Philippians 007 – The Great ExchangePhilippians 3:1-6 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 17, 2020 • Philippians
The Great Exchange
May 17, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
All right. Well, let’s go ahead and open with a word of prayer. Father, we are grateful for today and grateful for The Lord’s Day. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. And even as we’re all under some abnormal circumstances, the Holy Spirit is still at work and you’ve allowed us to continue to proclaim truth. And so we just ask that you’ll use your truth this morning from your word to minister to your people. And if anybody is listening that’s unsaved, I pray that for them, as the Gospel is given at the end, that today is the day of salvation. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory we ask these things in Jesus’ name. God’s people said, Amen.
Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the book of Philippians Chapter three and verse one. We’re going to see if we can make it to verse 14 today. And everybody, when I say that, always laughs because we never do. But you got to have some goals in life, right? If you don’t have any goals, you can’t accomplish anything. But the title of our message this morning is the great exchange. The Great Exchange. And as you’re turning there to the book of Philippians, one of the things I want to draw to your attention is I was dealing with in the prior session sort of a complicated issue related to the us versus they or them in Revelation chapter five, verse nine.
And why that’s important for that distinction is actually important for the pre-tib rapture. I made reference to one of my friends, Dr. David Hawking, who has written on this issue and studied it very carefully. And so that’s the nice thing about this global communication that we’re in. I got an immediate– my wife, rather, received a text or an email from him or I think it was a phone call, and then she texted me telling folks where they can get his little booklet on that subject. If the whole thing went over your head this morning and you want to study that out and you want some written materials, he’s kind of dealt with it in a way that’s accurate but readable. And you can find that at his ministry Hope For Today his booklet on the “us versus they” distinction with the 24 elders you can go to www.hftmedia.org. www.hftmedia.org That stands for Hope for today and I think you can also find it at www.davidhawking, All one-word. Hocking is H-O-C-K-I-N-G dot org. So it’s nice that there’s some good written materials out there to tell people where they can go to learn more about what we tried to explain in kind of a summary fashion in the prior session, and we appreciate everybody watching us online.
Sometimes we’ve discovered that Facebook has sort of a mind of its own and the connection is not as strong or skips and different weird things happen. Maybe we should send a check over to Zuckerberg so he’d be a little nicer to us. So one possible way of watching this live is on the Sugarland Bible Church Facebook page, and the presentation is archived there. Other possibilities are you can find us on our website: www.slbc.org. You can get the live cast and the archive after the fact there. You might want to take a look at our sermon archives. All of our sermons are archived. There you can find past shows in audio-visual format. Our PowerPoints are there and we also broadcast this through an app called Sermon Audio. And you can find you can watch it live on Sermon Audio, which is an app you have to download to your phone. But and you can also find our archives on sermon audio. So if Facebook gets weird, those are some other options. And then my wife takes the presentations that we do and we upload them after the fact to my personal YouTube channel. Just go into your YouTube search engine and type in Andy Woods pastor’s point of view or pastor’s perspective, something along those lines. And my YouTube channel should come up and you can sign up for that.
And that’s free, It’s free like all these other things. It’s a free subscription. We do not monetize our YouTube channel. So you will not be subjected to a bunch of commercials and infomercials because we were trying we’re trying to keep things free and clear just for the proclamation of God’s word. All right. Is that enough advertisements today? Any other advertisements I need to make from the peanut gallery up there or down here? All right, we’re good. All right. Having said all that, let’s talk about why you’re actually watching, which is God’s word, Philippians chapter three, verse one. And of course, as you know, the apostle Peter. What am I saying? Apostle Peter. We finished Peter on Wednesday. The Apostle Paul has written this book from Rome to the struggling church at Philippi, A church that he was instrumental in founding about 10 to 11 years earlier. And he’s basically writing to them about the whole issue of joy. You know, so many Christians are, you know, sort of sad-faced saints all of the time. And, you know, it’s interesting, some Christians walk in joy, some don’t. And if you’re a Christian not walking in joy, the book of Philippians is for you, because that’s its point. The words rejoice or joy occur over and over and over again in just a very short four-chapter book. So God wants us to walk in joy. He wants us to experience emotional well-being.
That is beyond our immediate circumstances. And so many times we live our lives as if we’re prisoners of our circumstances. You know, I’m happy when things are going well, when things are not going well, and I’m under lockdown like we are experiencing with COVID 19 and I can’t get out of the house, and what’s going to happen to my job? Is there going to be a job for me when we’re finally let loose? You know, the issue is, can we walk in joy in the midst of COVID-19? Can we walk in joy in the midst of unfavorable circumstances? And that’s why the Book of Philippians was written. What we discover in Chapter one, which we’ve already gone through, is that God can use negative circumstances to bring about positive results. Paul had developed the mental discipline necessary to seeing something positive. Behind every negative thing that was happening to him and therefore he saw things happening to him is not really negative because through it God was doing something positive. So for example, we received one email this week where the person said, I thank God for this lockdown because if it wasn’t for this lockdown, I probably wouldn’t have discovered your church, your website, your teachings. And so what we believe is God is doing something positive right now in the midst of what most people would view as negative circumstances. And that’s how God is. That’s how God works. Everything that happens to you in your life, rather than focusing on the glass being half empty, the reality of the situation is the glass is half full. No matter what’s happening to you, because God will intervene in your life in ways He wouldn’t do otherwise because of our circumstances.
And so Paul could see the hand of God in every circumstance he was in. He describes it through four realities there in chapter one. And then we move into chapter two, where we discover that the pathway to joy is by spelling out the word joy. J stands for Jesus. O stands for others. Y stands for yourself. And so when we live our lives with that priority, we will experience joy. When we put ourselves before Christ or ourselves before others, now the word is misspelled and you can’t walk out the joy that God has for you. So the pathway to joy is through servanthood, which raises an interesting question. How do you be a servant? Paul has explained how to be a servant through four examples. Christ obviously the ultimate servant. And then Paul gives three other human examples of servanthood: himself, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. And you come out of chapter two of the book of Philippians with four practical, tangible role models on how to put others, put Jesus and others first. And that’s why so many of us as Christians are unhappy and miserable because we’re living– The priorities are wrong.
We’re living for selfish things. And Paul is trying to correct us there in chapter two. As we walk out these examples of humble service. So what we’re moving into this morning is the beginning of part three which is chapter three, where he tells us to avoid legalism. Legalism will destroy joy faster in the Christian’s life than any other single thing that I can think of. What is legalism? Legalism is you’re trying to do the work of God by putting yourself under a set of human standards and regulations that are not necessarily found in the Bible. And what those human standards and human regulations do is they get the flesh to try harder. And people that are laboring under that, people that are living under that, I’ve lived under that, sadly, for a lot of my Christian life. And sometimes, sadly, I go back to that. And I know that when I go back to that, I’m miserable because the flesh cannot accomplish the spiritual life. And as long as I’m trying to fulfill the spiritual life by measuring up to human standards, by working harder, there’s no way I can walk in joy. It’s a joy suffocater. Someone has said that the Christian life is difficult and I always disagree with that. The Christian life is not difficult. The Christian life is impossible. Because God never intended for us to live the Christian life by getting the flesh to try harder. What He gives us are supernatural resources beginning with a transformed heart.
A work of the Holy Spirit that only he can do. And He gives us resources for walking out the Christian life. And when we’re trying to live the Christian life through his resources, it’s like trying to drive your car when the gas tank is full. Suddenly the Christian life becomes manageable, it becomes bearable. In fact, my goodness, you might even actually experience some emotional well-being as you walk out these principles. But legalism destroys that. Legalism takes the focus off Christ and His resources and puts the whole focus on you, constantly pointing out your failures and telling you, Well, you’re not trying hard enough and you try harder and you fail again. You try harder and you fail again and you think, Well, Christianity must work for everybody else doesn’t work for me, and joy disappears. I’m not talking about unsaved people experiencing this lack of joy. That’s not what Paul is dealing with here. He’s dealing with saved people that are not experiencing joy. And the whole point of the book is to move them in the direction of joy. You don’t have to get far in the Bible to discover legalism. The original command given to Adam and Eve was this. The Lord God commanded the man saying, from any tree of the garden, you may eat freely. Notice the words any and freely. Genesis two, 16, and 17. But from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat for in the day that you eat from it, you will surely die.
I call this the easiest job description anybody’s ever been given. God says, do whatever you want. Eat any and freely of any tree. Just don’t eat the of the Tree of Knowledge, which is in the midst of the garden. And of course, what happens is people take God’s simple rule and they make it more complicated than what it is. The woman that would be Eve said to the serpent, Genesis three, two, and three, From the fruit of the trees of the garden, we may eat, but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God said, you shall not eat or touch it. Whoops, that’s not part of the original command. Or you will surely die. And notice also that she dropped out the words any or freely. She took, for whatever reason, a simple command of God and made it complicated. Added Human regulations and requirements to the simplicity of God’s command. The serpent, of course, is worse as Satan, the father of all lies, he paraphrases what God supposedly said as follows Indeed, as God said, you shall not eat from any tree of the garden? Now, is that what God said? He said the opposite. He said, you may eat any tree of any tree freely, except for the Tree of Knowledge. And then the serpent denies what God said.
The woman said to the serpent or Excuse me, the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. So what you see at the very dawn of human history is legalism developing in the mind of Eve and Adam and Satan taking something so simple and turning it into a religious maze. And that’s where legalism, that’s what legalism does. Paul the Apostle writes this statement in second Corinthians 11, and verse three. He says, But I fear lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness. Second Corinthians 11, verse three. So your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus. Paul here says, I know what the serpent did all the way back in Eden, how he took something simple and turned it into a religious maze. And Paul says, I’m afraid for you Corinthians, that the exact same thing is going to happen. You know, the simplicity of the gospel, the simplicity of the Christian life. And I’m afraid that Satan is going to bring someone into this congregation that’s going to turn it into a rat race or a religious maze of some kind or an external standard of do’s and don’ts. And you’re going to be led away from the simplicity of the Christian life and the simplicity of the gospel, and that’s legalism. And once you move into legalism, it’s a joy suffocater. And this is why Paul devotes really an entire chapter to this subject of legalism.
I’m reminded of the book of Galatians chapter three, verse three. He says, Are you so foolish to the Galatians, having begun by the Spirit? Are you now being perfected by the flesh? He basically calls them foolish. You started you got you got into this Christianity through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in your life by faith alone. So why would God switch horses in midstream? I mean, if getting into Christianity is simple, faith alone in Christ, alone under the inspiration and resources of the Holy Spirit, do you think that the Christian life now is somehow something you’re going to pull off under your own power? I mean, your own power didn’t get you in the door. So why would you think that your own power is going to sustain you to grow after you are in the door? And he uses a very strong word here to the Galatians as they’re moving into legalism. He calls them foolish. The problem is our flesh likes legalism. That’s probably the main problem because when I get legalistic, I have something to brag about. You know, it’s all about me and my performance. And so part of me likes to hear teachings on legalism. The problem is, when I move in a legalistic direction, joy is suffocated because I’m trying to do the impossible. I’m trying to live the Christian life by revving up the flesh and making it try harder when God has actually given us resources for the spiritual life.
So here’s the outline of Philippians chapter three in verses one through three, he describes a contrast between legalists. And those who are really walking out the life of the spirit, depending upon the spirit. We would call them true believers and not just true believers, but people that believe and are and are growing the same way they came to faith. So there’s a contrast there between the two groups. And then in part two of this chapter, he describes a transition in verses four through 14. That’s why I’ve entitled this message The Great Exchange. Because Paul takes you into his past and he says, I know something about legalism. In fact, I was at one time in my life when I was Saul, the quintessential legalism legalistic. I mean, you can’t get anybody more legalistic than what I was. And I transitioned away from that into what I have today and so that’s a great exchange that Paul is going to describe in his life as he’s trying to minister to the Philippians who are having trouble with legalism. And then part three of the book is, okay, I can’t be legalistic. Well, then what should I embrace instead? And one of the interesting things about the Bible is when the Bible tells you to give up something, typically what you’ll find in the Bible is it will replace it with something better.
And the problem is, whatever sin we’re holding on to, we kind of think that we, you know, gosh, if I give this up, I’m going to be unhappy. And the fact of the matter is, you open your hand up and you give up that sin. God wants to fill that hand with something far better. So what is the far better? You start to see a description of it really in chapter three, verse 15, and it really pours over into chapter four, ending there in verse three. So having said all that, take a look here at part one where he’s describing the contrast between the legalists and those that are saved and are walking by means of the Holy Spirit. We have the command to rejoice. Verse one The threat posed by legalistic verse two and the characteristics of those walking by the Holy Spirit, verse three. And notice what He says here in Philippians chapter three verse one. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard to you. Now, I as a preacher, I appreciate what he says there at the beginning there are verse one when he says, finally. So he says finally and then he goes on for two more chapters. So when Paul says, finally, he’s 50% into his material. And so, you know, sometimes your front porch can be bigger than your whole house as preachers.
And you see Paul doing that. But he says finally and then he says, My brethren. So when he says, My brethren, it’s very obvious that he is not speaking to unsaved people. A lot of people will misunderstand Paul here as he’s trying to get people saved. Of course, he’s doing it, trying to do that in other parts of his ministry, but that’s not what he’s trying to do. In the Book of Philippians, he’s trying to help save people to grow correctly where they can actually walk in joy as he himself role modeled. Independent of life’s circumstances. So circumstances don’t have to get us down all of the time. If we pay attention to what Paul is teaching. If you look at verse 13, he uses the expression Brethren again. If you go over to chapter four, verse one, you’ll also see a reference to brethren or my brethren. So Paul is not dealing with justification here. Nor is he dealing with glorification. He will a little bit. But his primary emphasis is sanctification. The middle tense of our salvation. He’s speaking to people that are already justified. They’re on their way to glory. But what’s supposed to happen in between those two? A lot of times we get so past-focused and so future-focused, we forget that God’s resources are for daily life. And He’s teaching us here about how to walk out Christianity so that we might experience joy.
He says here to write the same things again is no trouble to me. This is not the first time Paul has addressed the issue of legalism. In fact, if you look here on the chart, this is the order of Paul’s letters. You’ll see that his very first letter was the book of Galatians that we’ve already quoted from this morning, and Galatians is the first letter he ever wrote. And that letter is a Magna Carta against legalism. It’s all about Christian liberty. And by the time he writes the book of Philippians, I don’t know, that would be what? His eighth, ninth, 10th book, something like that. He’s, you know, going back to the same subject again, attacking legalism because he, of all people, understands the negative influence of legalism and he wanted to make sure that the people that he had brought to Christ were not going to walk on the legalistic path. And then it’s also very interesting there in verse one, when he basically says, I want to safeguard your joy. So he’s understanding there that if they move into a legalistic direction, it’s going to suffocate their joy. So he is going after here in this chapter the number one suffocating air of joy in the Christian life which is legalism. So finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord to write the same things again to you as no trouble to me, It is a safeguard for you.
Now, before we leave, verse one, one other quick point is there in verse one, he says, Rejoice in the Lord. Now, when you study that in Greek, that is in the imperative mood, Meaning it’s a command. It’s not a suggestion, it’s not a try this on for size and see if it works. Here’s a few tips for the day. I’ll touch back with you later just to see how things are going. That’s not what he’s saying here. He is commanding the Christian to rejoice in the Lord and all of us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, regardless of circumstances. Paul’s circumstances weren’t the best as we’ve talked about. He’s a prisoner in Rome. All of us, regardless of our circumstances, even in the COVID-19 lockdown, have the ability to rejoice in the Lord because God has given us that ability through His indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. And so when we walk around sort of ungrateful, upset, focused on negative things constantly, where we’re in sin basically is what he’s saying. We are disobeying a command. I mean, when he says put on the full armor of God, do not let the sun go down on your anger, Do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies. All of these commands rejoicing in the Lord is just as much a command as all those other things. And so it’s sort of a different way of looking at it.
So not walking in joy is a dishonoring of an actual command that God has given to his church. So we have the command to rejoice, verse one And then you move into verse two. And he starts talking about the threat posed by legalists. Because when you go under legalistic doctrine, you will never be able to execute the command in verse one. And look at how he describes these legalists, verse two beware of the dogs. Beware of the evil workers and beware of the false circumcision. And what he is dealing with here is something called Pharisee-ism. Pharisees were those in the time of Paul who are always trying to put the Church of Jesus Christ under the Law of Moses. They were mixing law and faith constantly as if the two go together at all. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. If you’re trying to, through human power, obey a legal code. You cannot walk in joy and you cannot walk in faith. And Pharisees were coming into these churches over and over again trying to put people back under the law and it was a joy stealer. So this is something that I got the course the image there is we created that here at Sugar Land Bible Church, but the concept is something I was taught by J. Dwight Pentecost, my professor, probably a man that has influenced the way I think about things biblically more than any other person other than the Holy Spirit himself.
He was just a phenomenal teacher and he would say things in class that would clear up so many cobwebs in my mind. And the one of the times I took him was for the Book of Galatians, and he in that study described the three kinds of Pharisees in the New Testament. Who are Pharisees? There are those mixing law with faith constantly. So the first group of Pharisees are your justification Pharisees who are trying to tell people that you can’t get saved unless you believe in Christ and obey the law. And you see this constantly in sloppy evangelistic presentations today by some of the greatest evangelists in the world in terms of fame and notoriety. And they’ll give you maybe I was watching one guy recently and he gave four steps to Jesus. Someone else I was watching, he was giving three steps to Jesus. And the result, the reality of the situation is only one step to Jesus as a lost person. The Bible says this about 160 times so as to believe in the one that he has sent. Believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins by placing your confidence in what Jesus did for you 2000 years ago. That by itself saves you. And when people say believe, but repent of your sins. And one guy I’m thinking of goes out onto the beaches. He’s somewhat famous and he does this and the camera, you can find these clips on YouTube. And sometimes the camera will show the unbeliever. And you can see the confusion in the unbeliever’s eyes when he says that. Because they don’t know what he means. I mean, is the gospel in terms of justification, believe, and stop sinning? Well, what sins am I supposed to cease from? And how long is the ceasing supposed to continue? And what about those sins that I committed? Way back when, decades ago. That I can’t even remember anymore. And if you’re telling people you have to believe, you have to stop sinning and believe, My question to those evangelists is this: have you never sinned as a Christian? Because if that’s the gospel, then you shouldn’t sin it all. And we know that it’s nonsensical. The gospel is not repent of your sins and believe. The gospel is believe, period. And yet this first group of Pharisees was trying to convince people that for purposes of justification, you have to believe and go under the law of Moses. That’s why Paul keeps saying over and over again in his epistles, Galatians, Romans. He says, by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified. Couldn’t be clearer. And yet this first group of Pharisees were saying, No, that’s not true. You’re justified through faith and also through the works of the law. And I believe that Jesus himself overthrew doctrinally that group in Matthew five, verse 20.
Or he says, unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will no wise enter the Kingdom of God. Turning from sins and going under the Mosaic Law and all of these kinds of things will never justify anybody because the greatest people in Israel that allegedly were doing that, Jesus says, would not enter the kingdom of God. Am I against people turning from their sins? Of course not. But that comes as a step of growth after the Holy Spirit is inside of you. Until that happens, the operative word for the unbeliever is to believe. Which can also be used as a synonym for repent, which in Greek means change your mind. The moment you change your mind from confidence and self to confidence in what Christ did for you, and your faith is resting in Jesus and not yourself. You have believed synonym for change of mind. And you’re justified. Now going to the bottom of the screen. The second group of Pharisees were those who were essentially teaching that you’re saved by faith alone, That’s fine. But if you want to join the church and be part of the body of Christ, then you better go on to the Law of Moses. So they were mixing faith and law for purposes not so much of justification, but ecclesiology. I mean, they knew Gentiles could get saved. Cornelius had been saved. But he’s not coming into this Jewish church because he’s not under the law of Moses.
So that’s another group of Pharisee-ism, And so they had a big powwow over this. Called the Jerusalem Council and Acts 15, where they got together as apostles and said, Look, we’re not going to be putting people under the law of Moses to join the church. And so that group of Pharisees was overthrown in Acts 15. Then you have this third group of Pharisees that were mixing faith and law to grow as a Christian. You cannot, they were saying, develop as a Christian unless you combine faith and law. And that group of Pharisees is overthrown in the book of Galatians. Particularly, backing up here just for a minute, if I can find it, Galatians three, verse three, which I think is the heart of the Galatians epistle. Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, Are you now being perfected by the flesh? The moment that statement was made is the moment that middle group of Pharisees was overthrown. And I think that Paul continues to deal with that middle group of Pharisees all the way through his letters. And he’s dealing with them again here in the Book of Philippians. He’s dealing with the people coming in that were deceiving the church into thinking that they can’t grow unless they mix faith and law. And his point is, you’re sanctified the same way you were justified walking by faith by means of the Holy Spirit. And that becomes your basis for obedience in the Christian life.
Not getting your flesh to try harder by coming under the Mosaic Law. And so what you’ll notice is Paul explains this group of Pharisees, or he reveals them in very direct fashion. He, first of all, calls them dogs. And of course, I’m reminded of the Book of Revelation, chapter 22, verse 15, which is talking about those outside the Eternal City. He says Outside are the dogs the sorcerers, the immoral persons, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. So dogs is a metaphor, if you will, for people of very low character who were teaching this works-oriented doctrine for the Christian life. Then he calls them number two, verse two, evil workers. Then he calls them number three, verse two those of the circumcision. That’s legalism. Because legalism is always going to emphasize the outer, not the inner. The physical circumcision of the body. That’s the path to spiritual growth. When the fact of the matter is the path to spiritual growth is not something external, but it’s something that happens in the heart. Paul says, I’m far more interested in the circumcision of the heart than I am– the outer physical circumcision of the body. And then he after commanding us to rejoice. Speaking of the threat posed by the legalists, now he contrasts that with the characteristics of those that are actually walking by means of the Holy Spirit.
And it’s a tremendous contrast there. And you see it revealed there in verse three. Where the Apostle Paul says, For We are the true circumcision, who worship in the spirit of God and the glory of Christ Jesus. Now watch this. Watch this very carefully. And put no confidence in the flesh. In comparison to the legless and the Pharisees and those mixing faith and works, faith and law to grow as a Christian, Paul says, here is what true spiritual life is like. Number one, I’m not talking about a physical circumcision. I’m talking about those that have been authentically circumcised. Genuinely circumcised. He calls it here, verse four No. Verse three, Authentic or genuine or true circumcision. Paul deals with the same subject in the book of Romans. Chapter two verses 28 and 29, where the Jews were prideful of the fact that they honored what Yahweh had told them to do on the eighth day. Circumcise your male infants, Paul says in Romans two verses 28 and 29, for he is not a Jew who is one outwardly. Nor is circumcision that which is outward of the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly. See, the distinction and circumcision is that which is of the heart. By the spirit, not the letter and his praise is not from men, but from God. So in contrast to the legalist emphasizing outer circumcision, Paul talks about a circumcision of the heart. And then those that are truly walking by means of the Holy Spirit are also true spiritual worshippers.
You see that also there in verse three who worship in the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus. I mean, these are people that are worshipping the Lord out of their own abundance of their heart because they’re authentically grateful. For what God has done for them. He’s not dealing when he talks about true spiritual worshippers, people that show up at a worship service and sort of perfunctorily, if that’s a word, go through a rote ritual and get that checked off the list so I can move on to something else. That’s not what Paul is dealing with here at all. He’s talking about authentic spiritual worship. It doesn’t even have to be done at even a specific time on Sunday morning, your heart wells up with so much gratitude towards God. Thinking of the greatness of God that you just can’t control yourself. Maybe that’s not the best example, because we have those who want to scream and yell claiming they can’t control themselves. That’s not what the Bible is teaching. But, you know, you just want to worship the Lord. It’s not some ritual someone is imposing on you at a certain time period on Sunday morning. It’s an attitude of the heart, and that’s the kind of worshiper that the Lord seeks. Of course, Jesus to the woman at the well said that, didn’t he?
In John four verse 24, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. And so those walking in the spirit also were those that were glorifying who? Jesus Christ. It’s right there in verse three. Who worship in the Spirit of God and glorify in Christ Jesus. This is why legalism is such an anathema to God. Because legalism makes the flesh try harder and as the flesh tries harder, who gets the glory for holiness in one’s life? Well, we do. And God is such that He will not share His glory with another. Isaiah Chapter 42, verse eight. So when a person gets saved by means of the Holy Spirit, who gets the glory, the glory goes to God. You know, I had really nothing to do with it other than I just trusted in what Jesus did for me when I start to grow as a Christian. Not by getting my flesh to try harder to measure up to some human standard, but through the actual resources that God has given me. Who gets the glory for that? God does. Now, I cooperated with it in terms of volition. You know, I obeyed when God told me to obey, but other than that, I don’t get any glory for it at all, because it’s through God’s resources that I even have the ability to obey. And the problem with legalism is it takes God’s resources out of the picture.
And places those resources on human shoulders. You’re going to walk this out through human power. And not only does that destroy joy because it puts you on a perpetual failure road map. But it steals glory that belongs to God because now you’re the center of attention. Your spiritual life is on your shoulders. You’re the center of attention, not Jesus and his resources. And by the way, that is always how you recognize a false gospel. Whether for justification or sanctification. A true gospel will always put the spotlight on Christ. The focus is always on Jesus Christ now. Gospel presentations and spiritual life inventories suddenly put man into the equation. You’re saved by your ability to keep the law. You’re growing because of what you did. Now the spotlight is no longer on Jesus, the spotlight is on me. And that’s how you recognize a false gospel. Every single time it deals with, Where does the emphasis lie? Is it on Christ and his performance and his resources or is it upon me? And my performance and my resources? So someone who is really walking in the spirit is walking in glory, not to self, but to Jesus Christ, himself, and those who are walking in the spirit end the verse three fourth thing is that they put no confidence in the flesh. And to reach a point in the Christian life where you put no confidence in the flesh, you’ve got to be broken.
You’ve got to sort of be brought to the end of yourself where you recognize that all your good intentions and all your good effort never really got you very far, to begin with. Because legalism deceives us into thinking that somehow I’m gaining ground. And God says, Are you really gaining ground? Let me allow you to fall flat on your face a time or two. By the way, that’s what happened with Peter. Remember upper room? Jesus said Everyone’s going to desert me. Not me, Lord! He completely spoke that out of the power of the flesh and out of the power of his own will. And we know what happened with Peter. He ended up denying the Lord three times in one of those denials. If I remember the biblical story, right, It was a little servant girl, probably half his size, you know, that intimidated him. And when the cock crowed, he went out and wept bitterly. And he was someone at that point that was broken. He realized that he didn’t have any confidence in the flesh. Well, you get to that position, and now, now God’s ready to use you. Because who becomes the central figure in the Book of Acts? Acts one through ten? Who’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost? Where 3,000 people get saved? This is the same guy that failed. And so to get to a point where you put no confidence in the flesh oftentimes involves a breaking process.
And yet this is what God is doing in all of our lives. He’s bringing us to a point of crisis. Where we kind of throw up our hands and say, it’s not working for me. And God says, well, it’ll work for you, All right. But right now you’re going about it the wrong way because of pride. So I will break you of that. And once you’re broken of that, then you’re free to go on now and become what God has called you to be. So this is a wonderful contrast that He does here, chapter three verses one through three between loyalists and those authentically walking by means of the Holy Spirit. Now, as you look at verse four, it’s an amazing transition. Because he says, I know something about putting confidence in the flesh, Paul says. In fact, if you were to look up the phrase confidence in the flesh in a dictionary, Assuming one was available at that time. If you were to Google the Wikipedia page, Confidence in the flesh, Paul says That’s where you used to see my picture. Because there’s absolutely no one that put more confidence in the flesh than myself. And yet what the Lord did is He transitioned me away from that into what I have now, and I want you as Philippians to experience this same transition as you say no to the joy-suffocating legalists. And that’s why I’ve called this the great exchange.
Given the volume of material, we’ll have to call this the great exchange part one probably and continue this next time. But notice here verses four through 14, a very important transitionary statement. He says, although I myself might have confidence in the flesh, verse four If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more. So he’s transitioned from those who put no confidence in the flesh, verse three to how he used to put confidence in the flesh. And how he moved away from that into the spiritual life that he had that he wants the Philippians to experience also. As a solution to the lack of joy that they currently were under. So in verses five and six, he gives a resume of confidence in the flesh. And this is an amazing resume he had. I mean, if anybody had literary license or right to put confidence in the flesh, I mean, I would have if I had that kind of resume. Look at what he says in terms of his resume verses five and six circumcised on the eighth day of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. As to the law, a Pharisee verse six, as to zeal, a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness which is in the law found blameless. He describes here eight things. Number one, physical circumcision. I mean, my parents obeyed, what? Genesis 17, verse 12 says, Every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised.
I went through that ritual. My parents put me through that ritual. But what you see here is he’s no longer in his new frame of mind Excited anymore about physical circumcision. He’s speaking of circumcision of the heart. But on his resume was this physical circumcision. Number two, I am an Israeli verse five. Of course, the nation of Israel is that special nation that God started with the calling of Abraham. Through that nation would come to the world Manifold blessings. The Scripture, the Savior, and the future kingdom. We celebrate that nation, also the nation of Israel. May the 14th of this last week just had her 72nd birthday. Established again in 1948. Paul says in Romans three and verse two to the Jews, Were entrusted the oracles of God. And being a Jew had tremendous privileges. Paul says in Romans nine, four, and five, who are the Israelites to whom belong the adoption of sons? The glory and the covenants and the giving of the law and the temple service and the promises. Whose are the fathers? From whom is the Christ according to the flesh? Who is over all God blessed forever? Amen. You want to talk about a guy wrapped in the flag? This was Paul. You want to talk about patriotism? Hey, I think patriotism has its place, believe me. But there’s a problem when patriotism eclipses Jesus and His glory and his resources. This was who Paul was. He was an Israeli. He was a Benjaminite. Or maybe the shorter version is a Benjamite. I’m not sure how to pronounce that. Of course, the nation of Israel is divided into the 12 tribes. You see Benjamin there, just under Ephraim. Paul had standing. He was part of that tribe. He was proud of it. He calls himself number four, a Hebrew of Hebrews. Now, that expression, verse five, is what you call a superlative. The highest. It’s like saying King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You’re not just talking about a king or a Lord. You’re talking about the Lord. The King. The Bible will use the expression holy of holies. This is not just a holy place. This is the ultimate holy place. Solomon called his book The Song of Songs. It’s not just a song. This is the ultimate song. When Paul says Hebrew of Hebrews, he’s saying, I’m not just a Hebrew, I’m the ultimate Hebrew. He was also a Pharisee. Meaning, in his mind, He had kept the Ten Commandments and the 613 total commandments found in the law of Moses. And the Pharisees added a bunch of other things to those 613 commandments called Hebrew tradition found in Mishnah and Talmud. And the Jews were so fastidious over these that over time what developed are two Talmud as if one wasn’t enough. There was one called the Palestinian Talmud in the Land of Israel.
There was another one that developed a little bit later called the Babylonian Talmud, where the Jews had been taken into captivity. And Paul is saying, I’ve kept all those commands and all of those regulations in his mind. That’s what he had done. And as a Pharisee, he had privileges. He studied under Acts 22, verse three, Educated under Gamaliel. The top scholar, religious scholar of the nation. He had his degrees from Harvard and Yale and then some. And then he was so zealous for his country that anything that poses a threat, he stamped it out. He calls himself a persecutor of the church. Acts seven, verse 58. He’s the one sort of that’s portrayed there, holding the cloaks of those throwing rocks at the first martyr of the church age, a man named Stephen. Acts 8:1 Speaks of Paul as a persecutor of the church. First Corinthians 15 verse nine I persecuted the church. Ephesians three, verse eight I am the least of the saints because I persecuted. Philippians three, Verse six I’m a persecutor of the church. First Timothy 1:12 through 15, How he was formerly a persecutor of the church and a violent man and then he had zeal. Now, Romans ten verse two tells it was a zeal without knowledge, but he was not just a sit, soak, and sour kind of religious person. I mean, he was enthusiastic and he was zealous for his cause.
And then the part of it, verse six, which I find stunning, is he calls himself blameless. Verse six. How do you call yourself blameless when you’re murdering people? And yet that’s what legalism does. You’re so right in your cause, in your own eyes that it’s very easy to be blind to your own sin. I mean, people that are legalistic are not only some of the most self-righteous people you’ll ever run into in your life, but they are the most difficult to get along with because in their eyes, and this is part of the deception of legalism, they’re right and what they’re doing. I’m reminded of what Jesus says in John 16, verse two, as he’s sending out the Apostles Disciples into the age of the church, he says, They will make you outcasts from the synagogue. The Jewish persecution of Christianity. But an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. That’s Paul. That, by the way, is the 9/11 hijackers. Steeped in a horrific form of legalism that I probably can’t even imagine them when they’re driving those planes into buildings, they feel that they’re advancing their cause. That’s what legalism does. Paul gives his resume there in verses five and six. I mean, if anyone had confidence in the flesh, it was me. But let me tell you what happened. Let me tell you how I gave up all that. And instead found newfound spiritual realities.
Those newfound spiritual realities are described in verses seven through 14. He’s going to describe five of them, which obviously I’m not going to do now because I’m already over time. But we’ll pick it up there next time with Philippians chapter three, verse seven, as we look at the newfound spiritual and spiritual realities that we have in Christ that far surpass that fleshly resumé that he had there in verses five and six.
Now, it could be that you’re listening to this and you’re a very religious person. And if someone were to ask you if you were to die today and go to heaven, why should God let you into heaven? And you start talking about yourself. I’ve done this. I’ve done that. Me, my. The reality of the situation is you may be a very religious person. You may be very patriotic. But you’re not going to heaven. Because if the Bible is clear on anything, it’s clear on this. People don’t get into heaven through their own works. So our exhortation to people here at Sugar Land Bible Church is not to trust their good works to be justified before God but to put their trust in the good work that Jesus did for them 2,000 years ago. And that’s a transaction that’s so simple. It’s something you can do right now. Even as I’m speaking, you come under the conviction of the spirit. The Spirit has come into the world, John 16, to convict us of our need to do this.
And we stop trusting in religion, we stop trusting in self we trust exclusively in Jesus Christ and in a nanosecond. I mean, this is so simple. A child can understand it. In a nanosecond, You’re transferred from death into life because you’re coming to God God’s way. Not your own way. And once in the faith that old flesh is going to rear its ugly head again. Even though you’re saved, it’s going to try to get you to live the Christian life through your own power. And that’s where we learn the walk of discipleship, where it’s not about my power, it’s about God’s power. And as I live the Christian life through God’s power, you know what comes right back into my life that wasn’t there before? Joy. So if you’re confused on this, I would encourage you to put something there on the comment box on social media that we can help you with. But our exhortation to people is simply to believe or trust in the message of the gospel and to experience the gift of eternal life, which is free.
So in conclusion, as we dismiss, here is the ironic benediction. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Thank you for listening. God bless you. You’re dismissed.