Ray Stedman Rejoice! The Menace of External Religion A daily devotion for March 18th

A daily devotion for March 18th

TOPIC – The Menace of External Religion by Ray Stedman

Read the Scripture: Philippians 3:2

Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. Phil 3:2

This is a warning about the menace of external religion. This seems like a rather abrupt change of subject, but there is a very vital connection with the previous verse. What is it that destroys rejoicing in the Lord? It’s dwelling on external circumstances as being the important thing. It’s looking away from the indwelling Lord to the outward event with which you are concerned, and counting that the important thing. That will inevitably destroy a spirit of rejoicing. So he warns against certain false teachers who were posing as Christians, who went about trying to get peoples’ faith centered on outward things. A daily devotion for March 18th

A daily devotion for March 18th

The terms he uses to describe these men are bold and blunt, because in matters of this importance the apostle never minces words. He calls them three things: dogs, evil-doers, mutilators. The reference to dogs is not to the pampered, shampooed, manicured pets we have today. These were not cultured canines. These were the snarling, half-wild curs found on the streets of the city. They can still be found today. The term dogs is a term of reproach used by both Jew and Gentile. Because of what the dogs fed on, they were regarded as unclean animals. They fed on the refuse of the streets, the garbage, decayed meat, rotten vegetables that had been disposed.

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Now all of this kind of teaching has a strong appeal to our human thinking because of its apparent show of devotion. I think all of us at one time or another have sensed this kind of appeal, the appeal of some ornate, solemn ritual done in a religious manner, as being worthy of some merit before God. The earnest, sincere endeavor of a tireless worker is appealing. It is so gratifying to the religious ego to perform some solemn ritual, and to be constantly busy at religious work, or even to mock the flesh in some way perhaps with a distinctive garb or an identifying posture. All of this, Paul says, is the enemy of true spirituality. It destroys the spirit of rejoicing, and it makes religion an empty, barren mockery. It puts the emphasis on the external, and removes it from the vital, the interior genuine aspects of faith.

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Forgive me. Lord, that I so often opt for external religion instead of the real thing, and miss out on the joy that comes from knowing you live within me and are always working out your good purposes in my life.

Life Application: Grace, God’s unearned, unmerited favor, is counter-intuitive to the world’s system. Are we learning to serve God and others out of gratitude and worship, rejoicing that He does His work in and through us?

We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion. A daily devotion for March 18th

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