“Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh” (3:2).
Paul was having an issue that is as old as the sun – Salvation through keeping the law or salvation through Christ? Paul used to be in the former camp of fastidious law-keeping, that is, until he met Jesus on his way to do some thug work against the Christians.
Now these same kind of people were invading the churches teaching that they had to be circumcised to be saved. I can’t imagine that going over too well in a modern day church but in that day and time, it was a huge deal. It was the “checklist” of righteousness. Now the checklist always seem to remain, it’s just that we change what’s on the checklist. Our modern day checklist might include
☑️ Go to church
☑️ Am a good person (most of the time)
☑️ Give money to charity
☑️ Read the Bible (occasionally)
☑️ Try to be nice
But none of those bring righteousness. Only Jesus. And Jesus alone.
The problem is that the fruit of having checklists is that it makes evil more easy to participate in. If I get all my checklist in, then there’s a sense of being able to do whatever. But with Christ, it’s relationship and relationships take a lot more care, nurture and development–even when the other party is perfect.
Where is it easier to do what is wrong/evil? At work where the relationship is contractual? Or with your family when there is a price to pay?
This is what was happening in Philippi. There were people coming in advocating salvation through circumcision, and then they could do evil.
“Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.”
When relationship isn’t involved, evil abounds.
If we believe that following Jesus is all about rules, then it’s much harder to walk in righteousness. Actually impossible.
But where there’s relationship there is fault, but there is love, security, grace and forgiveness. As these are the only things that really make relationships continue. And with Jesus, that means forever.