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Philippians 3:1-3 - Pressing On: Guarding Yourself

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Review of Last Week

A.         The Example of Epaphroditus, this man was not t quitter 2:25-30

1.       He did not quit nor did he forsake Paul

2.       He did not quit nor did he forsake the church

3.       He did not quit nor did he forsake God

4.       The conclusion: The appeal

a.       Paul sent him back to the church that they may rejoice

b.       Receive him: Why?

1)       He built his reputation

2)       He risked his life for the cause of Christ


I.                    Pressing On: Guarding Yourself (3:1-3)

A.         By rejoicing in the Lord (3:1)

B.         By heeding what is written the Holy Scripture’  (3:1)

C.         By watching out for false teachers (3:2)

D.         By knowing that you are the true (spiritual) circumcision (3:3)

This week we are going to look at…



Paul hears that false teachers, Judaizers, who deny trusting in Christ alone for their salvation, are harassing the church in Philippi

We must remember, that before Paul knew Christ, the things he was living for seemed very commendable: a righteous life, obedience to the Law, the defense of the religion of his fathers.  But none of these things satisfied him or gave him acceptance with God. 

Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven.  He had to lose his religion to find his salvation!

The first way to guard yourself is…

Verse 1

I.                   By rejoicing in the Lord: (v.1)

A.       No person escapes the trials of life-he is confronted with different ideas about how to handle life and its great trials.

1.      There are false teachings that say…

—    Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die (1 Cor. 15:32).  This says life is to be enjoyed by those who have health and money to enjoy it, so get all the gusto out of life.

—    Don’t go over board, enjoy life—join in—do what you want; but do it within reason.  Don’t overly abuse your body and mind.  It’s all-right to join in and indulge occasionally; just don’t do it too often.

—    Religion is the answer to both life and death.  It says join a religious body, undergo its rituals, adopt its beliefs, and live the best you can.  This will give you a strong self-image and confidence that God will accept you.  Just be as good as you can & God will accept what goodness you are able to build up.

The list could go on & on.  But the point is this: both trials and false teachings every day of our life bombard us (believers).  We must walk throughout the day rejoicing in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us.

B.       What has he done for us?  Here is a small list…the Lord has…

1.      Justified us, adopted us, reconciled us, saved us, loved us, delivered us from the power of sin, Satan, and Hell,

2.      Died for us-bearing our condemnation and judgment, arose from the dead for us-giving us a new life in Him, gave us the privilege of knowing God,

3.      And most of all, our Lord has given us and eternal hope & the glorious confidence of eternal life!

No matter what confronts the believer-no matter how terrible the trial-he knows that Christ Jesus his Lord is looking him after.

He knows that nothing can separate him from the Lord and His love (Romans 8:35-39).

And if the believer’s mind is upon the Lord and His glorious salvation, then it cannot be upon the trials and false teachings of this world….

1.      Luke 10:20—Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

2.      John 15:11—The Lord has spoken to us His words that His joy might remain in us

3.      1 Peter 4:12-13—Don’t think its strange when some fiery trial comes you way, but rejoice

4.      Psalm 5:11—If you have put your trust in the Lord, then rejoice

Other related Scriptures for rejoicing

Deuteronomy 12:18 16:11; 1Samuel 2:1 1Chronicles 15:28 16:10,31-33 29:22

2Chronicles 30:26,27; Nehemiah 8:10; Job 22:26; Ps 5:11 32:11 33:1 37:4 42:4

Ps 97:1 100:1,2 149:2; Isaiah 12:2,3 41:16 61:10 65:14 66:11,12

Joel 2:23 Habakuk 3:17,18; Zephaniah 3:14,17; Zechariah 10:7; Matthew 5:12; Luke 1:47

Romans 5:2,3,11; 1Thessalonian 5:16; James 1:2; 1Pe 1:6-8 4:13

The second way to guard yourself is…

II.                By heeding what is written: (v.1)

A.       For me to write the same things to you is not tedious [tiresome, boring], but for you it is safe (v.1)

1.      What Paul is about to write is important that it has to be repeated.

a.       The “adversaries” 1:27,28 appear once more here in chapter 3, but now explicitly the Judaizers (3:2)

2.      Repetition is the mother of all learning. 

3.      Peter knew this as he wrote in his 2 Peter 1:12,13,14,15; 2 Peter 3:1

The point is this…

1.      No person can Press On apart from heeding the Scriptures.

—    “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NKJV)

—    “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21 NKJV)

—    Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23 NKJV)

2.      1 Corinthians 10:11—The Scriptures we written for our admonition, instruction.

3.      2 Timothy 3:16-17—the Scriptures are inspired by God & are profitable, preparing us for good works.

4.      2 Timothy 2:15 cf. Acts 17:11; Acts 20:32—but if you do not study, how will you be prepared?

The third way to guard yourself is…

Verse 2

III.             By watching out for false teachers: (v.2)

Paul had certain people that seemed to follow him wherever he went, trying to pervert that which he taught of the grace of God.

A.       Beware of dogs (v.2)

1.      Both Jew & Gentile called each other dogs as a term of content; this was the lowest title possible.

2.      This does not refer to a house pet, but those that roamed in the forest by day and the city streets by night

3.      They were wild scavengers that run in packs snapping at everybody, and everything.

What does this mean, you say?

1.      There are some false teachers who are just like “wild dogs.”

2.      They are scavengers who seek out all whom they can consume with their false teachings

3.      This is why we must know the truth (John 8:32)

—    Jesus said to his disciples to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15 NKJV)

—    Isaiah said, Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory. (Isaiah 56:11 NKJV)

4.      John wrote in Revelation 22:12-15 that these people will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

B.       Beware of evil workers (v.2)

1.      Those who by their works are trying to establish their relationship with God.

2.      Through their misinterpretation of the law, they have made the law void.

3.      They have become unreachable because of their self-righteousness.

4.      There is just no way God would ever reject them-SO THEY THINK

What does this mean for you and me today?

1.      There are those who are always opposing the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation, the Gospel of salvation by His grace alone.

2.      We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone +nothing.

3.      There is nothing you or I could ever do to earn our acceptance to God

C.       Beware of the mutilation (v.2)

1.      Judaizers—these were Jews who professed Christ but still hung on to their Judaistic religion, in particular to the rite of circumcision and to the law of Moses (Acts 5:1-35, especially v.1,24-29).  They believed a man became a Christian…

a.      By first becoming a Jew.  The man was to embrace Judaism with all its rituals & ceremonies & be circumcised, & begin to obey the law of Moses,

b.      Then the man could accept Christ as Savior & be baptized


—    Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

—    For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3 NKJV)

God wants you to serve Him out of love for Him, not out of trying to make yourself acceptable in His sight. 

When you realize what great things God has done for you to be saved, you can’t help but to say, “God I love you & I want to serve you.” 

c.       To the Judaizer, Christianity was only an extension of Judaism.  In their minds Christ had only added new teachings to their existing law and religion.

—    “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;  “and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39 NKJV)

—    “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16 NKJV)

d.      These men mixed ritual & law with the gospel of Grace.  The law was just important as Christ & Christ was no more important than the law.  They failed to grasp…

1)      that Christ was the fulfillment of the law Matthew 5:17-18.

2)      that Christ had kept the law perfectly, thereby becoming the Ideal Man, the Perfect Pattern of what every man should be.

3)      that Christ was one to whom all men were to look for their salvation & standard.

4)      that Christ, the Son of God, was the one to whom all men were to look to and obey.

e.       In the past such people were known as the circumcision or the Judaizers; in modern times they are known as religionist or legalists. 

f.       Matthew 5:19-20…Romans 10:3-5…1 Timothy 1:7…1 Timothy 6:3-5…2 Timothy 4:3-4

The fourth way to guard yourself is…

Verse 3

IV.             By knowing that you are the true spiritual circumcision: (v.3)

A.       For we are the circumcision (v.3)

What is circumcision (v.3)?

Before Christ circumcision was the physical sign that t man was a follower of God.  It was a sign that a man believed the promises that God had to Abraham & Israel (Genesis 17:10-14; Romans 4:11).

God never intended circumcision to have any value other than being a sign of faith that a man already had in God’s promises.  Righteousness was imputed to the man because he believed God’s promises; then a man was circumcised as a sign of his faith in God (Romans 4:11).

However many abused God’s purpose for circumcision:

1.      Some made circumcision as a substitute for righteousness-what about a pure heart?

a.       circumcision became merely an external & physical sign

2.      Some used circumcision as a way to categorize & divide people-only loving the Jew.

a.       a uncircumcised man was thought to be cut off from people & from God.

3.      Our God has done away with circumcision as a sign of righteousness since Christ has come.

—    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6 NKJV)

—    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15 NKJV)

—    In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (Colossians 2:11 NKJV)

4.      Righteousness is now of the heart, in the spirit, and not of the letter of rules and regulations

Romans 2:25-29…Romans 4:8-12…23-25.

5.      The truly righteous man is the man who is God’s inwardly

6.      A man born by the Spirit of God is God’s “new creation”

John 3:3…1 Peter 1:20…2 Peter 1:4

B.       Who worship God in the Spirit (v.3)

1.      John 4:24—“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

True worship has to be of the heart and Spirit.  Why?

1.      Because a man can still be living in the depths of sin even though he goes to church, attends Bible studies, keeps rituals and ceremonies.

2.      To worship God, man must have the Spirit of God living within him.

3.      Then he worships God inwardly through the Spirit of God who lives in him.

4.      If a man’s heart is right with God then he can truly worship

C.       Who rejoice in Christ Jesus (v.3)

…that is in the glorious liberty that we have in Christ Jesus, that relationship that we can now have with God apart from the law.  how could we ever boast in religion or ceremony any more?  Rejoice in the Lord! 

D.       Have no confidence in the flesh (v.3)

No matter what the flesh has done in this world, it takes its entire works to the grave with it.  Therefore, we have no confidence in the flesh.  Let’s read on…

…though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

…circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 

…But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

…Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  

…and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

What about the Roman Catholic Church?

I.                   Justification in Roman Catholic Theology

Trent: Canons Concerning Justification

“If anyone shall say that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and it is not in any way necessary to be prepared by the action of His own will, let him be anathema.”  (Canon 9)

“If anyone shall say that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruit and signs of justification attained, but not the cause of its increase, let them be anathema!” (Canon 24)    

If anyone shall say that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the righteousness of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and charity that is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and remains in hem, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God- let him be anathema.”  (Canon 11)

“If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone which justifies us- let him be anathema.”  (Canon 12)

1.      Isaiah 64:6 says that all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags

2.      Romans 7:18 says For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

There is nothing you can do except to put your faith and trust in Christ alone.

We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone plus nothing!

Acts 15:7-11… Romans 3:28…Romans 4:1-16, 25…Galatians 2:16, 21…Ephesians 2:8-9…2 Timothy 1:9.

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