Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;Philippians 3:2(NASB)
Living the Christian life in the way that God ordained was the highest priority on Paul's list... and in each of his epistles we read of the identifying marks of a Christian who is walking in spirit and truth. Paul shows us how to abide in Christ, submit to the Spirit of God, trust in His Word, and live the way that God intended His children to live.
The man or woman of faith who is living as God intended... is the one that produces the gracious fruit of the Spirit. The person who is living a Christlike life is the one that loves as Christ has loved and who is ready to say, 'Thy will not mine be done'. They know that their salvation has nothing to do with their own merit or their own good works, but rests entirely on Christ and the good work that He did on the Cross.
The believer who is living God's way is the one who dies to self, lives only to the Lord, and recognises that we are not only saved by grace through faith in Christ... but also understands that we are to live by faith, to walk by grace through faith in Christ, and to cast off all legalistic works of the flesh.
Paul was acutely aware of the devastating results of placing one's confidence in fleshly works and legalistic rituals. Legalism was aggressively being promoted in Paul's day by those that he called Judaisers, just as it is today. This group, then as now, delights to distort the gospel of grace, by teaching that works of the Law are an additional requirement for full salvation - which is sadly the antithesis of the truth of the glorious gospel of God.
Paul recognised the dangerous and devastating effect this unbiblical teaching can have on a believer... and attached a blistering label to those that promoted this teaching. He called them dogs and workers of evil... and those that come from the false circumcision, he identified as 'Judaisers'. "Beware of the dogs," is Paul's clear warning. "Beware of the evil workers. Beware of those that mutilate the flesh."
Paul gave a solemn and serious warning that the saints of God who had trusted Christ for their salvation, must not be hoodwinked in by these Judiasers, or tricked into following their unbiblical teachings. He warned them not to follow after the teachings of these deceivers, but to be watchful for their deceptive scheming which insists that in order to be rightly related to God, believers had to add to Christ's finished work on the Cross, by adhering to legalistic teachings and works of the flesh.
Jewish circumcision of the flesh was indeed given to Israel as an outward sign of their covenant relationship to God through Abraham, but it was not a sign of their salvation. The Bible tells us that Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and it was their faith in God that saved Israel and not through works of the Law.
In Deuteronomy 30:6 Moses made it clear to God's chosen people that the outward sign of circumcision identified Israel as God's covenant people which should reflect an inward circumcision on the heart. The other sign of circumcision was meant to demonstrate a heart that trusted in God and believed His Word. We read, "the Lord thy God will circumcise your heart to love the Lord with all your heart and soul, so that you may have life - that you may have salvation."
The Judaisers of Paul's day and the religious legalists of today who insist that salvation, justification, and sanctification, must include certain legalistic practices and religious rites may have good intentions, but they are teaching a false and dangerous gospel. Paul's warning to beware of their false teachings continues to be relevant in today's increasingly apostate Church. May we heed the apostles warning to, "beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of legalists and beware of the false circumcision."
Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us the Bible to teach us how to live in this Church dispensation. Thank You for the many lessons that I can learn from both the Old and New Testament. May I become increasingly vigilant in my Christian walk and rightly divide the Word of God so that I am not taken in by any deceptive teachings. May I hold fast to that which is good and be truly circumcised in heart and soul, so that I may love You with every fibre of my being - to Your praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.