In the Image
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” Phil 3:2 (KJV)
After the Apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus he spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel abroad and intimately caring for the saints. This is in great contrast to his life prior to salvation, when he persecuted the church. However once he met the Lord, his life was completely changed, as should be the case with all true Christians. Just like him, we should go from godlessness to godliness. We should care for one another with a fervent love that goes beyond comprehension. Paul showed that love to the saints in many different ways. He preached Christ crucified to them, he exhorted and rebuked when necessary, and he also gave warnings of danger that we as Christians may encounter in our Christian walk.
We believers too often get comfortable in our position in Christ, and often forget that we are soldiers in God’s army. The battlefield is a dangerous place and we need to constantly have our armor on and beware of those who would like nothing more than to do us harm. As soldiers we have a seasoned adversary who is determined to fight to the end. He is an eternal enemy of the cross of Christ and desires greatly to accuse the brethren before the throne of God. In Philippians 3:1, right before Paul warns us of three things, he tells us that to do so is not grievous to him but it is safe for us. This warning is one that we as Christians should be aware of and heed for our own safety.
The first part is: “Beware of dogs.” Even though many of the characteristics may be the same, this isn’t in reference to our four-legged friends that many of us consider to be family members. Consider the nation of Israel. Throughout the Scriptures they often referred to the unbelieving gentile nations as dogs. They were considered unclean. Yes, Israel was a very privileged people, in the sense that they were given the written oracles of God and were chosen as a special people to do God’s will. However, this became their downfall, because they came to believe that they were better than others, instead of realizing they were sinners that still needed the salvation of the One who chose them. Obviously the term “dogs” here cannot refer to gentiles. The Jews denied their Messiah and the gospel was given to the gentiles, and in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, but one new man. “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” Eph 2:14 (KJV).
No, the reference here is to those of an impure mind. Those who do not have the mind of Christ, because they do not know Him as their personal Lord and Savior. Paul warns us about these people, for our safety. They should be easy to identify because their impurity of mind should stand out to us in glaring contradiction to the things of Christ. Consider the evolutionists. They try to defeat God from the beginning. They attack and contradict His word and try to change the fact that He created all things in six literal days, by telling us there is no God and things were formed from some gigantic explosion that happened billions of years ago. Yet intellect tells us that explosions cannot take place from nothing. So where did the materials for the explosion come from? Explosions do not create; they destroy. Evolutionists would fall into the impure mind group, or “dogs.” They are enemies of Christ who should be easily identified; they are of the world and the world’s system which is in rebellion against God. Their minds are corrupt and we need to beware of their attacks against our foundation. They hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” Romans 1:18 (KJV).
Next Paul warns us, “beware of evil workers.” This is literally translated “deceitful workers.” They are ones who will work in a cunning or underhanded way. They are corrupt, but much more difficult to identify because of the crafty ways they may use to ambush us. Unlike the dogs who openly attack the things of God, the evil workers use stealth. Stealth is one of the main components used by military units to obtain the advantage over the enemy. I remember when we were training some national guard units, and we tried to infiltrate their perimeters at night. One company was camped around an old creek bed so we traveled up it under cover of darkness to try to get in among them. Once within their perimeter one of our soldiers was half heartedly challenged by one of them. We thought the operation was about to be discovered but our guy just said he was a private who was lost that was supposed to report for duty and asked where headquarters was. The soldier he asked unexpectedly gave the enemy directions, and we proceeded to show them how ill-prepared they were to deal with us. This is precisely how evil workers do their job, just as we did when we used deceit to gain their trust and make them think we belonged to their unit, when in fact we were an opposing force with our own ambitions, and were seeking to do them great harm from within their own perimeter. Evil workers do much the same in the body of Christ. They work in sneaky ways. They pretend to agree with us, they hide their true colors, so as to infiltrate what we consider to be safe zones, and from within they try to divide and conquer, seeking to attain their own goals. These goals are against God and can do much harm to His church. This creates great problems for the body of Christ, as many times these infiltrators make themselves pass for loving Christians, and knit themselves into the local body. But even though they deceive men, they cannot deceive God, and at some point He will expose them in some way. When they are discovered it is often a painful time of conflict, and people that had knit together are torn apart by actions of evil workers. This causes many problems within a local fellowship. So, beware the evil workers. Like they say in drivers education, “always heed the warning signs.” We should heed the warnings found in the epistles of James and Peter.
Finally Paul warns us to “beware of the concision.” This word actually means to “cut off” or to “mutilate.” This was a warning that had direct reference to those of Paul’s time that were following him around and stirring up trouble; teaching that one must be circumcised in addition to believing in Christ in order to be saved. What they were doing was mutilating the gospel; adding to it in a way that God never intended. They were adding to the simplicity of believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth in order to be saved. Therefore making it different from God’s word.
This word “concision” could refer to many in our day. We have those that go around saying you must be baptized to be saved. Others say you must perform good works to be saved, or speak in tongues. Others tell us exactly what Paul was dealing with, that we must live according to the law. Some are even more heretical and say Mary was a co-redemptress, or that Jesus suffered at the hands of Satan for three days after His death. All these things take away from the finished work of Christ and the work He alone accomplished on the cross of Calvary. They add a human aspect to salvation instead of complete dependency on the Savior. Yes, those of the concision are alive and well in our day and age. The lesson to be learned here is as Christians we need to know what the Bible says about these and other doctrinal issues, and not mix them up with salvation. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Tim 2:15 (KJV). The key phrase here is “rightly dividing the word of truth.” God’s Word does not contradict itself.
The concision is really a very dangerous group because they also claim to be brethren. Many are even leaders and teachers. Well-respected in the religious world, they have sway over people’s lives with the words that they preach and teach. The situation can be much like it was back in the garden of Eden when Satan tempted Eve. God said, “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” Gen 3:3 (KJV). But then old Satan comes along and changes what God said. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” Gen 3:4 (KJV). He added one little word and made what God said mean something completely different. It was wrong, it was a lie, and it cost humanity dearly. Unfortunately it cost God even more, for that death was ultimately paid for by Christ in His death on the cross.
Salvation is the most important
issue a person will ever face in his life. It is very important to keep the
purity and simplicity of the gospel, because otherwise it becomes a false gospel
which cannot save. Heed to the warnings, “Beware of dogs,
beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”
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New Life Bible Chapel
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