Summary: Part 1 of 3 in a series titled "A Declaration of Dependence." This message looks at our need to depend upon God for salvation and has a patriotic flavor.
Series: A Declaration of Dependence
July 4, 2004
Today our nation celebrates Independence Day. But as a nation we are in danger of forgetting that we owe our independence to our dependence upon God. Our forefathers clearly recognized this truth and sought to build our nation on it. On October 3, 1789 George Washington said, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor.” (SermonCentral)
On April 30, 1863, Abraham Lincoln appointed a National Fast Day and declared, “It is the duty of nations as well as men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” (SermonCentral)
And yet we find the exact opposite attitude in vogue today. Our nations courts are ordering the removal of the Ten Commandments from courtrooms and other public sites. There is a blatant move being led by the ACLU to see that all mention of God is removed from public life. The Supreme Court has ruled that the phrase “under God” will remain in the pledge of allegiance to the flag, but only because of a technicality. The court did not rule that the phrase was constitutional, but only that the father who brought the case did not have any legal right to do so because he did not have legal custody of his daughter on whose behalf he filed the case. So now it will surely only be a matter of time before someone with legal standing brings a similar case.
Thomas Jefferson, our third President, asked, “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can not sleep forever.” (Becker, SermonCentral)
Can a building remain in place if you remove its foundation? How can our country remain strong while we are systematically chipping away at the very foundation upon which it is built? We have forgotten God. We have forgotten that the independence we celebrate every 4rth of July we owe to our dependence upon him. And so this month I will be sharing with you a series of messages titled “A Declaration of Dependence.” The goal of this series is to have us as individuals, as a church, and as a nation declare our complete dependence upon Almighty God in all areas of life.
Today we are going to start at the very beginning. For our nation Independence Day marks the day of our separation from England and our birth as a new nation. For the Christian, Dependence Day marks the day of our separation from sin and our birth as a new creation. This is a day of dependence because we are completely dependent upon God for our salvation. It is something that we can never hope to achieve on our own. Paul said, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Today we are going to look at Philippians 3:1-11 to see how Paul transitions from a life of dependence upon himself to a life of dependence upon God.
Paul begins with this warning:
2Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh –
This warning is against a group of people known as Judaizers. They were a group of Jewish Christians who emphasized the necessity of keeping the Old Testament law with its regulations and rituals in order to be saved. They didn’t deny that one needed to trust in Christ, but they added the requirement of works to faith.
He says their character is that of “dogs.” He was probably thinking of the half-wild dogs of that area that prowled around campsites to feed on the leftover garbage. These people were feeding on the leftovers of the Old Covenant rather than feasting on the blessing of the New Covenant through faith in Christ.