Friday, April 6, 2018
No Confidence in the Flesh
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh—
Evidently one of the greatest dangers to the church in Philippi was their dependence upon the flesh, or upon human powers or abilities. They were constantly surrounded by those who would propagate unusual teachings, but all of these being based in the flesh. There were those who suggested that sexual immorality was a good thing, and those who engaged in evil, along with others who practiced physical mutilation for religious or traditional purposes. This included those who may want to insist that Christians needed to be circumcised. Paul would have nothing of it.
All of the false teachers were encouraging the believers to be a particular way “in the flesh.” Paul argued that the believers were already circumcised, but this in their hearts. It had been done as a spiritual act of worship. Confidence for the believer is never to be in the flesh, but it is the Spirit of God who draws into genuine worship. There is nothing to boast about, but Christ alone.
I have been to many life-long learning sessions. I began my life as a nurse and there is always continuing education to be had, and now, as a minister, there is a realization that we must never stop learning. We are to become better along the way, but there is a caution here as well. All of our learning; all of our upbringing; all of experiences — they are all wonderful, but they are nothing in comparison to knowing Christ. The danger that we face is becoming dependent upon ourselves and our skills and abilities.
One of the great self-help tools of the last few years has been “Strengths Finders.” Now, I’ll be honest, this has been an outstanding tool and it has helped me in many ways to learn more about myself and others with whom I work. At the same time, I feel that I must be cautious about having this knowledge. Because it focuses on developing the areas where we are strong, it makes me wonder about scriptures such as, “When I am weak, he is strong.” In other words, what about my dependence upon God? It’s often in my weakest moments that I learn more about trust and my complete need for God in my life. Then there’s, “Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.”
So, what do I do with my Strengths’ Finders? We have all those strengths listed below our names on our e-mail! I think we should use them as guides, but never signs of the flesh upon which we become dependent. Our confidence must come for our relationship with God. We believe in the transformational power of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, who takes our weaknesses and empowers them so we can be more than we would have ever imagined. That’s what Paul’s talking about. No boasting in the flesh, or your strengths, or your finances, or your pedigree — learn to trust in Jesus alone!
Lord, pleased help me to trust in you every single day. Please help me to keep the distractions at a minimum so that I can hear your voice and follow your leading. Amen.