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ES/PHIL/19 Philippians 3:1

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  21:24
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Philippians 3:1–11 NKJV
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 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 9 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; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
v1
He starts with ‘finally’ – yet he is only half way through this letter! This has led to a bit of humour:
Preaching the Word: Philippians—The Fellowship of the Gospel Chapter 14: Rejoicing and Warning (Philippians 3:1–3)

the little boy whispered to his father, “What does the preacher mean when he says ‘finally’?” To which his father muttered, “Absolutely nothing, son.”

But finally does not mean this is the conclusion – the word finally here really means – ‘moving on, now I want to say this’. And what do we find? Exactly that. Now Paul changes tack and goes on the attack for the welfare of the Philippians. There are trouble-makers about and I need to tell you about them and to keep you on track, to warn you that people are not always what they seem to be and that their message is not good news.
But first he says rejoice in the Lord.
Paul is being deliberately repetitive. Going over and over the same thing means that this needs to be drummed in because we can easily get calloused and hardened and forgetful and not put the truth into practice. And even after being told so many times it still has not sunk in. Even for us this evening. This is what you are taught when you teach – repeat, repeat, repeat. That way we learn, learn, learn. For already he has said rejoice five times in this letter and will say so twice more. All-in-all Paul alludes to joy, gladness and rejoice sixteen times in this letter alone.
So, why is this so important to Paul? Paul is saying that it is important for the Christian to rejoice – in fact he says ‘for you it is safe’. To put it another way – it is a safe course to follow. Rejoicing is a safeguard to our souls. Paul is saying that if Christians obey his call to rejoice, we’ll discover that this positive Christian attitude will save us from the ills that plague the church that he has mentioned before, that is, the murmurings, dissensions, empty conceit, and so on.
For Christian joy, the exaltation of spirit that flows from acceptance of the free gift of God’s grace, is the best protection of all against such a negative and divisive outlook upon life and guards our attitudes against others. We cannot both rejoice and be unhappy with someone at the same time! We cannot be angry and be glad in the Lord at once. It is this spirit that needs to fill us every day and at all times.
This is a tall ask for those of us who are not practised in it – this is going to take effort on our part. It is only too easy to complain about anything and everything – it is certainly easier to do than to rejoice – but this is the day the Lord has made and we will be glad and rejoice in it – for us not to get up in the morning and complain that it is morning! But to get up and realise that this is another day the Lord has given to us and this we should rejoice.
Eventually, as it was with Paul, this will be our natural state and we will never be heard complaining again. Rejoicing also takes our eyes off ourselves and onto the Lord – and in so doing we are no longer egotistical; no longer proud; no longer full of ourselves and what we can do. We are no longer self-important, self-admiring but instead Jesus is all-important and admired and praised and honoured. As a result of this we rejoice in the Lord and have his mindset.
Let’s not forget that Paul is writing from prison where you would expect others to remind him of the joy of the Lord but instead Paul is exhorting Christians who are outside the prison walls to rejoice. It is too easy for our eyes to be upon our circumstances and to be discouraged. But instead our eyes need to be upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Romans 8:28 NKJV
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Trust and obey for there is no better way for us to be happy in Jesus. We very often concentrate upon the obey part – but the trust part is also very important – we trust that God will work out His purposes in our lives. We know that He can be trusted for He gave us Jesus to live and die for us and to rise from the dead and to ascend to the right-hand side of the throne of God interceding for us there. We are reminded of that in;
Romans 8:31–32 NKJV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
How can we not rejoice when we consider all that has been done for us in Christ? I have heard of terminally ill people who radiated joy in the Lord despite hardship and pain and gave joy to those who treated them in hospital.
Preaching the Word: Philippians—The Fellowship of the Gospel Chapter 14: Rejoicing and Warning (Philippians 3:1–3)

John Wesley exuded his joy in the Lord on a three-week preaching mission with Rev. John Nelson during which the two slept on the hard floor with no padding. Wesley used Nelson’s coat for a pillow, and Nelson used Burkitt’s notes on the New Testament for his. As Nelson relates it, “One morning about three o’clock Mr. Wesley turned over, and, finding me awake, clapped me on the side saying: ‘Brother Nelson, let us be of good cheer: I have one whole side yet, for the skin is off but one side!’ ”

God is our strength – and our strength is found in rejoicing in Him. Strength and joy seem to go hand-in-hand. It is even found together several times in Scripture. Here are two examples:
Psalm 81:1 NKJV
Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
1 Chronicles 16:27 NKJV
Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and gladness are in His place.
Preaching the Word: Philippians—The Fellowship of the Gospel Chapter 14: Rejoicing and Warning (Philippians 3:1–3)

Matthew Henry, the Puritan expositor, wrote, “The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”5 The joy of the Lord is a divine armament. Those living in his joy are resistant to attacks that take others down. Resiliency marks their steps. The taste of joy renders the tempter’s offerings bland by comparison.

Paul is not just saying smile and be happy…for this does not take into account the real difficulties people face but rejoicing in the Lord is something we choose to do. It has nothing to do with emotion. If we choose to rejoice then we cannot do something else.
If we are truly rejoicing and thankful for God’s provision, we cannot complain or be resentful. It doesn’t work that way by mistake; this is by design. What comes out of our mouths (for better or worse) is an indicator of what is going on in our hearts:
Jesus said:
Matthew 15:18 NKJV
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.
And again Jesus says:
Luke 6:43–45 NKJV
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
What do our words say about our attitude, heart, and focus?
What is said about most sports? The best defence is a good offence.

Choosing to go on the offensive by rejoicing in the midst of hardship is the single greatest defense from the things that make us turn away from God

By making the choice to rejoice in the Lord in the midst of unpleasant circumstances, we will guard ourselves against fear, doubt, double-mindedness, and the discouragement that comes from opposition. All of these things are barometers for our heart attitude. As we see these things creeping in and manifesting themselves, we know that our focus is shifting away from God and onto other things. I cannot complain about something and simultaneously be thankful for it.

We will come upon Paul’s rejoicing again in the next chapter but if there is anything that we should take away from today it is that we should rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.
There has been no harm in taking it that Paul was talking about rejoicing for it is evident that we should learn from him but Paul does go on to give warnings that we need to be careful to take note of. But are they related? Is what related? Rejoicing and being warned. Absolutely. For what is the warning about? It is warning about having confidence in the flesh, in man, in ourselves. So rejoicing and being warned are related: For one is about having confidence in Jesus Christ, the other, is about having confidence in man or ourselves. There is a contrast found here. We can only have confidence in the Lord. If we put our confidence in the flesh, in others or in ourselves we will ultimately fail or others will fail us. There is only one who will not fail and that is the Lord. We cannot rejoice in the Lord and in the flesh at the same time. This is impossible.
What is the cause for the warning to come? It was that there were people going around calling themselves teachers but actually they were false teachers teaching that the sacrifice of Jesus was not sufficient; was not enough. And Paul had them in his sights for they are a danger to the true teaching that everything has already been accomplished, it has already been finished; their teaching destroyed the message of the true gospel. Theirs was a religion that was Jesus plus – Jesus plus works – their religion required that salvation was partly something we could achieve. This insidious teaching is found in Christian congregations throughout the world. It is found in the so-called Christian religion known as Roman Catholicism which, top this day, still says that it is anathema to believe in faith alone, in Christ alone. They actually condemn true Christians when in reality God condemns them.
It is all too easy for us to think that in some way we can contribute to being saved. It is one thing for us to do good works because of what Jesus has done for us – but another to think that somehow we get in God’s good books by doing good works.
We’ve already seen in Galatians what Paul thinks of them:
Galatians 1:6–9 NKJV
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
We cannot please God by good works – for we have already been accepted in the beloved. It is only faith that can please God:
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We are His children if we have believed on Jesus Christ – and the incredible thing is that God will bestow many rewards upon us for the good works we do as a result. Heaven is our home. Eternal life a gift. We can either accept or reject it. But those who trust in Jesus are already part of the Kingdom of God.
To conclude.
Firstly Phil 3.1 clearly states that we are to rejoice in the Lord. It is a choice we make. In fact it is an imperative in the Greek which means it is a command. We are to rejoice. It is not something that is done only when we are on a high and loving life but when we are in the pit and life is not treating us well. Let’s start the practice whilst things are well. We trust in Jesus therefore we can also rejoice in Him.
Secondly, be warned. The moment that we think we can add anything to the salvation that Jesus has wrought for us it is in that moment that we will be robbed of our joy. Be very careful about listening to anyone who teaches that we can please God by our works – He is only pleased by faith, by trust in Jesus.
We rejoice in the Lord who has done it all for us. We are citizens of Heaven and have eternal life that will be spent in the presence of our Lord, Saviour, friend and brother where there is fullness of joy.

Benediction

Romans 15:13 NKJV
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Bibliography

Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Hughes, R. K. (2007). Philippians: the fellowship of the gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (1996). Galatians–Colossians. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
Runge, S. E. (2011). High Definition Commentary: Philippians. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 14:32 09 June 2018.
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