Philippians 3:2-4 NIV
“Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and take pride in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself could boast as having confidence even in the flesh.”
Beware of the Dogs
A dog is considered to be someone despicable, who is a spiritual predator who feeds off others. It is often used as a term describing a false teacher. It is describing the impure, the wicked, i.e., those outside of genuine faith in Jesus Christ, particularly those who are workers of evil.
The dogs are the unclean, unholy, who are masters at smooth talk and flattery and who manipulate and deceive the naïve. They oppose the true gospel of salvation and they teach a false gospel of men, of the flesh, not of the Spirit. They also oppose the Lord’s servants and messengers who are teaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ and who are exposing the lies.
Today they would be any teachers of any false gospel which opposes the true gospel of our salvation as Jesus taught it and as Paul and the other apostles taught it, in its fulness, i.e., the whole counsel of God. In other words, if we want to know the true gospel, we have to read the Bible in context and not take Scriptures out of context to build our doctrines.
Whether these dogs, i.e., these false teachers, are teaching true legalism (man-made rules), not of God, or whether they are teaching a cheapened form of God’s grace which is a lie of Satan, either one is still of the flesh of man, not of God, not of God’s Spirit, and thus not the true gospel.
And that really is the lesson here. We are to beware those who are teaching any false gospel of men, which is of the flesh and not of the Spirit of God. And we are to beware those who would try to convince you that the true gospel is a lie and that a false gospel is the truth. And they make their case by twisting the Scriptures by removing them from their context.
When Paul speaks here of putting confidence in the flesh, he is speaking of those things which are external, such as physical circumcision, membership in a particular church denomination, church attendance, forms of religion, days and ceremonies regarded as sacred, rules about clothing, and loyalty to one particular Bible translation to the point of treating brothers and sisters in Christ with meanness who don’t worship the same Bible translation.
He is not talking about repentance, obedience to Christ and submission to Christ as Lord of our lives as though they are of the flesh, and not of the Spirit. Those who teach that are liars.
Beware of the False Circumcision
The Scriptures are quite clear that the circumcision that is of the Spirit is performed without hands in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which we were also raised with him through faith in the working of God (Col 2:11-12; see also Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
So, what is this saying? It is saying that we who believe in Jesus are of the true circumcision, which is dying with Christ to sin, being buried with Christ in death to sin, and being raised with Christ by God to newness of life in Christ to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness.
When we believed in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, if we did, in truth, our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be done away with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin but so we would now live holy and godly lives as slaves of his righteousness.
All throughout the New Testament, particularly in Paul’s writings, we are told we must walk (in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, that we must put off living like we did before we came to faith in Jesus Christ and that we are now to walk in purity of devotion to our Lord in holiness, godliness, and righteousness.
So, taking confidence in the flesh has to do with things which are outward, not having anything to do with the change of our hearts away from sin to walking in obedience to the Lord. Confidence in the flesh also has to do with taking pride in the works of the flesh which are sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, pride, greed, slander, and the like.
If we are walking in true holiness and righteousness, it comes from God, not from our flesh. There is a huge difference between us trying to live self-righteous lives which take pride in the flesh and us living in the power of God in his righteousness which comes from him who is now living within us empowering us to live godly and holy lives for his praise and glory.
The first one lives by the flesh and does everything in one’s own strength and power. The second one lives by the Spirit and does everything in the strength and power of God’s Holy Spirit. We can’t obey the Lord in the flesh or it is not obedience. It may be following a set of rules, but it isn’t obedience. The Pharisees were rule followers, to a certain extent, but they were not obedient to the Lord.
No Confidence in the Flesh
So, to teach this passage of Scripture today, when we say to beware evil workers (the dogs) who are of the false circumcision, this is not speaking just of legalism, but it is speaking of all those who teach a false gospel created in the minds of humans which is contrary to the holiness of God.
Those who are teaching or who are implying that we can believe in Jesus, be forgiven our sins, be saved, and have heaven guaranteed us when we die, but that we don’t have to repent of our sins, or obey the Lord, or submit to the Lordship of Christ over our lives, they are lying to you.
If they are teaching that a mere profession of faith in Christ or words repeated after someone in a prayer secures you salvation from sin and eternity with God, don’t believe them. The Scriptures teach that we must walk (in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh if we want that hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God (Rom 8:1-17).
And the Scriptures teach that we will reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (death). But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-8; cf. Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10).
So, just because it may sound good to your ears doesn’t make it true. Remember that they killed Jesus because they didn’t like what he taught. Many deserted him because they said what he taught was hard. For, he taught that we must die with him to sin and live to his righteousness.
So, read the Scriptures in context prayerfully with a willing mind and heart to be taught by the Spirit of God and to learn the truth. For many will call him “Lord,” but it doesn’t mean he is Lord of their lives. We must die with him to sin daily and follow him in obedience to his commands (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Jn 10:27).
Should I Not Preach Jesus
An Original Work / July 4, 2013
Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13
Woe to me should I not preach Jesus.
I’m compelled to preach the full gospel.
I make myself a slave to ev’ryone
To win their hearts to Christ.
All this I do for my Lord Jesus,
And for the sake of His Name;
Do it for the sake of His gospel,
So that I, its blessings gain.
Scripture notates the sins of others;
Written down for us as examples
To keep us from setting our hearts
On evil as did those of old.
Do not worship other gods of man;
Do not give your hearts to them;
Not partake in immorality.
Do not test your Lord and King.
So, be careful if you think you are
Standing firm in your faith in Jesus.
God has given his word to warn us,
So through faith we will not fall.
No temptation has o’ertaken you
Except what is commonplace.
God is faithful to not let you be
Tempted past what you can bear.
He gives the way of escape.