One of These Things Just Doesn’t Belong

Haven’t watched Sesame Street in a lot of years . . . but a learning game on that show came to mind this morning as I was reading. It was the game where four things were displayed together and the task was too identify which of the four was different. Though the objects were all similar, four bowls of cereal for instance, one of them was was not like the other, like one of the bowls being bigger than the other three . . . one of them didn’t belong with the others. I guess it was aimed at helping kids develop pattern recognition . . . at getting their brains to scrutinize for inconsistencies. But this morning I’m thinking that there’s some spiritual benefit from, every so often, lining up my behaviors and attitudes . . . stepping back . . . and asking myself, “Do all these really go together?”

For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh . . .     (Philippians 3:3 ESV)

There they are . . . three things . . . 1) worship by the Spirit of God . . . 2) glorying in Christ Jesus . . . 3) putting confidence in the flesh.

Although all three can appear religious in nature, only two are associated with “the real thing.” One of these things is not like the other . . . one of these things just doesn’t belong . . .

Worship that is real is sacrificial service prompted and enabled by the Spirit of God. Glorying that is authentic is boasting in Christ alone . . . in His perfect Person . . . in His finished work. These are marks of “the real circumcision” . . . the sign of those who are the people of God. Spirit powered . . . Christ focused . . . evidences of the real thing.

Confidence in the flesh? Not so much . . .

Oh, I can go through the Christian motions . . . say the right stuff . . . do the right things . . . dot the right spiritual i’s . . . cross the right spiritual t’s . . . but if I think it’s about my performance and my effort . . . if I think I’m securing my standing before Christ because I’m earning it . . . then I’m not getting it. Confidence in who I think I am or what I think I’m doing just doesn’t belong.

The grace of God that I depended on to save me from my sin, is the same grace I rely upon to sanctify me for His service. Just as I gave all glory to Christ for His work on the cross on my behalf . . . so too, I declare Him alone as my sufficiency as He continues to intercede on my behalf before the throne the Father. What began as a work of God through His Spirit, I recognize as work that will be completed through His Spirit.

Sure, mine is to submit . . . mine is to obey . . . but apart from His divine nature at work in me, I’d be unable to do either . . . the Spirit is doing the work. And yeah, maybe my walk is mostly consistent with my talk . . . but that is only because of Christ in me . . . He, and He alone, gets the glory.

Confidence in the flesh . . . it get’s 4 X’s . . . no place for it . . . no reason for it . . . it just doesn’t belong.


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