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Four Descriptions of the Enemies of the Cross

Whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
–Philippians 3:19

In Philippians 3, Paul gave four descriptions of the people whom he labeled “enemies of the cross.”

First of all, Paul said enemies of the cross are professing Christians. Their “end is destruction” (v. 19). That word “destruction” could be translated “perdition.” By the way, here’s a Bible quiz. Who in the New Testament was known as the “son of perdition” (John 17:12)? Judas. Judas walked with Jesus for three years. He gave lip service to all the right things. But in his heart, there had been no change. He was a professing believer but not a possessing believer. This is one characteristic of an enemy of the cross: he professes to be a Christian.

Second, enemies of the cross are slaves to their own desires. Their “god is their appetite” (Philippians 3:19). A person who is focused on this world cannot break his physical desires. He is a slave to his desires.

Third, enemies of the cross are proud of their sin. Their “glory is in their shame” (v. 19). Don’t we see that today? People boast of things about which they ought to be ashamed. Think about celebrities or athletes who brag about their immorality. Isaiah 5:20 says the day will come when people will call good evil and will call evil good. We’re living in that day right now, aren’t we? Paul said that’s a symptom of an enemy of the cross.

Fourth, enemies of the cross are completely focused on this life. They “set their minds on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). That’s the chief characteristic of a counterfeit Christian. They are completely focused on the things of this world.

What is the focus of your life right now? What do you spend your time and energy pursuing: the things of this world, or the things of the next world? Some time ago I was going through a dry time in my spiritual life. By all outward signs I had a successful ministry. But I was about to dry up spiritually. Then I came across these words that jolted me out of my spiritual complacency: “You can determine a person’s true character by what he seeks to gain and what he really loves.” In fact, you could evaluate your own Christian life using that same approach. Ask yourself: “What are the three things I am currently seeking most earnestly? What are the three things I love the most? What three things do I think about most often?” That will tell you whether your focus is this world or the next world. To live in two worlds, we have to be willing to forsake earthly extremes.


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.


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