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Philippians 3:1-3 | True Worship

Sunday, May 31, 2020 • John Cole • Salvation
Are you a true worshiper of God? If you or I are relying on religion as our worship, we are not. True worship of God is through Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth.






  Consider the story of Hans the tailor. Because of his reputation, an influential entrepreneur visiting the city ordered a tailor-made suit. But when he came to pick up his suit, the customer found that one sleeve twisted that way and the other this way; one shoulder bulged out and the other caved in. He pulled and managed to make his body fit.
  As he returned home on the bus, another passenger noticed his odd appearance and asked if Hans the tailor had made the suit. Receiving an affirmative reply, the man remarked, "Amazing! I knew that Hans was a good tailor, but I had no idea he could make a suit fit so perfectly someone as deformed as you." 

- Richard J. Foster


Unfortunately, that's what worship often looks like. It becomes an attempt to force people into an odd mold as an attempt to look good before God.




Philippians 3:1–3  

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed isnot grievous, but for you it is safe. 

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.





Vs. 1—Finally . . . rejoice. 

"Having said these things, and with what I am about to write, rejoice."


Vs. 3—"We are the circumcision . . ."


Circumcision is a common, modern-day practice for hygienic purposes, but its history goes way back.


It was also practiced in Ancient Near East cultures as a sign of maturity, belonging, and/or religion.


It was an important symbol of covenant belonging and purity for the Jewish people. It was part of the Abrahamic covenant with God as a picture of a cutting away of sin to become righteous before God. It was to be a sober act of obedience out of faith in God and covenant relationship with Him.


Genesis 15:6  

6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.


Genesis 17:8–11  

8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 

9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 

10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 

11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.


Future Jews would follow Abraham in fulfilling this covenant practice. As is so common, the ritual would often be practiced in place of the desired heart condition—true trust in and submission to God.


God would tell His people to circumcise their hearts, as the true meaning behind the symbolic act.


Deuteronomy 10:11–17  

11 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them. 

12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 

13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? 

14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is

15 Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. 

16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 

17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:


Other Scriptures would tell God's people to circumcise their ears.


The point was to set apart their heart and mind for God and to be obediently yielded to Him. God called them to have a heart of repentance and trust in Him, and God would fulfill His promises with them.


From Covenant to Ritual

Through time, circumcision, as well as the laws in the Torah, became ritualistic ends to themselves for many of the Jews. Rituals became religion. Religion became what it meant to be a worshiper of Jehovah. Extra laws were written on top of the laws in the Torah.


  In contrast to the two commands of Christ, the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws... By the time Christ came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws. 
  (1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations. 
  (2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men. 
  (3) It reduces a person's ability to personally discern. 
  (4) It creates a judgmental spirit. 
  (5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law. 
  (6) It produces inconsistencies. 
  (7) It created a false standard of righteousness. 
  (8) It became a burden to the Jews. 
  (9) It was strictly external. 
  (10) It was rejected by Christ. 
 - Outlined from Fan the Flame, J. Stowell, Moody, 1986, p. 5



Righteousness before God became something one earned through religious observance. Today, there are all sort of forms of this practice. People today take communion, give money, join denominations, separate themselves with rules, offer food and incense, make confessions, observe sacraments . . . all for the same purpose—to earn righteousness before God with religion.


Paul commonly wrote inspired Scripture from God concerning this problem. Romans and Galatians deals with it extensively.


Romans 2:28–29  

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 

29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.


See the point being made here? The outward act of circumcision was to represent an inward condition of the heart before God.


We began to look at Galatians on Sunday nights when I first came here. Notice this strong, clear instruction.


Galatians 5:1–6  

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 

2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 

3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 

4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 

5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 

6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.


Our text in Philippians, as well as what we just read in Galatians and Romans, is written particularly to help early Christians not be deceived by the false teaching of a sect we commonly call the Judaizers. 


The Judaizers taught Gentiles first had to become Jews before becoming true Christians. For many, their motivation was to avoid persecution from the Jewish leaders of their day. For others, they were so consumed with a misunderstanding of their own Jewish traditions that they did not truly see the fulfilling work of Christ on the cross. 


They were not true worshipers of God. They did not know Christ. Their gospel was not the Gospel.


Galatians 1:6–8  

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 

7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.


This is a result of attempting to fulfill worship of God through laws, rituals, and religion. A false Gospel.


While the OT, and particularly the Torah, contained many laws, the laws were to point the Jewish worshiper to God and to His coming provision of Christ. The law could never be fully kept, and the law could not redeem. The heart of OT worship is best seen in the Psalms.


The Jewish law, the priests, and the temple were temporary means of bringing God's people to His fulfilled promises in Christ. This is where we find ourselves in today's text—worshiping God through the risen Christ alone.




Religious rituals do not make anyone righteous.


True worship is not found in religion.


True worship is an obedient, surrendered heart before God, trusting fully in God's loving provision through Christ.


Look with me into our text, and see the instruction given for true worshippers in Philippi.


The three main teachings we will see are:

1.  Rejoice in the Lord.

2.  Beware of dogs.

3.  We are the circumcision.




Philippians 3:1  

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed isnot grievous, but for you it is safe.


Rejoice in the Lord amidst instruction and enemies.


Instruction is for your benefit.


Enemies are limited in how they can harm you.


Rejoice in the Lord as you receive instruction and face enemies.


Receive repetitious instruction as safe for you.


Truth and principles necessitate repetition to shape, protect, and direct the heart and mind. Truth is not like mere facts. Truth must be lived; therefore, it must be repeated.


Philippians 3:2  

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.


Beware of dogs.


These are truly outside of God's promises and devourer of lies.


Gentiles were often called dogs by the Jews, and Paul is reversing this here.


Beware of evil workers.


These are truly in opposition to God and His people.


Beware of the concision.


These tear apart the Body of Christ with false teaching.


Philippians 3:3  

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.


We are the circumcision.


In Christ, we are cut off, dead to sin and alive to God.


We are part of God's covenant people. We are spiritual children of Abraham. 


We are part of God's covenant promise to bless all nations through Abraham. 


We are the "holies" or saints as identified in Philippians 1:1. 


We worship God in the spirit.


  Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven.
-  A. W. Tozer, quoted in D. J. Fant, A. W. Tozer, Christian Publications, 1964, p. 90



Let's see how Jesus addressed this subject with "the woman at the well."


John 4:19–26  

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 

20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 

22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 

23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 

25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 

26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.


This woman knew that such truth and worship would come through the Messiah, and the Messiah has come.


True worship is not found in buildings, locations, laws, rituals, sacraments, good works, self-deprivation, or anything else but this—in spirit and truth.


God's Spirit has come to us. God's truth has come to us.


Truth is found in the written and Living Word. Scripture and Jesus.


The Holy Spirit works on the sinful heart of man to receive God's truth. 


It is only by the Holy Spirit and the truth of Christ that we can be made righteous and truly worship God. This leads us to our boasting.


We rejoice (or boast) in Christ Jesus.


Let's see this again.


Philippians 3:3  

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.


This Greek word for rejoice is different than the word in verse one. Verse one "rejoice" means to have a feeling of rejoicing. Verse three "rejoice" means to rejoice as a boasting or showing off.


Our only boasting ought to be Christ—not religion, works, or buildings.


Romans 3:27–4:3  

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 

29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 

30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. 

1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 

2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 

3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.


Have no confidence in the flesh.


Philippians 3:3  

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.


Next Sunday, we will spend more time on this point as it becomes the primary subject in the following verses.




Are you a true worshiper of God?


If you or I are relying on religion as our worship, we are not.


Only by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit can you and I worship God.


If we are trusting in and submitted to the finished work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection for our salvation, we are true worshipers.


Rejoice in the Lord.

Beware of dogs.

We are the true circumcision.

•    Worship in the spirit.

•    Rejoice and boast in Jesus Christ.

•    Have non confidence in the flesh.


True worship is in spirit and in truth.





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