Philippians 3:2-3 ESV
“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
Under the Old Covenant Relationship God had with his people, who were the Jews at that time, physical circumcision was a requirement for the males. They were circumcised on the 8th day after their physical birth.
But, after Jesus came to the earth, and was crucified on a cross for our sins, and he rose from the dead, and he ascended back to heaven, and then sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers, physical circumcision and all the Old Covenant ceremonial and purification laws were done away with. All that was left were God’s moral laws, which we must still follow today.
So, the church today is not being pressured to be circumcised in the flesh. That is not our struggle. So, to what can this be compared today?
Well, for one, it could apply to those who are legalistic, who stress many man-made rules for how we are to dress, look, and act, according to men, not according to God and the Scriptures. But the numbers of them are becoming fewer, as another man-made teaching has surpassed it by far.
For, whether you are a legalist or a liberal who gives license to “believers” to continue living in sin once they are “saved,” it is still man-made teaching, and it is still corrupting God’s plan of salvation for our lives. So, those who teach what is man-made, which either adds to or detracts from the gospel according to Jesus Christ, they are still dogs. They are still evildoers who take advantage of others for their own greed and personal gain.
And, these “dogs” are trying to lead you astray, and away from Jesus Christ, to follow them in their deceitful scheming, instead. They want you to believe that you can have faith in Jesus Christ, and that you can be guaranteed heaven when you die, but that you don’t have to repent of your sins or submit to or obey the Lord Jesus.
They want you to believe that you can continue living in adultery, fulfilling the lusts of your sinful flesh, lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, slandering, murdering, hating, and lusting, etc., and that it is all covered by God’s grace. They want you to believe that God is pleased with you, no matter what you do or how you live. In fact, many teach that God can’t even see your sin anymore, so he smiles on you and he delights in you even when you are vegging out on porn or when you are engaged in all manner of evil.
But they are liars and deceivers who hide their evil deeds and intentions. For, they want you to die in your sins and to go to hell, for they are of Satan, not of God, although they will masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness. But it is to deceive you. It is to trick you into believing their lies so that you will continue in your sin, and so you will die without Christ.
By the Spirit
There is another circumcision that is required, though, but it is of the heart, not of the body (Rom. 2:28-29). It has nothing to do with externals, with what can be seen outwardly, other than with the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. For, it is a cutting away of the sinful flesh from our hearts. And, it is not something that man can do. This is done solely by the Spirit of God.
But that does not mean that we have no part in it. We do. We must submit to Jesus Christ, as Lord, and yield our lives over to the Lord. And, we have to allow the Spirit to make those changes in our hearts and minds, and then we must cooperate with the Spirit in following our Lord in obedience (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu 9:23-26).
Yet, we put no confidence in our own flesh. We do not try to earn God’s favor through works done in our flesh or by keeping rules that are of men. Our goal is to please God in all that we do, and to walk in fellowship with him, in doing what he has called us to do for his glory and praise, but in his power and in his strength at work within our hearts.
Thus, we worship God in spirit and in truth. And, our worship of him, which is acceptable to him, is that we give our lives to him, surrendered to his will for our lives, and that we live holy lives, pleasing to him, by his grace. And, it is that we are no longer conformed to the sinful patterns of this world, but that we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from the flesh to follow after the Spirit of Grace (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:17-24).
Philippians 3:7-9 ESV
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Without the Buildings
For about the past 4 months, the doors to buildings called “churches” have largely been closed. Christians and non-Christians who previously went to these buildings were now moved to the internet, and to virtual church, or they were moved to their homes, to separation from these gatherings.
And, I believe this move was of God, because so many of these church gatherings had gotten so far away from what God intended for his church, his people. So, God closed those doors as a way to get the attention of his church, in order to draw her back to him, and back to the cross of Christ.
For, the Lord is attempting to move his people away from what is of the flesh of man, and away from what is worldly, and away from what is of Satan. And, he is attempting to get his people to listen to him now, and to not listen to these “dogs,” i.e. to not listen to these wolves in sheep’s clothing, i.e. these false shepherds of the people.
I have seen that some people have drawn closer to the Lord, and some people have tuned their ears to the Lord to hear what he is saying to the churches. But, I have not yet seen evidence that this has made a major impact on “church goers,” to where they are now ready to forsake man-made religion to follow Jesus Christ in full surrender to his will and to his ways for our lives. Many are hungering to return to the comfortable.
But the Lord is calling his people to return to him as their only Lord, and to return to the purity of his word, and to his gospel, and to reject this gospel of men which is false, and which is misleading, and which is leading many people to forsake holiness and righteousness to return to walking according to their flesh. He is calling his church to forsake the ways of men and to follow him only, and to desire him above all else.
Philippians 3:10-11 ESV
“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Yes! This is what this is all about! We must forsake our flesh and all that is of this sinful world, and we must leave behind us man-made religion and man-made gospels which are leading people to the flesh and away from God. We must also leave man-made churches which are nothing more than businesses of men, marketed just like any other business to the world. We must forsake them to follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, and for him to be truly our only Lord.
And, we must step out in faith, and be willing to suffer for the sake of righteousness, and for the sake of his gospel. For, persecution of Christians in America is on its way. It is inevitable. For, the peace being called for is not peace with God, but it is peace with men, which will mean that we will have to choose between man and God, because they will require it of us.
For, if we are all to live in harmony with one another, across the globe, regardless of our differences, then we will be required to denounce Jesus Christ as the only way to God, and to denounce teachings on sin, repentance and obedience to Jesus Christ. For those teachings divide people, not unite them – in the eyes of man.
So, if we follow Jesus Christ, truly becoming like him in his death, which is death to sin, that we might live to him and to his righteousness, then we are going to be persecuted, and many of us will be put to death for our faith in Jesus Christ and for our testimonies for him. It is inevitable, because the Scriptures teach this is what we will face as followers of Jesus Christ.
There’s a Stirring
By Annie Herring
There’s a stirring deep within me
Could it be my time has come
When I’ll see my gracious savior face to face when all is done
Is that his voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’
Is he calling me?
Is he calling me?
I will rise up, rise up
And bow down
And lay my crown
At his wounded feet
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