DOGS, EVIL WORKERS, AND THE CONCISION
In the book of Philippians Paul was bold to speak not only in a positive way, but also in a negative way. For example, in 3:2 he said, "Beware of dogs." The Lord Jesus had actually been the first to speak of dogs. In Matthew 7:6 He said, "Do not give that which is holy to the dogs." The "dogs" here refer to the Pharisees, the religious people, the Judaizers. Paul followed the Lord Jesus in telling us to beware of dogs. By the time Paul wrote the book of Philippians, the dogs had become worse than in Matthew 7.
Some may wonder how we can be sure that the dogs in Philippians 3:2 refer to the Judaizers. The proof is in the grammar of this verse. Paul says, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision." In this verse the words "beware of" are used three times. Moreover, there are no conjunctions in this verse, only commas. This indicates that the dogs are the evil workers and that the evil workers are the concision. The word "concision" is a contemptuous word for circumcision. Circumcision is a term of honor, but concision is a term of contempt. Paul purposely referred to Jewish circumcision in this way. When the Jews who had been circumcised were called the concision, they were being called a people of contempt. Thus, the dogs are the evil workers and the evil workers are the circumcised Jews. Paul was so bold as to call the Judaizers dogs and evil workers. The Jewish religionists, of course, never thought of themselves in this way. Rather, they considered themselves worshippers of God and workers of good, for they tried their best to keep the law. Moreover, to them circumcision was honorable. But in this verse Paul calls them dogs and evil workers and belittles the practice of circumcision by calling it concision.
WORSHIPPING BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD
In verse 3 Paul says, "For we are the circumcision, which worship by the Spirit of God, and boast in Christ Jesus, and trust not in the flesh" (Gk.). "Worship by the Spirit of God" is in contrast to the dogs; "boast in Christ Jesus" is in contrast to evil workers; and "trust not in the flesh" is in contrast to the concision. According to the revelation in these verses, anyone who tries to do something for God without being in the Spirit opposes the genuine worshippers of God in spirit. In the eyes of God, such a person is a dog.
The Lord’s word about not giving that which is holy to the dogs indicates that dogs are not holy. The holy things are not for dogs because dogs are not holy. We need to drop the concept that to be holy is simply to be sinless or right and perfect. In the Bible to be holy means to be of God, by God, and with God. Anything that is not of God, by God, and with God is not holy, for in the entire universe God is the only One who is holy. You may be perfect and right, but still not be holy. Only by being a person of God, by God, and with God can we be holy. Thus, to be holy is to be one with God.
For this reason, God the Spirit is called the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is God reaching man. When God reaches man, He is the Spirit. No one can contact God except by the Spirit. God cannot reach us except by His Spirit, and we cannot contact Him except by His Spirit. The Spirit by whom we touch God is holy. Therefore, when He reaches us, we become holy. If we do not have something of God, we are not holy at all. But if we are related to God, we become holy.
The first time the word holy is used in the Bible is not in the book of Genesis, but in the book of Exodus. In Genesis it is difficult to find a hint that God became one with man. But in Exodus we see that God begins to be one with man. Therefore, in Exodus, many things are described as being holy: the holy place, the holy mountain, the holy tabernacle, the holy anointing oil. In Exodus many things are described as being holy because in this book God comes to man and man is brought to God.
To be holy is absolutely a matter of the Holy Spirit. Today all the religionists worship God. But it is very doubtful that they worship God by the Spirit of God. Any religionist who does not worship God by the Spirit of God is a dog. Whoever tries to do something for God or to worship God apart from the Spirit is a dog in the eyes of God. This is a serious matter. If we see this vision, it will exercise a strict control over us. We shall be fearful and trembling and we shall say, "I dare not worship God unless I am assured that I am worshipping by the Spirit of God. If I am not in the Spirit, I shall not worship Him." If we see this, there will be a great change in our Christian life. Everything we do for God must be by the Spirit of God. We must have the confidence to say, "We are the circumcision of honor who worship by the Spirit of God."
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)