The book of Philippians, written by the apostle Paul, is such a great and instructive book. We have incredible statements like Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We also have the great example of our Lord Jesus Christ in his humility (Phil. 2:5-8). We have the purpose of the book, which is in chapter 1 verse 27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
I could go on and on, but what I want to focus on is Philippians 3:2-3, “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.”
In these two verses we have counterfeit Christianity and true Christianity.
Counterfeit Christianity (Phil. 3:2)
The first thing we must do is define the dogs. The dogs in this verse were basically people who were against the faithful professors of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The dangerous thing about these people was the fact that they did believe in Jesus Christ, but they wanted to add to Christ, therefore undermining the gospel of Christ. They wanted to add that you could not be saved unless you were circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul wrote about them in the book of Galatians (Gal. 1:6-9). These people were known as the Judaizers.
Paul says keep a close watch on them so they do not harm the church. Spurgeon said this about the dogs, “They are like to dogs. If they fawn upon you, they will bemire you, if they do not bite you."
Counterfeit Christianity glories in the flesh. This means that they trust or exalt human merit.
Counterfeit Christianity says, “Yes, believe in Christ, but also add this…”
In our day, we might not have the influence of the Judaizers specifically, but we definitely do have people who teach similar doctrine. We have people who say they believe in salvation by grace, through faith, and in Christ. I, at one time, and many others would say, “What is wrong with that”? The one word that is missing in that sentence is ALONE. Change that one word and we have a completely different meaning. Counterfeit Christianity misses that one word.
True Christianity (Phil 3:3)
“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
I love this verse; it is a great definition of a true Christian. True Christians glory in Christ Jesus! Alone!
We look away from our own righteousness, because we have no righteousness! Christians look to Christ, who lived perfectly on our behalf, died for us, and rose for us to secure our righteousness. The Christians gaze is upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who the Father is well pleased (Mark 1:11), the one who is infinitely worthy of our worship.
Could it be the command to rejoice in the Lord in verse 1 of Chapter 3 is directly related to the gospel?! Yes, says the Christian, I will rejoice in what Christ has done! I have no other hope for righteousness; I have not other hope except in Christ alone.
So, watch out for the dogs, watch out for those who seek to rob you of the joy of resting in Christ alone, in his righteousness. And glory in Christ by treasuring the gospel of Christ.