No Confidence in the Flesh
Read Philippians 3:3-4 (ESV)
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more...
What works of the flesh have you placed your confidence in?
Do you remember the dirty dogs we discussed yesterday? They were false teachers who preached a false gospel of legalism. They claimed that our works could influence our salvation. For example, they required a literal circumcision of the flesh. But circumcision never had the power to save anyone. It was always symbolic. It was an outward sign that the Jews belonged to God. But they were to worship Him as their God inwardly—with their whole hearts.
The prophet Jeremiah called God’s people out on this as he warned them that they would be invaded if they did not repent and turn back to God. He said, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem…” As Jews, these men were likely physically circumcised. But inwardly, their hearts were far from the Lord. Jeremiah was pleading with the Jews to cut out the things in their lives that were keeping them from being wholeheartedly dedicated to God. Basically, our outward, fleshly actions do not count for anything. What matters is internal and spiritual.
In today’s verse, when Paul says that “we are the circumcision,” he doesn’t mean that we all have to be outwardly circumcised. He says that we are the ones “who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus.” We are His people because we worship Him, not because we have been marked with an outward sign. We “glory in Christ” not in our good works done in flesh because we know that only Jesus saves us. We cannot save ourselves.
In Galatians, Paul repeatedly discussed the futility of being confident in a work of the flesh, such as circumcision, for salvation. In Galatians 5:6 Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
Paul told the early church that they shouldn’t place their hope for salvation in any fleshly work. Religious ceremonies and activities do not have the power to save! You probably aren’t being told to trust in circumcision for your salvation these days. But chances are, at one point or another, you have bought into the lie that your good works can influence your salvation. Maybe you’ve trusted in baptism for your salvation. Maybe you think if you just do enough good deeds, it will outweigh the bad so you can get your ticket to heaven. But Paul is clear that we should not place our confidence in these things.
Friends, Jesus Christ is our only confidence. Trusting in Him and His saving work on the cross is the only way we can be sure that we have been saved. No matter how much confidence we think we can place in our flesh, we are wrong. Today, do a heart check. Are you trusting in something other than or in addition to Jesus for salvation? If so, cut it out. He’s already done the work of your salvation on the cross! Turn your heart back to Him and place your full confidence in Him.
Jesus, my hope is in You alone! I am so thankful that I don’t have to work to earn my salvation because I know I would come up short. Thank You that I can glory in You alone. Amen.