Summary: Paul exhorted the church to rejoice in the Lord, even though they faced adversity, and avoid false teaching. He also emphasized that works were not enough to secure salvation. If they remained focused on the faith, they could overcome in Christ.
Focused on the Faith
Philippians 3: 1-6
As we begin to discuss the third chapter of Philippians, it appears that Paul is seeking to begin concluding his thoughts to the church. While this may have been the beginning of his conclusion, he has quite a bit more to share with them. Following the challenging discussion concerning our obedience to Christ, Paul follows up on that line of thought. He begins to discuss some of the dangers believers face as they strive to walk in submission to the Lord. He wanted them to develop the right approach in their daily walk with the Lord while avoiding the pitfalls that were prevalent along the Christian journey. Like Timothy and Epaphroditus, Paul too left a great example for us to follow.
The goal of every believer should be maturity in the faith. We must constantly strive to grow in the Lord, being conformed to His image daily. Our growth in the Lord will prove beneficial as we face temptation, but it will not remove our temptation. The temptations we face are likely different than what we dealt with as young believers, but they remain nonetheless. We will face temptation and deal with adversity as long as we live in this body of flesh. We can overcome and remain victorious in Christ, but we must remain focused on Him in order to overcome.
Let’s take a few moments to consider the instructions of Paul was we think on: Focused on the Faith.
I. A Word of Comfort (1) – As Paul beings to move toward a conclusion, he offers a word of comfort to the church. He mentioned:
A. Their Rejoicing (1a) – Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. There are many approaches Paul could have taken to begin concluding this letter, and I find it interesting that he encouraged the church to rejoice in the Lord. Bear in mind his current physical condition. He was aware of the struggles they faced as well, but he desired them to rejoice in the Lord. Clearly this was inspired of the Spirit, and it has great significance for us as well. Paul knew the Lord had blessed them greatly, even in the face of opposition. Regardless of the adversity they faced, there was reason to rejoice. Paul knew it would be difficult to lose hope while rejoicing in the Lord. A thankful and rejoicing heart would motivate endurance and continued service.
While our world is rapidly changing, and we are dealing with struggles that previously didn’t exist, we too have reason to rejoice. Regardless of what we are dealing with at the present moment, we have much more than we deserve in Christ. If He never offered another blessing, we would have to admit that we have been blessed. Such blessing ought to promote rejoicing. It is hard to complain when our mouths are full of praise. An attitude of rejoicing will help us maintain our focus on the Lord and aid us in our pursuit of Him!
B. Their Reminder (1b) – To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Paul had shared these truths previously on numerous occasions, and yet he felt compelled to share them again. He knew that repetition was not unnecessary; in fact, he felt it was imperative. He was committed to sharing the truths of the Gospel and the Christian faith over and over again. It was not grievous for Paul. He did not mind sharing the wondrous truths again and again. This would prove beneficial for the church. As they were continually reminded, these truths would settle deep with their hearts.
I once heard of a preacher who felt within four to five years, he would preach all of the Bible he could to a particular congregation. I find that hard to believe; but if it were true, there would be nothing wrong in an encouraging reminder of passages studied before. We can never hear too much of the great truths of God’s Word. We need it engrained in our hearts and minds!
II. A Word of Caution (2-3) – As the church sought to serve the Lord, being used of Him, they had to remain aware of some present dangers. Consider:
A. The Danger (2) – Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. Paul offers a stern warning to the church. This was literally a warning against false teachers, and the various approaches employed by them. They were to beware of dogs. Now, Paul isn’t speaking of a literal dog here. This was a term commonly used to speak of those who behaved like wild dogs, seeking to attack and devour anyone possible. Paul reveals his disdain for false teachers by using this term of contempt to describe them. We too must be aware of those who seek to devour with false teaching and deceptive practices.