Philippians 3:17 -- "Brethern, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us."
Paul faced a major problem in the first century. False teachers had slipped into the Church. The apostle warned the Philippians, and us by extension, to recognize the differences between a true man of God and a deceptive teacher or prophet. Without any sense of false humility, Paul declared that both his vision and his spiritual attitude were examples for us to follow. He instructs us in our powers of discernment to look for and observe leaders who exemplify, teach, and equip the church laity in the things Jesus demonstrated in His Own life, ministry, and outreach which include:
1. Embracing the love of God as it flows through us into others.
2. Possessing a passion and vision to carry the gospel of the kingdom to non-believers.
3. Possessing a passion to disciple believers in the church so they can be effective in discipling others.
Philippians 3:2 -- "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision."
The first group Paul identified as "the dogs." In Paul's day one could find dozens of canines eating off the rubbish heaps outside cities, their faces bent downward as they sniffed and rooted out garbage to feed upon.
Today's Church has similar people, fault-finders, who incessantly and self righteously feed upon the garbage and failures of the human condition. Paul is saying "Beware of those who always have something negative to say and are continually judging or slandering others and the ministry of others."
Luke 18:9 -- "trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt."
Beware when your teacher must frequently tear down others to lift himself up.
Paul next warned against the "evil workers." These individuals proclaim Christ, but they do so from envy...strife....selfish ambition rather than from love. For them, building a church is a competitive endeavor, a business. James also underscores this problem, saying. "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." (James 3:16)
The third warning was aimed against the "false circumcision" (Philippians 3:2). The essence of this error was that Christ's atonement was not enough for salvation; you also had to keep the whole system of Mosaic Laws to be saved. Today people continue to import religious obligations into the salvation experience. Paul separates himself from the Mosaic Law, revealing that his quest is to "be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ" (Philippians 3:9). Being "in Christ" our destiny is not just to carry Christ inside of us but to reveal the fullness of His glory to the whole world.
One of Paul's efforts as an apostle was to build a Gospel of the Kingdom consciousness into the new church believers thereby promoting unity.
2 Corinthians 4:6,7 -- "For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves."
We carry a treasure in these earthen vessels. We are responsible for filling the earth, cities, regions and nations with the kingdom of God. Jesus is waiting for us to co-labor with Him to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God.
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