Philippians 3:1-3 - Rejoice in The Lord, And Beware

October 7, 1995 Philippians 3:1-3

Introduction:

- we are continuing our study in Philippians
- having completed chp. 1-2, we concluded that study with a review

     - we learned some great truths and some very practical lessons

- Paul continues to show his love for this church by teaching and
  instructing them in some very important issues

     - this is another example of Paul's \"pastor's heart\" -- i.e. he is
       not afraid to face a difficult issue and deal with it according
       to the Scripture

- Paul is going to accomplish a couple of things in these next few
  verses:

     1) warn against false teachers
     2) \"set the record straight\" about \"works oriented righteousness\"

     Note:  There is a lesson here for us, even in the area of
     evangelism, because Paul uses his personal testimony as \"vehicle\"
     to communicate the truth of how a person attains personal
     righteousness

     - we've been studying this on Wed. pm -- invite to come!

- Paul is concerned, as he was with other churches, about the false
  teaching that had/could affect them

     - Jesus warned us about this as well
     - cf. Mt. 7:15 \"Beware of false prophets which come to you in
       sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.\"

- There is a lesson there for our church:

     * NO CHURCH, NOT EVEN THE GOOD PEOPLE OF PHILIPPI, IS EXEMPT FROM
       THE POTENTIAL INFLUENCE OF \"FALSE TEACHING\" -- so Paul warns
       them strongly about this issue in these first few verses

INPUT:  What are some potential consequences or ramifications in a
        church if \"false teaching\" continues and is not confronted?

        (tie into the issue of \"unity\" in the church -- and especially,
         in the area of how a person becomes a Christian)

        ILL:  Witnessing to a person who grew up in another church
              (Catholic) -- shared the gospel, Eph. 2:8,9, etc. -- \"Why
              didn't anybody tell me this before?\" -- that person
              accepted Christ, baptized, is a church member today

- it is important for us to see the overall picture of this chapter
  before studying it more in detail
- perhaps the following outline from Wiersbe would help:

   vs. 1-11                     vs. 12-16                 vs. 17-21
>Paul's Past        |         >Paul's present     |    >Paul's future
>the accountant     |         >the athlete        |    >the alien
>\"I count\"          |         >\"I press\"          |    >\"I look\"
> new values        |         >new vigor          |    >new vision

- In Paul's case, the \"things\" he was living for before he knew Christ
  seemed to be very commendable:

     - a righteous life, obedience to the Law, the defense of the
       religion of his fathers

- but none of these things satisfied him or gave him acceptance with
  God
- like most \"religious people,\" Paul had enough morality to keep him
  out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to let him into heaven!
- it was not \"bad things\" that kept him away from Jesus -- it was good
  things!

     Point:  He reminded them that he had to lose his \"religion\" to
             find the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ

- the KEY WORD in 3:1-11 is \"count\" = (lit.) to evaluate, assess

     * practically = to weight seriously the values that control your
                     decisions and directions

      * in the context:  especially regarding salvation


- let's divide our study up this way:

     I.  The Goal of Paul's Writing
    II.  The Warning of False Teachers
   III.  The Worship of God

  I.  The Goal of Paul's Writing

      - when Paul used the word \"finally,\" he was simply saying
        \"furthermore\" or \"in addition\" to what I have already said
        about unity, being a servant, etc. . . .

      - he makes 2 opening statements at the beginning:

      A.  To Rejoice in the Lord

           - the church was to maintain the joyful spirit that has
             characterized this letter -- even though Paul goes on to
             speak of some unpleasant matters OR \"touchy issues\"


           INPUT:  Why would Paul give the instruction to \"rejoice in
           the Lord\" just prior to a stern warning regarding false
           teachers?

           - because it is the Person and Work of Jesus Christ that
             guaranties our salvation and at the heart of the attack of
             false teachers is an attempt to undermine Who our Savior
             and Lord is and what He has done

           - we can rejoice in Him because He never changes -- \"I know
             Whom I have believed . . . He is able . . .\"

           - we as believers should acknowledge our oneness in Christ
             and should not permit our unity to be undermined by
             enemies of the Truth

      B.  To Protect Them From False Doctrine

          - he repeats some of his former instructions (\"to write the
            same things to you again\") but this is \"no trouble\" for
            him -- he's simply wanting to make a point

               - he is referring to previous warnings against opponents
                 of truth and the unity of the church in general, like
                 he did in 1:27-30

           - it's no trouble because he's thinking of the goal of
             safeguarding them from entrapment in wrong doctrine

           - when you have put this much time and energy into a group
             of people, you want them to stand strong and firm in the
             truth

          1.  He's not afraid to repeat himself if it will benefit
              the church

              (this really reveals his love for this church)

              INPUT: What are some truths around here that we are not
                     afraid to repeat?  Why do we hit those so often?

                   - progressive sanctification -- sufficiency of
                     Scripture -- salvation by grace -- 4 rules of
                     communication -- church discipline

                  Why?  -- apply to daily life, if we don't handle some
                           of these right, we'll not handle life right!

          2.  For them, it was a \"safeguard\"

              \"safeguard\" (KJV - needful) = to add stability, firmness
               enough not to be overthrown

              - it has the idea of certain, dependable knowledge

              - knowing the enemies of truth to be shrewd, numerous,
                and determined, Paul very wisely issues them a strong
                warning about those who would seek to undermine
                salvation by grace and promote a doctrine of good works
                to earn salvation

II.  The Warning of False Teachers  3:2

      - he warned them before, but now he warns them again
      - we ought to especially note the 3-fold re-iteration: \"Beware\",
        \"Beware\", \"Beware\"

      A.  Generally -- the repetition of \"beware\"

          1.  Meaning

              \"beware\" = to continually be on the lookout

              - God wants us to be on the alert, lookout
              - same idea in I Pet. 5:8 \"Be sober, be vigilant...\"

          2.  Q:  What are some other examples of this three-fold
                  repetition in Scripture?

                  - Holy, holy, holy (Ish. 6:3)
                  - the Temple of Jehovah, ... (Jer. 7:4)
                  - O land, land, land, hear the word of Jehovah
                    (Jer.  22:29)

              Point:  Emphasis -- Paul definitely wants their
                      attention!

              - it's like the blows of the gavel, signaling for
                attention, in order that the church of Philippi by
                giving heed may be safeguarded against spiritual and
                moral loss through false teaching

              - this was a good church -- many strengths -- but like
                every other church, not exempt from potential decay
                through false teaching

          3.  It's possible he has just received word of the renewed
              attacks on the gospel

              - against the very essence of the gospel of salvation
                through Christ alone

      B.  Specifically

          - his language changes quickly here
          - he goes from a tender, loving address to sharp rebuke


          CAUTION:  A stern word of rebuke to help prevent spiritual
          failure is not necessarily a sign of a lack of love!
          Hendricksen:  \"The warmer a father's affection for his son,
          the deeper will be his distress when that son's life is being
          continually threatened by shrewd enemies and the more earnest
          will be his warnings.\"

          - the words that follow are a description of one enemy

          1.  One enemy:  Judaizers

              - those Jews who professed Jesus but insisted that in
                order to attain salvation -- at least complete
                salvation -- it was necessary for all, Gentile as well
                as Jew, to keep the law of Moses (i.e. a WORKS oriented
                salvation -- especially by being circumcised!

              cf. Galatians -- written to address these false teachers

          - when Paul brings us the issue that the Judaizers, he
            rebukes them strongly by using some very familiar language
            to the Jews

          2.  A three-fold description

              a.  \"dogs\"

                  - the orthodox Jew considered dogs to be the most
                    despised and miserable of all creatures and used
                    this to describe the Gentile

                  - probably because of the herds of dogs which prowled
                    about eastern cities, without a home and without an
                    owner, feeding on the refuge and filth of the
                    streets, quarreling among themselves and attacking
                    the passerby

                  - Paul is not just using names -- he is comparing
                    these false teachers to the dirty, scavengers

                  - the Judaizers snapped at Paul's heels and followed
                    him from place to place \"barking\" false doctrine

                  Point: They were trouble makers and carried a
                  dangerous infection that had eternal consequences!

                  - These \"dogs\" had characteristics like:

                      1) unclean and filthy
                      2) howl and snarl
                      3) greedy and shameless
                      4) contemptible
                      5) lazy
                      6) cunning
                      7) roaming about
              b.  \"workers of evil\" (lit. -- men who do evil)

                  - cf. 2 Cor. 11:13 -- called \"deceitful workers\"

                  - instead of helping the good cause, they harm it

                  - they drew attention away from Christ and what He
                    accomplished in redemption and put the emphasis on
                    outward ritual and on human efforts

                  - Judaizers wanted to take \"IT IS FINISHED\" and add
                    to it!

                  Hendricksen:  \"Here is Satan's demolition crew.  It
                  is working very hard to demolish God's beautiful
                  palace of grace and peace.\"

                  - built by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross
                    and dedicated by the resurrection!

                  INPUT:  What are some verses that you know or need to
                  know to be \"safeguarded\" against this false teaching?

                      - Eph. 2:8,9
                      - Titus 3:5
                      - Gal.2:21

              c.  \"the concision\" (KJV) (false circumcision -- NASB)

                  - in other words:  the mutilation-party

                  - this was a name given to those who insisted on the
                    cutting away of the foreskin of the body only, and
                    not also of the heart

                    i.e. it was not outward conformity to the Law, but
                         an inward cleansing of sin by the blood of
                         Jesus Christ that saves a man

                  - what he means by using this terminology is found in
                    Romans. 2:28,29 (read)

                    ** that's true circumcision

                  Point:  Hendricksen \"The circumcision merely of the
                  body, especially when this is performed and insisted
                  upon by those who profess to believe in Jesus as
                  Savior, is worse than useless.  It is mutilation,
                  cutting away, spiritual destruction, for if anyone
                  receives this kind of circumcision, . . . he will be
                  farther removed from Christ than he ever was before!\"

                  - circumcision, baptism, the Lord's supper, tithing,
                    or any other religious practice cannot save a
                    person from his sins -- only faith in Christ!


III.  The Worship of God  - 3:3

      - in contrast to the false Christians, Paul describes the true
        Christians, the \"true circumcision\"

      - you must \"beware\" because (\"for we are ...) we are of the true
        circumcision

      A.  True believers worship God in the Spirit.

          - he does not depend on good works-that's only of the flesh

          Point:  The true Christian's worship is Holy Spirit-guided --
          i.e. a result of the Spirit's work on the heart (inner man)

                  - and what is one of the fruits of the Spirit -- JOY

          (therefore, 3:1 is important:  because they could only
          rejoice in the Lord as a result of the Spirit's work)

            (if time:  John 4:19-24 -- woman at the well

             cf. John 4:24 \"God is a spirit: and they that worship Him,
                 must worship Him in spirit, and in truth.\"

      b.  True believer boast in Jesus Christ.

          - those whose hearts have been circumcised make their boast
            in the Lord
          - such boaster rely entirely on Christ Jesus, the Anointed
            Savior -- on His person and work

              - they glory in the cross and the free gift of salvation
              - their \"religion\" is Christ centered and grace centered
                not man centered and works centered!

          cf. 1 Cor. 2:2 \"For I determined not to know anything among
              you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.\"

          Song:   My hope is built on nothing less
                  Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
                  I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
                  But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
                  On Christ the solid rock I stand;
                  All other ground is sinking sand.
                  All other ground is sinking sand.   (Edward Mote)

      C.  True believers put no confidence in the flesh.

          - i.e. the \"flesh\" cannot, does not, will not ever be in a
            position to give us confidence regarding any spiritual
            issue

          cf.  John 6:63 \"It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh
               profits nothing . . .\"