As we live the Christian life, it’s so easy to get off-focus.
Of course, some people can get off-focus in terms of focusing on their jobs, their love life, their possessions, and their money. All these things can get Christians’ minds off of what is really important.
But we can also get off-focus by focusing on rules and how to be the “good” Christian. And by doing that, we forget what our Christian lives are to be all about.
That’s what Paul warns against here. He tells the Philippians,
Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. (2)
What is he talking about? He’s probably talking about the Judaizers that were so prevalent during that time. These were the people that said you need to be circumcised and follow all the Mosaic law in order to truly be saved.
He ironically calls them dogs. Dogs were not looked upon fondly in Jewish culture, and many times, non-Jews like the Philippians were referred to as dogs. But Paul says, “You are not the dogs. They are.”
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)
God had told the Jews in the Old Testament, that more importantly than being physically circumcised, he wanted their hearts to be circumcised for him (Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 4:4).
And when we become Christians, that’s exactly what happens. Our hearts become truly his through the work of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 2:28-29)
As Ezekiel put it,
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
But the Judaizers were convinced that all Christians had to be circumcised and keep all the laws of Moses. Because of this, all their focus was on who they were as Jews and what they did to achieve righteousness before God.
Paul, however, tells the Philippians that these Judaizer’s focus was all wrong. He himself could boast of all the things that these Judaizers tried to boast in and more (4-6). But instead, Paul says,
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.
I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (7-11)
In short, Paul said, “My focus isn’t on myself. It isn’t on all my efforts to become righteous in God’s sight. It isn’t on the rules and regulations of religion. These are all rubbish to me now. Worthless. My focus is on one thing and one thing alone: Jesus Christ.
I want to know Him.
I want to be united with Him.
I want His true righteousness, not my “righteousness” that falls far short of God’s standard.
I want to know His power, not my own.
I want to know Him so much that I want to share in His suffering.
I want to die with Him, putting to death my sinful nature by the power of the Spirit.
I want to be resurrected with Him, raised in new life, again by the power of the Spirit.
Him, him, him, him, him, him.
The problem with so many Christians today is that they are not focused on Him, but themselves.
And because of that they get tired. Christianity become a drag, filled with their own futile self-efforts. And their love for Christ wanes.
For how can you have a love relationship with Jesus when you are focused on everything else but him?
How about you? Where is your focus?