume that they were morally pure men because these churches which Paul had started, accepted them. We cannot underestimate the moral soundness of the converts of Paul's preaching. The church here at Philippi was a morally sound church, yet these false teachers were a danger to them.
It is easy to overlook a person's teaching if he is a good moral person with a nice personality. However, Paul does no such thing. We hear the saying (and I have used it often myself), "We need to separate the sinner from his sin." Paul tells us that it is impossible to separate sin from the sinner. Men are evil because their teachings and actions are evil. Men nor women can be separated from their sin. They were evil because their actions were evil.
The word of God never separates the individual from his sin. Can we?
Paul identifies these Jewish false teachers as dogs, evil workers and the concision
A few words about False teachers
First, the false teachers were as sincere and dedicated as anyone could possibly be, yet they were just as wrong as was Saul as he was dedicated to kill Christians. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, identifies them with their error. Their doctrine did not conform with the revealed word of God; therefore, it was evil. Evil doctrine makes evil people. Their message was evil; that made them evil men. A person's evil deeds cannot be separated from the person. It takes evil men to do evil deeds.
We went to Tilton's memorial service a few Sundays ago. The speakers preached him into heaven, and everyone there knew it was a lie. An evil message makes the messenger evil.
Second, the false teachers went after the new converts, folks who were already saved. This has been typical of false teachers through the years.
What we know today as Scofieldism (premill. dispensationalism) was built on proselyting, or taking people from already established churches.
Third, the message of these false teachers was extremely close to the new truth which was being presented by Paul. In fact, in a couple of Paul's letters he mentions the necessity of the Spirit of God in order to make the distinction between the truth of God and the errors of these false teachers.
Beware of dogs.
It is a common practice for a homeowner to have a mean dog for protection, and then hang a sign out that sais, "Beware of the dog." The intruder enters at his own risk.
Paul evidently did that here. He hangs the sign out, Beware of the dogs. This would have had the same meaning as it does today. As we mentioned, these men had winning personalities and were excellent speakers, but their message did not line up with the Scriptures as revealed if the Old Testament.
When my brother and I were maybe 10 or 11, we had a dog, a small toy collie. He was a very cute dog and appeared very kind and gentle. And he was, IF HE KNEW YOU. If he didn't, that was a different story. He was very quiet with a stranger, but if that stranger turned his back on that dog, the dog had him.
Some evil workers and their false teachings are as obvious as a mean guard dog. Those aren't the dangerous ones. The dangerous ones are the ones like that little collie which we had. He was lying in wait ,and if you turned your back on him, he had you.
The warning of the apostle is obvious. These evil workers appear nice and sound good, but they will devour you if you listen to them.
The meaning goes further than that of a watchdog that bears watching. The word dog is used as a name of reproach throughout the Scriptures. A few usages would be:
In Deuteronomy 23:18, dog refers to a mail prostitute or sodomite.
DEU 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
In Psalms 22:20, dog refers to the powers of darkness.
PSA 22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
In Matthew 7:6, dog refers to a rebellious and stubborn people.
MAT 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
In Matthew 15:26, dog refers to the Gentiles.
MAT 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
Revelation 22:15 gives us an ideal of the meaning as Paul used it.
REV 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
Beware of dogs... It denotes those who are shameless, impudent, malignant, snarling, dissatisfied, greedy, and contentious.
And if this were not enough, he adds to it, beware if evil workers, beware of concision. The meaning of concision is to cut, mutilation, and is a very obvious reference to v.3. It could refer to circumcision or to those who cut up the word of God to make it fit what they want to teach.
Though I have mentioned it many times, the true legalist teacher, are those who add the works of the flesh to the finished work of Christ FOR SALVATION. However, there are those today who hate the law-word of God, so they define legalism as any effort to hold the Christian to the moral law as given in the Ten Commandments.
The false teachers of our day who teach a wrong view of Christ and the law easily fit into Paul's definition of false teachers here in Chapter 3.
These Christians only had the OT Scripture to study. This would have made them well aware of what Paul meant when he called these men who were trying to influence them, dogs.
There was not a more derogatory term that he could have used. You could not say any worse about anyone without cussing them. These were evil workers who were bringing false doctrine, strife and division to the church. Evidently they were present in the church when he writes this. Paul was not afraid of offending anyone when he exposed sin.
In typical manner, Paul doesn't repeat the false doctrine, but counters it with the truth of God. We can get an excellent idea of the false doctrine from the truth that Paul gives.
Let me make a point here. The Law of God clearly forbids the study of false doctrines.
EXO 23:13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.
Colossians chapter 2 tells us that we are to be studying the word of God, not the false doctrines that are going around.
Paul identifies false teachers by what they are saying (concerning the Circumcision, especially). The word of God also identifies false teachers by what they are not saying, calling them dumb, lazy and greedy:
9 All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. 10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. 12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
V. 9, the Lord calls the God hating antichrist crowd against His people because they have turned from His word. He tells the antichrist crowd that it is safe to come against them because the watchmen who are suppose to warn them won't. Rather than warning the people, they are saying that everything will be fine; in fact, tomorrow will be better than today. The reason they are saying this is the gain that is in it for them.
V. 10, dog refers to watchmen who are asleep, and do not warn of the danger approaching.
V. 11, the term greedy dogs is used. Men who are in the ministry for the gain, so they do not rase the alarm, afraid of losing their gain.
I heard of a man who had a dog that started barking at night. Night after night he kept barking. The man tried everything to get the dog to stop, but the dog wouldn't stop. Finally the man got fed up with his noisy dog and got rid of him. If I remember right, he killed the dog. The very next night the man was robbed of all he had (and him and his family killed?).
A primary responsibility of a pastor is to warn his people of the dangers he sees. At times, the warning may be a false warning through no fault of the pastor.
I know, there are some who say, "I wish he wouldn't bark at everything." Which kind of a watchdog would you rather have in a bad neighborhood, one that barks a lot or one that won't bark at all? Some do not like the idea of a barking dog, but the best advice these people can have is to find a place that has a loud watchman and stay there for there own safety.
God calls spiritual leaders who will not warn his people about the danger he sees coming, a false prophet. Part of the pastor's responsibility is to stay abreast of what is going on.
There seems to be very little alarm sounded in churches over state sponsored wicked laws and activities. Those pastors are the dumb dogs that cannot or will not sound the alarm.
Paul identifies these apparently good men who are infiltrating Philippi as evil because they are doing evil. The evil they were doing was teaching doctrines contrary to the then revealed word of God, Gen. - Mal. Can we define evil men differently?
The Old Testament identifies false teachers by those who will not warn God's people. Paul identifies false teachers by their faithfulness to the Old Testament.
What many are passing off as a New Testament church today is a church Paul knew nothing about. However, John identified it as the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3.
V. 3, Circumcision
We spent a lot of time on Circumcision in Galatians, so no need to now, other than to say this:
Clearly, the false teachers were telling the new Christians that they had to become Jews through Circumcision if they would be the true children of God.
Even though Christ removed the partition between Jews and Gentiles, these teachers were still making a that division:
Ephesians 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
V. 3, could not be clearer, though many today deny what Paul said. The new Circumcision, or people of Godthe Jews, consists of those who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Paul gives us three marks of the true circumcision, or the true child of God:
1. Those Which worship God in the spirit. The reference to Jn.4:24 is obvious. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
2. And rejoice in Christ Jesus. Keeping in mind the context here, what did the Jews rejoice in? Jn. 8:39 (Mt.3:9) --They rejoiced in their relationship with Abraham.
Many others rejoice in their money, social standing, possessions or many other things. The true circumcision, or child of God, rejoices in Christ Jesus. Do you rejoice in Him?
3. Then the third point of the covenant-people of God. This is the point that the rest of the chapter is built on. This is the point that is closest to my heart because of from where the Lord found and rescued me.
And have no confidence in the flesh.
The context is pointing out that those of the true circumcision do not depend on any thing they can do or that they are to merit salvation.
You know that I can not get this close without saying a word or two. The true circumcision does not claim a prayer as salvation. I get so fed up with the many things of our day, that I could spit.
I was in a Christian book store some time ago, and they had a little booklet on display by Bill Glass, a famous youth evangelist some years ago. The title was HOW CAN I KNOW I AM SAVED, and he wanted $3.00 for it. It was not as big as my little booklet on salvation.
Of course, I could not be that close without picking it up and looking at it. Sure enough, the plan of salvation did not mention a word about having to trust Christ to pay the penalty for your sins. It did mention that He died on the cross and that a person had to have an intellectual knowledge of that fact, but then he told them to turn their life over to Him and receive Him into their life.
All of the nice sounding words built up a confidence in what the individual can do. Glass, and others like him, do not emphasize, if they even mention, what Christ did for them in their place.
The only message that will prevent this confidence in the flesh is a clear presentation of the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ in the place of the sinner.
I have this chapter headed with a red star in one of my worn out Bibles, and I will share this most sacred chapter with you if you will listen closely. This passage is probably closer to my heart than any one other in the Scriptures.
1. Evil works and doctrines make an evil person. Sin cannot
be separated from the sinner.
2. The only distinction today is between redeemed and lost. Those who try to continue a Jew-Gentile distinction today are false teachers according to v. 3, and Ephesians 2.
3. Physical Circumcision was done away with in Christ. There is not one shred of Scriptural evidence that it was carried into the New Testament in infant baptism.
We dealt with this throughly in the book of Galatians.
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