The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Walking after Christ, or Glorying in Shame?

Christian soldiers

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 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: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:17-20)

From this passage, 6 points stand out to me:

1. We are to imitate Paul’s way of life as he also imitated Christ’s way of life.

2. If we are imitating Paul and Christ, our citizenship is in heaven, not a place on earth.

3. Many religious men are instead enemies of the cross of Christ because they do not walk as Christ walked.

4. Such people serve not Christ, but their own belly or earthly appetites, caring overmuch for earthly things.

5. These people glory in (are proud of) that which should make them feel ashamed.

6. The end of such people is destruction.

1. First, we are to follow Paul’s example, as he has stated elsewhere: Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (I Cor. 11:1) And what example has Paul, imitating Jesus, given to us? Although he was born with elite Jewish privilege and could have had all the honor from men associated with that privilege, he has counted it as worthless so as to pursue Christ. (Phil. 3:2-11) He understands that the true Circumcision includes only those who are worshiping God in the Spirit (vs. 3). He has not joined the Jewish Resistance to fight the Roman occupiers for land, just as Christ did not. He has not made the advancement and supremacy of his earthly nation his goal, just as Christ did not. He has not sought to protect his physical life from danger and death, just as Christ did not (2 Cor. 6:4-5). And this blessed man followed Jesus to the end, overcoming all things by not loving his own life to the death.

2. The one who is walking the same path as Paul and Christ has his citizenship in heaven. He is loyal to heaven and heaven’s goals. He is not an earthly man, but a spiritual man. He belongs to that kingdom which is not of this world (John 18:36); he no longer seeks/fights for things the world offers–including freedom from captivity, servitude or death. He knows his inheritance is reserved in heaven for him, and mortal man can do nothing to take it away, provided he remains faithful to the end (I Pet. 1:4, Matt. 10:28; Rom. 8:38-39). As a citizen of that holy country, he will speak to the people of this world as calling them out of their own perishing countries and into that enduring one. He will not give up his ambassadorship and ministry of reconciliation to fight instead against flesh and blood, for things he has already written off as loss.

3. While those who refuse to walk as Christ and Paul walked are often called “good conservative Christians” in our day, God calls them “enemies of the cross of Christ.” They do not want to empty themselves, give up their reputation among men, and go to the cross as Jesus did; they refuse to let that mind be in them which was also in Him (Phil. 2:5-7). The ways of God are foolishness to them. Instead they exalt themselves, attempting to harness the secular powers through the political process or military strength, not understanding that this illicit lover will turn on them (Rev. 17:16). They succumb to the temptation of the devil, which was,“All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” (Matt. 4:9) Who is like my country, they say, and who can make war with him? And they wave their flags and celebrate their holidays commemorating death and destruction. They are enemies of the cross because they despise its humility, its poverty, and its pain; all while claiming to serve its Christ.

4. Such people serve carnal appetites, not Christ, regardless of what they claim on Sunday morning. Their boast is not in how the cross has subdued and mastered them, but in what they have accomplished in this world by their flesh. They are not crucified to the world, and the world is not crucified to them (Gal. 3:14). They want land, they want privilege (which they call “freedom”), and they want the world to be under their immediate control–a deceptive illusion of reigning with Christ, when they will never reign with Christ if they do not go by way of the cross. The love of the world is still in their hearts. They have not so learned Christ (Eph. 4:20). This is not how Christ walked, and it is not how Paul walked. But these dual witnesses are ignored by those who must have their carnal appetites fed.

5. They glory in, and are proud of, that which should make them ashamed.There are many things earthly men–even religious men–will esteem, that God looks upon as pure abomination (Lk. 16:15). Most horrifying is when men purporting to serve Christ glory in the things Christ abhors. A perfect example can be seen in the picture above. Men proudly holding the Word of God (“Love your enemies”) in one hand, and a destroying weapon in the other. This picture is making the rounds in social media, and the comments are enough to break a child of God’s heart. Professing Christians glorying in such a picture! Glorying in our “might”–and purposely forgetting the suffering caused by it. Saying, “God is with us”–and purposely forgetting that God is never with people whose sins stink to high heavens, and whose faces remain proud despite the continuing stench. Forgetting also the gospel. Forgetting the call to love not the world and have no fellowship with the world. Forgetting the command to bless those who hate us. Forgetting the example of Paul and the example of Jesus. Willfully forgetting in far too many cases.

6. In conclusion, Scripture is clear that enemies of the cross will be destroyed. Those who do not repent of living and warring in the flesh (Rom. 8:13; 2 Cor. 10:3-4) will die the second death in the lake of fire. Murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them (I Jn. 3:15). Those who are still entangled in the games of this world, swearing oaths to obey earthly men and destroying flesh and blood, are not serving the Lord. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot fulfill two commissions at one time–one of reconciliation and the other of destruction. You cannot love both the world and God (I Jn. 2:15-17). Paul made his choice–he counted as worthless all that the world would have praised about him. He set his sights on eternal things and made up his mind to run his race in careful imitation of Christ. He let the mind of Christ Jesus be in him, ruling his behavior and deciding the course of his life. Many early believers did follow Paul as he followed Christ, and they suffered many things in their flesh. But in knowing Christ and being conformed to his death, they obtained an inheritance that will never fade away.

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