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.”
Look Out for the Dogs
We are not to listen to, to engage in, to accept, and to participate in any teaching that is of the flesh and that is contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures. We are not to give credence to any teaching that glorifies the flesh and that does not honor Jesus Christ as our Lord (owner-master).
There are so many different teachings out there. I am certain that I am not even aware of most or all of them. But many of them come from Scriptures taught outside their context which are made to say something they are not saying. And this is why it is so critical that we read the Scriptures in context.
The teaching that is permeating the church right now, at least here in America, is a cheapened form of the gospel of Christ which dilutes the true gospel to make it more palatable and appealing to human flesh and to the people of the world, so that the world will not be offended by the gospel.
Far too many people are depending on preachers or book authors or social media “memes” to tell them the truth of what the Scriptures teach, but many of them are twisting the Scriptures and are teaching falsehood, and the people are accepting the lies because they sound good to their ears.
So, if we are to “look out for” the “dogs” (false teachers, evil doers), how do we go about that? For, this is not to be a casual observance of what is going on. This involves us paying attention to what is being taught, and us examining what is being taught against the Scriptures IN CONTEXT.
Honestly, if we read the Scriptures one verse at a time, in context, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth, we are going to have our eyes opened to these false teachings that are permeating the church, and we are going to be aware of the damage that these false teachings are doing.
But then what are we going to do about it? As individual believers in Jesus? As the church body, as a whole? We need to be exposing the lies for what they are, and we need to be proclaiming the truth of the gospel, in opposition to the lies, wherever God places us.
And we need to be exposing these “dogs” and these “evildoers” for who they are, too, so that others are not led astray by their false teaching, their charm, their manipulations, their twisting of the truth, and their smooth talk and convincing words which are leading many people astray.
We are the Circumcision
Under the Old Covenant, they circumcised all their males, as was required by God at that time. Once Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he did away with the Old Covenant with its liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial and purification laws and customs. Now we are under the New Covenant.
Circumcision involves the cutting away of the flesh physically. But now what is required is a cutting away of the flesh spiritually speaking, which is done in our hearts by the power and working of the Holy Spirit of God, as we cooperate with the Spirit in surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ.
Because of what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross, by faith in Jesus Christ, and empowered by God, we are able now to die with Christ to sin and to live to Christ and to his righteousness. We are able to walk no longer according to the flesh, but now according to the Spirit.
And our worship of God is not in form only. And worship is not just singing praise and worship songs in a church service, either. For, we can sing all sorts of praise and worship songs and never worship our Lord in truth, and we can worship our Lord without singing, although singing is part of worship.
For, true worship of our Lord Jesus Christ is giving of our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our acceptable worship of him. And this involves us dying to sin and to self and living to God and to his righteousness. And it involves Jesus now being our boss (master).
Thus, we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sinful practices and worldly ways to now walking in obedience to our Lord’s commands (New Covenant).
And if we truly glory in Christ Jesus, that means that he is our life. The old us died with him, and now we live new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. He is now the owner-master of our lives, and we live our lives in submission to his will.
We put no confidence in the flesh, in the things that we do of our own accord, or in things that we think will gain God’s approval, and especially if we are then still living according to the flesh, and if we are not living according to the Spirit in submission to God’s will for our lives.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is NOT free license to continue living in sin. God’s grace to us does not free us from having to obey our Lord’s commands. We are not saved from our sins and bound for heaven based on a one-time experience. We must walk no longer according to the flesh, but now we must walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit.
Faith in Jesus Christ comes from Jesus, from God, so it submits to Christ as Lord, and it follows Jesus in obedience. True faith dies with Christ to sin and lives to Christ and to his righteousness as a matter of practice, and it continues in this walk of faith until the very end.
Jesus Christ died on that cross to deliver us from our slavery to sin so we will now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died, too, that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. For, we now belong to Jesus, and we are to honor him with our lives.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
The Lily of the Valley
Lyrics by Charles W. Fry, 1881
Music by William H. Hays, 1871, arr. Charles W. Fry, 1881
I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.
He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tow’r;
I’ve all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His pow’r.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.
He’ll never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
From His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll.
He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
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