1 ¶ 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.
Psalm 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
Dogs, by the context here, can be a reference to a male false religious teacher. Let’s look at these verses in 2 Peter.
1 ¶ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 ¶ And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 ¶ And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 10 ¶ But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. 12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; 14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Dogs are a type of false prophet and the sow is a type of false female teacher. Dogs and Swine can also be a type of unsaved person, based on the context. Dogs and evil workers there were to be aware of. Concision meant to cut off. To cut off meant to kill in the Old Testament, the false teacher makes his convert worthy of death.
Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
The error that is made in thinking that Revelation 22:15 is talking about the animal dog is from not being able to read context, particularly if your church has been filled with evil workers for 1700 years.
This play on words with concision is more apparent in the next verse.
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
It’s not a physical circumcision made by human hands. This is essential the doctrine of eternal security. When you get saved the soul is cut from the flesh and the sins of the flesh cannot drag your soul to Hell. God may kill you but your soul is saved by Christ, not by you, and forever, not temporarily.
Colossians 2: 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 ¶ And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Our joy and our glory are not in our flesh but in the Lord. There are a lot of things on earth and in the flesh that can bring you down. Focus on your victory in Christ and put no trust in your flesh. I’m not talking about not living, enjoying your life, taking the pleasure that God has allowed you and given to you abundantly through marriage, physical strength and health, and the many good things he’s provided. I mean, PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THEM. When you lean on something to depend on it can’t be sex, food, money, drugs and alcohol, career, or even a good night’s sleep. You can’t trust any of that. The reality of heaven must be what makes you happy. Christ is coming back. Let that be your joy and confidence.
Let me give you an example. You love your spouse, you delight in him or her, you take pleasure in many ways in their company, but one day, one of you is going to get sick or die, if the Lord doesn’t return in your lifetime. If your confidence and joy is only in this flesh and not in Christ do you know what’s going to happen to your mind when they die or get sick? You’re going downhill fast. What about when you lose the job you love or your legs in an accident? What are you counting on to get you through?
4 ¶ Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Paul’s about to deliberately brag to show us that if any person had a right to have confidence in the flesh, he did. You can put your own modern spin to this. Suppose he was a PH.D. graduate of Bob Jones, whose father and grandfather were famous fundamental independent Baptist preacher who had churches of 10,000 running 2,000 in Sunday School, with bus ministries and with many well received books under his name.
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Blameless is not sinless but it is keeping all the regulations of the law or doing right so that no one can lay blame on you. Here’s proof that blameless is not sinless.
1Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1Timothy 3:10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
The things that build you up in the flesh and in the mind are not beneficial to Christ. Those things which tend to glorify you tend not to glorify Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Everything that Paul lost; his position, prestige, reputation, and temporal power he gladly gives up in order to have Christ. Now, Paul wasn’t some ambitionless person who gloried in his own lack of success, which would be another type of self worship, but was a man of means and reputation and power who gave them up for Christ.
9 ¶ And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
We’ve already studied before how something of Christ is from Christ, not Christ’s faith but the faith He gives us, just like tempted of the devil in Luke and Matthew 4 is tempted by the devil. It is Christ’s righteousness, not our own, that we cling to. If any person here feels particularly righteous on their own, one, they probably aren’t saved, or two, they are a cultural Christian, one whose personality jives well with the popular impression of what it means to be a Christian. They’d be a good Moslem if they lived in Saudi Arabia or a good Hindu if they lived in India. Being a passive or submissive person, fearful of all authority and power greater than your own, walking with your head focused on your feet, unable to stand up on your own feet, or even think for yourself does not mean you are a Christian. You can hide in church but you can’t hide from God when you finally face Him at the white throne or, if you are saved but just carnal in your submissive personality, then Christ at His judgment seat.
“Not having mine own righteousness”…..but “the righteousness which is of God”, which is “by faith” given to you by Christ.
Self-righteousness keeps us from getting saved and when we do get saved, in spite of all the wonderful works you might do to make yourself feel spiritual, keeps you from being worth anything for Christ. I don’t care that you never miss a church meeting, soul winning, or an opportunity to pass out tracts. Do a self check and make sure it’s not about you but about Him.
It boils down to this. You either have your own righteousness or Christ’s. If you die with your own you’re going to Hell. I believe it is possible to make a profession of faith and to not really believe in Christ but still believing in yourself, wind up in Hell.
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
This is very tough for a Christian to take. You all want to know Him and to feel the power of His resurrection but you do not want to fellowship with his sufferings or be made conformable to His death. Are you really ready for this?
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Everyone is going to be resurrected. He’s not talking about ATTAINING something that everyone is going to attain. He didn’t say EARN either. He wants to ATTAIN UNTO, to arrive at something, like wisdom. Go further. Paul doesn’t understand why he was saved. He doesn’t understand but he hopes to understand.
Psalm 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
There’s the definition right there in the Bible. Go ahead, show me a sermon someone gave where they said you had to do better to get resurrected and that this means you can lose your salvation or that, if you don’t, you might not actually be saved. You stick with that and I’ll just read the Book for what it says.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
To APPREHEND is to understand a thing, to lay hold onto it, to grasp mentally, to become conscious of, as per the American Heritage dictionary.
Let’s go on to understand this usage. Paul hungers for Christ’s understanding. Christ apprehended him, past tense. It’s a done deal. Paul wants to understand, to wrap his mind around it. He’s already saved. His salvation is a past tense thing as is most of yours. Paul isn’t going to be a retread like some of us, who go to a tent meeting and get so worked up by the preaching that we doubt Christ’s salvation in us, and go forward hoping to be saved for real, this time. Paul knows he is saved, but like any responsible Christian he hasn’t been able to wrap his mind around it.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
There is a football coach’s saying that you’re only as good as your last game. You can’t live on past laurels. I used to listen to the Holy Spirit tell me to give certain people tracts. I used to unite with other believers on Sunday morning. I used to read my Bible. None of that counts. What are you doing now?
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Like a sprinter in the 100 yard dash Paul is reaching toward the mark. What he wants as his prize is the calling of God in Jesus Christ.
Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
2 Thessalonians 1: 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 ¶ Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 11 ¶ Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you reaching for it, pressing toward it? Is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ glorified in you? I’m not talking about how you dress or what you watch on TV or how often you attend church. When people see you and hear you is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ glorified in you? Are you ready right now to stand before the judgment seat of Christ?
15 ¶ Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
I pointed out before that perfect meant complete, mature, finished.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
2Chronicles 8:16 Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected.
God will show you what you need to know to correct your spiritual understanding. But, you have better stay in His word a lot or you probably won’t get it.
16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Pretty clear, isn’t it?
Whereto means “to what purpose” or “to what end’ or “for what reason”.
Job 30:2 Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
17 ¶ Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Follow Paul and Timothy in their walk and avoid those phonies he has warned you about. These people are enemies of the cross. These are the modernists, the possibility thinkers, the feel good preachers.
Galatians 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
The Christian who thinks that he can do it on his own and doesn’t depend on Christ for His or Her righteousness or salvation is an enemy of the cross. The Joel Osteen/Joyce Meyer preacher type is an enemy of the cross of Christ as they try to teach you self actualization and “victorious living”.
Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Other Christians are your own worst enemies if you believe the Bible. When it comes to real Biblical salvation you are going to have trouble in your own family, among so called professing Christians, who are enemies, not of Christ as named, but of the cross of Christ. Preachers who try to put you back under the Law of Moses by saying you probably aren’t really saved if you don’t do things just like they say to do them or if you fall or fail as a Christian are enemies of the cross.
Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Think of these verses in terms of today, the shape of Christianity, as it stands. I’ll apply these verse practically and spiritually to today, rather than doctrinally aiming at Tribulation Jews.
Matthew 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Just beware of these Christian leaders. They mind earthly things; big bank accounts, big ministries, big campuses, big financial endowments, celebrities and politicians, sex, money, and entertainment.
Romans 16: 17 ¶ Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Think on this verse.
Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
1 John 4:4 ¶ Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
Psalm 17:13 Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: 14 From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.
20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
This is a wonderful promise that needs no explanation. Now, if He can do that, what makes you think He can’t save you or keep you saved?