Rejoice in the Lord
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to
you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs,
beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision,
which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have
no confidence in the flesh.
Rejoice in the Lord. After reading some of these articles, you might
ask yourself “What does he know about rejoicing in the Lord, all he can
write about is “lamentations, and mourning and woe.” Oh, my friend, I know
how to rejoice in the Lord, I do it every day and will not change places
with the chairman of Anglo American, Pick ‘n Pay, the Queen of England
or anyone on the face of the earth.
Seeing the power of the Living God in everyday life, the little miracles
that happen all the time, reminders that “the Kingdom of God is inside
you”; seeing the big white smiles in brown faces when talking about Jesus
Christ in the supermarket, at the filling station, seeing the hunger in
the anxious faces, seeing the anxiousness disappearing for a short while,
knowing that there is a better place, an actual place far away, through
the veil of time, that is reserved for all those that love Him; waiting,
hoping for the smile and the words “good and faithful servant, enter into
the joy of your Lord.”
Oh yes my friend, I know a little about what it means to rejoice in the
Lord and I am no different to any of you. However, “from the first day
that I set my heart to understand, and to chasten myself before my Lord,
my words were heard.” My words were heard and the Living Lord responded.
Now to get back to the purpose of this ministry:
The Circumcision of the Flesh
You cannot help noticing that after Paul asks the church at Philippi to
rejoice in the Lord, in the next breath he says “beware” three times. In
all Paul’s letters to the churches, except perhaps for Romans and Thessalonians,
the purpose of the epistles was to warn, to “beware” the Christians concerned.
Does this perhaps sound familiar?
In this Philippians example he once again warns of apostasy entering in
to the church, stifling the freedom that we all have in Christ Jesus, also
showing the form that it is taking. In Paul’s day Satan invariably used
the tradition of the Jews, those who did not “set their hearts to understand”,
and this hindrance was usually in the form of circumcision that they tried
to force on to the gentile believers. Today, Satan’s attack from within
the church is still based on apostasy, but he has chosen other vessels
who “do not set their hearts to understand”, many of them in very respected
positions in the church. The methods he uses are slightly different but
his purpose is still the same - to turn as many as possible away from the
Truth. Let’s look at the situation in Paul’s day, compare it to the situation
today and see where the church is going in these last days before our Lord
In one sentence Paul warns against dogs, evil workers and of the concision
and then carries on about “we are the circumcision”. This would intimate
that the dogs, the evil workers and the concision were people with one
and the same outlook and purpose and it had to do with circumcision. Reference
to dogs refers to unbelievers or Gentiles1;
concision means “mutilated”, which refers to circumcision, which is a form
of obedience, and the bondage that goes with it.
The Circumcision of the Heart
Paul goes on to say “for we are the circumcision”, meaning the circumcision
of the heart - those willing to obey Jesus out of love for Him; and rejoicing
while doing it.
The passage that follows clarifies matters in that we of the circumcision
of the heart worship God in spirit and in truth, but they mind earthly
things and their own righteousness; and this is the secret of understanding
the New Covenant. We obey God spiritually through our Lord Jesus Christ
because we love Him and have been given the Holy Spirit. There is no big
stick to threaten us, to be obedient to His word, because no stick is needed.
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: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the
fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If
by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though
I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after,
if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ
Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing
I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto
those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be
perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God
shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already
attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren,
be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us
for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now
tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is
in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven;
from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall
change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,
according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto
The Law of the Old Covenant
Because reference is made to the Old Covenant, let’s go back there for
an explanation of what these evil workers were trying to accomplish in
Philippi. The LORD used worldly examples in the Old Covenant to show the
Israelites His will. They then took these worldly examples and followed
them instead of following God, thinking that this would buy them favour
with their Creator.
As an example, let’s consider the man who has a persistent headache and
continually takes aspirin to relieve the pain. Eventually he goes to a
doctor and discovers that he needs spectacles. Initially the man was treating
the symptoms, not finding the cause. When the cause was discovered, the
pain went away and he didn’t need to go back to the aspirin bottle.
God also used the method of reward or punishment. Please note that the
rewards and punishments were of a worldly nature. The spiritual rewards
were hidden, but still there:
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice
of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I
command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above
all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and
overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and
the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy
sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be
when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The
LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten
before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before
thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses,
and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in
the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. The LORD shall establish thee
an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt
keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. And all
people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD;
and they shall be afraid of thee. And the LORD shall make thee plenteous
in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and
in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers
to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven
to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work
of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not
borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou
shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken
unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day,
to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the
words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left,
to go after other gods to serve them.
Then let’s read verse fifteen; here is the big stick of the Old Covenant:
But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the
LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which
I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and
God’s Purpose is the Same
However, even though the LORD God gave these laws as examples of what was
righteous living, He still wanted the people to have the will to follow
Him, as is very clear in the following verses of the same chapter:
Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee,
and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not
unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes
which he commanded thee: And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for
a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the LORD
thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance
of all things;
Here is more, just a chapter or two on:
Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper
in all that ye do.
Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of
your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,
Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from
the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest
enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the
LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day
for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath
said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac,
and to Jacob. Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God,
and also with him that is not here with us this day: (For ye know how we
have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which
ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood
and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be
among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away
this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations;
lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; And
it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless
himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the
imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The LORD will
not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke
against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall
lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven. And
the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel,
according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book
of the law:
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the
blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call
them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven
thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice
according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with
all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will
turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and
gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered
thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from
thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch
thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers
possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply
thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart,
and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from
thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say,
Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear
it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who
shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it,
and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in
thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his
ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments,
that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee
in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away,
so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other
gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely
perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither
thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to
record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death,
blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed
We see here that God set the goalposts, the rules of salvation. You might
want to play rugby, but the rules are for soccer. You will not win a soccer
match with a bunch of rugby players, even though there are fifteen.
God Chose a Nation
We must remember that in the time of the Children of Israel and the Covenant
that God made with them, there was no Jesus to take the sin of the first
Adam away and no Holy Spirit to guide them. God chose them to be His people,
they didn’t each choose God joyfully and individually in an unanimous decision
as a nation, so they had the law. The law was a list of do’s and don’ts.
Do this according to the law and you will be blessed, do that against the
law and you are in trouble. God in His might chose them above other nations,
He gave them a chance to win everlasting life with Him. Those that wanted
it willingly obeyed the law.
This following is important to realise - all other nations were without
that choice, they had no chance to be with Him, they were in the discard
pile2. God even used the king of the Egyptians
to His purpose, to build faith in His chosen people before they left Egypt.
The New Covenant Means Freedom
When we become born again, we willingly and joyfully come into Covenant
with God through the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and because we
come to God out of choice and a free will, He really is our God and knows
it through the Holy Spirit that lives within us. He does not need to threaten
us with eternal damnation because we don't need to be threatened, we’ll
do what He wants joyfully, we are eager to do something for Him.
As an example, if everyone in South Africa willingly learned and then obeyed
the traffic laws, the traffic courts would fall into disuse and there would
be little work for traffic police because the need of enforcing the law
would fall away. There would be joyfulness in driving one’s car, it would
be pleasure instead of stress. Just imagine if everyone was polite and
considerate on the roads, thinking of the welfare of others, waving to
a passing stranger and knowing that the stranger was like-minded and would
wave back. Wouldn’t this be wonderful? Instead, some of us think of ourselves
only, driving like hooligans, changing lanes without indicating our intentions,
putting others at risk and then becoming upset when someone is angry with
us. Fists are waved at each other.
The above illustration shows the difference between being free of the law
when we consider others, or needing the law when we consider ourselves.
Therefore the law is there for the lawless at heart, those who willingly
break it, but has little effect on those whose will is to keep it.
But the law is still the same and is still there! I’ll repeat that;
God’s law to the reborn is still the same as it was to the Children
God’s Law is Still the Same
Jesus Himself confirmed this:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he
it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father,
and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith
unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself
unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If
a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and
we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not
keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the
Father's which sent me.
In the Old Covenant the Israelites were commanded by the LORD their God
to have no other Gods before Him; and the other commandments concerned
sins of the person, worldly sins, sins of selfishness.
The New Covenant’s commandments are slightly different:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This
is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all
the law and the prophets.
You see in the last verse that Jesus confirms that the Old Covenant law
is still applicable. To follow these commandments will be attempted by
you in your willingness to be obedient. At some stage during this process
you will become reborn spiritually, resulting in God placing the Holy Spirit
inside your body. Only now, as you obey the New Covenant commandments
with Spiritual power, will you experience the freedom from the worldly
law. You will experience an attitude change within yourself and notice
similar happenings to others as the Holy Spirit works with them. Your whole
attitude to life changes, everything that you do is coloured by what your
Lord would expect of you. Strangers will say “How are you so different
from others?” It is God’s Spiritual force within you that is released during
your loving obedient walk with your Lord, becoming more noticeable with
time, the further along the narrow path that you go with Him.
Beware of Evil Workers
If, once we are reborn, we are led astray by someone we trust, deceived
into believing something about our God that is untrue, not listening for
the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, drawing slowly away until we no longer
hear His voice, falling victim to the “angel of light” until we are back
in the world, when it is too much trouble to read our Bible or pray to
our Covenant Partner, when we break the trust of the spiritual Covenant,
we are in big, big, trouble.
We shall die some day and in eternal timelessness will shortly stand before
the terrible righteousness of our Creator, to learn that we accepted what
He had to give in the Covenant but spurned the idea that we were expected
to do anything in return, that we spat in His face. Oh what woe and gnashing
of teeth, what despair. Being repentant then is too late. It would have
been better never to have made the Covenant in the first place3.
Satan’s Purpose is Still the Same
Those churchgoers of Paul’s day who were of the above category or who did
not know the freedom of being born again, and it is obvious that there
were many of them, were the ones that Satan was able to use in the churches
It is the same today, the people, clergy and lay, give God lip service,
treating the symptoms, believing that this is sufficient to buy favour
with Him; when He requires us to love and obey Him. Being a child of God
doesn’t mean that one must be circumcised, or speak in tongues, these are
outward signs. Inward signs are those described in Galatians 5:22-23 and
It is a great mystery, this apostasy, Paul calls it the mystery of iniquity4,
which gives us a clue as to how people such as many of the television evangelists
and famous charismatic leaders, who drive ostentatious cars and have fat
bank accounts, become deluded by Satan - the great deceiver. Many of these
people started off straight, but possibly they had a secret sin, or they
desperately wanted something, something more than God was willing to give
them, something more than obeying Him without question; and as a result
allowed Satan entrance into their lives5.
For example, I have a copy of the monthly newsletter of a very large local
charismatic church, where on one page it is recognised that we are in the
last days and on another they promote Ecumenism and AD 2000. Now according
to the word of God6 these two things, like
oil and water, just don’t go together. In 2 Thessalonians 2 verse 10, God
warns His church once again through His servant Paul.
Please be Aware
These apostates of today have the same spirit as that of the priests and
people that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, etc. warned the
Israelites about, the same that Jesus of Nazareth warned the people about
and the same that Paul warned the churches of his day about. Please be
warned - your preacher might be an unknowing tool of Satan; and the only
way of discerning this is by being born again and then listening to God’s
voice through the Holy Spirit when praying and studying His word. If your
spiritual leader cannot or will not worship the Lord joyfully, in spirit
and truth and teach through the power of the Holy Spirit, move on7.
Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you on the right path.
The disciples of Jesus didn’t have Holy Spirit power inside them before
the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; bring to mind the occasion of
Peter denying association with Jesus three times.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost
is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
However, after the day of Pentecost Peter was a different person inside,
he was bold and without fear8.
The Israelites, the “chosen people”, the called ones, were the Old Covenant
equivalent of the church, the “Christians”, the called ones of today. As
we saw in Deuteronomy 28, only those who served the LORD with joyfulness
and with gladness of heart received the abundance of all things. They used
their will, their soul, to be obedient to the law. All the Israelites were
called but only those such as Joshua and Caleb were blessed by being chosen,
to inherit the Promised Land. In the church of today, most of those present
have heard the call of the Lord, but only those who play by the rules are
chosen. Only those Christians who use their will, who choose to become
born again will receive the Holy Spirit, become spiritual and discern spiritual
things9. Only they will love God’s righteousness,
obey the Covenant and inherit the spiritual Promised Land.
Of all the people described in the Old Covenant, the most blessed was probably
David the shepherd boy who became king. We only need to read Psalm 40 to
To those many millions, the Israelites in the Old Covenant who took God’s
love lightly; the churchgoers who do the same; the born again servants
of God who do the same - all will stand before God on that day. What a
To the handful of people10 who take God
seriously, whose names are in the books of life - what a glorious day.
The message of the Old Covenant is:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt
meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according
to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous,
and then thou shalt have good success.
That of the New Covenant:
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
The idea is the same, but stated differently. Follow the idea and we are
able to Rejoice in the Lord.
Wonderful Father, Word and Holy Ghost, who bear record in heaven, thank
you for the chance of being with You one day in glorious peace, where there
will be no tears, where we will joyfully worship You.
1 See Matthew 15: 22-28.
2 See Amos 3:2; Ephesians 2:12.
3 See Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-29; 2 Peter 2:20-21.
4 See 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
5 See 2 Peter 2:15-19.
6 See 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
7 See 2 Corinthians 6:15-18; Revelation 18:4.
8 See Acts 3
9 See 1 Corinthians 2:12-16.
10 See Luke 13:24-27