Thursday, October 11, 2012

We are the Circumcision, Pt. 1

I would like to have more understanding of Philippians 3:3.  I know that the circumcision was Israel, but now Paul says we are?

Philippians 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.

It is important that Paul begins this verse with ‘for’ because he is giving further explanation to what was just written.  Let’s look at verses 1 through 3.

Philippians 3:1-3
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concisionFor we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Paul did tell the Philippians these things in person about ten years earlier when the church was formed after the salvation of Lydia (Acts 16:12-15).  As Paul winds up the book of Philippians, he gives a final exhortation to rejoice in the Lord.  It didn’t grieve him to remind them to do that.

2 Corinthians 10:17
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

We grace believers do not glory/rejoice in ourselves (what we do in the flesh), but in the Lord.  When we think of the flesh, we can think of the carnal sins of the flesh that the Corinthians committed, such as fornication and adultery.  But what many in the body of Christ are unaware of is that when Paul talks about the flesh it is both the carnal sins of the outward flesh, and also the filthiness of the spirit.

2 Corinthians 7:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

This filthiness of the spirit refers to religion and legalism.  Flesh in the book of Galatians is their works by religious legalism.

Galatians 3:3
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect  by the flesh?

The problem with Galatianism is that they were trying to please God with the Law – a performance-based acceptance.  Paul calls that the flesh
There was safety and security in being reminded of the things Paul taught them.  Paul tells Timothy to remind the saints of the words of faith and good doctrine.

1 Timothy 4:6
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

Paul says to the believers in Rome:

Romans 15:15
Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,

It is safe to be reminded to rejoice in the Lord and not to focus on yourself.  Back to Philippians 3…

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

There were three types of people who would try to influence believers, particularly those at Philippi.  The dogs in Philippians 3 are lost, unclean gentiles.  From Paul’s epistles I see that evil workers are believers who in evil works deny the Lord Jesus Christ.  There are good and evil works.  The good works of grace are in line with what is written by the Apostle Paul.

2 Timothy 2:11-13
It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: [the denial is not the loss of salvation.] If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

He will not deny members of the body of Christ heaven and eternal life; we have that.  But he will deny us the reward of reigning with him.

So these evil workers are those in the body of Christ who come and try to take you away from our Apostle Paul.

Titus 1:16
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Romans 11:13
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

The concision Paul warns about were the lost, religious Jews of Paul’s day who would try to do the same thing we see in the book of Galatians.  They could even have been members of the Little Flock – the believing remnant of Israel who were probably still around when Philippians was written.

Acts 15:1, 24

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.  Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:

These were Pharisees who told the gentiles who were saved by grace that they needed to be circumcised and keep the Law.

But I think because Paul calls them the concision (the cutting), the focus is on the outward cutting of the flesh and they are not the true circumcision – the believing remnant of Israel.  The focus here is mainly on the lost Jews who have the physical circumcision but not the circumcision of the heart and ears.

Romans 2:29
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.

Paul is making a distinction between physical circumcision (the concision) and spiritual circumcision (that which was done by our Lord when we were saved).

Philippians 3:3
For we are the circumcision,
Obviously Paul is not talking about physical circumcision because he just mentioned the concision in verse 2.  He is making a comparison.  He is saying that they are not the true circumcision; we are.

…which worship God in the spirit,

To be continued…

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