Beware of the False Cross
Then, about a year later in Matthew 23, Jesus spoke to the multitude, and to His disciples, and pronounced eight woes upon the scribes and Pharisees; Jesus said they were blind, they were hypocrites and fools. However for our purpose, we are only quoting two of the eight woes; but for your own enlightenment, the whole chapter should be read.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse ye first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matthew 23:25-26).
The Holy Spirit tells us "But it is happened unto them - to the false prophets and the false teachers - according to the true proverb (Proverbs 26:11), the dog is turned to his own vomit again." The Holy Spirit tells us that this is a "true proverb." This means that this "true proverb" is the exact opposite of "the lie" of the devil. It is the exact opposite of the false message of the false cross that the false prophets and false teachers had brought in among the people of God. It is a "true proverb" of the Lord, which means it is a Word of Wisdom given to us by the Holy Spirit from the written Word of God. We find this true proverb in Proverbs 26:11, "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." Now in this same chapter, we find the Wisdom of God explaining the folly of fools. Eleven times in the first twelve verses, the Holy Spirit reveals the folly, the irreverence, the ungodliness, the disrespect, the undutifulness they show unto the Lord. Therefore, it is clear that these dogs do not have the wisdom that comes from above.
A "true proverb" is a ruling principle of God. A "true proverb" is a Word of Wisdom from the Lord, and if it is heeded, it will govern the life and control the walk of the people of God. We have also learned that all the Wisdom of God comes from above, and this gift of Wisdom can only become a true reality in our life, it can only become a governing and controlling reality in our life as we submit to the discipline of the Cross and its principle of self-denial.
So a "true proverb" is a Word of Wisdom, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit from the Holy Word of God (1 Corinthians 12:8) that instructs, disciplines, admonishes, and warns us. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to quote from Proverbs 26:11, the Holy Spirit was instructing us and warning us to "Beware of the dogs," to beware of the false prophets and false teachers because they are "greedy dogs" who return to their own vomit. Therefore, in the measure that we submit to the discipline of the Cross, that is the measure we will beware of and discern, "these greedy dogs," and their message of the false cross.
Beloved, it is vital that we discern these "greedy dogs," for they are messengers sent by satan to build up our own self-righteousness. Peter tells us that they are sent to turn us away from our steadfastness. He tells us to "beware, keep up your guard, lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Peter 3:17). Keep in mind that Peter was writing this warning to Christians who were faithful to God the Father, he was writing to those who were in great heaviness through manifold trials: "that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7). Peter was writing to those who "have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1). He was writing to the "living stones' of God's spiritual House (1 Peter 2:4, 5), and he told them by the Spirit: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:9, 10).
So Peter was writing to the bondslaves of the Lord, the faithful ones of the Lord, and he warned them to "beware of the dogs," because "the dog is turned to his own vomit again," and for greater emphasis, the Holy Spirit adds, "and the sow that was washed [turned again] to her wallowing in the mire." Mire means slime, mud, animal waste, manure, such as that which accumulates where animals are kept. In other words, mire is "dung." The dog feeds on his own vomit, the sow wallows in her own mire. There were false prophets and false teachers among the people of God then, and they are among the churches today, and they "will subtly and stealthily and secretly introduce destructive doctrines ... and many will follow their pernicious ways; and because of them the Way of the Truth will be maligned, will be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with false words make merchandise of you ... You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away, lest being led away, by the error of the wicked, by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Peter 2:1-3; 3:17).
Peter says that these "greedy dogs" are enemies of the Way of the Truth. And we know that Christ said, "I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6). Paul says, "that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ" (Phil. 3:18). Beloved, every devoted bondservant of God at one time or another has fallen prey to that which builds up our own self-righteousness, our own self-importance, our own self-indulgence. We have all at one time or another let down our guard, and we have given in to that which ministers to the self-righteousness found in our adamic nature. Paul warns us to beware of the dogs, and their message of the false cross, lest we find ourselves in our own self-righteousness.
(continued with # 3)