Monday, September 23, 2013

Two Edged Sword

The Marks of a Christian

“For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3 (NAS)

Growing up in Nigeria, I often encountered people with scars on their faces – marks which had been purposefully carved into their faces when they were babies. This may sound like a barbaric practice but it actually had an intelligent purpose. The marks served to identify the child’s tribe and family. I have heard different reasons for the practice and am honestly not certain which one is accurate. But one report claims that it began many years ago during the slave trade. Nigeria was one of the African nations hit hardest by the trade. In those days, ships came to the west cost of Africa with men who invaded villages, and captured the people to sell as slaves. The Africans were stripped of all possessions including anything that might identify them. When babies and children became separated from their families, they grew up with no knowledge of who they were. By placing a mark on the child which distinguished which tribe and family that child belonged to, if he or she ever found his way back to his homeland, he could be identified immediately.

 The book of Revelation tells of another mark - “the mark of the Beast”.  Like the facial marks in Nigeria, the Beast’s mark will identify a group of people – those who follow the Antichrist. Do Christians have “marks” by which we can be identified? If so, what are they? What are the marks of a Christian? John 13:35 says men will know we are Jesus’ disciples if we love one another. Love then, must be one of the marks of a Christian; but are there others?

The 3rd chapter of Philippians gives a very good description of what a believer should look like.  Philippians 3:3 says we will “worship in the Spirit, glory in Christ, and put no confidence in the flesh.” There it is – the marks of a Christian.  But what do these words mean?

Thankfully, the apostle Paul continues to explain what he meant in the rest of Philippians 3. Paul explains in great detail what it means to worship in the Spirit, glory in Christ, and put no confidence in the flesh. He says it well in verses 7-8, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in the view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ.”

What about you and me? Are we worshipping in the Spirit? Are we glorying in Jesus? And the hardest question of all – are we putting any (even the smallest amount) of confidence in the flesh?

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