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. –Philippians 3:1-3
Men, Paul has warned the Philippians before to watch out for false teachers. Again, Paul revisits the subject for their own well-being. These false teachers were committed to hindering the gospel or at least contaminating it with traditional ideology. Common among their false teaching was the traditional teaching of circumcision. Traditional circumcision was appointed by God as an outward sign of Hebrew/Jewish lineage back to Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant and promises. In other words, for a time, to be circumcised was to be identified as persons of God. Traditionalists focused on keeping the rules of God but neglected a desire for the presence of God from within their hearts.
Our hearts gravitate toward fleshly and worldly things. True circumcision is worshipping God in Spirit. Our flesh, our rules, and our traditions may point to problems, they may erect guardrails, and model approved behaviors, but True Circumcision disregards all flesh to pursue the Spirit. This is tricky to communicate in type. This is NOT an abandonment of good customs and practices. But instead, Paul is announcing that we are no longer identified as people of God by our traditions. We are now identified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and our personal connection to worship from the Spirit.
In our time, we might say, heaven is not a reward for perfect church attendance. Traditions abound here in the southeastern U.S. Many attend Sunday services from habit. Family heritages can be traced back to the times of our founding and every generation attended church in the same town center. It makes great history, but is not a passport to Kingdom. Circumcision had been a practice for over 1500 years at Paul’s letter, but never produced a heart of worship to God in the Spirit.
Move forward men, questioning our hearts intent with traditions. Are we being obedient to the Lord God, or to rules handed down? Are we seeking Oneness or perfection?