Philippians 3:3, 8-9 says, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh… Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Let’s get into God’s Word.
Two weeks ago, we saw in John 8 - and many other passages - that the message of Jesus Christ was a message of freedom. Who the Son makes free is free indeed. It is for freedom He made us free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. The truth shall make you free. Jesus came to preach freedom to the captives. Clearly, the message of Christ is the message of freedom. We also saw that many Christians do not live in this freedom. They may legally be “freed”, but they do not live “free”.
This week, I would like to discuss another reason that freedom is not a reality in the lives of many Christians. This reason is works of the flesh. In most cases, a person’s mind goes directly to thinking about common sins when they hear “works of the flesh“. For instance, Gal. 5:19-21, 1Cor 6:9-10, and Eph 5:3-5 all talk about the works of the flesh. These are sins such as extra marital sex, pre-marital sex, same sex, gossip, slander, envy, idolatry, murders, filthy talk, filthy jokes, drunkenness, hatred, wild parties, witchcraft, thieves, liars, false teachers, etc. The Bible says they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
However, works of the flesh are not just these above mentioned sins. No, works of the flesh are also any work one tries to do to earn favor or acceptance with God. Any attempt to work for righteousness, is a work of the flesh. Notice in Philippians 3, that when Paul named the works of the flesh that he counted as dung (excrement), it wasn’t the sins just mentioned. It was his self righteous acts to please God. It was his faith in his name; in his blood line; in his schooling; in his actions; in his efforts to please God and be a godly man! That was what Paul counted as excrement! Let that sink in a little.
These self righteous attitudes and works that people do to try and prove that they are better than the next guy is dung. Many Christians are like dung beetles. They roll around their dung for all to see. They compare their dung with their brother’s and sister’s dung - and feel good when their dung is “better”. At the end of the day, it is still dung. It is still your measly effort to gain favor with God through what you do. Paul calls it dung! So should we!
To walk in true freedom, one must repent from dead works (aka - “dung“. Heb 6:1). One must realize that only by God’s grace, and faith in His grace, is one capable of being saved, or of staying saved (Eph 2:8-9, Gal 3:1-7). Yes, we were saved unto good works by Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10); but not to be performed by efforts of the flesh, or by our will power, or to be done to earn any acceptances with God. We do not “do to be“. We “are”, and therefore, we “do”. Our right standing in Christ is the root, and our good works the fruit. Our good works are an outside expression of the inward reality of the new creation by faith; in contrast to our works being an outward effort, in hopes of obtaining or creating an inward change.
Some may nod their heads in agreement with this, and yet they are still not living this reality. They are still wrapped up in a sin consciousness, and they are still relating to God based on their performance moment by moment. They still walk around oppressed, depressed, hopeless, discouraged - never quite feeling good enough for God. They still walk in complete disobedience to Philm. 6, which says that the practical living out and effective demonstration of our faith will come only when we acknowledge and accept every good thing that is in us in Christ Jesus. Start meditating on who you are in Christ, and living truly free will be a reality! Your victory is only a revelation away! Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!