For 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(NASB)
We are called to a heavenly walk of holy watchfulness that is pleasing to the Lord and honours His name. However, the sinner that rejects His offer of salvation, or the worldly-minded Christian that chooses to engage in a carnal lifestyle, live as enemies of the Cross of Christ, to their own disadvantage and detriment.
Paul knew there were evil workers among the body of Christ, who placed their confidence in the flesh rather than in the Lord Jesus, and because of his narcissistic, pre-salvation life, Paul recognised that the zeal of these self-righteous legalists placed them in opposition to Christ!!
Paul had set aside all his own religiosity and worldly pursuits for the sake of knowing Christ, and found it painful when he discovered others who were entrapped in these sanctimonious practices - and became slaves to their own pious ways.
Indeed, Paul grieved for those that had reverted from the freedom of living by grace, back to the slavery of living under the law, and in his distress he wept about them, calling them, "enemies of the cross of Christ."
He had often told these Philippian believers of the increasing numbers, who were falling from grace, and not walking in the way of righteousness. "For many walk, of whom I often told you," Paul wrote, "and now I tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ."
During His earthly walk, Jesus reminded His followers that either we are for Him or we are against Him. ALL unbelievers are against Christ. All unbelievers are at enmity with God, but sadly there are some Christians who do not walk in spirit and truth, and who try to live according to their own righteousness, who are also against Christ - and Paul labelled these people as, "enemies of the cross of Christ."
While every believer is positionally sanctified, Paul knew that during our earthly walk, every believer is in a process of progressive sanctification - which occurs when we are walking in spirit and truth, abiding in Christ, submitted to the Spirit of God, and learning to grow in grace, through the chastening work of God in our lives.
However, when fleshly pursuits impinge on our walk of faith, when our will rather that God's will is the focus of our life, or works of the Law are substituted for a life of trust, the shocking truth is that we find ourselves out of fellowship with the Lord, and labelled as enemies of the One Who bought us with His own blood.
Peter once found himself to be an enemy of the Cross, when in his righteous zeal he tried to prevent Jesus from fulfilling the will of His Father at Calvary. It happened when the Lord began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Peter was shocked and upset by all Jesus had said and took Him aside and began to rebuke the Lord, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s."
Paul followed the example of Jesus, by setting aside all fleshly pursuits and being prepared to suffer for His name's sake. He counted all things to be loss, in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. Though Paul suffered the loss of all things, he counted them to be but rubbish in order to gain Christ - and he calls us to do the same.
As children of God, we should be aware that when we go against God's will or resist the Spirit's guidance in our lives, we become enemies of the Cross. Jesus Himself is the shining example of a man that was ready to say in every instance - THY will not mine be done, and Paul the apostle to the Gentiles, demonstrated a passionate desire to know Christ and to be found in Him - for His praise and glory.
As we journey through life may we allow nothing to impinge on our walk of faith, and may we be ready and willing to die to our own desires and live for Christ alone.
Heavenly Father, how easy it is for the old sin nature to influence our thinking, and cause any one of us to become enemies of the Cross, when through self-righteousness or pride we try to do things in our own strength, rather than dying to self and living our new life in Christ. Keep me from falling into the old, fleshly ways, and may I learn to walk in spirit and truth, to Your praise and glory. Prevent me from falling into any self-righteous or legalistic thinking, and keep me resting in Christ and submitted to the Holy Spirit of truth. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.