Paul seems to abruptly shift gears as he talks of rejoicing in the Lord (Phil 3:1) and then, BOOM!, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of mutilation!” (Phil 3:2)
Paul is warning the believers to be on guard and to flee dangerous false teachers who put confidence in the flesh.
If anyone had reason to put confidence in the flesh, Paul did; and he lists the reasons he might have confidence in his flesh (Phil 3:4-6). (Remember he is warning against this)
And you know, some of us have some reasons we could also wrongly place confidence in our flesh— we went to Christian schools and have been in church all our lives.
Shoot! Some even went to seminary and some are married to the pastor. Some have been leading Bible studies for years. Some definitely have the “Christian resumes”.
But none of THAT equals knowing Christ in real, daily, relationship. The truth is, we can go through the motions. We can do the religious things and still keep our hearts far from Christ.
We can spend a lot of time to look polished on the outside, putting our confidence in our flesh, and be perfectly empty on the inside.
And what’s more, flesh-confident hearts are ripe for deceit by false teachers.
Flesh-confident hearts trust in themselves, and what they feel, more than they trust in God and what He says.
They fail to test everything, and are in danger of being seduced by false teaching and especially false teaching that promotes a false righteousness that is gained by anything other than Christ alone.
Paul goes on to say, “And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;” (Phil 3:9)
Righteousness is from God by faith. Period.
Friend, beware! False teaching abounds today that asserts if you do this, or that, you’ll finally arrive.
Watch out for it in the popular teachings of our day – things like “Critical Race Theory” in our schools and in the promotion of “wokeness” in the church.
These teachings are counter to the teachings of Christ. (See https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2021/06/29/critical-race-theory-doesnt-reflect-values-christianity/7789946002/)
If you study these teachings and organizations like “Black Lives Matter”, you will find they are, in fact, teaching false doctrine. The name is, of course, truth, but the things for which they stand do not align with Scripture. https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/the-agenda-black-lives-matter-far-different-the-slogan
And this is often the way of false teaching. On the surface, it sounds good and right, but if we dive deeper, we find a sly and dangerous twisting of the truth.
Let’s remember the evil one first seeks to make us think wrong because that’s the way to our acting wrong, and the avenue by which he seeks to rob, kill and destroy.
Oh friends, these days are hard. The evil one is sly. But our God will give us what we need to navigate well as we heed the caution to BEWARE!