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The Mark Of Distinction

"Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and take pride in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh"
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We would like to welcome our brothers and sisters in Belarus, Philippines and Indonesia.
We're so glad you're here and we are praying for you.

Christianity has always been centered around the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has always been centered around the message of salvation. Grace is the heart and soul of the New Testament. The gospel message is a wonderful message isn’t it? God is in control. I believe that. I pray that you do as well. It's very important. 
I believe that it is God, The gospel message is a wonderful message isn’t it? God is in control. If you are a child of God, the message of the gospel excites you, it inspires you. The gospel message is one that the child of God should never tire of hearing. 
However, if you are not a child of God the gospel message is the "power of God unto salvation." If you have never trusted Christ as your personal Savior, your greatest need today is salvation, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

There is only one way to heaven. There is only one way to be made right with God, to have peace with Him, to have a relationship with God the Father, and today I want you to know that way. 
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father, 
Thank You for Your Word for us today. Thank You for Your work in Christ. Lord, I pray that You would reach down and touch the hearts and minds of the hearers today, those who are inwardly cleansed and those who are yet in darkness. Speak to our hearts, through Your Holy Spirit, that we would examine our own hearts, ask ourselves the hard questions. Let us find ourselves to be inadequate, in need of Christ. Expose our insufficiencies, and help us to apply the necessary changes to our lives. Let our lives exhibit the mark of distinction. The mark of true discipleship. So that we would live our lives before the world by the moral standard of which we've been called and in gratitude and obedience to the One Who saved us.
We pray that those who do not yet have a personal relationship with Christ, that today may they know the joy of salvation through Christ and the assurance of knowing they belong to You. May they be overwhelmed with that confidence. May it all be for Your glory and increase in the Kingdom.
In Christ's name we pray
Today's Message: The Mark Of Distinction
Open with me your Bibles to the third chapter of the book of Philippians. Today we embark on a new chapter and the first three verses which I believe, hold just as much significance for us today, as they did in the day which the Apostle Paul wrote them. In these three wonderful verses, thrilling and exciting in terms of their content and intent, demand our attention. I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read to get it set in our minds. Philippians 3:1-3.

"Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and take pride in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh"
Paul faced legalism in the church, these Judaizers wanted the Christians to do certain things. They wanted them to add good works on top of God’s amazing grace, legalism is nothing new. In fact, we still face the enemy of legalism today. 

Paul has been writing to the Philippian church, warning them about internal controversies that could divide them. Warning them to caution from a self centered perspective that could ruin their Christian life, but now beginning here in chapter 3, Paul turns the attention of the church in Philippi away from the internal controversies and their own self centeredness and tells them to watch out for those on the outside of the church trying to impose legalistic qualifications on the church.

Now here is a different warning coming from outside. He is warning of legalism that Paul knows could destroy the church. This young church could be deceived into thinking they were still under the obligation to follow the Old Testament law. Paul makes it clear that Christianity is salvation by grace, faith through Christ alone. It is salvation based on undeserved favor. It is not a system of the law.

So here in verse 1, Paul is again attacking the enemy of legalism. His first great weapon to attack legalism is that of joy. "Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you."

Joy should be a major part of every Christian believer. It is a theme in the book of Philippians. Sixteen times there is reference to rejoicing or joy in the book of Philippians. Joy is a part of the Christian life. Paul himself is rejoicing, even though he is in prison. Even though he does not know the outcome of his imprisonment. He may face death, but Paul rejoices. He writes a book of joy in the midst of all this. Paul is warning the Philippians against legalism and he does so by exhorting them to be joyous.

We overcome legalism with joy. We overcome legalism with joy. Here we find a command of joy. Notice that Paul is not saying that joy is an option in the Christian life. If you are a Christian then you should live a life of joy. Paul writes that we should rejoice regardless of the circumstances. Even when it is difficult, because the Christian life is a life of joy.

Jesus, Himself taught that we should have joy. Even those who are persecuted should have joy, he said. The Bible tells Christians to be full of joy. Jesus said that the Christian life is to experience a joy that no one can take away. We have a responsibility to have a joy in our lives that others may see. It is joy that enables us to face the real hardships in life when they come upon us. It is joy that helps us to take the everyday inconveniences in our lives with an attitude that pleases God.

It is interesting how Paul begins chapter 3. It begins with the word finally. Right in the middle of the book Paul says, finally. It is kind of like those who preach. Some say lastly and last. Some say finally and finish. Here is Paul saying finally and lasting. It is practically the middle word of the book. It is not so much that Paul says finally, as though it is his last point. In Other words, Paul is saying furthermore, let me proceed on. Let me go on from the truth I have been giving you and tell you even more truth.

Paul is engaged in a battle on legalism and he uses joy as his weapon of choice. There are those who might tell us that in the Christian life that we do not need joy. However, Scripture tells us that in the Christian life we overcome legalism with joy. The Christian life should be a life of rejoicing. Joy is mentioned in the Bible as one of the fruits of the spirit. When we are really in tune with God, walking by the Spirit in Christ, we will exhibit joy in our life.

Of all the people on the planet, it is Christians who should be rejoicing. Because we have been saved and we know our future is secure in heaven with God. We are the ones with a confidence in Christ who should exhibit joy. Your weapon should be joy against legalism. Legalists will do their best to replace grace, the free gift of God with a works oriented philosophy. Joy is our offensive weapon that we use to attack anything that seeks to take away our freedom in Christ.

But Paul does more than to talk about joy, our weapon of offense. He gives us a defensive strategy by telling us to watch out, beware of those who would teach works. Beware of those who are legalists. Paul puts it this way, in verse 2 "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision." Paul says that there are those out there that want to instill legalistic rules and regulations in place of the freedom of Christ. Paul says, watch out for those dogs.

When Paul says watch out for the dogs, he is not talking about some cute little puppy that frolics around, wanting attention. He is talking about savage beasts, that lived outside and scavenged for food. They could be dangerous. This is what he is warning us against.

Paul saying that to encounter legalists is to encounter a junkyard dog. They will snap at you and tear at you if they get the chance. They are dangerous. Paul likened those who spread legalism with a pack of vicious dogs.

He says beware of these dogs. Paul is referring here to the Judaizers. These were Jewish Christians who would say that becoming a Christian was not enough. First you must become a Jew and obey all the rules and regulations of the Jewish religion, which means circumcision among other things. Then and only then could you become a Christian. Paul said no. That is not the way it is. We approach God on the basis of undeserved favor. We can never do any works good enough to justify us in His sight.

Even our best works are as filthy rags before God. We only approach God because God is gracious. Because God is all-merciful. Only when we put our faith in Jesus Christ do we dare consider ourselves righteous before God. Paul says these Judaizers are dogs. They are evil workers. Paul went so far as to call them, mutilators of the flesh.

In light of the grace of Christ there is no value for circumcision spiritually. Paul says those requiring circumcision were mutilators of the flesh. It brings to mind the picture of Elijah on Mt Carmel with the priests of Baal, who mutilated their own flesh to try to get the attention of their gods. Paul is saying that is all the value that your works have. If you are trying to please God through good works Paul says, no. It is only be grace. Paul says a true circumcision of the Christian is that which happens inward in the life of the believer of the heart, by the Spirit of God.

As Christians we worship by the Spirit of God. We put no confidence in the flesh. It is not so much a matter of what you don’t do. Those who don’t where colored clothes, those who don’t watch television or those who don’t dance or don’t do this or that. If it were a matter of what we did not do then the most spiritual ones would be in the cemetery. The dead don’t do any of those things. It is more than what we don’t do. It is what we do. Paul says it in verse 3 it is what we do, "for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and take pride in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh."

Paul is going to share with us here something about his own personal life. He is going to give his testimony. What he was like before he knew Christ and how he came to know Christ and what his life was like after he knew Christ. Paul was not one to boast. He did not go from church to church to tell how bad he was and how good he became. But he knew at this time it was needed to tell people where he had been. Because it was going to make a difference in how he ministered to the people in Philippi.

He wanted them to know that he was not preaching grace just because he had never tried trusting in the flesh. He wanted them to know that if anyone trusted in the flesh he had. But it was all meaningless to Paul when he came to know Jesus Christ there on that Damascus road.

Paul tells us nothing compared to the riches of knowing Jesus Christ as his Savior. So Paul tells us of his past. He tells us how he had put confidence in the flesh. To those who were preaching circumcision he said let me say this, I was "circumcised on the eighth day." It was something probably many of the Judaizers themselves could not claim. Paul said as for Jewish heritage, you find no finer Jewish heritage, he was a descendant of Abraham, of Isaac a descendant of Jacob and he was even of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul was from the tribe that King David was from. Not many of the Judaizers could claim the heritage of Paul.

As far as religion and the observation of the Mosaic Law Paul rose above all of them. He was under one of the great religious teachers of the day, Gamaliel mentioned in Acts 22:3. Paul knew the greatest of teachings and practices. He was so zealous that he persecuted the Christians. He was heartily in favor when Christians were stoned to death and as a Jew that was showing the zeal he had for his religion. He was more righteous than all those who criticized him yet with all this, it meant nothing. The only thing that counted for Paul was his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Paul attacked all those who wanted to add works to Christianity. He made the same cry as those made later at the reformation. It is by grace alone that we are justified through faith. Christianity is so simple, so beautiful and it is a shame that people cannot accept God’s plan of salvation. It is a shame that they must try to add to what God has provided.

In Matthew 7, Jesus said, in the last days many will come and say "Lord, Lord, but He will confess to them, I have never known you, depart from Me you workers of iniquity."

Jesus' death on the cross paid the penalty for your sins, in full, it wasn't a down payment. All we have to do is accept that. All we have to do is put our faith in Jesus Christ. No longer trusting in our own works and good deeds, but surrendering our lives over completely to Jesus Christ.

If you haven't yet excepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I pray that today would be that day.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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