“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” ~Philippians 3:1 (NLT)
How many of you out there this morning has experienced the “new guy” on the job? Well in actuality we’ve all been that guy in one way or another but the guy I am talking about is the guy who shows up taking it all in the first day and by the end of his third day he is ready to flip your Standard Operating Procedure’s upside just because he feels you’re missing a few details. Well in my field of work that kinda guy shows up every day and he can be a real pain but when it came to the work that the Apostle Paul was doing that guy was a small army. They were known as The Judaizers and these guys brought actual pain…in the form of circumcision!!
Just to say that word makes us modern men cringe but we (a few days after birth) go through it none the less…hygiene reasoning I think they say. Yeah right…anyway. The Judaizers were, as theologian Robert P. Lightner wrote, people who “mutilated the Gospel by insisting on the need to mutilate the flesh in order to be rightly related to God.” Even the Apostle Paul compared them in a harsh way by giving the Philippian church this warning, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” (Phil 3:2) Just to give you a baseline on dogs in the 1st century, they ran in packs as dirty, disease-carrying scavengers. Certainly not the cute and cuddly Fido’s of today.
Now in the 21st century we don’t have those kinda guys roaming into our churches but we still have a form of Gospel mutilation going on. It’s called “Salvation through Human Works.” It’s those folks who find pride through personal piety and then advertise it, even to the point of endorsing it. It’s those who try to convict you into being involved because “we’re all doing it”, it’s the people who tell the Pastor what he missed in his latest sermon, it’s those people who say “At least WE’RE not as bad as they are” …maybe it’s even the guy who writes Freedom Fighters (but that wouldn’t be me, would it? Hmmm) Today these folks have a name, we call them Legalist’s and they “scavenge for converts to devour with their false doctrines.” (Swindoll wrote that quote)
If we were to go to Phil 3:3: “For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort”, we can see there are three differences that the Apostle Paul wrote where we differ from Legalists/Judaizers and being true believers. First, the believers focus is on God’s divine work not on what human hands think they can do. Second, believers boast in the person and the work of Jesus Christ and not in the person and work of Chris Hughes (oops Freudian slip?) Thirdly, those of us who follow Christ “put no confidence in human effort”. There is no salvation through human works so stop trying…you know who you are.
I can’t help to think that the theme from “Mighty Mouse” is playing in the background whenever I encounter a Judaizer/Legalist (HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY…) from time to time. I even think I may have dabbled in this doctrinal art form myself when I was the “new guy” in Christ Jesus. It was easy to think that this newness was an achievement and not a way of becoming dead to sin and self-centeredness. Jeff Bridges wrote in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness” that “We are more concerned about our own “victory” over sin then we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God.” If we let that thought permeate into our minds the lyrics to the song change to “I CAN’T DO A THING AT ALL” apart from Christ, I ain’t nuttin’. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ
Daily Quote: “Combine a great amount of exactness with your great freedom. Learn not to exaggerate anything. Speak the truth without embellishment, but do not be hard with it. If you lean too much toward being exact, you will become legalistic. If you try to be free without holding high standards for yourself, you will soon become lazy and careless.” —Fenelon
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.. ~Isaiah 55:6