Watch Out for the Dogs

Philippians 3:2-4 ESV

“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh — though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also.”

A “dog” is often a symbol of a false teacher, and figuratively speaking is a spiritual predator who feeds off others. So, a “dog” is anyone who uses manipulation, trickery, lies, fear tactics, and the twisting of Scripture in order to pressure or to persuade others to follow a particular belief system that is contrary to what Jesus and his New Testament apostles taught.

In the case of what is being discussed in this letter to the Philippian church, Paul was addressing the subject of the Judaizers who were adding circumcision and some other Old Covenant ceremonial and liturgical laws and other Jewish traditions on to the believer’s salvation in Christ by faith in Christ Jesus as Lord (owner-master) and Savior.

So, Paul was stating that we who are in Christ Jesus by faith in Jesus Christ are the circumcision, which is not of the flesh, but of the Spirit, and which is the circumcision of the heart, not of the physical flesh. It is a cutting away of a different kind of flesh, i.e., our sin, via us dying with Christ to sin and us being resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him (Rom 6:1-23).

Paul talked about this much in his letters to the various churches. He said that, as followers of Jesus, that we should no longer live like we did before we believed in Jesus. We should have been taught the truth in Christ that we are to put off our old self and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:17-24; Lu 9:23-26; Tit 2:11-14).

This is not of the flesh, though, but is of the Spirit, but we must cooperate with the working of the Spirit in our lives in the putting off of our old sinful flesh and in the putting on of Christ and his righteousness and holiness. For, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who WALK (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Rom 8:1-17).

While it is true that we are not saved by our only fleshly good works, we are saved to doing the good works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them. So, our salvation is not absent of works, just they are the works of God he has for us to do (Eph 2:8-10; Tit 2:14; Php 2:12-13).

The “dogs” that are of primary concern in the church today are not so much the legalists who are adding fleshly works on to their salvation. What is of primary concern in the church today is those who are teaching liberty to keep on living in sin without conscience, without guilt, and with no requirement for repentance, obedience, or submission to Christ as Lord.

Philippians 3:7-11 ESV

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

When we believe in Jesus Christ with childlike faith, which comes from God, and which originates with Jesus Christ, and is perfected in him, we die with Christ to sin so that we might live with Christ to his righteousness and holiness. Our old self is crucified with Christ in death to sin so that we can now walk in victory over sin, living holy lives pleasing to God (Rom 6:1-23).

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and for self) that we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (die with him daily to sin) for his sake, then we have life eternal in him (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 8:1-17).

Yes, we are not declared righteous in God’s sight through our own works of our own flesh of our own choosing. In our own flesh we all come up short of attaining God’s approval. Not one of us can ever be good enough in our own merit or in our own strength and willpower. No amount of religious rituals and church attendance or tithing will secure heaven for us.

Only via submission to Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, in the surrendering of our lives to him, in the forsaking of our sins to following him in obedience to his ways, by the Spirit, will save us from our sins and secure for us life eternal with God. For we must die with Christ to sin if we are to live to Christ and to his righteousness. This is how we are becoming like him in his death (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Lu 9:23-26).

For, it is not those who profess faith in Jesus Christ who are declared righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who live righteously, by God’s grace, and in his strength and power, who are righteous in the sight of God. For, if we continue living in sin we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God. We must suffer with Christ in death to sin if we are to live with Christ for eternity (Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6).

So, if there are any “dogs” who are telling you that you can believe in Jesus and have heaven secured as your eternal destiny but that you don’t have to repent of your sins or follow the Lord in obedience, or that you don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord, please do not believe them. Read the Scriptures for yourself but read them in context one verse and one chapter at a time, and you will see the truth if you are willing to see the truth and so be saved.

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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