08 March 2011

True Joy is Found when we put No Confidence in the Flesh

Phil 3:1-11

I know Mike Andrews.....I know him really well...and I’m sure you can say the same thing about yourself!
  • I know what my passions are.
  • I know what my desires are.
  • I know what I like and dislike.
  • I know what I’m capable of.
  • I know what can so easily distract me.
  • I know that I am a sinner who needs to be put into submission every day by a holy God.
  • I know that in me nothing good dwells!
The Apostle Paul penned these words! “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.” Rom 7:18. To the church at Corinth he said! “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Cor 15:9. He also told Timothy! “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 1 Tim 1:15. Even listen to the heart of Job about his flesh! “therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:6. The soon to be apostle Peter “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Luke 5:8. We live in fallen world that is directed by the flesh! Why I say that? Because if we didn’t live by the flesh then Adam and Eve would still be in the garden and Jesus wouldn’t have to hang on the tree for our sins! All of humanity is stained with sin and guilt! And this world desperately needs Jesus Christ. We rely so much on our flesh at times the end result is failure or bitterness and sadness and depression. I think Martin Luther said it best "The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone... How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?"We come to a part in Paul’s letter where he warns the Christian of certain behaviour or people. He starts off by saying “rejoice in the Lord” Why? Because He is the one who saved you from yourself....your flesh.......He has saved you from destruction and judgement! Don’t just rejoice and be happy.....rejoice because of the Lord’s work in your life.........This is where true joy is found in God and not in the flesh “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” Ps 32:11. John MacArthur calls this joy “the sphere in which the believer’s joy exists...a sphere unrelated to circumstances of life, but related to an unassailable, unchanging relationship to the sovereign Lord.” Love the Lord your God with all heart......mind and soul....but Paul changes from a command of love and dedication to a very important warning to all professing Christians. (v2) Why? Well if you back to his letter to the church of Galatia he addressed some important issues amoung the people! There were men who causing problems and trying to cause division amoung the church, which brings us to (v2). He uses some strong language or examples “Dogs” are referring to the wild scavengers that plagued ancient cities. These dogs roamed in packs, feeding on garbage and occasionally attacking humans. Biblical times the Jews commonly referred to Gentiles as “dogs”......It’s also used metaphorically. Which we see here in this verse....A dog refers to a type of person, a Pharisee, Judaizers (legalist), a false teacher, any form of evil.....Dogs were unclean creatures by the law. In 2 Peter 2:22 "What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire." Those who reject the way of righteousness after an experimental knowledge of it. Hearing the Gospel and saying that's OK for you, but I will find my own way to attain Heaven. The flesh is so weak and we should never put our confidence in so often or so much. Paul describes the evil workers ................as false teacher........... as dogs who come to devour the flesh of weak people......(Rom 16:17-18) “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (the innocent, the simple, the sheep). Paul’s words seen rather harsh and unloving in today's day of tolerance and diversity. Many churches consider it to be unloving and intolerant to point out doctrinal error! Yet God commands us that truth and love are not mutually exclusive. You cannot have truth without love and you cannot have true love without truth! We as Believers are called to both “that we may no longer be infants, being tossed as by waves, and being carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in regard to deceitful scheming, but speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ;” Eph 4:14-15. We must never put stock in our flesh because it only leads to deception and a false sense of security and hope...a gospel hat is created by man and for man!
It makes us depend on self instead of God......Jerome says “A false interpretation of Scripture causes that the gospel of the Lord becomes the gospel of man, or, which is worse, of the devil”. We are to rejoice in the Lord always!! And we watching or looking out for dogs who are evildoers. Now Paul turns to himself! Why Because He knows Paul.......just as I know Mike! Paul gives us 7 reasons why we should never put our faith in the flesh especially when it comes to salvation and eternal life!


Paul was circumcised which was a major issue for the Judaizers “circumcised on the eighth day” (Gen 17:10-11) This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Paul was a Jew by birth and followed the Jewish rituals from the beginning. Following rituals does not make you a Christian any more than Paul did by following the rules and regulations. Being of the circumcision on the eighth day does not make you a Christian. Coming to church every Sunday does not make you a Christian. Why? Because “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,” Col 2:11. He even says it here in the passage of scripture "we are the true worshipper"


Paul was born a Jew “of the people of Israel” All true Jews were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.........Paul’s Jewish heritage was PURE! But race does not matter where you are from, you do not have to be Jewish in order to attain Salvation. You win no favour with God by who you are born into WHERE A Jewish family or Christian family. Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 3:9-12 “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."


“of the tribe of Benjamin ” Paul came from the line of Benjamin, he came from one of the elite tribes of Israel. One of the most prominent tribes in Israel, the direct line from the last son of Jacob, the second son Rachel......Benjamin. Israel’s first king came from the line of Benjamin (1 Sam 9:21). But see it does not matter who you are born into too! Again being brought up in a Christian home does not make everyone in the house a Christian. Again going back to what Paul the believers in Romans 3:20-23 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”


Paul stayed and remained a Jew following all the tradition of the Hebrew culture according to the Old Testament Law “a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law” But again this does not bring salvation....because no one can fulfill the Law of God.....(Rom 3:20) "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin."


“as to the law, a Pharisee” Paul a Pharisee of Pharisee’s a devout man of the Law.....Pharisee’s were known for their legalistic Judaism. “Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles (speak evil of) father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from Me is given to God, he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" Matt 15:1-9


“as to zeal, a persecutor of the church” Paul’s zealous but misguided love for God caused him to hate and persecute the Church “though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Tim 1:13-15


Paul was a model Jew who lived by the Law and was about to die by the Law until the Holy Spirit showed him his true heart “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.” Rom 7:7-10. See we need to understand what the flesh does to person!
  • It leads to self righteous good intentions
  • It leads to a false view of Scripture and His salvation by grace alone through Christ alone
  • It leads to me centered worship
  • It deceives the mind and consequently damns the soul to eternal punishment
Cursed is he who hangs on the tree! Right? Jesus is our salvation our righteousness and hope for eternal joy. The same joy Paul said at the beginning of this portion of his letter! (v1) and for what he says in (v8-9). So what must we do so that we do not fall to the Flesh? Put no confidence it!! Put no confidence in your own ability and achievements apart from God’s saving and sanctifying work in your life! Am I seeing God anew in the Word through discovery and meditation so I am compelled to draw near to Him and not my flesh? Am I being sincere? Is my heart fixed on Him and undivided or have I allowed the flesh to direct my path? Am I fully assured that only faith in Christ can bring me to God’s throne not by my flesh? Am I coming humbly, realizing I can draw near only because of what Christ has done for me? Only you can answer those questions!! Do you know yourself well enough to answer those questions

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