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.”
In the Scriptures, a “dog” is often a word used to reference someone who is spiritually unclean and/or to reference those who are false teachers. And evildoers are all who are doing evil, in practice, whether or not they profess faith in Jesus Christ. For many false brethren and many false teachers are those who make professions of faith in Christ, but they do not follow him.
A mutilator of the flesh is a specific reference to the Judaizers of Paul’s day who were trying to convince the Christians that they had to be physically circumcised like the Jews were and that they had to keep some of the Old Covenant restrictions, including dietary restrictions, and that they had to keep some of the Old Covenant ceremonial and liturgical laws.
So, in saying that we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, it is stating that we are of a spiritual circumcision, not a physical one, that cuts away at our sinful flesh, not our physical flesh. So, this is about us dying with Christ to sin and us being reborn of the Spirit to walk in newness of life in Christ.
For, even many people who profess to be free of legalism are still following man-made religion and teachings, and they are still walking (in practice, in conduct) according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. They think they are free because they are not following the Old Covenant laws, but true freedom only comes through dying with Christ to sin and obeying him.
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.”
We may be able to do all kinds of “good deeds” in our flesh and appear very religious because we do religious stuff, such as attending church gatherings weekly, tithing, doing church ministry, giving to the poor, and helping our neighbors, etc., and still not be Christians, and still not be approved by God, and still not be forgiven of our sins nor have the hope of eternal life.
Yes, we can do nothing in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds. Our own righteousness, of the flesh, counts for nothing in God’s sight. All that we do of the flesh, and all the religious rituals and good deeds we do, in our flesh, will never gain us salvation from sin nor eternal life with God. And that is the point.
We are to count all of that religion that is of the flesh as nothing. We are to count it all as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. For, Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self (the flesh) and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow him in obedience. Our lives must now be surrendered to Christ.
But now when it refers to “the law” here it is speaking of the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, dietary, and purification laws, including circumcision. It is speaking of things external, not necessarily of the heart at all, that can be performed without any submission to Christ as Lord and without ever forsaking our sin or obeying our Lord.
So our righteousness does not come from us performing religious rituals, in other words. We aren’t righteous because we go through a bunch of religious liturgy. We are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, but that faith comes from God, and it means to be persuaded of God as to his holiness and righteousness, and as to our sinfulness, and of our need to repent of our sin and to walk in obedience to our Lord. So we don’t now become lawless.
So, pay attention closely to these next words. If we are to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection, and share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, it means we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we must be raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Our old sinful self must be put to death with Christ and now we must, by the Spirit, walk no longer in sin but in righteousness and holiness and in obedience to our Lord, by God’s grace, in his power and strength, and for the glory of God. We must suffer the death of self as well as persecution and rejection for walking in Christ’s righteousness in obedience to his commands. For if we don’t die to sin and obey Jesus, we don’t have eternal life with 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 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Jesus, Rescue Me
An Original Work / September 18, 2011
Based off of Romans 7:7-8:39
Jesus, rescue me today.
Listen while I bow and pray.
I need Your help to obey You;
Live for You always.
Meet me in my hour of need, Lord,
As I pray to You.
Help me walk in fellowship, Lord,
Living in Your truth.
Jesus, how I long for You to
Change my heart anew.
Father, God, my heart’s desire
Is to live for You this hour
In Your Holy Spirit’s power
Living in me now.
Teach me to walk in Your love, Lord,
Guiding me each day.
Help me to show love and kindness
To the lost, I pray.
Father, teach me to love others
As You love always.
Holy Spirit come in pow’r.
Revive our hearts in this hour.
Change our hearts to be like You, Lord;
Live for You each day.
Help us to forsake our sins, Lord,
As we humbly pray.
Teach us how to live for You, Lord,
Obey You always.
Holy Spirit come in power,
Revive us today.