Are you still trying to justify your actions and beliefs?

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A Look Deeper By Jim Squires
Sunday, September 19, 2021
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In Philippians chapter 3, Paul looks upon his life as one with great privileges and attainments. After coming in contact with Christ, he made another assessment of his life and found that the things in which he had trusted were more than useless; they are actually “rubbish” and served as a barrier to his being what God wanted him to be. The same can be true with us today, and we need to pay close attention to this message from Paul.

Paul possessed joy and demonstrated it under unusual circumstances. For example, in Acts 16:25 Luke recorded this: About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Again in 2 Corinthians 6:10 Paul wrote: Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor yet making many rich, having nothing and yet possessing everything.

This joy was not based on outward circumstances. This joy, as taught and practiced by Jesus and Paul, was based on an inward relationship with God.

In verse 2 Paul warns his readers of the danger of contamination of the Judaizers. Philippians 3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

The term “dog” is used consistently in the Bible as a term of reproach and shame. It was considered unclean. The dogs of Paul’s time roamed the streets, sometimes in packs, hunting in the garbage heaps, snarling, and snapping at those who came near.

Gentiles were regarded as “unclean” and called “dogs” by Jews. 1 Samuel 24:14; Matthew 15:26; 7:6; Luke 16:21; Revelation 22:15.

Does Paul’s use of the term “dogs” give us license to label those whose behavior we do not approved of as “dogs?”

Not at all! In our culture, it would be considered rude, offensive, improper, and vulgar. Paul was inspired to write in Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

Paul uses the term as appropriate for the Judaizers, men who followed him wherever he went, snapping at his heels, raising up trouble through undermining his authority and trying to force Gentiles converts to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. Their actions were evil. Those men did evil in rejecting the authority of Paul and in denying the gospel of the grace of God for salvation apart from the law, they were indeed “deceitful workmen” (2 Corinthians 11:13)

In our culture today there is a trend to lower the ethos of our culture by legislating new concepts of acceptable behavior. In Isaiah 5:20 we find Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter!

The inspired Scriptures plainly state in 1 Corinthians 6:9 You know that wicked people won’t inherit the kingdom of God, don’t you? Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers won’t inherit the kingdom of God. 11 That’s what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

The privileges and attainments Paul experienced in his life were significant and real, but they did not bring divine approval. Rather Paul looked at them as rubbish!

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead

The idea of gain and loss in measuring eternal values was addressed by Jesus in Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Where have you put your trust? Are you willing to accept what Jesus has taught or are you still trying to justify your actions and beliefs?

Jim Squires preaches and teaches Bible classes at the Church of Christ in Glendive. He can be reached at csquires@midrivers.com

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