Monday, 13 February 2017
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Philippians 3:18
As noted in the previous verse, the words of Paul seem especially directed to those who lived out their supposed Christian experience in licentiousness and in the pursuit of worldly things. This is in contrast to the Judaizers in the sense that they discounted the work of Christ and exalted the Law of Moses. They looked to a reward, but they looked to it as an earned badge of merit, not as a gift received because of the work of Another.
The people Paul speaks of here simply treat the world as the great reward, and they revel in what it offers. And yet, they claim that they are followers of Christ. This is why he now notes their “walk.” In the previous verse, he asked that those who walked in accord with his walk, meaning in a life lived to Christ, were to be emulated as a pattern. Now he says, “For many walk,” as a contrast to that. He then notes, “…of whom I have told you often.” This is not something that suddenly appeared while he was away from them. Instead, it is something that he had been warning about all along.
For this reason, it is an incipient infection. It is one that constantly needs to be warned against, and so he says, “…and now tell you even weeping.” It was such a damaging heresy that it literally brought him to tears. How could someone hear the message of Christ, claim that that they had received it and been converted, and yet continue to live in the world as if “for the world.” And in fact, they had taken the grace of Christ, and turned it into a badge of greater sin than they previously engaged in. It is a concept that he addresses in Romans 6 which begins with –
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:1, 2
He warns that being in Christ means living in holiness, not in even greater sin. For those that would presume to teach this, or to follow such teachers, he says “that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Such people are not just unknowing and uncaring about Christianity, they are actively enemies of it. Christ counts them as such. They are destined for a very bad end unless they repent, come to their senses, and call on Christ in truth.
Thus, we have a distinction between the Judaizers of the earlier verses of chapter 3 and those of the Antinomian heresy here. The Judaizers were heretical because they rejected the full atonement and justification which is found in Christ alone, and they set out to establish their own righteousness. The Antinomians now work against the other side of the cross. They claim that they are so fully justified in Christ that they have absolute freedom to work out, and engage in, any type of moral impurity they wish.
What is astonishing is that both of these groups have almost exponentially grown in size in the recent church. The modern Hebrew Roots movement has exploded in recent years, claiming that the Law of Moses must be adhered to in part or in full. At the same time, the once strong and faithful churches and denominations of even the recent past, have openly endorsed homosexuality, lesbianism, and every other type of moral perversion that they can think up. Pulpits have become the proclaimers of pervert parties. And yet, all of this could be avoided if one simply picked up the Bible and read the warnings of Paul.
Life application: There is peace to be found in Christ, but let us never use this grace to assume that we can then live in an unholy manner. We are to emulate our Lord who would never condone such worldly perversion.
Lord God, there are enemies on both sides of Christ’s cross. There are those who deny the all-sufficiency of His work, claiming they must continue to adhere to the Law of Moses in order to please You. And then there are those who say that the grace which stems from the cross is a license to sin and commit any and every moral twisting they wish. There are perverts in the pulpit who are leading their sheep down a one-way path to destruction. Help us to adhere to Your word alone, and not to get caught in either of these damnable heresies. Amen.