Safety caution

 

 

[Philippians 3:1-3]

 

 

In your opinion, what do you think is the level of safety consciousness of the Korean people?  According to a report by the Hyundai Economic Research Institute on October 20, 2014, "Survey on Safety Awareness and Policy Tasks," a telephone survey of 1004 adults and over 20 years old said, "What do you think about our society's safety consciousness? "95% of respondents answered that they lack safety consciousness.  More than half (50.9%) answered 'very scarce' and 44.1% said 'somewhat scarce'.  The answer to the question "very scarce" is 0, and the answer to "somewhat scarce" is 0.3, so the safety consciousness is 17 out of 100.  This is a failed level.  Specifically, 67.5% of respondents said that they did not use their seat belts when asked "How do I get in the back seat of a passenger car?"  81.9% of respondents said that they just use it even though they know there is no emergency exit.  The biggest stumbling block in creating a 'safe country' is the public consciousness.  32.0% of the respondents said ‘immaturity of the safety consciousness and of culture’ is the biggest obstacle.  According to Kim Dong-ryul, the head of Hyundai policy research department, said, ‘There is still a lot of problems in the safety consciousness of the people," especially, the 20s, students, full-time housewives need special attention to safety consciousness, education and training’ (Internet).

 

                Not long ago, I heard the news on the radio that a 40 years old employee worker at Incheon Steelworks was killed in a blast furnace.  Perhaps this employee was working on injecting 1,500 to 2,000 tangles into the distribution system at the steelworks workshop and then falling into a blast furnace 2 to 2.5 meters down and eventually died.  At that time, I also heard that the news pointed out that there is a lack of safety consciousness while talking about 'safety devices' at the place of work.  I think that’s how much the Korean people's safety awareness is lacking.  Here in California, we are preparing for an extraordinary earthquake in the future.  According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), a major earthquake of 7.8 magnitude or more, which is 50 times more powerful than the 1994 Northridge earthquake, will come soon that will result in more than 2,000 deaths and tens of thousands of casualties, and that it will cause $ 200 billion damage.  So few years ago, the Californian conducted a large-scale simulation exercise to prepare for a major earthquake all over California (Internet).

 

So I asked myself this question: ‘What level of spiritual safety consciousness do we Christians have?’  How much spiritual safety awareness do we have?  Obviously, the Bible says that “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).  I think we are not getting more and more self-control and alert.  It seems that we are self-control more and more.  Like those Israelites in the Exodus time who were out of control, made a golden calf and so became a laughingstock to their enemies (Exod. 32:25), we too have lost our self-control, and have become idolaters of the heart.  This phenomenon has already been prophesised by Apostle Paul.  He said that “in the last days difficult times will come” and people will be “without self-control” (2 Tim. 3:1, 3).  Like the prophecy, it seems the time has come that in these last days of difficult times, even we Christians have lost our self-control and we think and do things beyond ourselves and thus are bringing shame to God’s holy Name.  Also we Christians are not alert.  Although we must be alerted and cry out to God, we are spiritually sleeping because the body is weak even though our spirit is willing (Mt. 26:41).   This is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”  Now we aren’t being alert and praying to God, so we lose our self-control and continue to fall into Satan's temptation to commit sin. What should we do?

 

In Philippians 3:1, this is what Paul said to the Philippian church saints: “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.”  Here Paul again referred to the two things he already mentioned in Philippian chapter 1 to the saints of the Philippian church.  What are the two contents?

 

(1)   The first content was about joy.

 

Paul already spoke of 'joy' in Philippians chapter 1.  As an example, Paul said Philippians 1:4 that he always prayed with joy in all his prayers for the Philippian church saints.  Also in 1:18, Paul said that he rejoiced and continued to rejoice because Christ was preached.  Although he was in prison, the reason why he rejoiced was the Philippian church saints’ partnership in the gospel (v. 5) and there was advance of the gospel even he was in prison (v. 12).  In a word, Paul rejoiced in the Lord because the gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached.

 

(2)   The second content was about those who oppose the gospel of Christ.

 

In Philippians 3:2, Paul speaks of those who are against the gospel of Christ, whom he has already mentioned in Philippians 1:28.  He mentioned about those who opposed the Philippian church saints (v. 28) in the context of conducting themselves in the manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (v. 27).  And Paul went to verse 29 and said that suffering for Christ is God’s grace.  Looking at this, we can tell that the Philippian church saints were suffering because of those who opposed the gospel.  In such situation, Paul continued to write in this letter to the Philippian church saints in 3:1, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.”  Why did Paul write to the same things to them again?  It was because it was the safeguard for them.  Here the word “safeguard” in Greek means “safe, secure from peril" (Greek dictionary).  Then what was their peril?  Look at verse 2: “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision.”  Here, Paul repeatedly warned the Philippian church saints to beware.  Of what or whom should they beware?  I would like to think of three things.

 

First, Paul said to beware of "dogs".

 

Look at Philippians 3:2: "Beware of the dogs  …."  I am sure you heard the news about dogs biting people.  Do you know how many people are being attacked by dogs every year in the US now?  According to Kenneth Phillip, a dog lawyer, in 2010 alone, there were 34 fatal dog attacks in the United States, and 350,000 people per year who were bitten by dogs went to a hospital emergency room.  Can you imagine that many people are getting bitten by dogs every year?  So I often think of the warning sign "Beware of Dog" attached to the fence of the building parking lot here and there.

 

In Philippians 3:2, Paul warned the Philippian church saints to beware of "dogs".  Here, who are the "dogs" that Paul was talking about?  In 1st century AD, the dogs were wild, walking around the streets and ran through a pile of garbage in searching for foods.  So, at that time, people thought dogs were very dirty animals.  At that time the Jews considered the Gentiles like dogs.  In other words, the Jews regarded the Gentiles as dirty animals that they shouldn’t associate with.  That was why in the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4, Apostle John wrote: “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).”  In the first century AD, the Jews had a sense of superiority that they were the chosen people of God and didn’t treat the Gentiles as people, but rather they regarded them as dogs.  The Talmud says that in the old days, the Jewish men rose in the morning and prayed and thanked God for three things and the first thing was "God, thank you that I am not a Gentile but a Jew.’  Don’t you think this prayer is similar to the Pharisee's prayer recorded in Luke 18:11?  “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.”  Paul, however, didn’t tell the Philippian church saints to be careful with the Gentiles who were considered as dogs (Phil. 3:2).  When Paul told them to beware of dogs, he meant the Jews especially the Judaizers.  Who were the 'Judaizers' here?  The Judaizers were the one of the groups that initially attacked the gospel.  They insisted that the Gentiles should observe certain ordinances of the Old Testament, especially circumcision, in order to be righteous.  Paul spoke of these Judaizers and their false gospel with heresy and he even cursed them (Galatians).  But the problem was that Judaizers were recognized as true believers by most people in the church.  For example, it was like that in the Galatians church (Gal. 2:12).  However, the Judaizers actually undermined the clarity of the gospel in that church, seriously defiled the gospel and confounded the Gentile believers.  To briefly summarize the cause of the confusion, their argument was that somebody (1) believes in Christ, (2) do his best to keep the Law and (3) then justified.  But Paul’s argument was that somebody (1) believes in Christ first, (2) then is justified before God, and (3) immediately prepares to keep God's law (Machen).  Do you understand this difference?  Although this looks like a small difference, it is actually a very big difference.  And the big difference is that while Paul says that by the grace of God we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone, the Judaizers said that we are saved by working that is keeping the law.  The true gospel preached by Paul focuses on what Jesus Christ did on the cross (grace), but the false gospel the Judaizers claim is focused on what sinners do (merit).  In a word, to Paul salvation is by God’s grace, but to the Judaizers it is by human action.  Thus, Paul referred these Judaizers as “dogs” because they coveted the wealth and went around as self-proclaimed teachers (3:19).  Therefore, Paul told the Philippian church saints to beware of the Judaizers because they were the false teachers who preach this false gospel and thus they were dangerous.

 

And then Paul told the Philippian church saints to worship in the Spirit of God (v. 3).  Why did Paul tell them to worship in the Spirit of God after he told them to beware of the Jews, especially the Judaizers?  The reason is that worshiping God is due to those who are saved by believing in Jesus through the grace of God.  This is the purpose God has saved us by giving His begotten Son Jesus Christ on the cross.  That is, the purpose of God's salvation is worship.  How can we know this?  We can know this by looking at Exodus 3:12, where God called Moses: “And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”  In addition, when we look at the book of Exodus, God told Moses to go to king of Egypt Pharaoh and said this to him several times, “'Let My son go that he may serve Me” (4:23, 7:16, 8:1, 9:1, 10:7).  So immediately after the plague of the locust and of the darkness, this was what King Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron, “Go, serve the LORD your God!” (10:8), “Go now, the men among you, and serve the LORD, for that is what you desire” (v. 11), “"Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be detained Even your little ones may go with you” (v. 24).  Then after the last tenth plague, this was what King Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said” (12:31).

 

                Our Victory Presbyterian Church has three purposes: To build (1) a true worshiper, (2) a faithful disciple, and (3) a witness and modest volunteer who loves the soul.  Based on these three purposes, our church has three statements for the three purposes.  The statement for the first purpose is this: “Worship - Witnesses."  The Bible verse for this first purpose statement is 1 Corinthians 14:25: “the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”  I learned this Bible verse from the book “Spiritual and True Worship” written by Professor John Frame, whom I learned from at Westminster Theological Seminary in California.  I learned little bit that what God wanted from our church the most was worshiping God and that we must bear the responsibility of witnessing and evangelism as God’s true worshipers.  The purpose of the grace of salvation for us is to worship God.  In other words, because God has made us believe in Jesus Christ, we must worship God.  The God of salvation speaks to us in John 4:23, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”  Since God is seeking the true worshipers who worship Him in spirit and truth, our church is seeking to be His true worshipers and pursuing true spiritual worship as we prioritize worship, and focus on it.  As we do so, our earnestly prayer is even through our worship, those who don’t believe in Jesus in our midst will experience God’s presence and bow down and worshiped God, declaring that God is certainly among us.

 

Second, Paul said to beware of “those men who do evil”.

 

Are you scared of a dog more or people more?  If I ask more specifically, do you think you should be more careful of a vicious dog or a vicious wicked worker?  I think we should be more careful of the vicious wicked worker than the vicious dog.  The reason is that the vicious wicked worker is worse than the vicious dog.  For example, even the dog is very aggressive and violent, it does not bite its own master.  But the aggressive and violent evildoer attacks even those who love him, feeds him, protect him, and so on.  According to the U.S. news, Thomas Gilbert, a 70-year-old man who founded and operated a hedge fund with assets of so much money at Wall Street was shot dead by his own son who majored in economics at Princeton University.  The reason why his son killed his father was that his father who had been supporting him for the monthly income and allowance, told him that he would cut the monthly rent and reduce his allowance money so he pulled the trigger toward him (Internet).  Don’t we call this kind of son as "an immoral /a depraved person"?  Or do we call that kind of son as “bastard”?  This kind of son is worse than Pungitius sinensis (or Amur stickleback).  Pungitius sinensis is the only fish to go and make the nest.  After building the nest, the male Pungitius sinensis do its best to protect the eggs.  It also fights against the big fish.  It diligently puts eggs in and out to supply oxygen to the eggs.  And it usually protects their eggs for 15 days without eating anything.  And by the time the egg hatches, it fiercely dies next to the nest.  And the baby Pungitius sinensis eat their own father’s body unconsciously and thus grow.  Pungitius sinensis devotes its’ life for its babies and finally gives its body as well.  Because of its affectionate nature, the hatching rate of Pungitius sinensis is up 90% (Internet).

 

       In Philippians 3:2, Paul told the Philippian church saints to beware of those men who do evil (the evil workers).  Here, who were the evil workers?  There is a moral sense of meaning when we look for the meaning of Greek in the original language: “wicked, vicious, bad in heart, conduct, and character” (Zodhiates).  And this Greek word appears in three places in the New Testament besides today's text.  If we look at two of these, we will find some help in identifying the evil workers whom Apostle Paul told the Philippian church saints to beware.  The first Bible passage is Matthew 21:41: “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”  Here the “those wretches” refers to as the farmers.  The reason why Jesus said that the farmers were those wretches was because when a landowner of a vineyard sent his servants to the tenants who borrowed his vineyard to collect his fruit, the tenants seized his servants and beat one and killed another and stoned the third (vv. 33-35).  So the landowner sent more servants but the tenants treated them the same way (v. 36).  So at last, he sent his own son, thinking that the tenants would respect his son (v. 37).  “"But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir.  Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.'  So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him” (vv. 38-39).  That was why Jesus called those tenants “those wretches” (v. 41).  When we look at this vineyard farmer's parable who actually those wretches refer to?  They referred to the Jews who shouted insistently “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” (Lk. 23:21).  Also, they referred to “the chief priests and the teachers of the law” (Mt. 21:15) who were listening to the Jesus when He was talking about the parable of the vineyard farmer.  The second Bible passage is Matthew 24:48-49: “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.”  This is the word that Jesus said to His disciples when He was sitting on the Mount of Olives (v. 3) and His disciples asked Him privately ‘Tell us, when will this (the destruction of the temple buildings) happen (v. 2 – “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another, everyone will be thrown down”) and what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age (v. 3).  Jesus told them to prepare for the coming of the Son of Man (v. 44) and said, ‘Be faithful and wise servant’ (v. 45).  Then Jesus told them about the wicked servant in three ways: (1) First, the wicked servants were in the wrong mind.  Look at Matthew 24:48 – “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time’.”  (2) Second, the wicked servants were doing wrong.  Look at verse 49: “and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.”  (3) Third, the wicked servants were the hypocrites.  Look at verse 51: “He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  To whom Jesus usually referred as the hypocrites?  They were Pharisees and teachers of the law (Mt. 7:5, 15:7, 22:18, etc.).  In light of this fact, in Philippians 3:2, when Apostle Paul warned the Philippian church saints to beware of those men who do evil, he had Pharisees and the teachers of the law in his mind.

 

                Who were the Pharisees and the teachers of the law?  The biblical commentator Arthur Pink said: (1) There were two groups of the teachers of the law.  One group was the teachers of the law of the country and another group was the teachers of the law of the church who engaged in interpreting the Scripture.  (2) The Pharisees represented a sect who were more rigorous than the Mosaic Law requires, and who made the moral laws and ordinances based on the traditions of their ancestors.  So the Pharisees were regarded the highest among the Jews.  (3) Their faults, however, were merely formal and adhered to the law externally, but in their conscience were dirty thinking, greed and hate, and had a cold heart toward God.  They also emphasize the consciousness of the law more than the moral claims of the law, and their own interests dominate them rather than the glory of God.  The teachers of the law and Pharisees were not interested in the purity of their souls.  They thought that their own outer action could be blessed and had enough of an eternal world (Pink).  How dangerous is this thought?  Don’t you think the Pharisees and the teachers of the law's thoughts are dangerous?  How can we be blessed and have enough of the eternal world with our own outer action?  In other words, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law thought that they could obtain sufficient salvation (eternal life) and enter the eternal kingdom if they put their human endeavor to observe strictly the moral laws and ordinances that were based on their ancestors’ traditions.  Why is this thought dangerous?  I thought about two reasons: (1) First, it is because if we live our Christian faith like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, then we will certainly become the hypocrites.  If we focus on our outward action more and more, then there will be wider gap between our hearts and our outward actions.  This will lead us more to hypocrite life.  And I don’t think this is Christian life.  Rather, it is just a mere religious life.  And this is what Prophet Isaiah said: “The multitude of your sacrifices-- what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?  Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations-- I cannot bear your evil assemblies.  Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isa. 1:11-14).  (2) Second, it is a very dangerous thought because we will have the merit consciousness like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and we will manifest our own glory instead of glorifying God.  Although our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, we will pursue our own glory with our own merit consciousness instead of glorifying God with the grace consciousness.  That was why Apostle Paul exhorted the Philippian church saints “glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:3).

 

                What can we boast about ourselves?  If I ask more biblically, what can we boast in the way the world does? (2 Cor. 11:18)  For the Jews, Judaizers, Pharisees, and teachers of the law had something to boast about in the worldly way.  There were three things: the chosen people of God, the Law, and circumcision.  For the Jews, the pride they had was the fact that they were chosen by God, and the Law and circumcision.  These three things made them arrogant and to have spiritual superiority so that they made themselves different from the Gentiles.  In particular, the Jews were very proud of receiving the Moses’ law so in their pride they relied on the law and boasted themselves (Rom. 2:17).  But the problem was that they themselves were guilty of breaking the law (vv. 12ff.).   Although they knew God’s will (v. 18) and believed themselves that they were the teachers of infants (v. 20).  And they loved to teach others but they didn’t teach themselves (v. 21).  They bragged about the law, but dishonored God by breaking the law (v. 23).  Because of them, God’s name was blasphemed among the Gentiles (v. 24).  What does the Bible say about boasting in the worldly way?  Look at 1 Corinthians 3:21 – “So then, no more boasting about men!”  Look at James 4:16 – “As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.”  When the Jews, especially Judaizers, Pharisees, and the teachers of the law, boasted that they were the God’s chosen people, that they had the law and the circumcision, in God’s perspective their boasting is in their arrogance and is evil (v. 16).  In particular, they believed that they could be saved by obeying the law as the chosen people of God, and they boasted against God (Jdgs. 7:2).  This boasting was boasting that ‘My own strength has saved me’ (v. 2) and ‘I have saved myself by my power, by my efforts, because I have kept the law thoroughly.’  And this is boasting against God.  But what does the Bible say?  Look at Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Look at 1 Corinthians 1:29 – “so that no one may boast before him.”  The Bible clearly says that we are saved not by works so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9).  The reason is because we are saved by God’s grace by believing in Jesus Christ and not by our works or good deeds.  The reason is that salvation is a gift of God and not by our own effort.  Think about it.  Since we are the unqualified sinners who received a gift of salvation by God’s grace, shouldn’t we boast of the one who saved us and not us?  How can we boast ourselves and what we did instead of God who did send His own Son Jesus died on the cross and gave us a gift of salvation?  We should never.  We can never boast about what we did.  If there is anything that we can boast ourselves, what can we boast about ourselves?  Look at 2 Corinthians 11:30 – “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”  Look at 2 Corinthians 10:17 – “But, ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord’” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:31).  Here, what does it mean to “boast in the Lord”?  That is to boast the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Look at Galatians 6:14 – “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ….”  Paul had nothing to boast about except the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.  So as he was testifying the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was more worthy than his own life, he said: “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16).

 

                I hope and pray that we can only boast the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14).  I hope and pray that we can only glory in Christ (Phil. 3:3).  I hope and pray that in God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise His name forever (Ps. 44:8).

 

Third and last, Paul said to beware of “those mutilators of the flesh”.

 

                As we have already learned, the Jews, Judaizers, Pharisee, and the teachers of the law boasted in the flesh that there were the God’s chosen people, have the law and were circumcised.  These three things were their pride.

 

What is circumcision? "Circumcision" means "cut around".  In Hebrew, it is “Brit milah”.  Here, “brit” means “covenant” and “milah” means “circumcision”.  So when we say "circumcision", the meaning of the word is "circumcision of covenant".  So when circumcision was performed, the ceremony removed the epidermis covered on the penis of the male penis.  And circumcision was prescribed on the eighth day of birth (Gen. 17:12, 24-25; Le 12:3).  But the important thing was the symbolic meaning of the circumcision.  What is that symbol?  It is the symbol that God made a covenant with Abraham.  Look at Genesis 17:11 – “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”  So God made a covenant with Abraham, and he commanded all the men of his family, including Abraham and his slave, to do circumcision.  Why?  The reason was that circumcision was a sign on the body of the Israelites as a sign of the covenant of being the people of God.  At that time, circumcision was a symbol and a mark that ‘I am your God, and you are my people!’  In other words, circumcision was a testimony of God's people in the Old Testament times.  Circumcision was a sure sign that the old man died and became the covenant people of God.  So since Abraham, the men of Israel had the secret mark of the people of God through this covenant ritual.  This ceremony was an external ritual ordered that must be strictly observed (Gen. 17:12; Exod. 4:24; Josh. 5: 2).

 

In Philippians 3:2, Paul warned the Philippian church saints to beware of those mutilators of the flesh.  Here, what does it mean by “mutilators of the flesh”?  In NASB, it says “beware of the false circumcision” (v. 2).  Here, the word “circumcision” in Greek is different from the Greek word for “circumcision” of the Old Testament “peritome”.  In the Old Testament, when God made a covenant with Abraham, the word that was used for “circumcision” was “peritome” in Greek, meaning "to cut around".  But in Philippians 3:2, the meaning of the Greek word for “mutilators” or “circumcision” is "to cut down (off)".  According to Rev. John MacArthur, when Paul said “mutilators of the flesh” (cutting down) is like the Baal prophets in 1 Kings 18:28 who “slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed”.  This kind of ritual was forbidden in the Old Testament.  So when Paul warned the Philippian church saints about “mutilators of the flesh”, he meant not those people who circumcised according to the Old Testament but those who did circumcision that was forbidden in the Old Testament (Phil. 3:2).  Then the question is when Paul warned the Philippian church saints to beware of “mutilators of the flesh”, whom did he refer to?  He referred to the Judaizers.  The Judaizers said that they were serving God even by hurting their bodies, but that didn’t have any spiritual meaning and was just hurting their own bodies (Park, Yun-sun).  Then why did the Judaizers hurt their bodies that had no spiritual meaning?  The reason was that they didn’t circumcise their hearts (Jer 9:26).  That was why they were stiff-necked (Deut. 10:16) and were resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51).  They always disobeyed God's Word.  Nonetheless, they had kept the ordinances according to the law and the traditions of their ancestors, both formally and externally, and eventually they had become the hypocrites as Jesus said.  So, in writing to the Roman church saints, Paul, with the Jewish believers in mind, admonished: “No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God” (Rom. 2:29).

Apostle Paul told the Philippian church saints, who he longed for with affection of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:8) and who already had true circumcision, to beware of the mutilators of the flesh and not to put confidence in the flesh (2:2-3).  In other words, Paul told them to beware of those mutilators of the flesh, the Jews, Judaizers, Pharisees and the teachers of the law, who were physically circumcised according to the ordinances of the Mosaic Law and who put confidence in their flesh because their hearts were circumcised  by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ by God’s grace.  Paul wanted to see the Philippian church saints trusting in the circumcision of the heart by the Holy Spirit instead of relying on merely physical and external circumcision.  The reason was because Paul didn’t want them to pursue vain glory with a sense of merit and pride and spiritual superiority like the Judaizers who put confidence in the flesh.  Not only that, Paul didn’t want them to become hypocrites by focusing on the formal and external things like the Judaizers. 

 

                This is the reason why people are calling us, the Christians, the hypocrites.  The reason they say we are hypocrites are because even though we go to church and are baptized, we don’t love God with all our heart and with all our soul (Deut. 30:6) but we merely talk like we love Him and keep our formal and external religious rituals and duties.  In particular, people call us the hypocrites because we are glorifying ourselves with a sense of merit as we do serve the Lord’s church.  We should no longer be Christians whom the people say we are hypocrites.  We must be true Christians.  True Christians faithfully see what Jesus did for them on the cross.  Also, they focus on what Jesus did on the cross and live in grace with obedience to God's will and glorifying God.  I hope and pray that we be true Christians.