Summary: A Study of Pauls Epistle to the Philippians
Sermon Series: “Help, I Can’t Find My Joy!”
(A Study of Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians)
Sermon #3 “You can have Joy in Believing”
Series Text: Philippians 4:4
OPENING JOKE: “Fact vs. Faith” A minister was trying to illustrate what the difference is between “fact” and “faith”. He went into the deep theology of true belief in the unseen and expounded many Scriptures that give a definition for faith. Finally he thought of a wonderful illustration to make his point. “It is a fact that you are all sitting in the pews. It is also a fact that I am standing behind this pulpit. But it is only by faith that I believe any of you are actually LISTENING to me!”
INTRODUCTION: Welcome to our continuing sermon series through Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi.
You will remember that we learned that this letter is called the “Epistle of Joy” as we can see references to Christian joy sixteen (16) times within its four (4) chapters.
We learned in week #1 how we can have joy in suffering as long as we remember that:
(1) God’s in control
(2) His plan is being worked out
(3) He isn’t finished yet!
We learned last week how we can have joy in service by:
(1) Humbling ourselves as Christ did
(2) Staying the course as Timothy did
(3) Offering God our lives as Epaphroditus did
***This week we continue this series with chapter 3 of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, and we are going to see how true joy comes from a faith that is rooted in God’s Word.
Question: How does faith allow us to maintain joy?
I. Faith Protects us from Those Who Would Steal our Joy (False Teachers)
Philippians 3:2-3 “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”
a. In the first century there were many false teachings that were being spread throughout the Church
i. A close look at the NT shows the attempts of Paul, Peter, John and the rest of the writers making defense against false teaching an important point in their respective writings
ii. They all have a common warning: BEWARE
b. The false teaching Paul addresses in this passage were taught by a group called “Judaizers”
i. This was a group of zealous Jews who said that a Christian, along with faith, must also be circumcised to receive God’s favor
ii. Paul refers to this group as “dogs”
1. NOTE: During this period of history dogs were not ordinarily kept as pets. They roamed in packs through the streets and were essentially scavengers.
2. Because they were filthy animals, the Jews often referred to the Gentiles as dogs (Mk 7:27, 28).
3. But Paul aims that remark back to the Judaizers, to describe their sinful, vicious, and uncontrolled character.
iii. He references not only their false teaching in this passage, but also their improper use of circumcision
1. They were not only teaching a wrong doctrine concerning circumcision, but they were also teaching an improper method for the practice
2. Proper Circumcision comes from the Greek word “Peritome” and it means “to cut around”
3. But the Greek word used here (Katatome) means “to cut up, or mutilate”
iv. This group was teaching a form of self mutilation, characteristic of pagan worship
1. Illustration: “Prophets of Baal” When Elijah stood against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in the OT, they began cutting into their flesh as a way to appease their god.
2. This is strictly forbidden in the OT (Lev 19:28)
v. Note: The Judaizers’ circumcision was, ironically, no spiritual symbol; it was merely physical mutilation – which probably derived from the intertwining of a proper Jewish symbol and a pagan act of worship.
c. QUOTE: Paul’s biggest problem with the false teachings of the Judaizers was not that their type of circumcision was improper but that they were teaching Christians that they must trust in their own works to achieve God’s favor
i. They were teaching that certain achievements must be accomplished to be considered “right” with God
ii. This is the trademark of all false religions
1. Christianity is the only religious system in the world that teaches that God’s favor is not earned by man’s good deeds, but can only be received by the empty hands of humble faith
2. Since it began at Pentecost, the Church has been fighting battles with false teachers who try to add requirements to faith for the receiving of God’s grace
3. Paul is warning us to “BEWARE” of those who try to add anything to faith as a means of salvation
d. He goes on to say that Christians are of the “true circumcision”.