“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
In this powerful passage, God used Paul to identify the spiritual position He would have every Christian to embrace, having “no confidence in the flesh.” If any man had reason to boast of his past position and accomplishments, it would be Paul. He was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, and a zealous Pharisee. He testified, “If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more” (Philippians 3:4). However, Paul laid aside all of those things, wherein he might have confidence, that he might know and serve God by faith.
We all have a natural tendency to trust in some ability or accomplishment of the flesh. One can only wonder how many millions will die in their sin and spend an eternity without Christ and salvation because they thought they were somehow good enough to earn Heaven on their personal merit. Paul admonishes us to put no confidence in the flesh. There is absolutely nothing that man can produce that will gain any favor before God. If men are trusting in their good works, church membership, or baptism, etc., to get them to Heaven, they are going to be sadly and eternally regretful. As the old hymn, “Rock of Ages” declares, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” Our confidence for salvation is not in ourselves or in anything we have done. Rather, it is in Christ and what He has done for us on the cross. He suffered and bled and died for our sins. Our faith is in His perfect sacrifice and bodily resurrection, that completely – and that only.
Likewise, as Christians, we put no confidence in our flesh when it comes to our Christian works or service for God. Just as there is a temptation for sinners to trust in some aspect of the flesh for their justification, there is a similar temptation for believers to trust in some fleshly talent or prior experience rather than to trust in the Lord and His great grace. We are to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin in the body of Christ and be raised again by His power that we might serve Him in the power of the Spirit rather than in the energy of the flesh.
The flesh cannot please God. But as we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and trust in Him to work through us, our confidence is in the Lord and not in our flesh. The Bible is clear – confidence in the flesh is sin.