When we think of dogs, we think of “man’s best friend” or warm, cuddly pets. In the New Testament times dogs were not thought of as dirty scavengers. The worst thing you could call somebody, was, a dog.
In Philippians 3:2 Paul uses the term “dog” to designate anyone who directs you away from Jesus as the source of joy. In particular, he focuses on those obsessed with moralistic rule keeping as the means to achieve God’s blessing. The idea was, along the lines of, if you live according to a strict moral code, then God will be happy with you.
We’re all familiar with the austere looking puritan caricatures that so often are used to ridicule Christians. Unfortunately, in many cases, those caricatures are closer to the truth than Christians will care to admit. “Oh, we’re saved by grace” they nobly espouse. Then, as soon as someone falls short of their moral code of conduct, they are either given a dressing down or shunned.
These so-called Christians are Dogs! Filthy, disgusting, scavengers, scum of the earth!
What is going to bring joy into my heart and soul and keep it? What safeguard is there for me that will keep me stabilized, make me certain and keep me secure so I can live with joy?
It is not keeping to the rules. You can’t possibly maintain a perfect standard anyway. Instead, joy, exuberant, exalting, free, hedonistic joy is to live each day realizing that everything God does in you and through you, is by grace, rather than working for it and earning it.
Stay clear of “dogs” or whatever else you might think to call those who turn you away from Jesus.