October 2 – Religious Credentials are Dung

October 2
Isaiah 66:1-24
Philippians 3:4-21
Psalm 74:1-23
Proverbs 24:15-16

Isaiah 66:1 – This verse was one of the last words of Stephen (Acts 7:49), and was the transition from narrating the history of Israel to condemning his accusers. Isaiah has been the voice of the LORD rejecting the religious practices of His people:

  • Sacrifices – Isaiah 1:11
  • Fasting – Isaiah 58:5
  • Building Projects – Isaiah 66:1-2

Isaiah 66:22-24 – Wow – Isaiah concludes with a stark contrast. The redeemed of the LORD will dwell in the new heavens and the new earth, and the men that transgress against the LORD – their worm shall not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:44, 46, 48). From GotQuestions:

Mark 9:48 does not mean that there are literal worms in hell or that there are worms that live forever; rather, Jesus is teaching the fact of unending suffering in hell—the “worm” never stops causing torment. Notice that the worm is personal. Both Isaiah 66:24 and Mark 9:48 use the word their to identify the worm’s owner. The sources of torment are attached each to its own host.

Some Bible scholars believe the “worm” refers to a man’s conscience. Those in hell, being completely cut off from God, exist with a nagging, guilty conscience that, like a persistent worm, gnaws away at its victim with a remorse that can never be mitigated. No matter what the word worm refers to, the most important thing to be gained from these words of Christ is that we should do everything in our power to escape the horrors of hell, and there is only one thing to that end—receiving Jesus as the Lord of our lives (John 3:16).


Philippians 3:8 – Paul recognizes the truth of Isaiah – God doesn’t care what religious credentials we have. No matter if we’ve been circumcised the eight day, a Pharisee, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. Paul declares it is dung, echoing Malachi 2:3. Now there is a trend amongst the cool theologians to say that Paul really said a more vulgar version of the word dung, but Gary Manning helpfully debunks that myth:

Paul was not alone in using σκύβαλα as a metaphor for something worthless in the moral or religious realm. Philo and Sirach both used σκύβαλα to describe undesirable qualities that should be abandoned. Paul’s interesting, and somewhat different, use of the word is to say that his desirable religious credentials (circumcision, pedigree, Pharisaism, zeal, obedience to the Law) were σκύβαλα – worthless waste – in comparison to knowing Jesus (Phil 3:4-8).


Philippians 3:9 – Paul said his righteousness of the law was dung. It was worthless because it was powerless. Now the righteousness of Christ was powerful (Philippians 3:10) – it is priceless (not worthless) because it is powerful – so powerful it can defeat death (Philippians 3:11) 

Philippians 3:12 – Jesus caught Paul, now Paul is trying to catch Jesus. Notice that Paul hasn’t apprehended (entire sanctification) until glorification (Philippians 3:11).

Philippians 3:14 – May this be our goal in life as well. Not seeking a prize of an Olympic gold medal, or a Super Bowl ring, or a Fantasy Football championship, but of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! What a day that will be (Philippians 3:21).

Psalm 74:18 – What does God say about His name? There are 90 references in the Old Testament to My Name. What does God think about people who misuse His Name?

Proverbs 24:16 – Endurance is the mark of a just man. Don’t stop, Don’t Quit! (Sounds like Philippians 3:14!)

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