Warning against False Righteousness
There is always opposition in any ministry for the service of the Lord. Sometimes it comes from within the Church, sometimes from the outside. False teachers known as Judaizers have crept into the Philippian Church that Paul have to contrast between true righteousness and the false legalistic righteousness, this time using his own life as a model.
I. Transition (3:1)
The word “finally” here is a transition that marks the conclusion of the letter but does not end yet. Philippians are advised to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice is the theme of this epistle, and they are always encouraged to rejoice. Discouragement can easily remove our inward joy and makes us focus on our problems and circumstances rather than on Christ.
To write the same things means repetition. He never gets tired of telling them that that the source of their joy is the Lord. Where serious error is present, there is safety in repetition.
In this time where the preachers are teaching health, wealth and prosperity gospel, it’s easy to be happy when things are going alright. But when opposite things happens that’s when we become weak. We cannot be joyful in all the circumstances in our lives but we can rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4).
A. Instances why we can rejoice.
1. We can rejoice even in the midst of fiery Trials. 1 Pet. 4:12.
2. We can rejoice even during famines. Hab. 3:17.
3. We can rejoice during persecution. Acts 5: 41.
4. We can rejoice in times of poverty. 2 Cor. 6:10.
5. We can rejoice even in loss of property. Heb. 10:34
A. Meaning of the word dogs in the scriptures.
1. Paul calls false teachers or false apostles “dogs” (Ph. 3:2).
2. Those who are shut out of the kingdom of heaven are also so designated (Rev. 22:15).
3. Persecutors are called “dogs” (Ps 22:16).
4. Paul calls the false teachers “dogs” because after claiming to be a Christian they return back to Judaism just like a dog which returns to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:22).
5. Jews refers to Gentiles as “dogs” who is considered ritually unclean. These Jews by their attempt to follow to the law have broken the most important part of the law and thus becoming ritually unclean just like the Gentiles.
B. Evil doers –
1. They are those that pervert the gospel. They are counterfeits. Rejecting grace and not submitting to the righteousness of God. They are workers of iniquity. They deceive; mislead people by adding works to grace thereby belittling Christ’s finished work of redemption. They are enemies of the cross of Christ. Professing to be Christians but in reality they are servants of Satan.
1. Literally it means mutilation. Judaizers are teaching that the observance of circumcision was necessary for salvation.
2. True circumcision according to Paul is not merely an outward act, it involves inward change like (a) Worship God in Spirit, (b) Rejoice in the Lord (c) Have no confidence in the flesh.
The Judaizer is more concerned with outward rather than the inward change. They add works of the law to grace in Christ Jesus. Circumcision was external sign of Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 17). Physical circumcision is not required of Christians (1 Cor. 7:18-19; Gal. 5:1-12; 6:15), but it is used in the N.T. as a symbol of the new birth (Col. 2:10-14). The Jews put their confidence on being circumcised, being offspring of Abraham, and doing ceremonies of the Mosaic Law. This could not save them. Dogs, evil workers, and concision are terms which fit the cults today like JW, SDA, Mormons, Christian Science, Tongues Movement, Laughing Revivals, etc.
III. False Trust (Phil. 3:4)
A. If Judaizers has something to boast or be proud of Paul has more:
1. He was an Israelite, circumcised on the eight day. John the Baptist (Lk. 1:59) and Jesus (Lk. 2:21) were both circumcised on the eight day.
2. He was of the tribe of Benjamin (Rom. 11:1), considered one of the elite among the twelve tribes. First king of Israel is from Benjamin and when the Jews were divided, they remained loyal to the house of David after the breakup of the kingdom
3. Hebrew of the Hebrew. He was a pure Jew, a direct descendant of Abraham (2 Cor. 11:22), Isaac and Jacob. He trained under famous teacher Gamaliel (Acts. 22:3).
4. He was a Pharisee. A very religious person belonging to the strict group of people in their loyalty, and conservatism to the Law of Moses. He was a son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).
5. Persecutor of Christians in his religious zeal (Acts 26:11, 1 Cor. 15:9, Gal. 1:23))
6. Concerning the righteousness which is in the law blameless, meaning he was so diligent in observing the OT law like animal sacrifices, human traditions, and other rituals. (it is obvious that he is sinful and self-righteous during that time)
In Paul’s eyes, if there is one who can have “confidence in the flesh” and can boast, with his credentials, he is the one. If there is somebody who can be saved by obeying the law, he is one. But something happened when he encountered Christ on his way to Damascus. His righteousness was just filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). How about you do you boast for your accomplishments or credentials? God is no respecter of persons (Acts. 10:34). Religion, Church membership, rituals, confirmation, christening, even baptism and Lord’s supper cannot impress God. It is your personal relationship with God which means something.
Illustration 2: Pharisaic Laws
In contrast to the two commands of Christ, the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws… By the time Christ came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws.
(1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations.
(2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men.
(3) It reduces a person’s ability to personally discern.
(4) It creates a judgmental spirit.
(5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law.
(6) It produces inconsistencies.
(7) It created a false standard of righteousness.
(8) It became a burden to the Jews.
(9) It was strictly external.
(10) It was rejected by Christ.
From: 10,000 Sermon Illustrations
IV. His present life in Christ. (Phil. 3:7-8)
A. Paul considers all things loss for Christ. His qualifications, prestige, etc.
B. He considers all things he has as “dung” which is literally “garbage” or “rubbish”.
C. He had seen Christ and that was enough, he would have nothing else after that.
The word “loss” here does not mean loss for Christianity. It’s not changing one rligion to another. He was not replacing one system of rites and ceremonies with a superior system. He was not setting aside one set of doctrines, rules and regulations in order to make way for a better one. Many people think that “changing their religion” is all that conversion means. It’s a big mistake. Christ and Christ alone meet every needs of the soul. He alone can satisfy the one who trust Him. If we have Christ we have everything. Do you trust Christ? How is your present life in Christ?
Beware of false teachers who add to the finished work of Christ. Put your faith and trust in Christ alone. In Christ we can count everything as loss. Come to Christ now, He is waiting for you with an open hand.