Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Barnyard Basics 3 - Dogs

Revelation 22:15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

For those of you who believe that your dog went to heaven when it died...relax! This verse isn’t referring to natural dogs, it’s talking about a specific group of people. The New Testament refers to “dogs” nine different times, and only once is it actually talking about four-legged creatures. Every other time it’s using a well-known natural thing to illustrate a spiritual concept.

Naturally speaking, dogs are domestic wolves.

Wolves and dogs are both classified as Canis lupus - the scientific name for the wolf. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are huge and some of them are tiny. Some of them have long fur and some of them are naked. Some of them are very useful and some of them are nothing more than lap warmers. But the one thing every dog has in common is their wolfish nature. Thousands of years of domestication has managed to suppress their wild side, but it’s still there! Many times stray dogs begin to group together and form packs. When this happens, their behavior and hierarchy becomes identical to wolves.

Dogs can be friendly, playful and even lovable - but when they’re backed into a corner, it doesn’t take long for that wolf to come to the surface. It’s estimated that there are around 30 million dog attacks every year in the United States, with 850,000 of them seeking medical attention and about 30 of them fatal. Clearly, some dogs are as vicious as others are useful and friendly.

Spiritually speaking, the Bible calls unbelievers dogs.

Can they be friendly? Absolutely. Can they be lovable? Sure! Can they help the church? Many times. They come in all different shapes, sizes, and behaviors. Most of them are actually good people. Society’s laws and rules have suppressed the wickedness of humanity. But only salvation can change their nature.

Until a person is born again, their wolf nature will always be there. Watch what happens when the rule of law is taken away - people become savage. When people form groups, otherwise harmless individuals become vicious.

Sometimes people in the world try to improve themselves. They try to attend church, try to increase their knowledge, try to become good - but they can never get rid of their internal wickedness. All their efforts are like a dog trying to suppress its inner wolf. No matter how they try, they can’t change who they are. Only Jesus can do that.

Pastors can tell when they have a dog in the church by watching their attitude toward holy things. Matthew 7:6 says, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs.” Why? Because dogs don’t understand or appreciate holy things.

That’s why worldly churches are trying push the Holy Spirit out the back door. Unbelievers (even religious unbelievers) don’t understand the holy things He does. When the Holy Spirit takes control of a church service, the dogs are the first to be offended. I believe this: as God continues pours His Spirit on the true church, the dogs are going to find other places to attend. Worldly churches may be growing in number - but I’m curious whether their congregations are made up of true sheep or dogs.

In Biblical times, dogs were always outside. They weren’t clean animals, so the Jews would never let them into the cities. That’s the same picture used in Revelation 22:15 - “But outside are dogs”. Dogs aren’t able to enter God’s Kingdom. Until they change, until they have a genuine salvation encounter with God, they will always be on the outside looking in. Sadly, if they refuse to change in this life, their eternal fate can never change. Spiritual dogs and spiritual wolves share the same destiny.

No matter how religious the person may be, this truth remains the same - you were born with a wolf nature, so you must be born again!

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