Judaizers and Charlatans

Philippians 3:2 ESV

“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.”

The term “dog” is used here figuratively to denote someone who is a spiritual predator who feeds off others. They are the impure. They are workers of evil. They are the unholy, rapacious (greedy, insatiable, destructive, harmful, aggressive), those who flatter others to their own advantage, but who will take you apart (devour you) if you resist them and/or if you oppose them and their actions (behaviors, conduct).

They can be Judaizers who try to convince Christians that they need to be more like Jews, and that it would enhance their faith in Christ if they would participate in some of the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, and dietary laws and restrictions. And this is going on today. There are groups of Messianic Jews who are going to various institutional churches where they are indeed trying to convince professing Christians that if they were more like Jews that it would somehow draw them closer to God.

Back in the time this was written this is what was going on, only they were adding these Old Covenant things on to their salvation. And this included the practice of circumcision, as though if they were not circumcised (I assume males only) that they were not genuinely saved. And so Paul addressed this subject frequently, for we as Christians are not under the Old Covenant. We are under the New Covenant. But we still have Jesus’ commands that we are required to obey, so New Covenant does not mean lawlessness.

But the bigger issue in the church today is these “dogs” who are teaching Christians or professing or prospective Christians that all they have to do is make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and now all their sins are forgiven, and heaven is guaranteed them when they die, regardless of how they live on this earth. For they teach against everything they call “works,” teaching that it is false to say we have to do works, and so they often also claim we do not have to repent of our sins and we do not have to obey God.

But they twist the Scriptures. Yes, we are not saved by our own fleshly works. There is not anything anyone of us can do in the flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. And we are not saved by the works of the Old Covenant, either. Only by God’s grace, through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on that cross, and through God-given faith – a faith that is not of our own doing – can any of us be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But that faith to believe in Jesus is not of ourselves, not of our own doing. So we can’t create our own idea of what faith looks like. For Jesus Christ is the author and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2), and our faith is gifted to us by God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ (John 6:44), i.e. unless he first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to repent of our sins and to follow Jesus in obedience.

And this faith is not absent of works. They are just the works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). We must die with Christ to sin and be raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, and we must be dead to sin and alive to God, and we must now walk in holiness and in righteousness and in obedience to our Lord and no longer in sin or we won’t inherit eternal life with God.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Philippians 3:3 ESV

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”

Now here the word “circumcision” is used in a different context. Here this is speaking of a cutting away of our sinful flesh via dying with Christ to sin and via being raised with him to walk in newness of life in him. So we put no confidence in our own flesh and in our own fleshly works. Our confidence is in our Lord Jesus Christ and in his sacrifice on that cross for our sins so that we could be delivered out of our slavery to sin and be empowered of God to now live godly and holy lives in obedience to our Lord Jesus.

Philippians 3:17-19 ESV

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”

So, instead of listening to these “dogs,” i.e. these charlatans and wolves in sheep’s clothing who are either adding to God’s requirements for salvation or who are removing God’s requirements for salvation from sin, we are to be those who are following Jesus Christ, and who are studying the Scriptures in their context so that we know and so we can obey what they teach us who are believers in Jesus Christ. And if you can find any godly men or women out there who are living with integrity then you should follow their godly example. But test what they teach against the Scriptures in context.

The Prayer

Written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager,
Alberto Testa and Tony Renis

I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

I pray we’ll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When the stars go out each night
Remind us where you are.

Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

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P.S. This is not an endorsement of the singers other than as musicians

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