Philippians 3:18 (NIV)
18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
What does it mean to live as an enemy of the cross of Christ? Paul wrote these words from a prison cell in Rome. From this cell, he wrote to the Philippian church to tell them that it was given to them not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him.
Suffering is not something any human naturally runs toward or embraces. Most of us work hard to find a way to relieve pain and hardship in our lives. This concept of suffering as a Christian is foreign to most who live in the western world. We consider suffering a bad thing and something to be avoided at all cost. What Paul is writing in this little book is surprising to many who had taken up the name of Christian. They had embraced the faith because of the benefits of the faith; sins being forgiven, having a home in heaven, experiencing the joy of the Lord, etc.
Paul writes to correct this notion that the Christian faith is to be considered a pain free positive life. Hardship and suffering were things of the past because Christ has redeemed us from every painful part of living in a fallen world. At least that is what many who were proclaiming Christ in Paul’s absence were teaching.
When Paul heard that some were teaching Christ as a means to a life free from suffering and pain was to denigrate the cross and what Jesus had come to do.
They were teaching that Jesus was not a way back to the Father but a way to be free from the burden of guilt and a way to enjoy this life. He was only a means not the end itself. The cross was seen as some sort of magical formula to find an easy life and pain-free existence, it was not the door to enter into a full and abundant relationship with God.
Those who live as enemies of the cross of Christ have their mind set on how the Christian life can help them find a better life now not point them toward the everlasting pleasure of knowing God. The cross was a talisman to ward off evil spirits and repel curses so they could now live full and free lives here and now. There was no focus on the coming kingdom when sin and death would be destroyed and when we will live in unbroken relationship with God.
Characteristics of those how live as enemies of the cross of Christ as follows:
- Their destiny is destruction. They think they are right with God but they are not.
- Their god is their stomach. They live to please themselves not God.
- Their glory is in their shame. They enjoy the pleasures of this world more than the pleasure of knowing and savoring Christ.
- Their mind is on earthly things. Their life is consumed with running after the things of this world instead of pursuing Christ.
Characteristics of those who follow Christ:
1. Their citizenship is in heaven. They long for the day when our Savior will return and take us to be with him. This consumes them, this subject animates everything they do. They find they are often homesick for heaven. Sin brings grief because they no longer want to live in this way, they long to be with the author in unbroken fellowship.
2. They eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. With each passing day, they long more and more to be with the Father so they can enjoy his presence and gaze on his beauty.
Examine yourself to see if you are an enemy or a friend of the Cross.
this video may help you to understand how to live as a friend of the Cross.