The Experience of Christby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
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 the 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 refers to the Pharisees, the religious people, the Judaizers. Paul followed the Lord Jesus in telling us to beware of the 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 refers to the Judaizers. The proof is in the grammar of this verse. Paul says, “Beware of the dogs, beware of the 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.
In verse 3 Paul says, “We are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.” Serve by the Spirit of God is in contrast to the dogs; boast in Christ Jesus is in contrast to evil workers; and have no confidence 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, and 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 serve God, but it is very doubtful that they serve God by the Spirit of God. Any religionist who does not serve God by the Spirit of God is a dog. Whoever tries to do something for God or to serve 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 will be fearful and trembling, and we will say, “I dare not serve God unless I am assured that I am serving by the Spirit of God. If I am not in the Spirit, I will not serve 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 serve by the Spirit of God.”
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