Summary: The only thing with lasting value is a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and the most important aspect of our lives is fostering that relationship.
Text: Phil. 3:1-11
1. Illustration: "Everything in this world has two aspects - how it looks at the moment, and how it will look in the time to come. The easy way may look inviting at the moment, and the hard way daunting. The only way to get our values right is to see, not the beginning, but the end of the way, to see things, not in light of time, but in the light of eternity." - William Barclay
2. Unfortunately, we tend to place value on the wrong things.
3. Proposition: The only thing with lasting value is a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and the most important aspect of our lives is fostering that relationship.
4. Paul tells us what matters in life is...
a. Worshipping Jesus
b. Trusting Jesus
c. Knowing Jesus
5. Let's stand together as we read Phil. 3:1-11.
Transition: The first most important aspect of our lives is...
I. Worshipping Jesus (1-3).
A. Rejoice In The Lord
1. One of the often forgotten benefits of worship is that it keeps us from sin.
a. It is hard to sin when you are singing praises to the Lord.
b. Worship and sin are like oil and water; they don't mix.
c. Worship is, therefore, a deterrent to sin.
2. Paul illustrates this when he says, "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."
a. Paul's encouragement to "rejoice in the Lord" should be considered as a positive preventative to becoming entangled in the false teaching that he was about to expose and condemn.
b. People who are constantly rejoicing in the Lord probably have less chance of succumbing to false teaching than those who do not seem to consider worshiping God very important (The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon, 212).
c. Their joy is to be "in the Lord." The Lord who saves is both the basis and focus of their joy, and in this case it does not refer to a feeling but an activity.
d. It means to express your joy with singing and praise. It is because of their relationship with the Lord it should eliminate all attraction to mere religion (Fee, 291-292).
e. After this transitional comment, Paul states why he issues the warnings that follow.
f. Although he is repeating information he has told the Philippians before, he wants to emphasize its importance as safeguard.
g. His purpose, then, is to keep the foundation of their faith free from the cracks and weaknesses he has seen develop in the commitment of other churches to the gospel (Theilman).
3. After showing the importance of worship he now gives his reason for bringing it up. He says, "Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved."
a. Three times Paul wrote "beware" or "watch out for" to emphasize what he was about to say. In addition to a threefold "beware,"
b. Paul also had a threefold description for these false teachers.
c. He first called them "dogs." He labeled them such because their characteristics resembled those of the wild packs of scavengers roaming the streets at the time, causing havoc wherever they went, in addition to attacking people.
d. Secondly, Paul called them "people who do evil," which implies they actively opposed the gospel of God's grace.
e. Thirdly, he designated them "mutilators." While they claimed to be "the circumcision," Paul said they were really only "mutilated."
f. The normal Greek word for circumcision means "to cut around," however, the word Paul uses here means "to cut to pieces," in other words "mutilate" (Fee, 296).
g. In other words, their mechanical, unscriptural approach to the important rite of circumcision reduced it to mere laceration of the body.
h. Mutilation of the body was practiced regularly in pagan religious rites, but this practice was forbidden in the Old Testament (The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon, 212).
4. It wasn't so much circumcision that Paul had an issue with, but rather with the idea that it made a person right with God.
5. He points this out in v. 3 when he says, "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,"
a. His use of the pronoun "we" shows that he includes himself and the Philippians in this group.
b. Paul, of course, was a circumcised Jew (cf. v. 5), and the Philippian church was probably composed entirely of physically uncircumcised Gentiles.
c. The common ground between them is their commitment to the gospel. As believers, Paul says, they comprise the true people of God, the true circumcision.