May 29, 2020 – Friday
Philippians 3:4b-6 NIV
4b If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
If you think you will have salvation because of who you are, who you are related to, what you have done in the flesh Paul wants to disabuse you of such beliefs. Paul makes it clear if you have such a belief in the flesh as a Jew, he as more. Not only was he a Jew or a Hebrew of Hebrews, but also a Pharisee. And he was a Pharisee so full of zeal he persecuted the church.
Thus in this case he is mentioning not how he was persecuted, but how he persecuted the church as part of his trying to earn his way into heaven. However, before he writes of this, at the beginning of this chapter he warns against people who would preach such ideas, calling them dogs and evildoers 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. Their evil was their great stress and teaching on earning a form of Godly righteousness by works. One of those works was circumcision or a mutilation of the flesh. Paul was not calling circumcision mutilation, but circumcision as a way to become Godly by becoming Jewish first then becoming a Christian.
Then Paul makes the bold statement 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. By declaring Christians are the true circumcision through the worship of God in the Spirit Paul is showing it is the circumcision of the heart that matters, not circumcision of the flesh. In writing this he is hearkening back to the thoughts in Deuteronomy 10:16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer and Deuteronomy 30:6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live as well as the warning in Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done—burn with no one to quench it.
Paul without a doubt believed at one time it was all about his works that would make him righteous and along with his birthright would give him a place in heaven. Here we see his complete and total rejection of both ideas. He is explicit on this in the verses following our verses of the day where he stated 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Now it’s Friday and I am going to encourage you to go to church this weekend and engage in corporate prayer, worship, and study of God’s word. But none of that will make you a Christian. None of it. What makes you a Christian is your faith in Jesus Christ as your risen Lord and Savior. Your faith in Jesus as the one who paid the price for your sins. Your faith in Him resulting in your repenting of your sins and as John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:8 showing works of your repentance, all because of your calling Jesus your Lord and Savior all the while acknowledging what He has done for you.
That’s why I will encourage you to go to church, to deepen your faith, to share your faith with others who have the same faith and like you are so very imperfect. So enjoy the praise and worship of God, rejoicing in your salvation as well as that of your fellow believers. Listen to your preacher, minister, priest, or pastor and gain new understanding and appreciation of just how much God loves you in granting you such wonderful grace – unmerited love. Remember to go to church to strengthen your faith and that of your fellow believers Have a Great Weekend!
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton