Addresses on Philippians: Philippians 3, Part 1

Philippians 3  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Those of us who have been present the past evenings, have noticed the character of truth that is brought before us in this epistle, Christ being the subject. The first chapter presents Christ to us as the object for our souls; and the second presents Christ to us as our pattern. So we get Christ as the One down here in His path of lowliness, and for us to follow for the little while we are left in this wilderness; but we get in the third chapter Christ as our joy, and we have Him as our joy, not as a man here upon earth, but as the One in the glory.
Now these saints were in danger, evidently, from what we get in the first verse of this chapter, of being led astray, in part, by Judaizing teachers, and so he says to them, “Finally, my brethren,” etc. Those Judaizing teachers were not occupying them with the Lord Jesus, but with ceremonies; and you will always notice when you get Christians occupied with ceremonies, Christ is necessarily left out. The apostle has only Christ before His own soul, and ever did, I believe, from the time the blessed Lord spoke to him from heaven, and he was struck to the earth, hearing that voice, knowing it was the Lord in glory, the very One against whom he had been showing out the hatred of his heart; and no doubt with a good conscience, too, because he thought he was doing right in persecuting the very church of God—that which was dear to the heart of the Lord Jesus—so dear, that when the Lord Jesus struck him to the earth, He said to him, “Why persecutest thou Me?” Not “Why persecutest thou My people,” but “Me!”
Those people were dear to His heart, and just like a mother, if one would touch her child. She could bear persecution easier perhaps for herself, than to have her child bear it. It is a blessed thing for us to realize that we have such a place in the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. While He is up there in the glory, He is concerned about us; watching over and thinking of us in every step of our path, and not allowing one thing to take place with us but what He sees is for the best. So He had allowed Saul to be a persecutor of His own people for a time, and He was using it for blessing, but He also had to say to him for the hatred that was in his heart. When he saw Christ in the glory, it changed his whole life, and gave character to the rest of his life down here, so much so that we get him writing much about Christ. The more we ponder over Him, the more we are made to rejoice, if we have found Christ as our Savior. It was not only the One in the glory, but it was the “Lord,” so he can say, “What wilt Thou have me to do?”
He says it isn’t a grievous thing to write again the words of exhortation to them. We were noticing some of the exhortations he gave, in the previous chapter, as to lowliness of walk, and following the blessed Lord in the path no man had ever walked before. We are enabled to see the abundance of grace bestowed upon the apostle, but he came short. No, one has ever been like the Lord in His low path. Now he is speaking of Epaphroditus in the close of the previous chapter, and about his being troubled because they had found out he was sick. He said he knew they were troubled. It was the work of the Spirit in Epaphroditus’ soul.
Now he says, “Beware of dogs.” Is that becoming to a man who is standing in such a position as Paul, to use such an expression, “Beware of dogs”? O, yes, here were those coming in, who were teaching doctrines that were contradicting the position which God had brought them into. He had brought them into a position of absolute grace, and not law. Was he to stand aside, and allow those teachers to come in and use their doctrine, robbing the saints of their blessing? What shall he say then, as the expression of love to them? He says, “Beware.” They want to rob you of your blessing. All that the Jews could have given was to the flesh, and this we get in the Old Testament, by the law. It simply appeals to man in the flesh—God asking something from man in his natural condition, and man was unable to rise to it.
When we come to Christianity, God doesn’t ask anything from us, but says, “I will give you what you need.” So that which we get from God, comes from a source higher than ourselves, and necessarily rises to the source from whence it comes; but the law came from God, and came to say to man, “Come up here;” but it was not giving anything to man. Evil was in his heart; lawlessness was there, and so instead of anything to come from man to God, it only proved his inability.
In Christianity, it is just the opposite. God has come, in love to us, and that love has flowed from the heart of God into our hearts, and we love Him because He first loved us; not because He told us in the commandments to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” That never produced love in man. Now, He says, “I will come out and give you the love.” Would it do for the apostle to allow these teachers to come in and rob these Christians? Where is the strength for those who are the Lord’s, if not in the knowledge that God has come out to us? May we drink in afresh of what He has done, and thus overflow in praise and thanksgiving.
So he can say, “We are the circumcision.” Was that how they were worshipping, with ceremonies? No, that couldn’t be. God has sent forth His Spirit into our hearts whereby we cry, “Abba Father.” What does that mean? I know there are not many Christians today that are understanding the blessed privilege which is ours to be able to say, “Abba Father.” You hear them saying; “Our Father which art in heaven,” etc. A Jewish prayer, God at a distance, they down here; but one now, in the Spirit, brought right into the very Presence of God, and as in His presence, is able to say, “Abba Father.”
May we, while knowing this truth before, take it afresh into our souls, and rejoice in the abundance of grace that has put us into this position, we who are no better than those who were at a distance. It is a place of nearness. Therefore, by the Spirit we can worship God.
Could they, in the Old Testament times, have been rejoicing in Christ Jesus? Had the fullness of the heart of God been told out? No, the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Who shall we rejoice in? Christ Jesus. In whose name shall I present my prayers? In the name of the Lord Jesus? We worship God in His presence, and rejoice in Christ Jesus. This is something new. That is, I mean, in contrast to Judaism. These saints needed to be warned in regard to that. They were separate from the world.
(Continued from Page 75)
(To be continued)