Monday, November 6, 2017

True Christianity

Those who worship God in the spirit, glory in Christ Jesus as their Savior, and place no confidence in flesh are the true circumcision (inward circumcision of the heart which is the Holy Spirit's work...aka regeneration). In verse 2, Paul warned believers in the Philippi against Jewish legalists/Judaizers ("dogs"/evil workers) who insisted on the rite of circumcision as necessary for salvation. "In New Testament times, dogs were hated scavengers. The term came to be used for all who had morally impure minds." (commentary from the KJV Know the Word Study Bible). These Jews (who claimed to also believe in Christ) began teaching the Gentile converts that in order to be saved, they had to be circumcised according to the law of Moses, in addition to believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Beware of any false teachers who teach that faith in Christ is not sufficient if you do not also keep the Law. They pervert the true gospel. Paul wants to help us discern the difference between true and counterfeit Christianity. True Christianity relies solely and completely on the person and work of Christ while counterfeit Christianity adds human works/merits to this reliance. False teachers are deceiving (some are deceived themselves) and dangerous because they add work to the gospel of God's grace and therefore, put confidence in the flesh. "Of all such externalities Paul warns to beware. Similarly, in our own day, we must beware of other forms of legalism, such as the demand for baptism, the Lord's Supper, fasting, the confessing of sins to men, as conditions of salvation." (Lehman Strauss)

Paul mentions 3 marks of a true Christian: worshiping God in spirit, glorying in Christ Jesus, and putting no confidence/trust in the flesh.

1. Worshiping God in Spirit

"God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24)
"The overall lesson about worshipping the Lord in spirit and truth is that worship of God is not to be confined to a single geographical location or necessarily regulated by the temporary provisions of Old Testament law. With the coming of Christ, the separation between Jew and Gentile was no longer relevant, nor was the centrality of the temple in worship. With the coming of Christ, all of God’s children gained equal access to God through Him. Worship became a matter of the heart, not external actions, and directed by truth rather than ceremony." (from True worship involves loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, prompted by the indwelling Spirit of God. 
Our heart posture towards God should be: complete surrender, utmost reverence, joyful dependence, deepest gratitude, humble obedience, faithful devotion, and highest adoration. To me, that's worship. We can daily worship God by offering up our lives...our all (body, spirit, heart, mind, word, action) to praise and honor Him. "The body of the Christian becomes a temple in which God is worshiped in every thought and meditation and in the performing of every duty." (Lehman Strauss) 

2. Glorying/Exulting/Boasting in Christ Jesus

We ourselves have nothing to boast about, nothing to contribute to our salvation. We are saved by grace, transformed by grace, sanctified by grace, and kept by grace. It's the finished work of Christ on the cross that saved us. He deserves all the glory. True Christians glory in Christ alone. "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (2 Corinthians 10:17) "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14)

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

3. Putting no confidence in the flesh

There's nothing good in the flesh/our sinful nature. We cannot trust in good works of the flesh to get us into Heaven. Salvation by grace leaves no room for human works or human pride. It's God's undeserved gift freely given to us. Do not place any confidence on any human efforts or accomplishment as ways to reach God or to earn God's favor. It's all grace!Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me! I am in awe of Your amazing grace. May every aspect of my life be pleasing worship to You and bring You honor & glory! May I only boast of what You have done for me, never what I have done for You. May I joyfully put my trust and confidence in You alone!

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