Watch Out for Deceivers and Manipulators

Philippians 3:2 ESV

“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.”

Look Out for the Dogs

The term “dog” is used here figuratively to denote someone who is a spiritual predator who feeds off others. They are the impure. They are workers of evil. They are the unholy, rapacious (greedy, insatiable, destructive, harmful, aggressive), those who flatter others to their own advantage, but who will take you apart (devour you) if you resist them and/or if you oppose them and their actions (behaviors, conduct).

They are the idolatrous, but they can be professers of faith in Jesus Christ, even though they usually oppose the true gospel, if not in words, then they definitely do by their actions. They may put on a show of righteousness to impress others, but it is all for show. For they are deceitful, masquerading as servants of righteousness while truly they serve themselves and the devil. They are shameless, impudent, dissatisfied, and contentious.

They are superficially charming, usually entertaining, self-absorbed, egocentric, restless, reckless, habitual liars, manipulative, and those who show no remorse, who rationalize wrongdoings, who have shallow emotions, who lack empathy and true compassion, who exploit the goodwill of others, and who are sexually promiscuous and impulsive. And they are those who use poor judgment and who fail to learn from their bad experiences.

They accept no responsibility for their actions but they usually pass the blame on to others. They are lacking in self-control and in inhibitions, they have no long-term goals, do not respect authority, and they have no consciences, for their consciences have been seared by their repeated (habitual) offenses and by their unwillingness to biblically repent of their sins and to follow Jesus in genuine obedience to his commands.

[Php 3:2, 18-19; 2 Pet 2:22, 1-3, 12-21; Jude 1:4, 8, 10-13; Rev 22:15]

Now, not all “dogs” will have all of these characteristic traits, but many of them do, for their hearts have been given over to evil, to do what is contrary to God’s commands, and to do so without conscience or concern for who they are trampling on in the process. They don’t care. For they keep repeating the same behaviors with no true remorse, and while continually making excuses for why they are still in the condition they are in.

But the point here is that we are to be aware that such people exist and that they are out to do us harm, not good, although on the surface they may appear friendly and even spiritual. Some of these “dogs” are in positions as pastors and elders and Bible teachers in local church congregations, but most likely they are seen in institutional churches which are run more like businesses and which are working to attract the world to their meetings.

Now I am not suggesting that we go around mistrusting everyone we meet or that we assume people are “dogs” who are not “dogs” just because we think they have one of these personality traits. But this should be a “heads up” for us to realize that not everyone is who he says he is, but that liars and deceivers abound among us. So, this is why the Scriptures teach that we are to test the spirits to see if they are of God, and that we are to test everything to make certain what we are hearing is indeed the truth.

Philippians 3:3 ESV

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”

Now, in context, this is talking about the Judaizers who were trying to convince the Christians that they had to be circumcised and that they had to follow some of the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial and/or purification laws that the Jews of old had to obey. But not many of us are being faced with this specific situation today. But we are being confronted with “dogs” who are trying to convince us to follow the flesh and not God.

And we are being confronted with “dogs” who are persecuting those of us who are still holding to the gospel as Jesus taught it and as his New Testament apostles taught it. And many of these “dogs” are in positions of rule and authority within the institutional church of today here in America, and perhaps in other nations, as well. And they are those who are promoting the cheap grace gospel which demands no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Jesus Christ as Lord.

They are those who are teaching a diluted half-truth (lie) gospel message intended to appease human flesh and to appeal to the ungodly, and which is also intended – at least coming from those who initially introduced it into the mainstream “church” – to replace the true gospel, and to lead people away from genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and thus to leave their adherents still bound in their sin, headed to hell, but on the promise of heaven.

But we are those who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We are those who take no confidence in the flesh but who glory in Christ Jesus, our Lord, and whose desire is for our Lord to please him in every way. For we are those who are walking no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And we are those who are being opposed by these “dogs” who many are following.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

Philippians 3:17-19 ESV

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”

So, the encouragement here is that we are to follow the example of those who are truly following Jesus Christ with their lives. But since so many are faking their Christianity and are liars and manipulators, who are users who take advantage of others for their own evil purposes, it is best if we just follow Jesus and his example and his teachings on how we are to live our lives as his followers while we still live on this earth.

And the encouragement (exhortation, urging) here, as well, is to test the spirits, to test what they do and what they say against the teachings of Scripture, but in context, and to pray for discernment so that we don’t fall prey to these “dogs.” For they are many! So, we must not have blinders on and end up following other humans unreservedly. For many are being led as sheep to the slaughter by these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Also, don’t be men (or women) followers. Many people are following other humans almost as though these other humans are gods, or as though they see them as their saviors. No human is to be our savior. Jesus Christ is to be our only Savior and Lord. So don’t look to humans to deliver you from the evils of this world but look to God and to God alone. For I guarantee you that these “dogs” abound. There are many of them everywhere.

So, please keep your eyes on Jesus and on the truth of his word and don’t become followers of other humans, many of whom may be “dogs.” Follow Jesus Christ, instead, for he is the only one who is going to lead you into all truth.

Footprints of Jesus

Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett

Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.

Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.

If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.

If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.

Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.

Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.

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