“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” (Philippians 3.2 NKJV).
Paul is speaking to his fellow Believers, warning them to beware of three types of people. These people we can love with God’s supernatural love, but we must tread carefully in their presence, staying cautious of their influence in our lives. They are not led by the Spirit, and at anytime the Enemy can use their actions to fight against God’s purposes for us. The sad truth about these three types of people is that two of the three claim to be Children of God. The first group is “dogs,” which is a metaphor for unbelievers—people who have not yet been cleansed by the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ. These people do not have the Holy Spirit and cannot be expected to knowingly participate in the things of God. The second group is “evil workers,” which are Believers who think they are working for the Lord, but they are actually devising their own schemes. They stopped listening to the still, soft voice of the Holy Spirit long ago and are living out a self-directed life. The third group of people commit “mutilation.” Mutilation is the counterfeit of circumcision. These people believe they are allowing God to circumcise their hearts, but in actuality they are mutilating themselves with self-righteous notions of human holiness. They have become their own lord and judge in the name of Christianity, and cut themselves and others with “holy” condemnation. It takes time to allow God to purify us into the image of Jesus, and although self–guided religious mutilation may feel spiritual, it actually is damaging our spirits and preventing God’s move in our lives. We must never put “confidence in human effort” and always “rely on what Christ Jesus had done for us.”
“For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort” (Philippians 3.3 NLT).