Sunday, January 29, 2017, 1:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 3:1-4:1 (Select vv. NASB).
A Safeguard (3:1-4a)
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
If one thing the scriptures are, they are repetitive. The same message is preached throughout the Old and the New Testaments. And, the reason they keep preaching the same message over and over again is that we need to be reminded periodically of why we are here, and what faith in God (in Jesus Christ) is really all about. And, this is for our protection and as a preventative measure to keep us from losing sight of God’s purpose for our lives, so that we don’t fall away from grace and begin to slip back into giving lordship to our flesh once more.
So, if I had to pick just one Bible verse to sum up that same central message that keeps being repeated, I would choose 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV):
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Beware Evil Workers (3:2-4a)
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh.
Following the flesh is directly opposed to (opposite of) following the Spirit, so we can’t do both at the same time. Either we are slaves to sin and the flesh or we are slaves to righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23). This is not saying we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it is saying that, once we believe in Jesus Christ, that our flesh and sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. And, as far as our flesh is concerned, that includes all things opposed to God and to his express will for our lives, which includes human-based religion, fleshly works, and doing what is harmful to our neighbors, i.e. such as gossip, slander, murder, hatred, adultery, lying and cheating, et al.
At the time this was written, Paul was concerned with evil workers who were trying to convince believers in Jesus Christ that they had to follow Jewish customs, ceremonies, celebrations and and/or traditions, and/or that they had to follow some of which was required under the Old Covenant God had with his people. So, they were adding to God’s grace that which God did not require or intend. And, today this is called legalism, which is basically focused on what is external, and on man-made rules being added on to God’s grace, and as required for right standing with God. Yet, God rejects all such human effort to try to gain his divine approval.
Yet, today, I think the biggest concern is not over legalism, although I do believe it still exists, but rather it is about a different type of man-made religion, which is a false grace gospel. Rather than adding to God’s grace, it takes away from his grace, and gives people the sense that they can continue living sinful lifestyles and yet have the hope of heaven because they prayed some prayer after someone else to “receive Christ.”
This false grace gospel teaches that God does not require repentance, obedience or submission to the cross of Christ as part of genuine believing faith, yet the New Testament scriptures teach over and over again that believing in Jesus Christ means, with regard to our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). It teaches that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will have eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).
Counted as Loss (3:7-11)
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
We may do lots of “good things” in the flesh, which we may be able to credit to ourselves, but they are not what God requires or desires of us. He sees our self-righteous acts as filthy rags in his sight. What he requires is that we give our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable or acceptable worship of him. We are to no longer be conformed to the pattern of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds, so that by our lives we prove what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God (See: Ro. 12:1-2). When we say Jesus is our Lord, it should mean that he is owner-master of our lives, and that we are his bond-servants. All that we might have gained for ourselves in our own flesh should be as nothing to us now that we belong to Christ.
I Press On (3:12-16)
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
When we believe in Jesus Christ, although we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to his righteousness, we don’t become instantly perfect. The Christian life is a process of dying daily to sin and self and putting on Christ and his righteousness. It is a process of sanctification, whereby our God is maturing us in Christ, making us holy, and conforming us into the likeness of Christ. This does not mean, however, that we can use “I’m not perfect” as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. The Bible says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).
Enemies of the Cross (3:17-4:1)
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
Who are these enemies of the cross of Christ? They are all those who oppose the gospel as taught by Jesus, and by his NT apostles. They are the ones who dilute the gospel message in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the people of this sinful world. They do so because they know the true gospel offends, and they don’t want to offend their customer base, so they do all kinds of worldly things in order to draw in large crowds of people into their “churches,” i.e. into their places of business. Their “worship” services are often not more than large stage productions intended to entertain the people of the world so they will want to come back. And, their “Bible” studies are often studies of books written by contemporary authors who may or may not be teaching accurately the Word of Truth.
They are those, basically, who follow a flesh-driven human-based form of Christianity which does not teach death to sin and living to righteousness, but which comforts and consoles people in their sins by getting them to just claim who they are in Christ, while teaching them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. So, they remove both consciousness of sin and divine discipline and correction from their teaching and leave their adherents believing they can live however they want and still go to heaven when they die. They lie to them, and they give them a false hope of salvation, but truly they are sending people straight to hell.
Jesus didn’t die just so we could be forgiven of our sin, escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives away from sin to living to him and to his righteousness. And, this is the standard of living that we are to keep living, that we no longer walk according to the flesh, but that we walk according to (in the power of and in agreement with) the Spirit.
Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016
Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.
Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.
Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.