by Oscar M. Baker
Would you have ever thought that a Christian could be an enemy of the cross? Not all enemies are on the outside; some are within.
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction and God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things.” Phil. 3:18-19.
Here Paul is speaking of those who are believers and called Christians. They are the ones who have a walk. But they do not walk worthy of their calling. Paul in this same context speaks of his own example. He also speaks of some whose walk must not be imitated. He is not talking of the unsaved. They would be no snare to the Philippians who run for the prize.
These are believers who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. They are saved. They are justified. But they have not gone on to realize the deeper teaching of the cross. They have not learned the circumcision of the flesh. Poor unfortunates…their God is their belly. Their mind is set on earthly things. The word DESTRUCTION here means spoil, mar, or deprave. It is somewhat parallel with I Cor. 3:15-17. There we find some who have built of the wrong material. Their work is lost in the fire. They are saved, yet as by fire.
The teaching of the cross involves self-denial. To take up our cross and follow Him means to give up the world, not to mind earthly things. It even involves loving Him more than any person or thing on this earth. Such teaching is foolishness to them that perish. A worldly person can never understand why anybody would deny himself anything. The cross means the crucifixion of the flesh.
So a believer may indulge himself in the flesh and fail to walk spiritually, and by his influence and example become and enemy of the cross. The end of such is loss.
The man who lives his life for himself, who seeks to save it for his selfish desires, will lose all joy of life. The man who loses life in the service of the Lord, (I mean to live unto God, not to die) will find life and joy in living it.
The failure of the redeemed Israelites, including Moses, to enter the promised-land was because they drew back to destruction or loss.
There is a threefold failure that cause them to be enemies of the cross. 1) Their God is their belly. 2) They glory in their shame. 3) Things of the earth occupy their mind. But can a believer have an idol or a god? Beware of covetousness, which is idolatry. Never yield your members unto sin, but unto God.
Belly; how can that be a God? When you are called for a certain line of duty for the Lord, do you shrink and say, ‘Well, one must make a living.’ Man does not live by bread alone. We are not to be too anxious about what we are to eat or drink. Eve was tempted when she saw something that looked as if it would be good to eat. The Israelites in the wilderness were murmuring because of something to eat. Our Lord’s first temptation was in the realm of something to eat. Can one become so fond of good eating that he will become a glutton and make a God of his belly? It seems so.
Can a bread and butter reason be back of some of our failures? Let us be careful that we do not glory in shame. The Lord endured the cross, despising the shame. Let us not mind earthly things, but keep our eyes of t he prize of the high calling.
It is right that we should be diligent in business. It is right to provide for the family. It is right to labor with the hands. But business, family cares, and the things necessary to daily life must not take first place. Let us not be as Martha, but as Mary. Orig. published Dec. 1948
by Oscar M. Baker