Do you want to know how to have a walk with Christ that is worthy of His calling; follow the example of those who are ahead of you who do walk accordingly.
Philippians 3:17-20 “17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 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 set their mind on earthly things.”
Paul is not suggesting that we act like him in the natural, but by observing his Christ like behavior we can see a natural example of a spiritual man. This is profitable for us on two accounts. First it will help us see areas that we need to ask the Holy Spirit for help and revelation in. Secondly it will help us determine whether another person is truly walking with Christ or wearing sheep’s clothing, (Matthew 7:15). Paul is not proud or arrogant as some have said. He knew he was following Christ with everything he had, even to the point of rejecting any personal gained righteousness found in following the Law of Moses. If a minister can’t say the same thing to people then they do not need to be in the ministry and they shouldn’t let false humility keep them from making such a statement.
There is an interesting note at the beginning of verse 18 where Paul tells us that “many walk” as enemies of Christ. It is easy to see those who are not born again and living for self as enemies of Christ. The difficulty is in spotting a claimed brother or sister in the Lord as an enemy of Christ; especially if they speak of their walk with Jesus or have some type of title before their name relating to one of the five- fold ministries. These same people can have a love for Jesus and claim Him as their Lord and Savior, but as soon as they fall into any type of works to gain or retain their salvation they become enemies of the gospel of Jesus. Judaizers would be a term used in Paul’s day where a Jewish Christian would insist on keeping some of the Law of Moses as a means of gaining righteousness. Today we call them legalists and they have their list of rules that everyone must hold to in order to be “Christ Like”. Both types of people are more concerned with the outward fleshly expressions than the renewing of the mind. It is also interesting to note that these same people seem to express little joy and shows to have little peace, living their lives in constant turmoil and strife. Neither type of person has an understanding of the true grace of God and the ultimate significance of the blood Jesus shed for our sins. There is no argument for holding on to specific rules or Laws as a means to gain righteousness, or maintain righteousness, especially since Jesus warned us about such people. Three of the four gospels record Jesus’ warning to His disciples to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. He was speaking of their list of laws they wanted to enforce on themselves and others as a means of gaining right standing with God. It is very important to realize that even a little legalism will leaven the whole sermon. Even if a person is preaching the blood of Jesus, as soon as they switch over into rules or works as a means to gain or maintain salvation, their entire message is spoiled. Anything spoken contrary to the grace message of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and God’s grace to send His own Son on behalf of our sins is “antichrist” which strictly means is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
(Quick note: Leaven is a product used to add to dough which will cause the dough to rise. With the use of ovens the bread has a soft texture to it and makes the bread easier to eat. This product is actually a contaminant which causes the dough to ferment and spoil which causes it to rise. The baking process kills the yeast and stops the spoiling process leaving a fluffy final product. The yeast causes the rising action and is actually ruining the integrity of the dough and will cause it to spoil and rot if not baked. Because it grows and multiplies, even a very little bit added to dough will spread throughout the entire batch and ruin it if not baked.)
Legalism will do the same thing in the life of a Christian. Unfortunately this describes most Christians today that hold on to various statutes and doctrines in effort to walk with Christ. These people are enemies of the cross as they are trusting in themselves and their goodness carried out in their actions, as Godliness. They may not realize it, but they are acting as their own savior living to satisfy their own flesh. I call it a point system, if you have more good points at the end of the day you get the prize, if you don’t than you have failed that day. Neither is true to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul recaps the destiny of these people and the word of God is clear, their personal glory here on earth speaks to their shame and their outcome is destruction. “Whose god is their belly” is a descriptive way Paul used in describing someone who lives out their walk in fleshly actions as a means of salvation. These people are enemies of the cross.
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