Elder Vernon Johnson

   
 

Philippians 3:1-9

1 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.

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:         

Certainly, whatever rejoicing we do we should rejoice in the Lord.  There are many things in life that we can find temporary happiness in.  We can be happy about the outcome of a sporting event or of a political race.  We can be happy about something that we have accomplished or something that someone we are close to has accomplished.  These are fleeting moments of happiness.  They do not last very long.  The things that the Lord has accomplished for us are eternal.  His love to us is eternal.  His watch care over us is always.  Our rejoicing over the truth and Christ having delivered us from our sins does not have a time limit on it.           

Beware of dogs.  Sometimes we see signs in someone's yard that reads "Beware of dog."  The person is warning us of a dog that could do us harm.  Dogs have a nature about them that can bring us harm.  Dogs bark and sometimes bite.  They sometimes devour and nearly all dogs will eat their own vomit.  Obviously, the warning in the above scripture is not to ward us of natural dogs.  It is a warning that some people have a nature about them that resembles the nature of a dog.  Some people will bark at the truth.  They loudly proclaim that the truth is a lie.  They call great negative attention to those who believe and proclaim the truth and warn people about these believers in truth and seekers of truth.          

Other people are like dogs in that they will bite (persecute) the believers of truth.  They will go out of their way to try to bring harm to those who believe and teach the truth.       

Still other people are like dogs in that they have lived ungodly lives in the past and then seemingly turn to walk uprightly, then turn again to live ungodly lives and thus eat their own vomit.          

Beware of evil workers.  There are evil workers that are readily known as evil workers: they steal, they kill, they promote drunkenness, they sell illegal drugs, they rob banks, they promote pornography, they engage in all sorts of licentiousness and obviously wicked works.  These are easily recognized and we should beware of them and avoid them as they can do us natural harm.  Others, however are not so easily recognized, but are evil workers nonetheless.  Please note the following scriptures:                  

    1.  1 John 3:12 "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous."  The work of Cain that was referred to as evil was when Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.  Cain sought the praise of God in his work, rather than to praise God.  God teaches us that that is an evil work.                  

    2.  2 John 1:10 "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."  If a man comes teaching a false doctrine or hinders the teaching of the doctrines of grace, then he is committing evil deeds.  He is an evil worker.                  

    3.  Matt. 7:22 "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."  These are proclaiming to have done things that the Lord had not appointed them to do.  Thus, they are evil workers.                  

    4.  Matt. 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."  These are religious evil workers that appear to be righteous.                  

    5.  2 Cor. 11:13 "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."           

Religious evil workers are much more hard to spot than natural evil workers.  The way that we recognize religious evil workers is by the fruit of their lives and by the false doctrines that they proclaim.           

Beware of the concision.  The word, "concision," comes from a Greek word that means to "mutilate."  There are religious professors that mutilate the truth and try to destroy those who believe and preach the truth.  Paul's particular reference seems to suggest that he had under consideration those Jewish professors of Judaism or a works system of salvation through the keeping of certain aspects of the law.           

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.  True circumcision is not the natural circumcision of the flesh, but is as set forth in the following verses:                  

    1.  Rom. 2:29 "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."                  

    2.  Col. 2:11 "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:"  True circumcision is the spiritual circumcision of the heart that is made without hands but by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This circumcision takes place when we are born of the Spirit of God.         

Paul said that the true circumcision are those that:                  

1.  Worship God in the Spirit.               

2.  Rejoice in Christ Jesus.         

3.  Have no confidence in the flesh.         

Only those that have been born of the Spirit can worship God in the Spirit.  Christ said that those who worship Him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.  We must, therefore, have the spirit before we can worship him in Spirit and in truth.  We rejoice in Christ Jesus, because it is by the grace of God through the atoning blood of Christ that we are saved from out sins and given eternal life.  We have no confidence in the flesh because our flesh cannot assist or aid in any way the work of eternal salvation.  Paul said, "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh dwelleth no good thing."           

If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 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; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Paul lists the things that he had that some men think we can have confidence in the flesh.  Of all men, especially Jews, that were alive during his day, none had more pedigree than Paul had in which a man may claim confidence in the flesh.  Yet Paul had this to say about that pedigree: 

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…    

Paul equated those things in his pedigree that a man might think he could have confidence in as simply the dung of the earth.  Paul had ceased to seek his own righteousness through the works of the law.  Rather he sought to "win" Christ.  That is, he sought to gain a proper belief in what Christ had done for him and for his covenant people.  Paul sought to make his own calling and election sure to himself.  He knew that the imputed righteousness of God came through the faith of Christ and not by any works or belief system of the individual.  It did not come through the faith IN Christ, but through the faith OF Christ.  In other words, the imputed righteousness of God to the elect is through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to perform the covenant of redemption.  This is consistent with what we read in 2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."