“True and False Christianity Part 2”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Philippians 3.1-3 Part 2
Philippians 3.In the early 1930s, America’s most wanted fugitive was undoubtedly John Dillinger, who’d robbed over two dozen banks. This situation caused a major headache for 25-year-old Ralph Alsman, a law-abiding citizen from Brookville, Indiana. Why? Because Ralph Alsman looked almost exactly like John Dillinger’s, practically identical twins.
As if the physical resemblance wasn’t enough, both Alsman and Dillinger had a mole next to one eye and a scar on the left wrist. Since Brookville was only 87 kilometers from Dillinger’s hometown of Mooresville, Alsman was easily mistaken for the infamous outlaw. In fact, Alsman was mistaken for Dillinger so often that he was arrested 17 times. Even when Alsman left his home state, he was still arrested in such cities as Detroit and Minneapolis.
Although he was always released, Alsman often had to undergo stressful interrogation sessions to convince authorities he wasn’t Dillinger. Worst of all, Alsman was also shot 11 times and became justifiably paranoid that a law enforcement officer would kill him before he had the chance to prove his real identity. Alsman’s ordeal finally came to an end when Dillinger was gunned down by federal agents on July 22, 1934. Because of his resemblance to Dillinger, Alsman was offered movie contracts, but he chose to end his 15 minutes of fame and turned them down.
A case of mistaken identity! You could hardly tell the difference! It took stressful interrogation sessions in order to convince authorities that Alsman wasn’t the bad guy!
Only after interrogation, does the truth come out. But I bet their mommas could tell them apart! A trained eye can distinguish between a counterfeit and the truth.
And that’s our job as Christians. You are to be able to distinguish truth from error and to do that you must have knowledge … knowledge of the truth and knowledge of the error.
Last time, we studied the truth about the Judiazers. The Judiazers were preaching that Gentiles had to obey Moses’ Law.
You remember the controversy in Acts 15… when
Acts 15:5 …some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed were saying “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”
We saw last time how the counsel in Acts 15 decided that Christians do not observe the Law of Moses, since it is Matt. 5:17-18 “fulfilled” and so Eph. 2:14-15 it is not operating because Hebrews 8:13 it is obsolete. But we are to make general applications from it, like 1 Co. 10 says. But today 1 Co. 9:21, we are under the Law of Christ not the Law of Moses, since Christ was, Ro. 10:4 says, the goal of the Law of Moses. And all those aboard the train of Moses’ Law should get off at the train station of Christ. It doesn’t travel any further. Christ’s death and resurrection changed everything.
And this is why God doesn’t require us to circumcise our children or why we can eat pork.
And Paul in Philippians 3:2 exhorts us to beware of the false Christianity of those who say we must observe Moses Law and in Philippians 3:3 he gives us the ability to recognize true Christianity. Let’s read it together…
Philippians 3:2–3 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 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,
First, beware of false Christianity.
Beware of false Christianity (v2)
Paul uses three nicknames here that describe the Judaizers. Dogs, evil workers, false circumcision…or the mutilation.
What is striking about those three words is that Paul is throwing their words back at them; slapping them with their own vocabulary.
There is more than one word for dog in the New Testament. This word ‘dog’ does not refer to your pet dog. In fact your pet dog would rightly be offended if were.
No, this word dog refers to a street dog, or a dog that would wander around on the streets and in the fields eating whatever they could find. It’s a picture of what was unclean. And so to call someone a dog was an expression of disdain or contempt. It was used to refer to someone who did not keep the dietary laws of Moses. Jews would call Gentiles “dogs,” think that they are outside God’s covenant blessings.
But the ironic twist here is Paul is calling those Jewish Judaizers dogs, those who say Christians have to keep the law of Moses! Ouch! Paul is saying in effect that they are actually the ones who are outside of God’s new covenant blessings in Christ.
Because if you add the works of the Law to faith in Christ, that is no salvation.
Paul pronounces damnation on them in
Galatians 1:8–9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Paul has no lack of scathing terms to describe those who would pervert the simple gospel and its simple response.
The second nickname is also bitingly sarcastic when he calls them evildoers. The Judaizers claim was that they were doing the works of the law. They thought they were so pious and godly for doing what was in the Law of Moses and thought themselves superior to everyone else.
And because they were adding the works of the law to the gospel, Paul can call them not workers of the law, but workers of evil. Any addition to the simple gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection and any response other than trust and repentance is to work evil and leads people to do the works of the flesh.
The third nickname is literally mutilation, as the NKJV and ESV have it. What’s sarcastic about it is that it’s a wordplay. The word for real circumcision is “peritome” but this word for mutilation is “katatome.” Judaizers are the katatome, but we are the peritome.
When this Jewish ritual of circumcision is practised in such a way that contradicts the nature of saving faith, it not only loses its significance, but it becomes pagan. Indeed the verb form of this word is used to describe what the prophets of Baal did to themselves on Mount Caramel with Elijah. They mutilated themselves to try to gain favor with their god.
And indeed that is exactly what the Judaizers are doing: adding circumcision to the gospel to try to gain the favor of God.
Paul says that we need to beware of them! We need to look out! Watch out for them!
ILL: You know, the Judaizers almost got it all right. They trusted in Christ, but added works in order to be saved. When you go to the bank and you deposit a cheque for $577.70… you’re none too pleased when the teller gets it almost right, moves the decimal point over, and deposits it for you for just $57.77.
It is not trusting Christ and keeping the law of Moses as best as you can and then you are justified before God. No, it is you first trust in Christ then you are justified and then you keep Christ’s laws.
As Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is the difference between right and almost right.”
Theologian John Murrary said, “the difference between truth and error is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.” That’s the Judaizers, almost right.
APP: And any modern day religious teaching that adds works to salvation is guilty of this damnable error. Judaizers were adding circumcision, Catholicism has its issue with confession and baptism, 7th Day adventism has EG Whites teachings on the necessity of keeping the Sabbath day for salvation.
APP: There is also a subtle difference between these two statements…
1. God saves me because of my faith OR
2. God saves me through faith
It’s the difference between saying “God saves me because I had faith in Him” and “God saves me through faith I exercised.”
Faith isn’t a work.
Ephesians 2:8–9 For by grace you have been saved through faith [not because of my faith]; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Keep a hand here and turn back to Galatians 6:14. From beginning to end, salvation is a work of God.
And so we need to have this attitude of …….
Galatians 6:14 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
APP: Recognize your judaizing tendencies. If you are a Christian and God has regenerated you, growing in Christ isn’t a matter of doing and don’ting, btw. Growing spiritually is first getting motivated by God’s grace in the gospel and then watching Him transform your heart as He empowers you to do His will. If you simply try harder, you’ll fail.
Judaizing doesn’t work for salvation; it doesn’t work for sanctification either.
TRANS: So what about true Christianity; what does that look like? That’s Philippians 3:3.
True Christianity recognized (v3)
Philippians 3:3 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,
Reality hits hard sometimes. The ironic truth is, is that these Jewish Judaizers are the ones who are outside the blessings of God’s covenant, while Gentile Christians have become those who are inside of that covenant to enjoy all it’s benefits. The circumcision. The real one, the true one.
And so the sign of circumcision today isn’t baptism babies. Those of the real circumcision are those who “who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” Says it right there. It’s a circumcision of the heart…worship in the Spirit; glory in Christ, no confidence in the flesh. That’s all in the heart.
As Moses himself said
Deuteronomy 10:16 16 “…Circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.
TRANS: The first one, worship in the Spirit of God, is of the heart because the Holy Spirit is in those who have truly repented.
Worship in the Spirit of God
New Testament worship is a whole life response of honoring God for His person and work. New Testament, Christian worship is a whole life response of honoring God for His person and work.
If you think the worship of a Christian happens primarily during the music of a church service, you’re greatly mistaken. How many Christians don’t like churches like ours because they “can’t get into the worship experience.” That’s a sad misunderstanding of the nature of Christian worship. “Christian worship is a whole life response of honoring God for His person and work.”
And it takes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We worship in the Spirit of God. He indwells believers and empowers them to give a whole life response of honoring God for who He is and what He has done for us in Christ.
It’s a whole life response.
Romans 12:1 1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Presenting our bodies is worship.
And Jesus emphasized our hearts,
John 4:23–24 23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
When there is a true circumcision of the heart, the Holy Spirit will dwell within, enabling the person to truly worship God.
1 Corinthians 6:19 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
The Holy Spirit indwells those who have repented of sin.
And so true worship is not outward conformity to rituals; it’s an inward response that works itself out into the whole life.
And we don’t receive the Spirit, who enables worship, by the works of the law.
Galatians 3:2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
We receive the Spirit by faith. As those who trust Him, we worship Christ by the Spirit of God in the heart which works out in the life in every day events and actions.
APP: Whether you’re preaching, praying, or washing dishes or bushing your teeth, all can be done in the worship of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:31 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
TRANS: The second description of true Christianity…
Who glory in Christ
…the true circumcision [CLIMAX] “glories in Christ Jesus.” Worshiping by the power of the Holy Spirit leads us to glory, to boast in Jesus Christ.
It is Christ who saves! Not we ourselves; it is Christ who saves, not our faith. “We are kept by the power of God through faith.” It is not my hold on Christ, but it is Christ himself who saves. I glory in Christ!
Christ, Christ, Christ! He is life. It is His honor at stake; it is His glory revealed, everything is His; everything centers on Him, all of history leading up to his coming and all of history will lead up to his coming again!
A Christians confidence, boast, glory and joy is in Christ! Because it is Christ who saves! It is Christ who reigns! It is Christ who judges! It is Christ who is our sovereign.
TRANS: And of course if our boast is in Christ, our boast is not in anything else. And so along with glorying in Christ is not glorying in the flesh.
Put no confidence in the flesh
Philippians 3:3 for we are the true circumcision, who … put no confidence in the flesh,
Those who trust in Christ and boast in him and rejoice in glory in him, put no confidence anywhere else, particularly in the flesh. They put no trust or confidence in what they themselves can do to have a right standing before God.
No confidence in self, in your ability to perform any religious service, or anything at all.
APP: But you know, in evangelical churches, the issue isn’t at all those who wish to add works to salvation. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite, if we can say that. The problem that a church like ours would face is easy-believism. Getting away with walking the narrow path because we had some experience with God.
There is such a lack of teaching on repentance, sin, and how to come to Christ!
For example, praying the sinner’s prayer. Too many people today trust in themselves, put confidence in the flesh that they have prayed some sort of prayer … and they prayed and said, “Dear Jesus come into my heart.” There’s no instruction like that in the Bible. But how sincere they were when they prayed that, but if you look at their lives, they live no better than demons. The demons are talking about Jesus; the demons know He’s Lord, but they are demons.
Jesus didn’t evangelize that way; He said
Mark 8:34 … “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Take up a cross, there must be a death to self in order to follow Jesus.
He said describing repentance…
Mark 9:43–44 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.
Our confidence is not in our prayers; our confidence is in Christ alone. He alone is our boast. Our confidence isn’t in our own sincerity when we pray to ask Jesus to save us; our confidence is not in ourselves, but in Christ alone. “I’ve died and my life is hid with Christ in God.”
We are not to have confidence in our own prayers for salvation; but Christ alone.
Just because you prayed a sinner’s prayer doesn’t mean that there is new life from God in your heart.
Just because you may be exceptionally moral, or exceptionally knowledgeable of the teachings of Scripture, or that you have some outward form of religion… These don’t mean that you have God’s life in you.
You may have extreme giftedness or have experienced deep conviction over your sin… Or you maybe even be persuaded that you are converted to Christ… You may remember a time or some place when you supposed that you were turned to Christ… And still it is possible that you may be in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of sin.
None of these things confirm or deny that God has turned your heart to him.
Somebody says, “That’s right, repentance of sin is required.” Ah…dear fellow sinner, and what do you mean by that?
As the Puritan Thomas Watson in his book on repentance notes…If by repentance you mean some terror over judgment as a sinner and a rebel against God, that is not repentance. If by repentance you mean being filled with anguish or bitterness over your sin, that is not repentance.
The one who betrayed Christ, Judas Iscariot, had deep anguish of soul over his betrayal of Christ. Watson says, “If pain and trouble were sufficient to repentance, then the damned in hell should be most penitent, for they are most in anguish.”
If by repentance you mean to make resolutions against sin, that is no repentance. Making vows not to sin is not repentance. You could say, “I will not fall down and worship those idols.” But then Jer. 2:20 … “under every green tree you lay down as a harlot.”
Don’t trust a passionate resolv against sin … says Watson, “it is raised in a storm and will die in a calm.”
Well then, is not leaving many sinful ways repentance? No it is not! For somebody could part ways with many sins and keep others. Watson points out, a slave sold to another slavemaster, is still a slave.
But someone may leave a sin because it’s reasonable and saves his health; that’s not divine repentance. But true repentance will leave a sin because of the infusion of the grace of God in the heart.
Someone who is repentant has seen the sight of his sin. Like the prodigal son, a sinner first “comes to himself” … That is he comes to his senses. He sees himself as nothing but a sinner… As someone who’s motive of every thought is only evil continually. That his heart is desperately sick.
There is the sight of sin.
There is also sorrow for sin in repentance. “I will be sorry for my sin” Psalm 38:18 says. “They will look upon me whom they have pierced and they shall mourn.”
It is a holy turmoil of soul, a deep rending, a tearing of the heart … “The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart.” This is what makes Christ precious, this is what drives out sin, this is what makes way for the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
But not all sorrow will progress into godly repentance.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
There is a difference in the sorrow of the world and the sorrow of God.
Godly sorrow is of the heart and it is a sorrow over heart sins, not just outward sins. A repentant heart will grow to be stirred in his soul over any pride or selfishness. Wicked people can feel bad over outward sins; but a repentant heart will grieve heart-sins.
Godly repentance is sorrowful over the offence to God, rather than the punishment. When there is sin, a child of God will mourn primarily because of the offense against God, not because of any punishment or consequences, or because of any outward appearance before man.
“Against you, you only have I sinned.”
There will be confession of that sin, ready confession. A repentant heart does not hide his sin, but sincerely and voluntarily accuses himself of sinning, readily points the finger at himself.
There is shame for sin…the sense of guilt, how it separated him from the pleasure of God, how it puts Christ to shame, how foolish it is.
In true repentance there is hatred of sin. He loathes sin, he grows to hate it more, it makes his conscience sick, it churns the stomach, and is viewed as an abomination in the heart. “Christ is never loved until sin is loathed.”
The godly hate how sin separates, how it defiles the name of Christ whom they claim. You’ll hate where your sin comes from…the devil in the garden and your inside your own nature. Look to its eternal punishment to hate it more!
And with that hatred, there is finally a turning from sin as empowerd by the grace of God. Repentance is a forsaking of sin, a turning your back on sin, a dying to sin. And so there is a change in the heart; the heart becomes soft as Christ turned stone into bread.
And in the divine turning of sin there is a change in the life. Others see it; others observe the change. They see it as being delivered from darkness to light kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. The rough Philippian jailer was turned to a nurse and a physician when he tended to the wounds of those jailed for Christ.
It’s a turning from all sin by divine grace and it’s a turning to God.
The evidence of someone who has truly repented is this…
Someone who has truly repented will have denied himself. A Christian will practice self denial. That is the foundation of the Christian life. Jesus said “if anyone wishes to come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Self-denial will be a characteristic of a Christian. That means a Christian will be presented with opportunities to indulge the flesh and flee sin and he will not take those opportunities. A true Christian will not live an extravagant, flamboyant, selfish life. There will be frugality, generosity, and self-control in the matters of wealth and material and physical pleasure.
1 John repeatedly tells us that a true Christian will keep God’s commandments and confess sin and will reject the world and its lifestyle. 1 John tells us that true Christians will be in the process of purifying themselves even as Jesus is pure.
With that self-denial there will be humility of mind, a devotion and a degree of zeal for the fame and glory of God and love of other Christians…finding true companionship among God’s people, loving them… and finding fellowship and companionship among those of the world difficult.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Philippians 3.1-3 Part 2
Can you recognize a counterfeit now; I encourage you to examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; you need to consider yourself, not that person down the pew, not even someone in your family, consider yourself, examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. [BOW FOR PRAYER]
There is a hymn in our hymbook that gives testimony to this and it’s number 396. The concern in the chorus to God be the glory. A truly repentant heart is concerned about the glory and fame of God in the life of the sinner.