Beware of the Dogs
INTRODUCTION: On Sunday mornings we are focusing our attention on the New Testament Book of Philippians. By now you have discovered that the theme of this book is found in Philippians 4:4 which tells us to "REJOICE in the Lord always, and again I say, REJOICE." Eighteen times, the words Joy, Rejoice and Gladness are used in this letter. Philippians is an epistle of JOY. Joy is a strange emotion coming from a man who appears to have no reason to be rejoicing, as he sits in a dark damp Roman maritime prison.
Yet in spite of Paul's DANGERS and DISCOMFORTS,
Yet in spite of Paul's CIRCUMSTANCES,
He shares with the church at Philippi "THE SECRET OF CHRISTIAN REJOICING." Paul overflowed with joy. He was at PEACE with God. To Paul, Philippi meant suffering, and yet it also meant JOY UNSPEAKABLE.
We discovered in the opening message the outline to the four chapters.
In Chapter One: You can have JOY in spite of CIRCUMSTANCES.
In Chapter Two: You can have JOY in spite of PEOPLE.
In Chapter Three: You can have JOY without THINGS.
In Chapter Four: You can have JOY without WORRY.
In this message we come to the 3rd chapter of Philippians. Please follow me as I read verses 1-6,
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. (2) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (3) For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”
Now the opening command sets the tone for the entire chapter, "Rejoice in the Lord." The Philippians were not to rejoice in WHOM they were, and WHAT they had done. They were to rejoice in Jesus Christ and all that He had done.
Then in verses 2-3 Paul become bold and blunt concerning those who would invade the assembly to draw believers away from the grace of God.
In 1:15-16 he demonstrated a spirit of tolerance toward those who were preaching the Gospel from wrong motives.
But there was no tolerance in 3:1-3 for those we know as the Judaizers who were telling the believers that they must become Jews before they could become Christians.
They were actually teaching that a man has to be circumcised after the manner of Moses or they could not become a part of the family of God. This perversion of the Gospel had Paul exercised in his spirit and he used the term in verse 2 "BEWARE" three times.
Now before we dig into this passage there are three words I need to define for you. Two of the words are found in the text and the third is implied.
In verse 2 you have the word "Concision", which means to "cut up" or "mutilate."
In verse 3 you have the word "Circumcision" which means "To cut around in a circular fashion."
Implied is the name of the false teachers known as the "Judaizers" They were the legalists of the day who were trying to make the grace of God a salvation by grace plus works.
Holding your place here, please turn with me to Genesis 17:9-14. Here we find the background to the Biblical understanding of "Circumcision." Reading this passage we discover that the primary purpose of the rite of "Circumcision" was initiated by God for Israel to remind these people that they did not belong to themselves, rather they belonged to God.
“And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. (10) This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. (11) And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. (12) And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. (13) He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (14) And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.”
Now today, circumcision doesn't have any such meaning as it is being administered to new born baby boys. Because as time passed, this divinely ordained rite disintegrated into nothing more than another religious ritual by the Jews.
So the children of Israel became known FAR and WIDE for their rite of "Circumcision" in the physical anatomy. They were different from other people. But they did not become known FAR and WIDE for the "Circumcision" of their spiritual lives.
Judaism took "Circumcision" and made it an external rite, so that it lost its original significance as an emblem of faith.
As a result, the Holy Spirit included another word to describe this rite when they disregarded its deeper meaning. It was not any longer to be called "Circumcision." They were to refer to it as the "concision." It was a cutting away, it was a mutilation. It did not mean anything.
So God raised up the Apostle Paul to stress that now in this dispensation, the evidence of an individual belonging to God, and being rightly related to God
is not something EXTERNAL,
is not something that is OUTWARD or VISIBLE.
Rather it is something that is INTERNAL, something that is SPIRITUAL. Please notice with me Romans 2:28-29,
“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: (29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
So Paul says that something has to happen now days on the INSIDE for someone to belong to God. The internal activity that God desires is a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Coming back to Philippians 3; we find in verse 2 that Paul proceeds to warn us about a group called the Judaizers who were a NUISANCE to the cause of the Gospel and DETRIMENTAL to the spreading of the pure gospel of Grace.
These Judaizers were the LEGALISTIC JEWS who said, "One might be saved by faith in Jesus, but they demanded that the believer live by the Mosaic law." In effect they were saying, if you keep the law you can take pride in your accomplishments. Paul gives us a stern warning:
As to their CHARACTER, he says BEWARE of the Dogs. Beware of those who knock on your door, who send you things through the mail that sound good, even might read well, but the material is trying to mix the grace of God with “do-it–yourself” works.
As to their CONDUCT, he says BEWARE of the evil workers, mischief makers. Beware of the groups who go about sowing seed of doubt. Beware of those who live by religious formality.
As to their CREED, he says BEWARE of the Concision. Beware of those who teach that your works are essential to getting and keeping your salvation.
Those who are rightly related to God are to engage in the activities that Paul now reveals in verse 3. These three things ought to characterize the lives of those who are circumcised in the heart:
First: We worship God in the Spirit. We worship without FORM.
Second: We rejoice in Christ Jesus. We are to worship without FEAR.
Third: We are to have no confidence in the flesh. We are to worship without FLESH.
These are three activities that ought to characterize every believer’s life.
FIRST: We worship God in the Spirit. We are to worship without FORM. Contrary to the legalist whose religious ways constitute mere formality, Paul is saying our worship comes from the inner man, "the Spirit."
Again holding your place here, go back with me to John 4:21-24, where Jesus was speaking to the woman at the well.
“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (22) Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. (23) But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Now when you take these two passages, the one from Philippians and the one from John, and you put them together, they are simply saying, "if God is not worshipped in the Spirit, then God is not worshipped at all."
There is a frightening tendency or belief many people have when you come to a church like ours. You open the bulletin and it says, "Morning Worship Service." When you do that, you automatically think that because you are here for the "Morning Worship Service" you are worshipping God. That is not necessarily true.
THERE are some here that will worship God in this service. Your heart is right with God. You are not here just to know things about God. Rather you are here to really know Him in your heart and recognize Him in your life, and you will leave here to do something for Him.
THERE are others who will participate in the service, but they will not have worshipped God. For these folks, worship is just a "physical happening."
You get out of bed on Sunday Morning.
You get dressed, and drive yourself to Church.
You arrive at church and sit in a pew.
When it is time to sing you sing.
When it is time to stand and read the scriptures you stand.
When it time to give, you give an offering.
When it's time for the message, in many ways your mind is on a thousand other things.
When it’s time to leave, you leave. It's all just a physical event.
THERE are others who associate coming to church with an “emotional happening.”
When the organ plays, you are moved.
When the choir sings, you are stirred.
When the preacher preaches, you feel something.
But when it is all over, you see it as kind of an emotional event. It doesn't change your life, you leave the same way you came in. You don't intend to do anything about what you heard. That's not worship, that's just pure emotion.
THERE are others who view going to church as an aesthetic highlight of the week. You come to admire the church’s history, the stained glass windows, the ritual, the pomp and ceremony. You sit in awe of the whole thing. When the service is all over, you have been in a worldly situation. You feel religious when you leave, because there is nothing quite like this experience in your life. But you do not truly worship God..
Now there are many things that can be included in worship. However, if the spiritual dimension is not there, it is not the worship of God. It may be some kind of religious activity, but there is no worship of God. Now you are asking, Pastor, what does it mean to worship God in the Spirit?
Again holding your place here in Philippians 3 would you turn to John 3, where we have the Lord's discourse on the "New Birth." Please notice verse 5,
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water (that is the first birth, as a baby is encased in water in the mother’s womb) and of the Spirit (this refers to the second birth or the new birth) he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Now Jesus is saying here that unless a person has a life transforming, soul saving encounter with Jesus Christ by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, he cannot ultimately enter into God's Spiritual realm. We believe that, because God's Word tells us that.
Unless a man has been born of the Spirit, meaning born again, he cannot enter into the spiritual realm as a worshipper either. If a man has not been born again, he cannot truly worship God.
He may think he is worshipping God.
He may sit in the house of God.
He may read the Word of God and pray.
He may get involved in the activities of the church.
But as far as God is concerned, he is NOT worshipping Him. Except a man be born again, meaning born of the Spirit, he cannot worship God. So according to our text, we who have been born again, we who have had a circumcision of the heart on the INSIDE, can have an intimacy in worshipping God.
Perhaps you are wondering, how you can know God intimately? My friend, nothing will happen until you acknowledge Christ as your personal Saviour. Romans 10:13; tells us, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." It is only then that you will be able to PRAY and SING and LISTEN to the Word of God and TRULY and REALLY be in touch with God.
Now if you are here this morning and you have never been born again by faith in Jesus Christ, it is our desire that you might, as you listen to God's Word, say, "Yes Jesus, I need you as my own personal Saviour. Come into my heart and save me."
Afterward, you will find that as you move through a service like this, you will be in touch with God. He will be in touch with you, so that you will be changed from the INSIDE OUT.
SECOND: We are to worship without FEAR. Here Paul gives us a second characteristic of the people of God found in:
Verse 1, "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord," and in
Verse 3, "Rejoice in Christ Jesus."
Here you find the secret to a triumphant Christian life:
JOY is the birthright of all true Christians.
JOY is the supernatural delight in God and God's goodness.
You see, the world seeks HAPPINESS; the Christian seeks JOY. Happiness is our translation of the Latin word "fortuna" which is closely related to chance. Happiness is circumstantial. Whereas:
"Joy is an inner quality of delight in God, and it is meant to spring up within the Christian in a way totally unrelated to the circumstantial blessings of this life."
I believe the Bible is telling us that we are to rejoice in the things we are taught in God's Word. Our joy comes from the Lord. For example, as a member of the family of God:
You can REJOICE in your Salvation. Acts 16:31; tells us, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…" You can say, yes, there was a day I believed, I put my confidence solely in the Lord Jesus Christ and regardless of anything that happens in this life I am a child of God. Rejoice in your salvation.
You can REJOICE in your Security in Christ Jesus. Jesus said in John 10:27-28, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them…And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish…" I don't know all your problems this morning or what is going through your mind, but I can say this, you can rejoice in the fact your eternal salvation is secure, if you are in the family of God.
You can REJOICE in the fact Jesus Christ is coming back some day. We don't know the day, nor the hour, but we believe it could be at any moment. I Thessalonians 4:16-18; tells us, "The Lord is going to return and the dead in Christ shall rise and we which are alive will be caught up to be with the Lord, Wherefore, comfort one another with these words." Whatever your situation, you can rejoice in the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back again.
You can REJOICE in the sovereignty of God. Remember Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Now we don't always understand why God causes us to go through some of the things we go through. You might be in the midst of something right now and saying, "Why me Lord, why right now?"
Let me tell you something. God in His Word doesn't always tell us the reason why. In fact, for the most part, God never tells us the reason why. "God's ways are not your ways, and God's thoughts are not your thoughts." So don't try to be better than God and try to figure it out.
There are many things we will never fully understand or comprehend, and I don't believe it is God's obligation to reveal everything he does in our lives. If he wants to, he may. He is sovereign. He is God. We have to believe that what happens to us has been permitted of God even though we may not necessarily understand.
The Bible never tells us to rejoice in our circumstances; we are to rejoice in the Lord. You cannot rejoice in the trials, the heartaches, the difficulties, or sorrows of God. But you can rejoice in the Lord. Why? Because the answer is found in Isaiah 26:3-4, "Thou (that is, God Almighty ) wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
Now, when you link Isaiah 26:4 with Philippians 3:3, you understand the value and importance of what Paul is saying. In effect he could have said, "God will keep you in perfect peace who rejoice in the Lord." This is the secret to victory in the Christian life.
THIRD: We are to have no confidence in the flesh. We are to worship without FLESH. Paul is telling those of us who have been circumcised in the heart, we who have had that intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ, are to: worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus.
Now he tells us to worship without fear as we "have no confidence in the flesh." The Judaizers boasted of their physical worship. Their worship was a faith plus works salvation. It was a boast-fullness of their goodness, and of their righteousness in their human flesh. The Bible has nothing good to say about "Flesh" yet most people today depend entirely on what they themselves can do to please God.
Jeremiah 17:5; tells us, "…Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord."
Paul personally knew what he was talking about. There was a time in his life when he too boasted of his human merits to gain spiritual credit with God. You read about them in Philippians 3:4-6. However, since now his goal was to know the person and power of Jesus Christ, all his human merits became a loss to him. According to verse 7, he disposed of them in the garbage.
At this point we might ask, "How could a sincere man like the Apostle Paul before he was saved be so wrong?" The answer is, "He was using the wrong measuring stick!"
Paul was looking at the OUTSIDE.
He was comparing himself with the standards set by man, not by God.
As far as obeying OUTWARDLY the law and his religious rituals, Paul was a success.
But he did not stop to consider the INWARD sin of his heart, He needed a circumcision of the heart.
When he looked at himself or looked at others, Paul considered himself righteous. But one day, he saw himself as compared with Jesus Christ. It was then that he changed his evaluation and values and abandoned his own righteousness, to project the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
One day on a slave ship, John Newton looked at the righteousness of Jesus Christ and later wrote:
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon, "Beware of the Dogs," then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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