Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. – Phil. 3:2 NIV
Please click the link above to download the full text of this Ministration.
Bible historians have it on record that the church in Phillipi was the first Christian Church in Europe. Located in modern day Greece, it was founded during the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul, with Lydia being the first person to be baptised into the Faith in the city – Acts 16:11-15. Paul had actually visited that region following a vision that he was shown of a man from Macedonia, standing and pleading for him to come and render them some help – Acts 16:6-10. He was however not able to stay very long in their midst due to persecution by the people of the city, who seemed to prefer fortune tellers and similar carnal gains to the message of salvation that they were hearing. They were soon to be rounded up on framed up charges, flogged and imprisoned by the magistrate, until the miraculous intervention of the Almighty God brought great fear on their jailers and that led to their being released, and they were equally requested to leave their city – Acts 16:16-40.
These same Philippians, probably on hearing that their mentor was in prison in Rome, decided to ease his burden by sending him gifts through Epaphroditus. The foundation scripture for today’s Devotional is part of the letter of Paul to the brethren in Philippi, in appreciation of their good gesture. Probably in his attempt to ensure that his predicament does not become a source of discouragement to them, he advised them to always rejoice in the Lord, but should also be on the lookout for three sets of people listed as follows; People whom he described as dogs, People who do evil and those whom he described as mutilators of the flesh – Phil. 3:2.
This is because
- He views the true Christian as the one that is truly of the circumcision as they are circumcised in their heart – Phil. 3:3a.
- He views the true Christian as the one that is the true worshipper since such is one who worships in the Spirit of God – Phil. 3:3b.
- He expects the true Christian to glory only in Christ Jesus – Phil. 3:3c.
- He expects that the true Christian will build no confidence in the flesh – Phil. 3:3d.
This advise of Paul to the Philippians remains relevant in our world today as it seems that the entire world is fast sliding into complete materialistic state and the Church, sadly so too, is not exempted. Just like the people of Philippi who were not ready to lose the ungodly gains that they were making, many of today’s Christians, in their bid to enjoy the best of two worlds have, without restraint, imported several carnal practices into Christianity. Many worldly activities are now being entrenched into Christianity liturgy so that Christians can enjoy carnal activities under the guise of being liberal Christians.
Truth be told, there is only one form of Christianity and that is the one built on the non-negotiable standards of God as represented in the scriptures, and there is no other shade of it. It is simply impossible to modernise Christianity as God’s standard is never out-dated. His words remain forever settled in heaven – Psa. 119:89.
Attempting to justify carnality with words like modernization can only succeed in the minds of those who are godless. Jehovah remains the same yesterday, today and forever – Heb. 13:8. To genuine Christians, nothing should be attractive about the way that the people of the world live their lives, as we are supposed to be aiming to be like Him and not like the world – 2Cor. 3:18. No image or replica, of worldly activities or events should be found in the Christian environment, but unfortunately that is no longer the case as one is hardly able to differentiate the modern day Church from a social gathering.
James the brother of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem, in his general letter to all believers, made it clear that associating with the world, no matter how little, is enmity with God – Jms. 4:4. There is the need for the Church to avoid deceiving itself by ensuring that their conduct does not position them as enemies rather than Children of the living God. To achieve this objective, the advise of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians comes in handy.
The first part of the advise which deals with what the Church should avoid remains the focus of today’s Devotional as the second part of the advise will be discussed in a subsequent Devotional. In that advise, he told the Church;
- To watch out for dogs. The use of the word “dog” to describe unbelievers runs across Old Testament through to the New Testament. Even Jesus Christ emphasised how Christian benefits meant for Children of God, cannot be made available to such group of people – Matt. 15:26. Dogs from the perspective of Christianity are generally people who do not share the fundamental belief of worshipping only Yahweh and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Such a person has no business in the circle of Christians as all such will aim to become will be “a wolf amongst the sheep”. No matter how strong in faith the group members may be, not taking special caution with these people who are always present amidst the children of God will always expose the group to the risk of becoming enemies of Jehovah. As much as they should not be excluded from the group, they should always be identified and cautiously related with.
- To watch out for evil doers. Ideally, anyone would have concluded that evil doers cannot be found amongst Christians but nothing is farther from the truth than this. If anything, most evil doers are the ones mostly celebrated by Christians, simply because of the material benefit that such people bring. Christian groups are increasingly becoming very tolerant of evil because of the attempt to be like the world. Leaders are no longer interested in morality as long as the immoral one is meeting some material desires. It should be made clear that the group that tolerates evil is already well positioned as an enemy of the most high and will experience nothing but His wrath. A group that intends to attract the mercies and favour of God must be cautious with these set of fake Christians who will be nothing but pollutants of the Christian ethos.
- To watch out for the mutilators of the flesh. Mutilators of flesh in this instance is in reference to people who disguise their normal personality with the intention to deceive the brethren. Their carnal personalities is so muted that they are easily believed to be truly born again when in actually fact, they are wolves in sheep clothing. The presence of people with this nature amongst the brethren will always pose danger to innocent and unsuspecting members of the group who would have long being misled before it becomes glaring that such are not who they present to be. The fold that intends to enjoy the Grace and favour of God must identify these group of people and treat them with caution.
If the Church takes to this advise by the Apostle Paul, it will no doubt be on the way to avoiding being in enmity with God. May God continue to guide His Church in Jesus name. Amen.