July 7, 2019
Dave Zuleger (South Campus) | Philippians 3:1-11
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 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: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order 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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.—Philippians 3:1–11
Introduction: Fellowship With Christ by the Spirit as the Temple (1 Corinthians 3, 6)
If we look at the idea of temple in the Bible, we find a rich history of God’s place where God’s presence dwells with God’s people. We would find a place that marked a people as radically centered on worship of a holy God.
The Garden is meant to be the first kind of temple where God has a place where his presence is with his people—showing that all of humanity is to be radically centered on worship of a holy God. In Exodus 40:34, the glory of God fills the tabernacle after God redeems his people from Egypt and they journey into the wilderness, showing that this moving people is radically centered around worship of their holy, delivering God whose presence is with them. As Israel gains peace from its enemies during King David’s reign, Solomon builds God a house, a temple where God’s presence will dwell among a people radically centered around worship of the Lord who fought their enemies according to his steadfast love.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.… When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”—2 Chronicles 7:1–3
Finally, when Jesus came, we see him tell the religious rulers that they will “destroy this temple and in three days he will raise it up” (John 2:19). We are meant to see that Jesus is now the bodily manifestation of God’s presence among God’s people.
The temple, therefore, is the place where God’s presence dwells among God’s people to show that God is with them and for them, and they are radically centered on worship of him. So, now, with that in mind, listen to two different texts in 1 Corinthians.
The first one refers to the church as a whole:
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.—1 Corinthians 3:16–17
The second refers to individual believers:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.—1 Corinthians 6:19–20
We are God’s redeemed people, bought with the blood of Jesus. We have been given the Spirit of God so that we are the new place corporately and individually where God’s presence dwells with his people. The temple is “holy” and meant to “glorify God”—it’s the whole reason a temple exists.
That’s why we are gathered here this morning as the corporate temple of God. And it’s what every moment of your life is about as you get in your car and drive away today. A people redeemed, basking in the holy love of God, and given the Spirit of God to become more holy and love others with lives of worship to God. Lives of walking with Jesus every moment of every day as the new temple of God individually and corporately. Lives radically centered on worship of God through fellowship with Jesus by the Spirit.
So, this series is meant to show how the Spirit glorifies Jesus, and I’ve just argued that the Spirit dwells in us as the new temple and makes us radically devoted to worship. So, what does that look like for the individual? What does it look like in real time?
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.—Philippians 3:2–3
Paul has strong words for those who would add to the gospel of Jesus and require circumcision as a requirement for salvation. He calls them “dogs.” But, Paul says, “we … worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
Paul will go on to say that if anyone could have confidence in their fleshly accomplishments it would be him. He had the perfect pedigree. He was the most zealous of the most zealous group of law-followers: the Pharisees. He had the prestige. The pedigree. The power. The possessions. He had run zealously after a salvation based on his own achievements (Philippians 3:4–6).
But, that was what the “dogs” trusted in who put confidence in the flesh. Paul says, “No more!” I’m done running endlessly to earn my righteousness, and if anyone could, it’s me. Which means, Paul is telling us today to stop. There is no amount of religious achievement—no amount of church-going, or good works, or Bible memorization, or good theology—that makes us boast in ourselves or trust in ourselves, as if we could earn God’s favor through it.
Instead, as the new temple of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is always prompting us to “worship” and to “glory in Christ Jesus.” We come to church because we long to “glory in Christ Jesus” together; we do good works praying others will give glory to our Father in heaven, and we memorize the Word because we long to abide in Christ. There is no boasting in ourselves but only boasting in Christ Jesus.
There is no longer a self-centered, achievement-focused religion meant to appease God but, instead, a Christ-centered, Spirit-created relationship where we long to please God! Lives lived with our faces on the ground in the presence of our holy God that sent his Son to save us saying, “He is good, his steadfast love is forever because of Jesus.” The Spirit does that.
Worship as the new temple of God looks like counting all else as loss compared to knowing Jesus and being found in him having a righteousness that comes through faith in Christ (Philippians 3:7–10). So, all of life is meant to simply be glorying and boasting in Jesus, and drawing others into that with us.
So, what does that look like in life?
In suffering, it looks like remembering by the Spirit that Jesus suffered on your behalf, and that by his suffering, God is for you, pursuing you with goodness and mercy every day of your life, anointing your head with oil in the valley of the shadow of death and will surely bring you to into his presence forever. And you worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus in perseverance.
In sin in your life or others’ lives, it looks like remembering that you were bought at a price and filled with the Spirit so you have the power to glorify God with your body. It looks like pleading with God to fill you with his Spirit afresh to see the beauty of Jesus as so stunning that all else is loss. It looks like pleading with others to see the beauty of Jesus by the Spirit and to turn from sin. And you worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus in repentance.
In parenting, it looks like taking every chance you can to model the joy of the love of God in Christ with all-out tickle sessions and dance parties and late-night counseling where you remind your kids that God loves to be with them. It looks like reminding yourself at 2am when the kids are up again that you have a God who never sleeps—to care for you because of Jesus. It looks like loving, patient, prayerful discipline as you explain that you so badly want them to see the beauty of Jesus and to walk in the freedom of obedience to him and not the slavery that feels so good in the moment. And you pray they worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus in obedience.
In marriage, you are free to worship Jesus and not your spouse and therefore make your marriage about helping each other glory in Jesus by the Spirit. And together, you glory in Christ Jesus as you get to know the good, bad, and ugly, and help each other run to Jesus in a relationship of forgiveness.
At your job, it looks like working and speaking in such a way that people would know your job is not what you worship and not what you look to for your hope or identity. And as you work, you fight the desire to give in to the bitterness and complaining that can invade the office space, and instead you model happily that you do all you do to the glory of God. And you worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus in diligence.
To be a people radically centered on worship in all areas must happen by the Spirit, because there are lots of things that really are tempting in the world. And so, we pray for a deep relationship with Jesus that moment by moment is deeper, fuller, and sweeter than the passing pleasures of this world. Let me give you an analogy of what this is like:
It was 4th of July and there is nothing better than days where I can just settle in with my family. We got to hang out all day. Then we went to fireworks. But, you know what I realized? I spent almost all the time looking not at the fireworks but at the faces of my kids watching the fireworks, with an occasional glance back at my wife to acknowledge with her in that moment how blessed we are. I barely saw the fireworks. Instead, I’m looking at my kids with their eyes wide, mouths open. Why? Because of the deep love and relationships there day by day that just make me want to see them and take them in.
And in a much deeper way, we are meant to look at all the fireworks that this world can offer and say, “I’d rather have relationship with Jesus. Anything this world can offer in the momentary fireworks of pleasure just points me back to worship of my Savior by the Spirit.”
That’s what it means to be the new, individual temple of God by the Spirit. We glory in Jesus and count all else as loss.
And then, as individual temples, we come together as the one temple of God to worship by the Spirit and to glory in Christ Jesus. Listen to how this happens in a couple of related places in Paul’s letters:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.—Colossians 3:16–17
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.—Ephesians 5:18–21
Most people recognize the overlap and similarities with these two passages of Scripture. I am bringing them up so that you feel the privilege and importance of us gathering with our blood-bought family week after week. We are the blood-bought family of God, baptized in the Spirit of God as the new temple of God who desperately long to worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus.
And here, in these passages, we see a liturgy, a practice outlined for us, meant to help us leave this place and worship. What do we do?
Week after week, we have this gathering, this blood-bought family coming together to sing, to hear the Word, and to pray as a means of sanctifying grace in our lives—to fill us with the Spirit as the corporate temple of God as we worship Christ, so that we can go out as individual lives and worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus. You are meant to hear your brothers and sisters sing of Jesus, and the Spirit works to woo your heart to Jesus through them. You are meant to hear your brothers and sisters pray, and the Spirit works to convict and comfort you as you remember Jesus. You are meant to hear the Word preached and have it direct your wandering, tired heart back to rest at home in Jesus.
As we gather, we gather so that we live under the influence of the Spirit rather than be drunk on the other things this world will offer our thirsty souls to drink.
And this works both ways, doesn’t it? Our worship gatherings will be more powerful together as the corporate temple if we’ve given ourselves to “worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus” in our personal lives during the week. This can serve as a kind of exclamation point as the blood-bought family together. And, our personal lives of worship will be more powerful if don’t neglect to come together regularly, but instead gather to stir one another up to love and good works. Corporate worship as the temple and individual worship as the temple are meant to work together to create a people who worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus.
And as the blood-bought family of God we also have the privilege when we gather to take Jesus up on his offer to fellowship with him by the Spirit at his Table. In 1 Corinthians 11, you would see that Paul calls the Corinthians to take the Lord’s Table together “when they come together” (vv. 17–18, 20, 33–34) as a regular part of their corporate worship week after week.
This is a time to remember what the Lord has done: We break the bread and eat it to remember the crushed body of Christ for us. We drink the cup as a remembrance of his blood poured out for us. But, it is not mere remembrance, Paul teaches us that this is a time of corporate fellowship with Christ by the Spirit:
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.—1 Corinthians 1:16–17
Now, the word there participation is the same word for fellowship. Paul is arguing for a true fellowship in the blood of Christ and body of Christ as we come to the Lord’s Table. As we remember, we actually fellowship with the blood and body of Christ by the Spirit.
Now, we are not those who think the elements actually turn into the physical body and blood of Jesus. But we do believe that we fellowship by the Spirit in the body and blood of Christ and that there is sanctifying grace that comes as we come to the Table. Listen to how our Elder Affirmation of Faith puts it:
Those who eat and drink in a worthy manner partake of Christ‘s body and blood, not physically, but spiritually, in that, by faith, they are nourished with the benefits He obtained through His death, and thus grow in grace.
We believe there is a fellowship, a spiritual nourishment by the Spirit, that grows us in grace at the Table. And notice that this is not just one individual in this passage. “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
In other words, this is a family meal. We come together to fellowship with Jesus as the one body of Christ. We fellowship as a family. This is a holy moment of coming into the presence of Christ by the Spirit to feed again on his body and blood spiritually as a family. And because of this, it is serious business:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.—1 Corinthians 11:27–30
This is such a serious moment that some people are weak, ill, and have died for partaking wrongly. We are meant to “examine ourselves” for sin—because we cannot fellowship with Jesus and our idols at the same time. We are also meant to “discern the body,” which means to examine ourselves in relation to one another. Where is there bitterness and unforgiveness among us?
You see, the seriousness of the moment is also how the benefit comes. In this moment, we are meant to, as a blood-bought family, examine ourselves by the Spirit for anything in us that is not “glorying in Christ Jesus”—personally, and we should examine ourselves in relation to one another as one body that should not be divided. And then, after examining, we come to the Table to fellowship with Jesus and ask for his help to “worship by the Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus” with all of our lives individually and as a blood-bought family. And in that moment of fellowship as one body and with Jesus, we put sin to death and glory in Christ Jesus corporately. It helps us to go out from here refreshed and at rest with our Savior and each other.
And so, as the new temple of God, we no longer need to come with sacrifices to be at peace with God, but we come to the Table to fellowship with Christ in the once-for-all sacrifice that has brought us peace with God. We come asking for his help to let our lives be living sacrifices until the day we eat with him again at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb—where the universal blood-bought family will gather forever in his presence to say that all glory is due to the Lamb that was slain!