Philippians 3:17-4:1 Beware of Enemies of the cross
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 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. Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
Paul warns believers of ministers who preach the cross but were enemies of it. Such ministers cause believers to focus on earthly things and glamour supposing the cross as a means to fulfill their earthly desires. Therefore, believers must be discerning and to always remember that their citizenship and final destination is in heaven. They must resist the lust of the world and persevere in standing firm in the lifestyle and mission of Christ so that they may attain the glory of His resurrection.
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Paul encourages the believers to follow his example, which is the manner that Christ lives. He urges them to observe and to imitate those who walk according God’s values system and who are willing to suffer in order to fulfill Christ’s mission of love. It is through observing and imitating those who are mature, can believers grow in the likeness of Christ.
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
Paul warns the believers concerning those who trumpet themselves as God’s ministers, but are in fact enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul’s expression: and now tell you even weeping denotes his great disappointment towards some of these ministers. Who are the enemies of the cross of Christ? They are not distinguished by their radical teachings but more by their appetite: whose god is their appetite for earthly things: money, glamour and fleshly pleasures. Put in a nutshell, such ministers promote the acquisition of earthly things by preaching the riches of the cross but omitting its mission. They justify their omission by saying that the people are not ready to receive the mission of Christ and that their call is to preach the milk and not the solid food of the word.
For 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. Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
Paul directs the believers towards their ultimate destiny, which is their citizenship in heaven. Hence, believers must live in eager expectation of the coming of Jesus Christ who will transform their bodies into that of Christ’s glorious body. As all things will be subject to Christ’s authority, believers will also share in ruling with Him. In view of believers’ glorious destiny, Paul urges them to stand firm in the truth and in accomplishing their calling so that they can receive what God has ordained.
- The future restoration of the God’s Kingdom depends on a group of believers who imitate the life of Christ and adopt His vision and lifestyle. Knowledge can be gotten by explanation and repetition, but a heart of truth can only be acquired through observation and imitation. Paul directs the believers’ attention to himself in following his example. The power and anointing of a Spirit-filled life can only be imparted through observation and emulation in the context of discipleship. Many people who find the Christian lifestyle and the word dry and tasteless can be attributed to the lack of a Spirit-filled model that they can observe and emulate. Those who are young must seek a model that they respect and trust. Those who are mature must seek to be a model that believers can emulate.
- A true minister of the cross will direct believers to the vision of heaven and be an example in accomplishing the mission of the cross through Christ centered living. Ministers who preach the word, but did not turn people away from their darkness and self-centered lifestyle but keep people feasting on their earthly appetites are considered enemies of the cross. They are those who bring people to the cross of salvation but did not lead them to carry the cross, which is the mission of Christ. They supposed that the grace of God has accomplished the work of salvation does not require believers to do anything except to enjoy wealth and comfort on earth: who set their minds on earthly things.
- The reward of the resurrection body that Christ has requires one to persevere and to stand firm to the very end. Salvation is given to those who repent and acknowledge Christ as Lord of his life. However, the Christ’s kind of resurrection is given only to those who persevere and accomplish his calling. While a great number may receive salvation, but only a minority will experience the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, every believer must endeavor to persevere and accomplish his calling, and not be contented with mere salvation.
- Do you desire to live a Christ-centered lifestyle? Understand that a Christ-centered lifestyle will eventually lead you to prosper in everything that you do. Find a person whom you think you can emulate and create accountability with him/her. Allow him/her to see and to speak into your life. Discipleship by observation and emulation is the most effective way to grow and journey towards your calling.
- Are you constantly preoccupied with work endeavors and family activities? Do you have little time to invest your time and resources into the lives of others? Perhaps you could speak to God and understand what He wants you to do during this time.
Dear Lord, help me to observe and understand the life of Christ and give me the power to emulate Him. Use me as an instrument for your work and reveal to me my calling. Even as I face challenges, give me wisdom to persevere and to breakthrough. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.