WORSHIP AND TAKE PRIDE IN CHRIST JESUS
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, November 3, 2019
Shalom, We need to have desire to live within His Word. This time we will discuss part of the epistle of Philippians about what the writer wrote during his imprisonment. Philippians 3:1-4 reminds us, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you to me indeed is not grievous but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:”
Paul repeatedly reminded the Philippian congregation, also us, to rejoice in the Lord. The epistle of Philippians was full of the word ‘rejoice’, so we may say that this epistle was about a letter of joy. And may the joy we have could last longer not only within the church but outside as well where we face our problems.
Paul relentlessly reminded the Philippian congregation, also us, to always rejoice, because he was worried that our joy would be snatched away by dogs, contaminated by evil workers and fake circumcision. Therefore, every service should have its own purpose not only a mere liturgy.
Furthermore, Paul made sure that the Philippians shall be rejoiced in Christ and the true circumcision is to worship God in Spirit and righteousness (John 4:21-24). In other words, if our worship was not according to God’s will, we shall lose our joy. Paul asked the Philippian congregation to follow his example (Philippians 3:17). In fact, Paul actually had lots of privilege to be proud of , circumcised on the 8th day, pure Israelites, Benjamin tribe, a Hebrew, a Pharisee on Law standard, the pursuer of Christ’s followers, obeying the Law perfectly (Philippians 3:5-6). He considered himself as a holiest person, without any blemish. But all of these advantages that he had, he counted it as loss because of Christ (v7).
Introspection: Do we consider ourselves as diligent people in the ministry? Or considering that our church is the most righteous? Does a preacher preach for gain? No, as a servant of God, we must be an example for others and for the congregation. All can take place if we live in Christ not as enemy of the cross. What will happen if the cross tidings is abolished? The congregation will only listen to mere human philosophy, and it will open the opportunity for the dogs, evil workers and false circumciser to come in.
We have been requested to be careful as a precaution against the dogs, evil worker and false circumciser. Who are they?
1. Dogs → Balaam, the opposition of the Table of Showbread.
Dogs are faithful animals but they are greedy and even eat food that has been vomited.
Who were the dogs? As explained in 2 Peter 2:1-3, 15-16, 21-22, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. … Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet.... For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it happened unto them according to the true proverb,The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
Beware, the dogs can be considered the same as the witch, fornicator, murderer, idolatry and liar that cannot enter the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:15; 21:8,27). Jude 1:17 emphasizing the woes to them because they follow the path of Balaam. What is the connection between the dogs and Balaam? It’s on their teaching, because they don’t acknowledge the saviour. In other words, they preach the Word but they never admitted Christ and the power of His atonement through His sacrifice, just as what the antichrist will do (1 John 2:22-23).
One day Jesus asked the Jews why they were about to stone Him. They said they could accept Him with all of His good works but they couldn’t accept Him when He said He was equal to God, this was a blasphemy according to them (John 10:31-33). There maybe people who use Bible verses to help others but in fact they reject Christ as saviour. We should be careful with such spiritual meetings without any tidings about the crucified Christ. If the news of the cross is abolished, the preacher will only address things that please the crowd.
‘Dogs’ are the opponent of the Table of Showbread that speaks about the teaching of the Word. There is no higher teaching than the teaching of the Word that became flesh.
Balaam was helpless before the Lord (up to 3 times) but he was secretly playing his game; even when the donkey rebuked him, he did not repent.
Application: We shall be honest inside and outside the church. Don’t be a servant that preaches holiness and purification in the pulpit but acts the other way round like Balaam who loved money.
2. The Evil workers → Cain against the Gold Lampstand.
How did the Bible portray Cain? 1 John 3:7-12, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.”
Cain murdered Abel because he was envious that his offering was rejected by the Lord. Cain was angry then he killed his brother. God actually loved Cain and reminded him that if Cain did what was right, his face would shine; but if he did oppositely, the sin was crouching before the door but he had to subdue it.
Be on alert, slow to anger, always check what the source of our anger is, whether we are less respected, less served or is it because we ourselves cannot accept criticism.
Cain was unable to control himself from wrath and envy then killed Abel. He disobeyed God’s warning and it was the same as his parents who obeyed the serpent's cunning persuasion that brought them out of Eden and started a difficult life.
God truly loved Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel and He was everywhere overseeing them. Surely He desired Cain to do the right things; therefore Cain was reminded and God gave him solution to subdue his wrath.
We shall remember that God is everywhere: homes, offices, our daily lives. He talks to us through His Word. The Word of God is always accurate rather than Pastor’s words that many times mixed with his human point of view. If we reject His Word, whom shall we believe? God’s rules are far more different than man’s. His rules give solution but man’s give confusion.
Because of sin, man falls short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); but we shall receive grace if we believe in His only Son to be renewed as new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Ironically, man tends to live in their own will and evil deeds.
Application: All full time servants and ministers in any fields shall bring out light so that others can see the light within them so that Heavenly Father is glorified (Matthew 5:14-16).
Don’t think that our anger is our own business and has no connection with others! We are not living solitary life, our anger however will affect others especially our spouse and children. Be on guard especially in our daily life that it should bring light and impact to others.
3. Fake circumciser → Korah the opposite of The Altar of Incense
Apostle Paul was physically circumcised on the 8th day after his birth but when he received Jesus he understood that physical circumcision had become a mere ritual and pride to do it because it was commanded (Galatians 6:12-13). Actually, circumcision is not included as the Torah law, rather it is the promise to Abraham (Genesis 17:10). But the Jews made circumcision as the absolute rules necessary for salvation; therefore those who were not circumcised were counted as unsaved (Acts 15:1). Boldly, Peter addressed that salvation could only be found in Christ alone in His name (Acts 4:12). Church may have great liturgies but if they don’t admit that Jesus is Lord and Saviour, it means nothing before the Lord.
Who was Korah? Korah, a Levite, was a provocateur who took with him 250 prominent people to rebel against Moses (Numbers 16:1-2). They were told to bring their own censers, put fire and incense in there and brought it to the Lord (v. 6-7). What happened next was terrifying. The fire from the Lord consumed them all, and Eleazar, son of Aaron, took up the censers and spread the fire because they were holy (v. 35-37).
Balaam was the prophet of other nation. There was not any nation at Cain time, but Korah was a leader from Kehat, the descendant of the Levites. Korah must know about circumcision for sure but he trespassed the true meaning of circumcision and rebelled that brought him to an end. The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, took the censers, put strange fire in it, and the fire from the Lord consumed them (Leviticus 10:1-2). Korah was worse than them, because of his rebellion.
Application: Be careful when we pray or offer something to the Lord while there is something wrong in our heart. It’s better for us to fix it first so that we won’t trigger the wrath of God. God requires a fragrant offering before Him. Be like the tax collector who felt guilty when he prayed (Luke 18:13).
At the time of Moses, God spoke through him to the Israelites. God said that His heart was captivated to their ancestor so that God loved them and chose them among the nations. Therefore their heart should be circumcised and not being stubborn (Deuteronomy 10:14-16). And it happened, all the Israelites were physically circumcised because of the law but not their hearts. So, God commanded them to circumcise their hearts so that they will be able to love him wholeheartedly that they may live (Deuteronomy 30:6).
For the Gentiles, if we are called in uncircumcised condition, we don’t need to do that physically, because that doesn’t matter. What matters is to obey God’s law (1 Corinthians 7:18-19). What needs to be circumcised? Our heart. Circumcised by Jesus Himself which is by leaving this sinful nature of the body (Colossians 2:11). Honestly speaking, it is very difficult for us to love God with all of our hearts, soul and mind if our hearts are not circumcised yet by letting go our fleshly desires.
Beware of the false worshippers. How could we worship God? Only in spirit and truth (John 4:24) by the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27). It is impossible to worship Him correctly if there are still hatred, greed, love of money etc in our heart. However, the blood of Jesus is powerful to cleanse our filthy conscience.
Balaam was eventually murdered, Cain wandered without any direction, and Korah perished. Amazingly, when a census was held to count young people above twenty years old that could go to war, it was found that Korah’s son was not dead along with his father (Numbers 26:1-2, 9-11). That means Korah’s sons were not joining the rebellion. And what eventually happened to them? They took part in the writing of Psalm 42-29, 84-88. And Psalm 42:1 is well known as the song of a soul that desires the Lord.
Application: We should not take part in evil deeds. Don’t follow the example of our fellow church members who are lazy and reluctant to worship God at church.
We must be cautious of the false teaching that seeks for personal gain, of evil deeds that do not show love to others and of false worships that stem from uncircumcised hearts leading to hatred, greediness, etc. Having avoided such of things, we will be able to come to the New Jerusalem and live with Him forever. Amen.