“For we are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.”
Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi testifies to the presence of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the existence of counterfeit intruders, the work of Jesus for His people and the laborers that were sent to Philippi to preach and make disciples. Now he come to the summation of the matters covered and tells this group of like minded brethren to beware of dogs, evil workers and the concision. He would not tell this assembly to beware of dogs if they did not know what a dog was or how it acted. Even so when Jesus said, ’Give not that which id holy unto the dogs”
Many who despise the decrees of God will complain that you never know if one of these could be a child of grace and that they should be treated with love. But the Master indicated that His disciples would not only identify these beasts by their conduct but would know not to set a‘feast of fat things’
Lastly he speaks about the concision or ‘mutilators’. Here he is referring to those who would preach that the circumcision of the flesh was necessary to be a child of grace. He did not refer to it as the sacred ritual of the old covenant or as the covenant in the flesh. Rather he called it a mutilation and condemned it. These groups were very strongly opposed to the church at Philippi and sought to infiltrate and disrupt it whenever they could and Paul warns the flock of their existence.
He then tells these scattered few that they were the circumcision. Did he mean that they had become Jews and were now under the obligation of keeping the law? Or as some have inferred, that they became of the Jewish people and were made able to keep the law? Neither is true because circumcision was not given to Moses and the nation of Israel, circumcision was first given to Abram as a sign of the covenant that God had given him. Abram then took and circumcised Ishmael and all the males of his house but God told him that even though these were demonstrating the sign of the covenant, they were not part of it. God told Abram that he was going to have a son. Abram laughed at the prospects of an hundred year old man and a ninety year old women having and raising a child and, in complete disbelief of what God had just said, he asks, ’O that Ishmael might live before thee!”
God had promised Abram and his seed the land in which he sojourned. If that promise was of this earth then it was visible and therefore temporal (II Cor. 4:18), but it was not of the earth for it was eternal. If Abram could see the land that he would inherit why then would he yet hope for the promise to come especially if he was standing upon the very soil that was to be given to him.“For what a man sees why then doth he yet hope for it”
From Abram to Moses there is no record of any circumcisions, not even Jacob. Moses receives the commandment of the Lord and he has his wife circumcise his sons to which Zapporah calls him a‘bloody husband’ (Ex. 4:25) and all Israel was circumcised also. But God makes it very clear through the mouth of His servant that circumcision in the flesh is worthless. In keeping the fleshly ceremony of circumcision, the father identified his son as a sinner under the ministration of the condemnation of the law and obligates him to devoting his entire life to the keeping of the whole law. By not performing the ceremony, the father condemns his son a heathen and not a part of the chosen nation of God. One who is not circumcised cannot partake in the eating of the Passover which makes them subject to the wrath of God because they have no covering. So the circumcised in the flesh are under the condemnation of death by the law and cannot be justified for; ’by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight for by the law is the knowledge of sin”
Yet there are two rivers. Moses saw the corruption of the children after the flesh and he told them that the circumcision of their flesh was not what God wanted; ’Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiffnecked” (Deut. 10:16). God’s love was upon His children and He had delight only in them that loved Him and their seed after them. Since man cannot love God unless He first loved him so man cannot circumcise his heart to keep His commandments; ’And Jehovah shall circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed to love Jehovah thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul that thou mayest live” (Deut. 30:6). Those whom God has removed the heart of stone and placed with an heart of flesh, have His statutes written upon that heart and the Spirit of the Lord within that causes them to keep His commandments and to walk in all his ways. Then shall they dwell in the very land that God promised Abram as the people of Jehovah (Ezk. 36:25ff). So when Paul tells the Philippian church that“we are the circumcision”
Many will say; ‘we have Abraham as our father’, in attempt to lay hold of this inheritance. God said that the family identification cannot be seen or understood for it is of the Spirit and the natural man cannot see that which is spiritual. Man looks on the outside and seeks the things of the flesh as proof of that which is within. He gauges his success and failures quantitatively not qualitatively but Paul declares that there are three characteristics for one who is of the circumcision.
Those whose hearts have been circumcised worship God in the Spirit. This is not an action performed of the flesh and cannot be seen of the flesh. Those who wish to be seen of the flesh stand of street corners and want to be heard for their much speaking. They attempt to do‘good deeds’ in the sight of man so they will be seen of all men. They tantalize and tease men with their long robes and religious trappings and looking down on others they exclaim, ’I thank you Lord that I am not as other men”
Those whose hearts have been circumcised of God rejoice in Christ Jesus. They do not boast of the accomplishments of the arm of the flesh, the ideas or intentions of the mind or the good works performed. They know that all that was needed to satisfy the Holy demands of God’s law were FINISHED in the Anointed Salvation of Jehovah. They do not look for some unfulfilled event to take place at any minute now, they are not scanning the headlines to see if prophesy is being fulfilled and they are not making plans for the upcoming kingdom. They boast, rejoice and glory in the fact that Messiah came as the servant of the Most High God to do His will and finish it in all righteousness; that the Father was well pleased with the sacrifice and the fulfillment of His law and He raised His servant from the dead where He is seated at the right hand of the Father having ALL things under His feet. They find great joy in the fact that the days of vengeance have come in which all things written were fulfilled and that Yeshua has taken His power unto Himself and now rules. This is why there is nothing that can separate His people from His love, for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; ’For Jehovah your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, a great God, mighty and terrible which regardeth not persons nor taketh reward”
Therefore brethren of the circumcision, be not deceived by that which can be seen for the workers of evil have much to shew forth of their accomplishments. Be not allured after the prospects of something to come on this earth and be not entangled with the affairs of this world, ’For our conversation is in heaven from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil 3:20f).
Your servant in Christ
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
May 27, 2012