Tag Archives: legalism

Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World (A Study of Philippians) Part 13 JOY and Opposition!

As we continue our study of JOY in the letter to the Philippians, let’s notice this morning the twelfth use of that word. The Apostle Paul writes in chapter three:

Further, my brothers and sisters, 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. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. (ch. 3)

This is a clear command from the Apostle: “REJOICE in the Lord!” I don’t know about you, but I find it quite easy to rejoice in my circumstances (when things are going well), to be happy when I’m around my grandchildren, to be really satisfied when I’m lucky enough to win a tennis match. And I’m not sure the Lord is displeased with my reactions. He has made our world, which includes our circumstances, families, and leisure activities.

But how, specifically, am I to REJOICE “in the Lord”? What does that mean? In the context here Paul is reminding these believers that there is opposition to the gospel and they are not to lose their JOY as they live for Jesus. He describes that opposition as “those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh”! Those Judaizers had taken something precious (the Old Testament sign of God’s covenant with Israel — circumcision) and twisted it into something legalistic, works-oriented, and in direct contradiction to the gospel of grace!

In fact Paul confronts their error by saying “we are the circumcision, we who — (1) serve God by His Spirit, (2) boast in Christ Jesus, and (3) who put no confidence in the flesh”! True circumcision means believing the gospel and serving the Lord Jesus with all one’s might!

To REJOICE in the Lord means to keep on keeping on. It means to know one’s opposition and continue to share the grace of the Lord Jesus anyway. This confidence, not in ourselves, but in God Himself, brings JOY. Would you say this is true in your life today?





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Posted by on May 7, 2019 in joy


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Laws of the Pharisees! (Aren’t You Glad You’re Not a Pharisee?)

◦ They taught that you should not look in a mirror on the Sabbath because you might be tempted to pluck out a grey hair and that would be reaping.
◦ They said that you could only eat an egg which had been laid on the Sabbath if you killed the chicken for Sabbath-breaking.
◦ A donkey could be led out of the stable on the Sabbath, but the harness and saddle had to be placed on him the day before.
◦ An egg could not be boiled on the Sabbath, either by normal means or by putting it near a hot kettle or by wrapping it in a hot cloth or by putting it in the hot sand outside.
◦ If the lights were on when the Sabbath came (Sabbath began at sundown), you could not blow them out. If they had not been lit in time, then you could not light them.
◦ It was unlawful to move furniture on the Sabbath. There was an exception to this in that you were allowed to move a ladder on the Sabbath, but you could only move it four steps.
◦ It was unlawful to wear any jewelry or ornaments on the Sabbath, since this might be construed as carrying a burden.
◦ It was not permitted to wear false teeth on the Sabbath (that must have been a hit in the synagogue services).
◦ You were allowed to eat radishes on the Sabbath, but you were warned against dipping them into salt because you might leave them in the salt too long and pickle them and this was considered to be Sabbath-breaking. The Pharisees actually had discussions as to how long it took to pickle a radish.
◦ If a woman got mud on her dress, she was to wait until it had dried and then she was permitted to crumple the dress in her hands one time and crush it and then shake it out once. If that did not do the trick, then she had to wear it.
◦ It was fine to spit on a rock on the Sabbath, but you could not spit on the ground, because that made mud and mud was mortar, and that was work.  (This last one is significant for understanding the charge against Jesus of breaking the Sabbath in His making mud and healing the man born blind in John 9).


Posted by on October 30, 2018 in Pharisees


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One Hundred Questions about the Book of GALATIANS! (Ch. 5)

Wow!  KOREA!   I’m excited to be going to Jeju Island to teach the book of Galatians to students at the Word of Life Bible Institute.

In preparation (I’ve never taught the book of Galatians), we’re asking a bunch of questions about this amazing epistle.  Let’s pose some queries (my Mom would have been proud of my use of that word) about chapter 5:

Eighteen Questions about Galatians chapter five:

1. Why has Christ set us free (v. 1)?
2. How should the Galatian believers respond to the slave-makers (v. 1)?
3. The big deal seems to be circumcision. Why would Paul say that if they let themselves be circumcised, “Christ will be of no value to you at all” (v. 2)? That’s pretty dramatic!
4. One would, therefore, be obligated to obey the whole law. But aren’t we obligated to obey God’s law anyway? How does verse 4 help us understand this issue?
5. To try to be justified “by the law” = being alienated from Christ! It means falling away from grace! What does “falling away from grace” mean (v. 4)?
6. What is it that really “counts” in Christ Jesus (v. 6)?
7. What is meant by “faith expressing itself through love” (v. 6)?
8. The analogy of a race: The Galatians were “running a good race.” But someone “cut in on [them].” What does that mean (v. 7).
9. How should we respond to the truth, according to verse 7?
10. There was a book years ago about advertising called The Hidden Persuaders. What is the persuasion Paul refers to here in verse 8?
11. What or whom is Paul quoting in verse 9? What’s the point of that aphorism?
12. The Apostle is engaged in a mental battle to persuade the Galatians not to put themselves back under the law. He is seeking to persuade. Is his confidence in his own reasoning powers (v. 10)?
13. This is no small matter that Paul is grappling with. There is one who is “throwing [the Galatians] into confusion.” What is the “penalty” they will have to pay (v. 10)?
14. How does the offense of the cross get abolished, according to verse 11?
15. Paul uses strong language in verse 12 (“those agitators . . . [should] emasculate themselves!”). Is this an example of an imprecatory prayer?
16. Verse 13 reiterates the fact that we were “called to be free.” How is that freedom to be shown, according to verses 13-15?
17. What, specifically, does it mean to “walk by the Spirit” (verses 16-26)?
18. Make a chart listing the 15 acts of the flesh and the 9 fruit of the Spirit (vv. 19-22). Pick one of the fruit of the Spirit to begin working on!

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Posted by on April 30, 2018 in Galatians


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Doing a little research, I found out that Christian women of a past generation did not use lipstick, nail polish, or eyebrow paint.  In fact, prostitutes used these items!  In 1770 a bill was introduced into the English Parliament with the following provisions:

“That all women of whatever age, rank, profession, screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-6-42-38-amor degree, whether virgins, maids, or widows, that shall, from and after such Act, impose upon, seduce, and betray into matrimony, any of His Majesty’s subjects, by the scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law in force against witchcraft, and like misdemeanors and that the marriage, upon conviction, shall stand null and void.”


Posted by on November 26, 2016 in cosmetics


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Time for a Great Tozer Quote: Pharisees and the Spiritual Man

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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Pharisees


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