"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things unto you, to me indeed [is] not grievous, but for you [it] is safe."
"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
In the above quoted scripture, Paul is warning the
Christians at Philippi to beware of individuals who would be a threat
to the unity of the believers, and the true form of doctrine and worship
which the believers had in Christ. In the second verse he compares them
to dogs. That this cannot refer specifically to Gentiles
is evident from the fact that the Philippian church would likely have had
many Gentile members, being located in Macedonia (now Europe), and the
fact that Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles. Rather, Paul was referring
to those who required ceremonial customs such as circumcision, and
other ritual observances to be practiced. It is clear then, that
Paul was describing characteristics of these individuals, not their
We see the Old Testament parallel of this given in Isaiah 56:8-12, especially
verses 10 and 11, where the preachers of that day were likened to dogs,
though they were obviously Jewish by birth.
In this booklet I would like to look at the characteristics of dogs and compare them to a large segment of professing Christians and to many pastors of our day. Who these individuals are will be readily discernable from the qualities we shall see in the following pages.
Lest one think we are being judgmental where we ought not to be, let me remind the reader that Paul said to beware of these folks. I would ask the critic, 'How can we beware of them if we do not judge who fits this category? Surely we do not expect them to identify themselves!' We make judgements on a daily basis, beginning with whether to get out of bed or not, what clothes to wear, &c. To judge in the context which I propose to set forth herein simply means 'to arrive at a conclusion based on presented evidence.' It is so we may mark these individuals and beware of them, as Paul admonishes us in the above quoted passage, and as seen in Romans 16:17, which requires us to mark certain individuals who cause divisions and offenses by teaching doctrine other than that which was taught by the Apostles. Marking requires that we first make a judgement of who fits the category and is thus worthy of marking or taking note of.
The characteristics we shall look at are those exhibited by dogs in the wild, or those inherent in a dog in his natural environment. I will deal with dogs who live in a household environment afterward, but the admonition is to beware of certain dogs, so we shall examine them first.
I should also like to point out before going any farther, that judging and marking certain individuals is not to say we are condemning them. Nor am I using the term 'wild dog' to ridicule or belittle anyone. This is an attempt to use the natural to illustrate the spiritual. In fact, if one in the church is discovered who qualifies by their characteristics as a dog, we are to try to love them to a place where they desire to be domesticated or converted to a dog fit for the house or fit to herd sheep if they are preachers. Domesticated dogs are 'man's best friend.' I urge the reader to finish the entire booklet before forming an opinion of the truths set forth herein.
The first characteristic of a wild dog is that which is implied in the adjective wild; he has no master or owner. All that he does is the result of self-determination and self-direction. As seen in the previously mentioned passage from Isaiah 56, these are '...all looking to their own way, every one for his gain.' These dogs in the church, which we must beware of, are those who owe no allegiance to God, Christ, the Bible, the pastor, or the other members. They do what they want, when they want, and with whom they want. They will not be subject to rules, regulations, guidelines, leaders, or any other thing they consider restrictive to their own desires and plans. They attend services only if they want to. They give themselves or their goods only if it suits them. Ultimately, whatever they do is done for self-gain or self-satisfaction. Sadly, this applies to pastors also. Many are mere hirelings, who are in the ministry because of the benefits they can derive from it. Rather than giving their lives for the sheep, the sheep are expected to give theirs for the pastor. While it is an admirable quality in true Christians to love their pastors, and to strive to help them, this is different than being lorded over by pastors who are dictatorial, and to be expected to perform to a certain standard. Oversight is to be taken willingly, not by constraint, according to I Peter 5:2. The word rendered constraint has as its root the meaning of 'duty to one's advantage.' This context is borne out by the next phrase in the verse, 'not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.' It cannot mean 'physical force,' as there are no recorded instances of men being forced into a pastorate by those means that this writer has ever heard of. Though it is seldom recognized as such, monetary and selfish gain can very well become constraining influences to a pastor. Which church has the best salary, parsonage, and benefit package, or which flock believes in pastoral authority, has influenced many pastor's decisions to take a church, often over-riding which is the will of God for him to shepherd.
Another characteristic of a dog in his natural state is that they have no permanent home. They come and go at will, roaming the countryside far and wide. These dogs seldom remain in one place for any length of time. When the fancy strikes them, they are off again. Any one of several factors may influence their decision to wander, including scarcity of food, quarrels with other dogs, &c. But often it is merely the result of what may be termed a 'wanderlust.' It is simply an inability to stay in one place for any length of time due to lack of attachment or roots. In the church environment, these wild dogs are the 'hobos' and 'gypsies' of the church. John speaks of them in I John 2:19, where he says, "...they were not of us; for had they been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." The sad truth is that pastors are as bad as those in the pews. The last time I read figures on this, the average pastor lasted less than three years in one place before moving on. Hardly an impressive tenure!
Another characteristic of a dog in the wild is that they have no 'pedigree.' That is, they are a mixture of breeds, and actually no particular breed at all. This is significant in two areas: doctrinal distinctives of Baptists and true salvation. Regarding Baptist distinctives, our churches are full of those who have no concept of doctrine in general, much less Baptist doctrine. They have no idea what our Baptist forefathers believed and taught. Preachers have begun to preach a 'generic' gospel in place of that which was 'once delivered to the saints.' The articles of faith in the average Baptist church today would fit well in a Methodist, Presbyterian, or Bible church, as well as many others. The doctrines of the sovereignty of God (Article III London Confession of 1644), election (Article V), the necessity of preaching to bring about salvation (Article XXIV), church discipline (Article XLII), and such like, are nowhere listed in our modern confessions of faith. Indeed, the majority of the Confessions of faith in the Baptist churches have around ten to fifteen articles. The Confessions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had as many as fifty or more, and prospective members were examined, much as a pastor is in his ordination service, before they were voted on for membership. And the vote was more than an empty formality!
With regards to true salvation, this lack of doctrinal preaching and teaching has led to lack of understanding of what salvation is and how it is produced in the individual. The work of God through the Holy Spirit, the necessity of godly sorrow working repentance, and other crucial truths have been changed or omitted, leading to vain and empty professions based on prayers, plans, programs, and other inventions of men. Salvation has become a mere mental affirmation of some historical facts or Biblical truth. Salvation is reduced to a decision one makes. In many other instances it has become a work of the flesh; a product of man's efforts. Folks are told to, 'Ask Jesus into your heart, Open the door and let Jesus come in,' or some other fleshly operation. It has even come to a point in many churches where individuals are considered saved who cannot remember what transpired at their so called time of conversion. Our churches are filled with members who have no blood ties to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, and are 'without pedigree,' and thus yet in their sins.
Another characteristic of the dogs we must beware of is that they are ill-tempered. They are constantly fighting among themselves. They turn on one another without notice and often with little or no provocation. This is often over who should lead the pack, that is, who should have the pre-eminence as seen in III John 1:9 in the case of Diotrephes. Paul saw this problem among the Corinthians, and spoke of it in I Corinthians 1:10-11 and 3:33. He also mentions it in Galatians 5:15, where he speaks of 'bit[ing],' 'devour[ing],' and being 'consumed,' or 'eaten up,' if you will. The churches of our day are constantly torn apart by strife and dissention, often ending in church splits. Regarding preachers who qualify as wild dogs, there are many out there who pride themselves in how they can 'chew up' folks with their 'hard' preaching. I have heard of evangelists who left meetings and stated such things as, "Boy I sheared them good this time. When I left there were none still standing," and similar things. Let me state that I like all truth, but it is to be preached in love!
Wild dogs also evidence the characteristic of feeding on dead things, including garbage and rotten things. At the risk of sounding repulsive, we see them in the gospel account, 'licking the sores of Lazarus' as he lay at the gate of the rich man. And we all know that a dog will eat that which he has vomited up. This is comparable to those in our churches who are wild dogs feeding on that which is within themselves. They feed on the dead things that come from within them or on the infection of others. They eat that which is a product of their own fleshly efforts. This is specifically what Paul is addressing in the text from Philippians, as he is saying beware of those who teach salvation is in a work of the flesh. This means any work of the flesh, whether it be circumcision, as in Paul's day, or the plans, prayers, programs, or any other dead work taught by preachers today! Peter speaks of one form of this in II Peter 2:22, when he speaks of returning to the corrupt or dead things of the world. This characteristic is also seen in those in the church looking to dead works of church membership, tithing, soul winning, &c. as a means to gain assurance of, or to prove their salvation, yet their attitudes and desires remain fleshly.
Also a wild dog has no problem getting into the smelliest places, and will even roll around in it and intentionally get it on him! The odor of a wild dog is often such that one cannot come near them. So is the case with the dogs in the church. They reek of the world, the flesh, and self [i.e. pride]. There are those in our churches who should have never been accepted into the membership, or should have been brought under church discipline long ago as the actions and attitudes they exhibit plainly evidence them to be wild dogs. But because these are affluent, or influential, or because the pastor wants numbers or wants to avoid conflict and confrontation, they are accepted or at least tolerated.
Wild dogs also have the attribute of being sneaky, or devious. They often roam at night or frequent dark places. Even when they are in the light of day, there is something about the way they carry themselves that is unsettling to those who would observe them. They may appear to be harmless at times, yet their appearance does not invite one to approach them. Indeed, if one attempts to approach, they are met with snarls and evasion at the least, and an attack is just as likely to occur as not. You can never really trust a wild dog, or any animal from the wild for that matter. Those in the church who are wild dogs are hard to get near and hard to establish spiritual relationships with. Though they may allow closeness in a fleshly sense, or over natural things, they have no taste for the spiritual. Wild dogs will 'pack' together, but it is not out of a desire for fellowship or due to kindred spirits. It is merely a matter of survival. Those who are the dogs in the church allow some contact, but it is often simply because man is a social creature or for appearance sake. One can never have a close relationship with them in spiritual things. Even when one of these individuals has attempted to suppress their wild instincts, it is always lurking just under the surface, ready to lash out at any moment. These wild dogs of the church also pack together to kill. Our churches are notorious for killing any that have become wounded. Just as the smell of blood sets a wild dog into a frenzy, those in the church who we are to beware of can't seem to wait to fall upon another wounded and bleeding victim.
We note also that wild dogs are driven primarily by one thing; their appetite. A wild dog is rarely a well-fed specimen. They stay hungry most of the time. The main reason wild dogs act the way they do is because of this constant hunger. There are two areas of significance where this is to be looked for in the church; fleshly appetites and salvation.
Regarding fleshly appetites, the wild dogs in the church must be constantly struggling to subdue their base cravings, and many times this is impossible to do for long. The result is that we have rampant sin in many churches, though it may be hidden from all but the most discerning eye. An ever increasing number of adulterous relationships have begun to come to light in the churches today, both among the laity and the church staff. Reports of staff members and preachers embezzling monies from the church have also increased. These are but a few of the sins which abound in some of the most 'fundamental' churches.
In the area of salvation, we see another aspect of driving appetite exhibited. A wild dog can never fully trust another dog for fear that other dog is going to try to take away what little food they may have. If one approaches a wild dog who has an old bare bone and tries to take it away, he is not going to be successful, even though he might have a steak in his hand. The wild dog will knaw and knaw on that bone in an attempt to sustain himself, though there be no meat on it. It is this same fear in those who have a salvation experience that does not measure up to the truth which keeps them from giving it up. If that little bit they have is taken away, they have no peace at all. Anyone who attempts to trade the bare bone of an empty profession for the steak of true salvation will not have much success. It will not be until the wild dog realizes the bone is worthless and the steak is desirable that he will drop the bone and go for the steak. It will take the aroma of the steak to overcome the tastelessness of the bone. So it is in the individual who has knawed his empty testimony for a long time. The aroma of true salvation will be that which finally wins him if he is to be won.
There are certainly wild dogs who were born in the wild, and many of these will likely never be able to be approached. These are a picture of those in the world and some in the church who are so hardened to the truth that there is little hope for them to ever come to salvation. These are to be marked and avoided. But often a wild dog is one who was not born in the wild, but has been abused or discarded by an uncaring owner. There was a potential for them to be domesticated, but they have been forsaken. They are often dogs who have been teased until they become too mean to handle, then thrown out to fend for themselves. In our churches today we have multitudes who have been abused by so-called Christians, and by hirelings and false shepherds. They have been produced in the church environment, but they have not been given the truth regarding salvation. They have never truly been saved. They have religion but no salvation. Many have been teased with the gospel, but when it came to dealing with them at the altar, true salvation was withheld. They were led through a prayer or given some other false sense of security which did not satisfy. They were joyfully passed through the baptismal waters and added to the numbers on the church roll, but when they evidenced wild tendencies they were shunned by the false shepherd and the Pharisees in the 'clique' and left to fend for themselves or die. Many have become so abused and mistreated that they simply 'run away.' Most of these will not let anyone come near them for fear of being hurt again! Others have been beaten and battered by the Law in an environment of constant criticism and rebuke. No love was ever evidenced toward them. They were driven to produce and perform until they could endure it no longer. These may have been given a morsel along the way which kept them from starving altogether, but they were stripped and wounded like the man in Luke 10:30, who fell among thieves, and left 'half dead.' Jesus spoke of this when He told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13, "...ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." Here we see a picture of one trying to get to food in a spiritual sense, but being constantly pushed away forcibly by one who should be helping him. Many of these, too, have left the church and will likely never be brought back in.
Let us now turn to those who are dogs to be sure, but who are not wild, rather they are comfortably dwelling among the members of a household. These are 'domesticated' and accepted and loved by those in the household, and who enjoy a very satisfying life.
The woman who came to Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28, was a dog according to Jesus' own testimony. Yet she exhibited qualities of a dog who had become domesticated, or tamed, so to speak. We see in her the qualities of a dog which none would be reluctant to claim as their own, or to welcome into their midst.
We first see the woman as recognizing and confessing herself to be a dog. No assuming airs about this woman, but a sincere confession of the truth as seen in verse 27. She says, "Truth Lord..." All who have come to Christ for salvation have had to tell the truth about who we are. We are dogs before a holy God, worms before a divine Creator, dust before the Almighty! This is not a bad thing to admit, it is simply the truth. In the words of the old hymn, "Just as I am, withoutone plea; Just as I am poor, wretched, blind."
Second, we see in the woman an acknowledgement of subjection to an owner or master. In verse 27, she goes on to say, "...yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table." The word 'their' is possessive, and speaks of the dogs, as He is their master also. Some will have us believe Jesus Christ can be Savior now and Lord later. This is contrary to scripture and thus contrary to truth. If we will be saved, it will be as a result of acknowledging Him as Lord. Jesus is Lord, by the way, we don't make Him Lord. The whole earth is under His dominion, even the lost. The lost do not confess it yet, but they will one day! A dog in the church who is on the right track, is one who recognizes who owns the household and all that is in it, and who confesses it to be so.
An aside is in order here. One can acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and not be saved, but cannot be saved without acknowledging Him as Lord. Many pride themselves on believing in 'Lordship salvation,' who don't know true salvation.
Next, we see the woman acknowledging that whatever she gets from the master is due to His mercy. A truly domesticated dog is totally dependent on the goodness of his master for whatever scraps he may receive. In fact, she keeps coming back even when Jesus ignores her. A dog of the household loves the master even when the master pays him no mind. Just an occasional touch, word, or morsel is sufficient to satisfy the domesticated animal. Merely cast a glance his way, and the domesticated dog begins to wag his tail wildly and comes running to the master in hopes of receiving something. This goes to the issue of sovereignty. Many don't like the idea of a God who has control of the supply, for fear He will not provide for them. But if they see the Master in His true light, they will see that He has but to look upon His 'pet' and He will be forced by His character to drop choice morsels to the poor creature. In the words of David, in Psalm 78:37-39, "For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant. But he, [being] full ofcompassion, forgave [their] iniquity, and destroyed [them] not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered they [werebut] flesh..." This sovereign God who has the right and the ability to destroy the dogs that we are, is full of compassion towards us!
Remember the action of Boaz when he looked upon Ruth in the field gleaning. He said, in Ruth 2:15-16, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: and let fall also some handfuls of purpose for her, and leave [them], that she may glean [them], and rebuke her not." This is a picture of our blessed Lord when He sees us laboring in the field of dead works, seeking to find our supply there. He gives to us long before he takes us to His household. He loves the wild dog to Himself, one handful at a time! The phrase 'even among the sheaves' shows the extent to which God loves us. In Boaz' day the gleaners were allowed to glean in the field, but to go among the sheaves where the grain was still on the stalk would be presumptuous. This was grain reserved for the family members! This is a picture of God allowing us to labor in the church among the best provision of God, even as lost folks and receiving from Him handfuls of purpose to keep us coming to a point where we can obtain salvation. God allowed this writer to labor in the church and presumptuously enjoy the things to which I had no right for years, all the while thinking I was saved, and He never rebuked or cast me off. Indeed, He loved me and patiently endured until I came to the truth and then He graciously saved me!
The woman further shows signs of being a fit dog for the household when she seeks not for herself, but for her child. Wild dogs often have little regard for those they bring into the world, and may even abandon their young. Even if they do care for them, it is usually in times of plenty, and is simply an instinctive action. This care will often give way to abandoning or even eating their own when times get tough. In the churches today, the wild dogs have abandoned their young, and left them to be slaughtered by easy-believism. This is the practice which gives them words to mouth in a prayer at such a young age that they have no recollection of what took place, nor do they have any assurance in it other than mom and dad say it is so. In effect they have abandoned their young by letting someone deal thus with them, or eaten them in that they have dealt that way with the child themself.
We see the woman in the Matthew account worshipping the master, in verse 25. This is surely contrary to the nature of the wild dog. Whereas the wild dog lives for himself, the dog of the household lives for the master. He loves his master and follows him wherever he goes. He gladly licks the hand of the master. This is what is implied in the word 'worship.' Those in the church who don't worship, don't love the Lord, and are wild dogs.
A prime example of worship is rejoicing. This means to 'get exited' and 'jump up and twirl around.' It is normal for domesticated dogs to get exited and want to play! And the owner gets joy from watching them play, and even plays with them. Think about what an individual will do when playing with a dog. They will be motivated to get down to the dog's level. God condescends to fellowship with us dogs! Remember David 'played before the Lord' in dance and jubilation! This was not sacrilegious, and not out of order. Indeed, God liked it and shut up Michal's womb for being critical of it! If one does not adore the Lord in spirit and in truth, he is not a dog of the household. If one loves God, it will be evidenced in worship of one form or another!
There are many types of worship to be sure, and for those who are not prone to the form spoken of above, there are others which all will exhibit if they are true household dogs. (The reader may wish to read our booklet 'Despising Praise' which proves the validity and acceptability of outward rejoicing in worship).
One basic form of worship is faithfulness. Those who truly love God will worship in being true to their master. They won't run with the wild dogs. The greatest compliment that can be paid to a dog is his master calling him 'faithful.'
Another simple form of worship is fellowship or companionship. A dog who loves his master wants to travel with him, sit at the table with him, and even desires to climb in his master's bed to sleep. He doesn't want to be separated from the master. Don't believe one who claims to love God but never comes around Him or the other dogs of the household (church).
Another way to worship is to defend the master in word and deed. A truly faithful dog will bark loudly at any who would attempt to harm his master, and if that didn't scare them off, the dog would lay down his life for his owner. Hebrews chapter 11, specifically verses 35-37, speaks of those who were faithful even unto death, and Revelation 12:11, says, "And they overcame him [the accuser; Satan - J. G.] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Those in the church who are wild dogs will not let out a whimper for the master, much less defend him to the death.
In closing let me admonish the reader to carefully look at those in the church and mark those who are wild dogs. They can be easily detected if one uses God-given discernment to seek out the characteristics we have spoken of. Beware of these individuals; they are a real and present danger to you and all in the church if God does not intervene in their lives. I am not advising that they be shunned or avoided, but to beware of them. Exercise caution. Galatians 6:1 advises that one 'consider themselves,' or, in other words, be concerned for your own safety. This is especially true in cases where the wild dog stands behind the pulpit!
A word to those who would accuse this writer of inviting or encouraging folks to rebel against their pastor or cause trouble in their church is in order at this point. This is the last thing I would advocate, as I have been a pastor and am still a preacher. I may pastor again if God so directs, and I certainly would not appreciate open dissention from the members. The point I have tried to make is that there are some in the pastorate across this great land who qualify as dogs to beware of. To deny this fact would be disastrous to those in their flocks.
Remember, this writer was a wild dog in the church for years, even while pastoring. I know by experience what I speak of. I know how the Apostle Paul felt, and like him I am grateful that we obtained mercy and God forgave us because we 'did it ignorantly and in unbelief.' Paul delivered folks up to physical death who were saved, which is bad, but at least they went to be with the Lord. I, like the wild dogs who remain in the church today, delivered up lost folks to an empty profession based on words and deeds of the flesh. I can only pray to God that He will allow them to come to a knowledge of their condition and be redeemed before they die in their sins with that vain hope! This is why I write; this is why I labor; this is why I preach! It is not for monetary gain or reward, but for those individuals who need to know the truth.
I certainly would expect folks to judge the things I am presenting here, as well as my motives and methods. Remember it was said of those in Berea that they were more noble than those in Thessalonica because they did search the scriptures to verify the validity of the Apostles' doctrines and practices. Can we as preachers claim to be above the Apostles? No individual who is convinced they are correct in their preaching, teaching and practices should fear prayerful investigation. It is those who would intimidate the ones who study and learn that are to be marked.
I would further advise against anyone confronting their pastor unless led by God to do so and unless they believe the pastor would listen to them, and even then not publicly! The best thing to do would be to get out and get to a place where truth is taught and practiced. You and your family are too important to be sacrificed to dogs wherever they be situated.
If the reader has found himself fitting the wild dog category, do not despair or get upset, for God can housebreak the wildest dog. God broke this dog after thirty plus years of church and fifteen years of preaching! It is when we face the truth that we are on the way to getting help from God. Jesus said , "...ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It is the truth about ourselves that forces us to acknowledge a need for God and His righteousness, and the truth about God that gives us hope that He will help us and save us. When He does, He brings us into the household and we enjoy the run of the house!
Thank you dear reader for taking the time to read this booklet. It is my hope that you have been helped and blessed by it. If you have questions, seek further information, or desire to obtain other materials, you may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This and other materials are provided at no cost as funds allow.
To God be glory in all things - Amen!
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