ENEMIES OF THE CROSS
Philippians 3:17-4:11 Princeton Christian Church 29 September 2021
Many enemies of the cross are in the church (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Their fruit can be examined (Matthew 7:16). Ritualism (ceremony) and carnality (worldliness) are unrelenting, merciless enemies of the cross.
Look at how Paul describes these enemies of the cross, at what their end will be, and then at what the alternative could be.
First, their Destiny is Destruction. This is because they turn their freedom into a perverted liberty and their primary interest is selfishness. They suffer loss of everything that makes life worth living. They are excluded from the kingdom of God, and the glorious eternal home of the righteous.
Second, their god is their Stomach. Their concern and devotion are to all that belongs to the physical body, that is, the fleshly life of humanity. Their full effort is toward the satisfaction of the carnal nature. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 ”The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” And then, in Romans 6:6, he says it like this: “For we know that our old self was crucified with hi o that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…”
Third, they find that their chief satisfaction is in the gratification of their animal passions. Paul describes them in Romans 16; 18 by declaring:” For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites (for their bellies). By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of native people.”
Their destiny – their destruction Their god – their stomach. And their glory is in their shame. They pride themselves on those very sins of which, as Christians, they should be deeply ashamed.
Fourth, their mind is on earthly things. They are still confined by an earthbound life, refusing to be open to the gracious and transforming influences of the Gospel. They think of nothing but earthly matters. They are void of high and heavenly thoughts and aspirations but continually concentrate with their whole soul, upon the here and the now.
The upward heavenly calling has no attraction to these enemies of the cross. They are satisfied with the momentary desires of the flesh, living like animals with animal instincts and actions.
But, there are alternatives to the lives, behaviors, and devotion of those who reject the life offered in Jesus Christ.
The first alternative is our citizenship in heaven. It is in this promise that we find our uniqueness as Christians. We are “resident aliens.” It is vital that we never forget where our citizenship lies. Of course, our conduct must match our citizenship.
We serve a Savior from the place of our citizenship – heaven. Our hope must center on the return of Christ. One of the characteristics of the early church was that of their living expectantly that their Lord and Savior would soon return. With the massive passing of time, it seems that we often forget He will return and then we begin to wander from that expectation to worldly careless living. But, we must diligently keep ourselves and our worship pure. The time of His return is unknown to anyone on earth. Let us be as the early church and desire His return so that we won’t be ashamed at His coming.
Another alternative is Transformation. Paul describes this transformation in Colossians 1:13-14 – “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
This transformation is accomplished only as our spirits are conformed to His Spirit. When the spirit is sinless God will give it an immortal body like the glorified body of the Lord Jesus. But, when the soul is given over to sin, fitted for companionship with the enemy, Satan, the body will be one of suffering and woe in hell.
So, the first transformation is that of our spirits. God will give us bodies suited to our spirits. This reward comes through the confirmation of our lives to the life of Jesus. Our bodies will then be transformed into the likeness of His glorious body.
Finally, Paul gives instruction to us, saying, “Stand firm in the Lord.” This is required so that in no case can the spiritual life ever act apart from the fellowship of Christ.
Are we enemies of the cross, or are we a people who are standing firm in the Lord, expecting and anxiously anticipating the return of our Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ? Do we claim our citizenship in heaven, or are we satisfied with temporary citizenship on this temporary earth? We have an alternative. We can own citizenship in heaven. We can know a Savior from there. We can be transformed to be in the same spirit in which we find Christ.
Gary’s Wednesday Word