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Summary: Paul knew the nature of religion all too well… and now he explains what is so essential for those who know something of religion but long for more.

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The hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 left thousands without electrical power. One man who

used a portable generator to supply power until the electrical lines could be repaired reported a

strange experience. Some daring thieves found the generator in full operation outside the man’s

house and stole it. The homeowner didn’t discover the theft until he went outside to put

gasoline in his generator.

How did the thieves cover up such an obvious crime? They started another gasoline engine and

left it running right beside the generator. The robbers took off with their prize, while the owner

was lulled into a false sense of security created by the sound of his own riding lawnmower.

(Citation: Don Aycock, Palatka, Florida)

> I wonder if our religious nature can be a bit like this… if it can become a substitute that is

used to steal away what really matters… what really generates power?

As we continue… series… Apostle Paul… the distinction wasn’t so subtle… he was the master

of religion… and today we come to Paul’s most personal testimony about a life that has been

changed… about what has led to an extraordinary life… and what we could refer to as

extraordinary spirituality.

Paul knew the nature of religion all too well… and now he explains what is so essential for

those who know something of religion but long for more.

• Maybe one seeking truth… beginning to see who Christ is… reach a clarity you can take

hold of.

• Maybe one who became a Christian… something has felt a little adrift… loosened from the

love that began.

Shift from religion to relationship… from law to love.

• On this holiday weekend… good time to have this morning to stop and evaluate our own

spiritual journeys.

Philippians 3:1-4a (NLT)

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling

you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.

2

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be

circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly

circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human

effort, 4 though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could.

Refers back to previous discussions of this issue. It’s a matter that he knows may sound

strong… but is so essential that he knows is worth stating again… and in the strongest of

terms.

> It is a need to confront those who would direct these who have met Christ… and the love

and grace of God… back into their religious nature. Judaizers – they demanded that Gentiles

could only come to salvation through the Judaic heritage… and needed to take on at least

2

the Jewish rituals. This undermined the significance of all that the early disciples of Christ

had worked through. (Acts 10 – Cornelius’ call, Acts 11 – Peter discovers that Gentiles can

indeed becomes Christ followers without becoming Jews, Acts 15 – Council meets at

Jerusalem… and resolves that indeed God is operating beyond the external symbolic rituals

they had known.)

[Note: “The result of the conference (Jerusalem in Acts 15) was an approval of Paul’s

ministry and a victory for the Gospel of the grace of God. Gentiles did not have to become

Jewish proselytes in order to become Christians!

But the dissenters were not content. Having failed in their opposition to Paul at Antioch and

Jerusalem, they followed him wherever he went and tried to steal his converts and his churches.

Bible students call this group of false teachers who try to mix Law and grace “Judaizers.” The

Epistle to the Galatians was written primarily to combat this false teaching.” –Wiersbe]

So he speaks in full force….

• “Dogs”…. Are not the nice pets but the scavengers who are loathed.

• People who do evil – the point is to make a provocative contrast to what they were deeming

as doing righteousness… that were actually driving people further from God… and anytime

that some form of conservative behavior is used to drive people from God… it is ultimately

evil. People who said Christ is not enough… you must take on these other things they have.

• ‘mutilators of the flesh.’ – Circumcision but uses a similar Greek word that means

mutilation. If you are depending on outward signs, you are not really circumcised, you are

only mutilated.

Deuteronomy 30:6

“The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your

descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul,

and live.”

> The outward was only to direct people to the inward.

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