Growing up, I often came across the inscription “Beware of Dogs” hung on tall gates of beautiful buildings. The notice serves to indicate the presence of a dangerous dog and the possibility of an attack upon trespass.
You can only imagine my utter shock when I found same statement in the bible. In Philippians 3:2, the erudite Apostle averred “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision!”.
“Ha! Who offended our beloved Brother Paul?” “Why would he term people for whom Christ died ‘Dogs’ seeking preys?”
Of course, later, I understood that Paul was not referring to the four-footed creature but to certain people.
To understand Paul’s gist, you would have to deploy the principle of context, by reading the whole chapter to get good insight into the meaning of the text. The gravity of his choice of words, reveals to us that the subject being addressed is a very important one.
Paul called these people “dogs” “evil workers”, the “concision” in the same breath. He was warning the saints in Phillipi against certain false teachers, who esteemed the requirements of the Law of Moses above the free gift of righteousness that God gives. They peddled the error that keeping Jewish ceremonial laws especially the mutilation of the flesh, was a pre-condition for salvation. In other words, saying a man can merit God’s salvation by observing certain practices.
These false teachers maintained a faulty stance that the cutting of the foreskin, is what makes a man clean and separated from the world, whether Jew or gentile. They tried to pressure new converts to be mutilated and observe the ordinances. Addressing this, Paul did a sharp contrast by using the word “concision” and “circumcision to hit different points. Concision was used in a scornful manner to refer to the mere cutting of foreskin. He established that true circumcision is by the Spirit of God. The indwelling of the Spirit is the mark that identifies the Christian as God’s own and separates him from the world.True circumcision is by the Spirit of God. The indwelling of the Spirit is the mark that identifies the Christian as God’s own and separates him from the world. Click To Tweet
In essence, believing that your works or physical actions make you right with God, is tantamount to putting your confidence in the flesh. Contrary to such belief, Paul declares “We rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”.
To further emphasize his point, Paul invites these false teachers into the boxing ring of the flesh to spar with words. Hear Paul:
“Lend me your ears. I am Paul of the tribe of Benjamin, a favorite tribe among the Jews as you all know. A staunch pharisee, who was zealous and upheld the law religiously to the letter. I do not know as many of you who has been violent as I was against Christians, I pursued them in the cities and hinterlands in persecution to jail or kill them. As to the practices of the law, I observed the most rigorous standards.”
Paul listed his Jewish credentials to show that if it were remotely possible to gain righteousness by obeying the Jewish laws, he would have been one of the most qualified.
However, he reaches a conclusion that the righteousness that comes through these activities of the flesh is not the real deal. It is indeed a filthy rag. He would rather be found having the righteousness which is through the faith of Christ. Paul is saying “I’ve been there, done that, there is no power to save therein.”
Just like Paul, you must settle it in your heart, that according to God’s justice system, you will never be right by your works. For if the Lord will mark iniquities, who shall stand? The right standing of the believer is a gift from God and must always be seen as such.You must settle it in your heart, that according to God’s justice system, you will never be right with him by your works. For if the Lord will mark iniquities, who shall stand? Click To Tweet
The law had a purpose- to reveal the sinful nature of man to him, to be a guide to the people of Israel until the Son comes. And that’s where it ends. Christ has fulfilled the demands of the law.The life of the Christian started by grace, is powered by grace, and will always remain by grace. Boasting is excluded. Click To Tweet
The life of the Christian started by grace, is powered by grace, and will always remain by grace. The gift of God does not come by the works of the law. When we stand before God in the end, none of us, not ONE will be able to boast about our self-righteous deeds, or ordinances. We will only lift our hands in awe and bless the Lord for his grace that saved and kept us.Dear friend, you cannot behave yourself into God’s acceptance. Your confidence must be in Christ Jesus, not your ability. Click To Tweet
Dear friend, you cannot behave yourself into God’s acceptance. Your confidence must remain in Christ Jesus, not your ability. Do not expose yourself to danger. BEWARE OF DOGS!!!