Watch Out for Dogs!
Philippians 3:2-4 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— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also.”
A “dog” is a term used to mean an unclean person (spiritually unclean). It was also often a reference to false teachers who were leading people away from God and away from Jesus Christ and his gospel message to follow after other humans and a man-made gospel which appealed to human flesh.
Whether the false gospel is one of legalism and the adding of works to our salvation which are not required by God, or if it is one of liberalism (libertinism) which makes provision for the flesh, and which does not put sin to death, and which does not demand obedience to the Lord, and which does not call for submission to Christ as Lord, it is still of the flesh.
Circumcision was something physically performed on all Jewish males under the Old Covenant. It was a cutting away of physical flesh. It is not required by God under the New Covenant. But a different kind of circumcision is required by God under the New Covenant, and it is a cutting away of our sinful flesh by being crucified with Christ to sin.
“The flesh” is speaking either of our physical flesh (our physical bodies) or it is symbolic of our sin natures, our fleshly appetites which war against the Spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, our sinful flesh is put to death with Jesus so that we can now walk in his righteousness.
Our confidence is not in our own flesh, in our own good works of our own flesh of our own doing and of our own choosing. Our confidence is in Jesus Christ and in his blood sacrifice on that cross so that we could be delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin and so that we can now become slaves of God and of his righteousness, by his grace.
We glory in Christ Jesus in what he did for us in dying on that cross so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. We glory in what he did in dying for us so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And the works that we now do are the works of the Spirit which God prepared that we should walk in them (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; 1 Co 6:19-20; Eph 2:8-10; Rom 6:1-23).
I Count as Loss
Philippians 3:7-11 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— 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.”
Paul had much to take pride in in his flesh, but whatever he gained in the flesh he counted as loss for the sake of Christ. He no longer gloried in his fleshly accomplishments, but his glory was in the cross of Christ and in Christ’s sufferings for us so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin so that we can live to God and to his righteousness.
But it wasn’t just his fleshly accomplishments that he counted as loss, but he counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. And this is what is involved when we come to faith in Jesus Christ. We surrender everything to Jesus Christ in order to follow Jesus wherever he leads us. For we are now his possession, and he owns us.
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels’.” Luke 9:23-26 ESV
When we understand that everything we have in Christ comes from Christ and not from ourselves, and that we can’t even believe in Jesus unless the Father first draws us to Christ, there is nothing for us to glory in but Christ. Even what we accomplish as followers of Jesus in our spiritual lives in the way of spiritual growth or spiritual fruit is all because of Jesus.
Do we have things we must do? Yes! But they are not the works of the flesh but the works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them, as his workmanship. We do them in his power and in his strength and according to his will and purpose, so it is God who gets the glory and not us.
For, to know Jesus is to die with him to sin and to live to him and to his righteousness. To know him is to no longer walk in conduct according to the flesh but now according to the Spirit. To know him, too, is to obey him in doing what he says we must do.
And to know him is to suffer with him, becoming like Jesus in his death so that we might live with him for eternity. And this is possible because to know him is also to know (experientially, intimately) him and the power of his resurrection. And that power is the overcoming of sin so that we no longer walk in sin, but now by the Spirit we walk according to the Spirit of God.
[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]
Living by Faith
Lyrics by James Wells, 1918
v. 4 by Robert E. Winsett, 1918
Music by J. L. Heath, 1918
I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones someday,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
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