The apostle Paul, writing to the church at Philippi, said that there were many that “walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18). But what does it mean to be an enemy of the cross of Christ? The answer lies partly in knowing the meaning of the word “enemies”. The word translated “enemies” is one which means to be hostile toward, hating and opposing. Thus, those who are hostile toward the cross of Christ or hate and oppose it are the enemies. But, what is meant by the cross of Christ? Certainly, it is not the physical cross made of wood that is under consideration. No doubt, many of the disciples of the Lord would feel like tearing that cross down, ripping it apart and burning it, after the soldiers had taken the Lord’s lifeless body down from it. Often, the cross refers to the death of Jesus, for it was by the cross that the deed was done. However, this is not ever the meaning of the term, “enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ”. All that came from the death of Christ upon the cross is included. After the death, the resurrection occurred, which required a death prior to being possible. It was the death that purchased the church over which Christ is head (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23). It was the crucifixion of Christ that brought in the last will and testament of our Lord (Heb. 9:14-17). It was the blood of Christ, shed on the cross, by which one is redeemed from his or her sins (I Pet. 1:18-19). The cross of Christ stands for all of this and more.
So, how can one be an enemy of the cross of Christ today? It would be easy for us to point to the heathens who do not even believe in God, the Jews that reject Christ (John 1:11) and demanded His crucifixion (Acts 2:22-23) or even to those who, after having been “enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,” fall away, “seeing they crucify to themselves, the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4-6). But, we need to realize that many, who have obeyed the gospel of Christ and have never recanted to believing in Him, are in fact still “enemies of the cross of Christ”? How so? I’m glad you asked.
It is both the responsibility and honor of every child of God to assemble with the saints in his area and worship upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25). To consciously and deliberately disobey God in this command is to show that one is actually hostile toward and opposing the church of our Lord, which He purchased with his blood on the cross. Many are the excuses that are made each and every week to excuse oneself from the scriptural obligation to assemble with the saints. How can one claim they love the Lord and His church when they know that they have deliberately refused to gather with the saints and worship (including the memorial service for His death)? It can only be because they are secretly “enemies of the cross of Christ”.
The Lord has also given us the command to give as we have prospered upon the first day of the week (I Cor. 16:2). He went on to say, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Cor. 9:6-7). When those under the old law were guilty of holding back in their prescribed offering, Malachi told them that they were guilty of robbing God (Mal. 3:8). It is through the free will offerings of the saints, given cheerfully upon the first day of each week that the church is to do the work of the Lord. Yet, week after week, the same brethren seem to leave all the giving as we have prospered to others, putting in only a token amount if anything. To rob God of that which is His can mean nothing less than that one is an “enemy of the cross of Christ”.
The Lord has also given each child of God a job to do. It is the same job that was His job when He came into this life; “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Paul told the Philippian brethren that they were to, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). His job is now our job. He did the part that we could not do, and He did that on the cross, then leaving us with the part we can do, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Why is it that so many Christians seem to think this command is for everyone but themselves? It must be because they too are “enemies of the cross of Christ”.
Our list of examples of how we can actually be “enemies of the cross of Christ” in disguise could go on, for there are many other tell-tell signs of those who are not actually working for the cause of Christ but against it. Concerning being an enemy of the cross, may we remember the words of the Lord, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matt. 12:30).
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