Look Out! Look Out! Look Out!

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
Philippians 3:2-3

In tense or scary situation, I can freeze up. Sometimes this is the right response, but when it comes to someone else being in danger, action is required.
If they don’t see a car approaching at high speed or a door closing on their fingers or someone turning into them with a tray of drinks we must warn them. And this is what Paul does here.

Three times he emphatically says to watch out for false teachers! He does hold these people in high regard, calling them dogs, evildoers and mutilators of the flesh. Paul is quite agitated, but what is the big deal? What is the danger?

These false teachers are teaching that circumcision and a return to Jewish law keeping is a requirement for a life of faith and righteousness. They are attacking the sufficiency of Jesus’s work and preaching a faith in Jesus “+” ceremonial works of the law. Christ fulfilled the law, so that we are the people of God, which is why he says, “we are the circumcision”. Circumcision marked the people of God and we are marked as the people of God by the presence of the Spirit.

The warning is clear. Don’t return to a life trying to prove your righteousness to God, this is the way of destruction.

Can you look back at times when you thought your actions, thoughts, and words as “proving yourself to God”, a sort of boasting in your own good behavior?

It is easy to do and it leads our hearts far away from dependence and worship. Instead Paul urges us to let God’s Spirit infuse and instruct us so people will understand and see how much Jesus should be glorified because of his extravagant grace.

Spirit of God,
We thank you that you have filled our hearts with gratitude and thanksgiving for the work of Jesus. Fill us with a desire to live as your people, directed by you, for service in your ways. Keep us from boasting in our own good deeds and instead praise the work you have done in our lives. Amen

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