Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
To write the same things to you,
to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
One of the sure evidences of the shallowness of most of that which is called "Christianity" today is its regular rejection of godly Biblical warning. I thank God for the few who have enough love for others to sound the warnings that God gives in his word. When I was very young, my mother took me out to the curbside and explained to me how dangerous it could be for me to walk out into the street. She said that I appeared to think about this new concept for a moment and then said, "I think I'll try it". Not a very wise response on my part! There was a real danger and my mother warned me about it because she loved me and did not want me to be harmed. She also did not want me to set a bad example that might lead to my brothers’ harm. It is the same with God and his children.
As I meditated upon the scripture passage above, one of the things that struck me was that there are two things present in this passage that I would not naturally associate with each other: rejoicing and warning - and yet God has created a link between these two here. As I thought about this, I realized that these two things go together quite nicely. When we are warned of danger and heed the warning, we can rejoice that we have been spared from harm. We can also rejoice that we have a God who loves us enough to warn us of danger.
God plainly tells us to beware of certain things. In order to beware of something, we have to be able to identify it. Recently I took my dog through rattlesnake avoidance training. He was trained to recognize these venomous snakes by the senses that God has given him: sight, sound, and smell (rattlesnakes have a specific smell) so that he can avoid injury or death. Now that he has this ability, he can also warn me. It is the same way with spiritual dangers.
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
God tells us to beware of three specific things in Philippians chapter 3:
Beware of Dogs
I love dogs but the kind of dogs that were common in the days in which the Apostle Paul was writing were dirty, vicious, and treacherous. They had no affection for people and would bite you if you weren’t watchful. Their spiritual counterparts existed then and are with us today.
Beware of Evil Workers
The word "workers" here means "toilers". Evil workers are those who work hard at doing evil. What comes to my mind is the Sodomites who “wearied themselves to find the door” in order to "know" the angels who came to Lot (Genesis 19:10). Cultists also often work very hard at spreading their lies and gaining converts. Many popular church leaders who are revered by “milk of the word” Christians work hard at maintaining compromise with the sin of this world in direct disobedience to God’s word.
Beware of the Concision
The “concision” were those Jews who taught that salvation came through external religious practices. This is heresy. There are many religions today that fit this same mold and many of them claim to be Christian.
A Christian is to love his enemy but also beware of him
At one time Saul was trying to murder David and yet David spared Saul’s life. Even when Saul appeared to be repentant, David was wise enough not to trust him. Therefore, he took steps to protect himself and those who were with him. There is a valuable lesson in the exchange between Saul and David below:
“For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand. Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house. And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.”
1 Samuel 24:19-22
Be wise – beware.
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