Forsake Earthly Extremes

Forsake Earthly Extremes

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

How can we live obediently in this world while also being focused on the next world? The apostle Paul said we need to forsake earthly extremes. There are many professing Christians who aren’t living for Christ. In Philippians 3:18, Paul said, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” Paul told us to forsake the kind of people who are enemies of the cross of Christ.

Who were these “enemies of the cross”? Some commentators think Paul was referring to the Judaizers he talked about in Philippians 3:1-14. The Judaizers believed salvation was based on faith in Christ and also good works. To them, the ingredients of salvation were faith in Christ and keeping the Old Testament law. By the way, that’s how you can identify a counterfeit religion. The reason counterfeit religions are so successful is that they very closely resemble the truth. They use the same terminology, but they change it just enough to result in people’s eternal damnation. The Bible tells us Satan appears not as a messenger of darkness, but as a messenger of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). And that’s what the Judaizers were doing. They were saying salvation is by faith in Christ, but they changed it just enough to ensure people’s eternal separation from God. Salvation is not faith in Christ and anything else. It is faith in Christ alone that saves. So, perhaps Paul was talking about the Judaizers. But I don’t think so.

In Philippians 3:19, Paul’s description of these enemies of the cross makes me believe he was not talking about legalists; he was talking about hedonists. Hedonists are people who profess to be Christians but do not have a lifestyle that resembles it. As we have seen, the Bible teaches that a person who claims to know Christ as Savior but has absolutely no fruit in his life at all–a person who has adopted the values, attitudes, and actions of this world–has no assurance of eternal life. Look at what the apostle John said in 1 John 2:4-5: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” What does “by this” refer to? How do we know that we are in Christ? Is it that we walked down the aisle? We shook the preacher’s hand? We filled out a card and got dunked in the baptistry? Is that how we know we are in Christ? No. John said, the way you know you are in Christ is that you keep His commandments. Good works are not required for salvation, but they are the result of genuine salvation. That’s what Paul was saying in Philippians 3. He was saying, “Avoid the extreme of hedonism in your Christian life.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Between Two Worlds” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.