For many live, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Philippians 3:18-21 (NKJV)
The reason for Paul’s admonition to follow his example was to turn the believers away from following the bad examples of the false teachers, the Judaizers, and any others who claimed to be believers but refused to live up to Christ’s model of servanthood and self-sacrifice. All of these people satisfied their own desires before even thinking about the needs of others. All of them focused on their works, thus making them enemies of the cross of Christ. Believers cannot count on their works and at the same time accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Either Christ’s sacrifice was all-sufficient and we can do nothing more, or Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough and we have to keep on trying to earn God’s approval. Such attempts to nullify Christ’s sacrifice saddened Paul greatly. Paul had warned the Philippians about false teachings, and he continued to do so with tears.
The “enemies of the cross” were probably Judaizers—those Jewish Christians (Oxymoron?) who were overly zealous for their law. But some scholars think Paul was referring to another false teaching that had surfaced, called “antinomianism.” Those who subscribed to this teaching believed that once their souls had been redeemed by Christ, what they did in their bodies no longer mattered. Thus, they threw aside morality and decency, believing that nothing done in the body could stain their already-redeemed souls. The God who redeemed us through the blood of Christ, redeemed us soul, mind and body.
Four characteristics were true of these “enemies of the cross” (3:18). Their destiny is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame; their mind is on earthly things. Our citizenship is in heaven! We must act in a manner that exalts the King of heaven and not according to the styles and pattern of this world. If we don’t, do we become “enemies of the cross of Christ?” Just asking, amen.