Who are the Enemies Of The Cross in Philippians 3:17-20?

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Answers to Bible Questions
Scriptures are from the KJV of the Bible

(Q)  Who are the ENEMIES OF THE CROSS in Philippians 3:17-20?

(A)  Philippians 3:17-20: 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. 18 (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: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things) 20 For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven.

First, we need to know who Paul is addressing in the above verses. Is it Believers or Unbelievers?

 Paul is addressing both groups In verse 17, Believers and Unbelievers. Paul begins by encouraging those at Philippi who were saved to follow his teachings and manner of life. Notice, that he digresses in verses 18 and 19 to add a parenthetical thought. The reason the apostle pauses momentarily here is to point out that there were many who claimed to be Christians, probably for some type of personal gain, but he clearly exposes them to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. They lived to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Their god was food, and drink, and sex, as they gloried in their shame. They were consumed with earthly possessions, which blinded them to their need of the Savior. As a result, their “end is destruction. Surely this could not be said of the believer. Then Paul resumes with his initial train of thought, confirming our heavenly hope with the saints at Philippi, “For our citizenship is in heaven.”

The apostle was digressing momentarily to contrast two very different mindsets. I believe the contrast is between those who desired to have the mind of Christ and those who desired to mind worldly things. Since Paul has already addressed those who were mature and immature believers in Christ in the foregoing context, we can safely conclude he is speaking about unbelievers here in verses 18 and 19.  The “many” the apostle speaks of here were false teachers who had professed Christ but were unregenerate. In view of the fact that the salvation of God is through the Cross alone, those who teach salvation by works are clearly identified by Paul as “enemies of the Cross.” They may have had an outward form of godliness, but they denied the power thereof, to which Paul says, “from such turn away” (II Timothy 3:5). In a word, the enemies of the Cross are those who deny the efficacy of the shed blood of Christ, believing there are other paths to acceptance with God. Seeing their end, Paul shared with the Philippians how he wept over these lost souls who were headed for a Christless eternity. This is a good example of following Paul’s manner of life, for we too should have the same burden to reach those who are dangling over the lake of fire by one thin thread of human existence. Due to the fact that these unregenerate teachers defiantly continued in their rebellion, the apostle leveled four indictments against them: “Whose end is destruction” or perdition! Notice Paul addresses the end of those who are enemies of the Cross. Their eternal end will be “destruction,” which is defined by Strong as ruin and loss of spiritual well-being. Thayer adds, “The destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell.” Peter used this same term when he pronounced the following scathing condemnation of the false teachers of his day: “who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (II Peter 2:1). The road to destruction of these enemies of the Cross passes through the present torment of Hades where they await their summons to appear before the Great White Throne Judgment, which will ultimately determine the degree of their eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Matthew 10:15; 11:22-24; 23:14; II Thessalonians 1:7-9 & Revelation 20:11-15). We should note that a gracious provision of salvation was made for them, they had heard the gospel, they were warned when they rejected it, and the apostle wept over them, praying they would turn from their rebellion. So, when these false teachers find themselves in eternal torment, they will have no one to blame but themselves. As we saw earlier, we are able to determine whether or not believers are following Paul’s apostleship and message by observing their walk. While only the Lord knows for certain those who are His own, the conduct of the unbeliever will often expose that he is walking in the vanity of his mind (Ephesians. 4:17). With this in mind, the apostle goes on to say regarding these false teachers: “Whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). These evildoers were given over to a life of self-indulgence and fleshly appetites. Their philosophy was, “let’s eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” By way of contrast, the believer glories in the Cross of Christ, whereas these unbelievers are said to boast in the shame of their evil ways. Furthermore, they had no desire whatsoever to set their affections on things above but were preoccupied with earthly things such as fame and fortune. Unlike Moses, they took pleasure in sin for a season.

Enemies of the cross of Christ are unbelievers who never put their faith, trust or belief in the Shed Blood of Christ for forgiveness of their sins. Note what it says in Ephesians 1:13-14:  13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,1 4Which is the earnest (Guarantee) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

The Holy Spirit GUARANTEES the salvation of all true Christian believers until we die, or the Rapture takes place.

Another good scripture is I Corinthians 3:12-15: which is talking about believers: 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;13Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

True Christians believers can lose rewards at the Bema seat of Christ, if they did not do any service for Christ after becoming believers, but as it says above, “he himself shall be saved.”

Don’t be Enemies of the Cross! Be believers in the Cross, and you shall receive forgiveness of sins, and be with Christ in heaven for all eternity.

The Cross is where it’s at. Have a good and blessed day,


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