Jesus + Anything = Nothing

“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 ESV)

The Apostle Paul’s overall upbeat & positive tone in this letter suddenly takes on a harsh tone when he begins to address a quasi Christian sect of Jews known as the Judaizers.  He calls them dogs, which is not a compliment – this word can also be translated as “male prostitute” so we can begin to see the angst that the Apostle has towards these people.  The basic message of the Judiazers was that you need Jesus plus a list of your own works (culminating in circumcision) to be acceptable to God.  It was a “Jesus +” theology.  The letter to the Galatians was written to combat these people’s works-based righteousness theology.

This is no minor issue – this is a major issue, upon which there is no compromise.  Those who teach that something besides Jesus’ sacrificial death is required to be right before God have departed from the gospel.  It is unfortunate that many Christians, over time, migrate to this view.  After years, we often begin to think (though we’d never say it) that our hard fought efforts for the kingdom earn us additional favor with God.  We effectively believe that God is happier and more pleased with us because of our obedience and sacrifice.  Be careful, whenever we approach the Creator with a pile of our works in hand thinking that He will be pleased, it evokes a visceral response from the Almighty.  He calls our best works, when offered as self righteous justifying works, as a pile of filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  You are completely dependent on the finished work of Jesus alone to be acceptable to God – you can do nothing to add to His approval of you.  Rest in this, for it is finished!

We must be a people who place no confidence in our flesh.  We place no worth on anything that we can contribute to Christ and our relationship with Him.  As we glory in Christ, we will find that placing confidence in our flesh is a fools exchange!