Philippiansby David Sanford
A world where believers must always be watching out for false teachers and evildoers? That was the case in the ancient world-and sadly, it is also the case today.
So, why does Paul say, ″rejoice in the Lord″ (Philippians 3:1)? The key is ″in the Lord″. How good that we can thank the Lord daily for His sovereignty, providence, holiness, love, and mysterious ways. When we rejoice in the Lord for who He truly is (His infinite power, presence, providence, purity, and love), we will know how to stay true to Jesus Christ and shun false religiosity.
Therefore, Paul doesn't apologise for warning the Philippian believers again. First, ″it is a safeguard for you″ (v. 1). Second, it's always time to ″watch out″ (v. 2). As Christians, we are called to be vigilant at all times.
The early church was beset by Judaizers, who wrongly added Old Testament requirements, like circumcision, to the gospel (Acts 15:1-5; Galatians 2:3-10, 15-16; 5:2-4). Paul compares the Judaizers to dogs (Philippians 3:2). Biblically, this is a term often applied to false teachers and evildoers. Among others, Jesus includes ″those who practise magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practises falsehood″ (Revelation 22:15). No wonder Paul wants us to watch out.
What, then, is the difference between a false teacher and an evildoer? The latter isn't always a teacher, but the former is always an evildoer (Philippians 3:2), often in the guise of pretentious-spirituality. The Judaizers of Paul's day were ″mutilators of the flesh″ (v. 2) and false teachers.
Sadly, false teachers and evildoers abound today, in every nation and culture. It's not enough to just watch out. Paul urges us to constantly ″serve God by his Spirit″ (v. 3), wherever we are, inviting others to do the same (see John 4:23-24). He also urges us to ″boast in Christ Jesus″ (Philippians 3:3) for His work in our lives, including opportunities to share the faith with others (Romans 15:17-18).
In the face of false teachers, the best antidote for others-non-believers-is for us to proclaim the gospel of Christ in word and deed. The best antidote for us, as Christians, is rejoicing in the Lord for who He truly is.
Make a list of words and phrases that describe the Lord. Use it to thank God for who He truly is.
Can you think of someone who is teaching wrong doctrine? Pray and ask God to touch his heart and open his eyes to the truth.