Philippians 3:1-9

Philippians 3:1-9 … Safeguards are important in life … they protect us from harm and Paul opens these few verses with a safeguard, which he tells us is worth repeating again and again. Here’s the safeguard: “Rejoice in the Lord” (3:1), which is to joyfully place all your trust in Him. Not only that, but the dangers are identified in Philippians 3:2. Today we’d express it this way … beware of the ankle biters … those things that deter you from the path … people who bring evil influence and who urge you to put your trust in untrustworthy things. That’s what he means by the expression “mutilators of the flesh,” which the New American Standard Bible translates as “false circumcision.”

In the Old Testament, male circumcision was an identification with the Jewish faith and a reminder that a person was part of the family of God. But Paul wants everyone to understand that there is a true circumcision (or identification and setting apart), which comes by placing our complete trust and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. Nothing we can do, not obedience, not tradition or ritual, nothing at all can save us apart from Christ. For that reason, Paul gives us a bit of his impressive Jewish background (v.5-6) but then tells us clearly that all those credentials are meaningless alongside the importance and privilege of knowing Christ Jesus. Then we’re given the reason (Philippians 3:9), which is important for believers, indeed for everyone to know: that righteousness (being right with God) comes from faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done. It comes from God and is given freely, not earned, to those who accept Jesus as Savior. That’s Good News and ought to cause us to rejoice in the Lord!

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