“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matthew 7:6). These words form the seventh but shortest section of the sermon. This admonition follows the previous “judge not” admonition. As noted, the Lord warned against hypocritical efforts to correct others while ignoring one’s own issues. Jesus did not forbid loving efforts to correct a brother’s failings. To cite Paul in Galatians 6:1, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” This is immediately followed by a warning: “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
The verse before us addresses those individuals in the church who will not be corrected because they are like dogs and pigs, unholy and unclean. Unregenerate professors boast of divine life but do not possess it. Their unsanctified “self” tends to be critical of others but are overly defensive. Like dogs, the unspiritual “bite and devour one another” (Galatians 5:15). Thus, the body of Christ suffers because true saints, out of fear of criticism and retribution, neglect their spiritual gifts, withdraw, and remain silent. Cultural confusion of “political correctness” further exacerbates that fear.” As a result, the loving watch-care much needed in the church is sorely neglected. Oh, that God would grant His people a reviving of the biblical atmosphere spoken of in Ephesians 4:12 and 13.
Jesus’ audience had no problem understanding His words but imagine these descriptives used in modern pulpits. How dare one call another a dog. Yet, Jesus replied to a Gentile woman, “It is not right to take the children’s [Jews] bread and throw it to the dogs [Gentiles]” (Matthew 15:26). He was testing her faith, but it is texts like this that require modern Christians to know the Old Testament to properly understand. Sadly, the Jews also failing on this point, becoming what they condemned because they did not understand how they, too, profaned the holy.
Mosaic instruction to the Levites was that “they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean” (Ezekiel 44:23). Yet, under the old economy, the Lord complained, “Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common” (Ezekiel 22:26). However, the Lord promised that in the new age, “Once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him” (Malachi 3:18).
Dogs and pigs symbolize people who claim to be God’s people but are unholy and unclean, even idolatrous. Thus, we read in Revelation concerning the New Jerusalem, “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (22:15). Sorely lacking in churches today is saints who “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and are “filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:18, 19).