Summary: Paul warns us that there are going to be those who pervert the truth of Christ and seek to spread a false teaching and that we must always be on guard for such teachers.
Date Written: February 7, 2001
Date Preached: February 7, 2001
Church: BBC (PM) Wed Night
Series: Great Imperatives for the Christian Walk
Title: The Imperative Regarding False Teachers
Text: Phil 3:2
“…Look out for the dogs, look out for the evilworkers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh…”
Looking back at some of the imperatives of the Christian walk that we have shared we find that we have covered quite a distance and quite a few subjects. [GO OVER PAST WEEKS – use overheads]
In tonight’s particular imperative concerning false teachers, the Apostle Paul warns those in Philippi against the peril of being misled in their faith.
In the verses that follow this particular passage we gather that the false teachers fell into 2 categories: 1) the Judaizers and 2) the Gnostics.
The Judaizers found it extremely difficult to believe that the Gentiles were included in God’s plan of redemption.
They would have preferred to restrict their outreach to only Jews and constantly refused or severely restricted their outreach to anyone other than Jewish origin. If they DID reach out it was to have the Gentile become a Jew 1st and then a Christian.
The Judaizers were unable to see that their tradition placed great restrictions on the love and mercy of God. They were very legalistic and very literalistic in their interpretation of the OT.
They were blind to the changes that the preaching of the Gospel and the work of the HS were bringing about in the hearts and lives of the Gentile believers.
In this particular warning concerning the necessity of being on guard against false teachers, Paul fears that the Philippian church was going to be subjected to the same misleadings as the church at Galatia had been.
The Galatian church had originally submitted and surrendered to Christ fully on faith, however the Judaizers came in and caused them to fall away fro the way of grace. They added works of the law to faith in Christ as an essential part of salvation.
Warning against Legalism:
One of the 1st and most important issues that Paul dealt with in MOST of the churches he wrote to was the issue of Legalism.
From v. 3 and following in tonight’s passage we can draw the conclusion that Paul is informing these believers to be on their guard. They must rise up and oppose those people who insist that only through the proper observance of some external religious ceremony or ancestral relationship could give them a favorable position or position of privilege in God’s sight.
Paul goes into great detail to demostrate that he no longer places his faith and trust in the things in which he previously based his hopes on for a right relationship with God!
He no longer places his faith in his religious self-discipline or any religious achievement to be accepted by God.
What Paul does do here is to encourage the Philippian believers to trust in Jesus Christ and add NOTHING to it…that true righteousness…righteousness before God comes only through their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, not Jesus plus some ceremony or being born of a certain ancestry.
But not only does Paul warn against Legalism he also issues a…
Warning against False Teaching:
In Matt 18 Jesus teaches and warns against any kind of false or misleading instruction. He speaks both from the physical and from the spiritual in this passage. If we lead children who have a knowledge or belief in Christ astray…we are in danger of His wrath.
Likewise if we lead the ‘babes in Christ’ astray from sound doctrine and teaching…the punishment is the same.
In the closing verses of Philippians 3 Paul warns believers against listening to and following those who separate creed from conduct and behavior from belief.
The false teachers in this passage may be the Gnostics I mentioned earlier tonight. The Gnostics, believed that people found acceptance b4 God on the basis of superior knowledge.
They claimed that they knew this was the way because they had been instructed in the secrets of knowledge by those who were initiated into their sect.
The Gnostics believed that matter was totally evil and the only “good” was spirit. They also believed that the Creator God was so far removed from our physical beings that he was NOT concerned how we lived in the flesh.
They denied the humanity of Jesus Christ and said that he only ‘appeared’ to be in human form. But the problem with that is when you deny his humanity you are also denying his divinity.
The end result of this approach to life gave them a license to do what they wanted to do in the flesh as long as they had the ‘right’ knowledge. The apostle Paul warns the church at Philippi against the belief that there is no relationship between the condition of the soul and the life that one lives here on earth.