Philippians 3:2 – 3 “Watch out for those dogs, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.”
Throughout God’s Word, His people are referred to as sheep. Have you ever witnessed a pack of wild dogs among sheep? Beware, for they will do great damage. They sneak up, perhaps while the sheep are grazing or sleeping, and all of a sudden, Wham! They attack, they mutilate, they devour. As Christians, we need to watch out for those who can and will do great damage to the church.
These mutilators of the flesh were actually legalistic Jewish Christians. They insisted that in order to experience salvation, the Greek Christian men had to be circumcised. The painful ritual was normally performed on Jewish baby boys when they were eight days old. The cutting of flesh, painful for a newborn infant, would be unspeakable torture for a grown man.
Paul was outraged by this legalism, for he knew that salvation is a free gift. It is not earned or deserved. There is nothing we can do to be good enough for it – God just offers it to us, because He loves us. Performing a task to earn salvation gets things grossly out of order, like putting the cart before the horse. First, we receive the gift of salvation. Then, we live our lives to please God, out of gratitude.
Paul also knew that physical circumcision is only an outward symbol of what God wishes to do in our lives. Though it may be painful at times, God wishes to cut away all the excess, all the unneeded “flesh” of our lives. He wants to get rid of the sin, the willfulness, the garbage which can cause infection in our souls. Though the process may seem excruciating, God wants to take us through something that will make us better, cleaner, healthier, stronger. He sometimes allows us to experience deep pain so that we can become the beautiful people he created us to be – people who look, think, and act like Him.
Dear Father, Sometimes the circumstances of our lives seem unbearable. Please help us to remember that if we are willing, You will use those times to cut away the things in our souls that are weighing us down, keeping us from soaring. Father, help us to be quick learners!