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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Enemies of The Cross

Philippians 3:18-19
For many, of whom I have told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

How easy it is for us who claim Christ to think the enemies of the cross are those who are busy with blatant sins or those who would not even consider entering our churches. It is easy to see the unbeliever as the enemy of the cross. Those who don’t trust Christ do not know the value of the cross and have no part in it. But the Apostle Paul is talking about those who are among the children of God. Otherwise there would not have been reason for him to warn them twice.

Those who are enemies of the cross have no death in their gospel. For them, no death is required for life to be gained. They believe they can hold onto the world and have Jesus also. They think that Jesus’ death is all that is required. Certainly Jesus death is sufficient for our forgiveness. But Jesus calls his disciples to follow him in suffering and death; to pick up their cross daily. Paul says they are specifically “enemies of the cross”. These do not put themselves forth as anti-gospel or anti Jesus. They have knowledge of his atoning sacrifice for our sins but they refuse to accept the command to leave the world and die to the flesh. Since they are unwilling to follow in the prescribed way; they are eager to justify themselves with outward works.

Enemies of the cross are enemies of Jesus. If we despise our cross and hate the command to die to ourselves and set aside our earthly treasures, what do we have to look forward to besides the accumulation of worldly treasures? Without the company of Jesus at our cross, what do we have to enjoy besides the endless worldly pleasures? If we set ourselves against the cross assigned to us, our God will be our belly.

There is the tendency to quickly defend the appetites of the flesh. The natural appetites are not necessarily always evil. They are only evil in so far as they deter a person from following Jesus with their whole hearts. But here is the problem: we kid ourselves that they are not deterring us when they are. Since we do not have the ability to gauge our own hearts, Jesus protects us with the command to lose our lives that we may find them. He makes a perfect example of not living for earthly things and tells us to follow him in this. We protect our inclination to befriend the world with the claim that in would be legalistic not to.

Beware lest you think your appetites are too small to be harmful; it is a lie. Perhaps your satisfaction comes with a quiet life with simple pleasures like family and fishing. You say you don’t want many possessions – just a simple life. To do what? It doesn’t have to be riches and a breakneck pace to kill you, spiritually. Whatever your life is about, if it’s not killing the desires of the flesh – not merely turning away but running in the opposite direction; it’s just numbing your spirit.

1 comment:

Michael Hill said...

Hi Deb...
Convicting and pointed blog. I get so much out of your writing - God has blessed you!

What hope do we have? To follow the example of Paul, to follow the example of Christ - wow, who is up to such a task? Yes, indeed that is what Paul commands (v17), but the 700 pound gorilla in the rooms - yells out how? How do we take up our cross, how do we die to the things of this world? How do we follow the example of the Apostle Paul and Jesus himself?

Paul writes, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ..."

It is not a matter of giving up something of greater value, but realizing the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ." We need God, in his mercy and grace to reveal to our easily distracted and satisfied (temporary) hearts, that He is far more valuable and great than the worldly treasures that hold us captive. I don't argue against our culpability, but who is our deliverer? Not me, not my determination, not my conviction, not my will. But Him and Him alone. Enemies of the cross, become benefactors of Christ when we like Paul obtain a righteousness "that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith." Lord Jesus, give us faith in you and your righteousness. Set us free from the bondage of the lies this world and our sinful hearts.

The encouraging words of Paul exhort us to press on, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." We need to press on in the struggle to be satisfied in God and all that he is for us in Christ Jesus.

Come Lord Jesus - do your work in your people!

Great blog!!


About Me

I met Jesus in March 1997 and soon after I began the practice of writing things down that were happening in my life with the Lord. Over the years, in the rare times that I have looked back into older journals, I have found that the things the Lord was showing me then are the same things He is showing me now. This does not make them less helpful, on the contrary, it makes them more helpful. God is exactly who He says He is and is doing all that He said He would. We need to be reminded of God and His faithfulness. The intention of this blog is to encourage God's people to continue and to grow in their confidence in Jesus Christ. The things posted here are from my journal and are meant to be an example of God's love and help as He loves and helps me. I would expect that you would have reason to trust Jesus Christ with your life (and death) if you haven't heard about Him so I invite you to go to my page "About Jesus" to see why you can and should have every confidence in Jesus and Jesus only for all things.