Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Enemies of the Cross of Christ

“Many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are ENEMIES OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST” (Philippians 3:18 NAS).

There is hardly a character in the Bible I admire more than Paul; his conversion is perhaps the most dramatic, and his impact upon the world, one of the most profound.  It seems that more than anyone, he strove with the grace of God to become like Jesus.  He, more than anyone, knew what it was like to be an enemy of God (having persecuted the early church).  And because he knew the depths of that enmity, he developed a keen insight into the opposite sentiment: friendship with God.  He, perhaps more than anyone, recognized and embraced “the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

It is called the upward call because it requires a distinct mindset, a mind set on “the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).   Paul reminds us that “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that he has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20).  This is an extraordinary mouthful!  The redemption of our bodies—and the consequential ultimate defeating of the last enemy (death)—is the final act of God’s redemptive plan concerning us specifically.

The cross of Christ is the means by which God executes His redemptive plan; those who claim the benefits of salvation while remaining earthly minded ultimately sabotage their part in this redemption plan and make themselves enemies of the cross of Christ while doing so.  Paul wept for those who set their minds on earthly things, those “whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame” (Philippians 3:19).

Unfortunately, there are myriad souls who glory in their shame.  This means they glory in down-disfigurement (the meaning of the word “shame”); they also relish being ruled by their base or animal appetites.  This may appear to be counterintuitive, and perhaps it is to some, but to the majority of those who relish debauchery and natural glorification, this is—I believe—a concession.  It is grounded in either a lack of revelation or in a self-concentric worldview or a combination of both; for all the revelation they may have of Jesus Christ, they have little or no revelation of their own fallen nature.

Furthermore, the cross of Christ is scary to flesh (in its current state of fallen-ness, while it is still a body of death); that is why we are to mortify our flesh (deaden its power of expression) by—and with the help—of the Holy Spirit.  It is normal to anyone who truly fears God to say unashamedly that “My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments” (Psalm 119:120).  Nonetheless—fear or no fear—flesh is to be controlled by spirit (and our spirit by His Spirit); to walk in the Spirit is to make no provision for the flesh.  Otherwise—if only by concession to our natural inclinations—we walk as ENEMIES OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST.