Calvary Road Baptist Church

“WHOSE GOD IS THEIR BELLY”

Philippians 3.19

 

From the time of the Garden of Eden, sinners have connived to shift the blame for their sins from themselves to others. When confronted by God about his sin, Adam responded, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”[1] When God turned His attention to Eve, she said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”[2] From that day to this, sinners will say anything, will do anything, to divert attention from their own guiltiness, and will conjure up false notions of reality to justify their own refusal to focus their attention on their guiltiness and the claims of Jesus Christ. It would not surprise me to learn once I get to heaven that the reason Cain slew his brother Abel was a frustrated attempt to blame his brother for his own spiritual woes.

Sometimes a young sinner will justify her stubborn refusal to obey the gospel by cultivating an anger and a hostility toward the pastor, objecting to his handling of a crisis in the church. Not one time will she consider what her conduct might have been under similar trying circumstances, and not one time will she grant that the pastor’s determination to preserve the church and to sacrifice his health in order to faithfully discharge his calling is an admirable thing, making it possible for her mother and father to have a good church to raise her in. Still others will harbor anger toward a mom or a dad for being committed to the gospel ministry, I suppose wishing their parents were lounging around the house more often as they were growing up. Not once do they consider that the faithfulness and determination of their parents is part of God’s solution to man’s problems, and that their own protests of their parent’s spirituality and commitment are masks to justify an unwillingness to submit to the will of God. Hey, you have to blame someone.

One young woman said that she had no interest in the gospel or of ever becoming a Christian, attending church only to please her parents. It is remarkable how quickly a young woman will cast off the sacrifice her mother made for Christ’s sake and to benefit her. On one occasion her mother had her hair pulled out by her then unsaved father, who was angrily protesting her mother’s church attendance. The result? The Holy Spirit convicted dad of his sins and he turned to Christ. The girl was raised in the home of two godly Christians. However, that sacrifice is meaningless to the ungrateful daughter. She never thinks about her own mercenary attitude, being perfectly willing to live at home without paying rent, without having to buy her own groceries, without having to tend to so many other aspects of life. Oh, she will play the parasite and live off her parents, but she will continue to reject without shame the God and Savior that made her mom and dad the wonderful Christians they happen to be by God’s grace.

Young men display the same type of hypocrisy. They take great satisfaction from cultivating friendships with women who hate God, who despise the church, who claim they have reasons for shying away from the faith once delivered to the saints. Please. We all have reasons. However, we do not all use those reasons as a pathetic crutch to justify wickedness. Young men usually see no inconsistency in their disloyalties to the Savior Who provided them with a nurturing father and a tender and kindhearted mother. They will milk the free room and board for as long as they can, all the while judging very harshly those hypocritical Christians they choose to scorn. Never mind that Christians are the only people on earth who have truly acknowledged our sinfulness. Never mind that real Christianity requires a turning away from sin and an ongoing admission of the wrongness of wrongdoing in all its forms. Never mind that Christians preach a gospel that declares salvation to be by grace through faith in Jesus, and not of good works or any form of sinlessness or moral superiority. Jesus “came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”[3] That is something all real Christians embrace.

Then there are you young people who did not grow up in church, who do not have Christians for parents. Why do you come to church? You do not come for free room and board, or for reduced rate room and board like the young people, whose parents are church members. You are not selling your time for money like the ones I have just mentioned. No, you are trading your time for entertainment, for a good time, for food, and for the chance to meet new friends. You will let the church people invite you to church, pick you up and bring you to church, fervently pray for your soul, feed you good food at no cost to you, entertain you with very enjoyable movies and cartoons, and then take you home. Why do you do this? Because you have nothing better to do, and as soon as you think you have something better to do, you leave without so much as a thank you or good-bye. How is that not mercenary?

Do we ever claim to be perfect? No. Do we ever present ourselves as faultless? Not to my knowledge. Are there times we say the wrong thing and wish we could take some of our words back? Of course, there are. James 3.2 admits, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” What seems to be the problem? Why are you so mercenary? Why do you always take, take, take, and never give? There are charities throughout our nation that utterly depend upon people being charitable and giving, as our churches demonstrate almost every day, yet you display no such charity anywhere in your personal life. You take, but you are unwilling to give, and seem to take delight in boyfriends and girlfriends who are just as selfish. What is the problem? There is no God in all of this for you. You do nothing for God. God is not in any of your thoughts. The love of God and the desire to please God does not move you to act. Everything you do is motivated entirely by self-interest.

Did you know that you are found in the Bible? You are found in the Bible. You may think you are a postmodern thinker and that nothing as old as the Bible could be applicable to you, but there is nothing new under the sun. Your pattern of self-indulgence and selective logic is found throughout the Bible, from Cain and Lamech in the book of Genesis, to Paul’s numerous comments about you in his writings to young Timothy. You see, you are not unique. You are not original. You are not new. You are old stuff, and God’s Word is as applicable to you as it is to anyone. Consider one passage that describes you to a T, Philippians 3.18-19. Turn there at this time. In Philippians 3.17, the Apostle Paul urges the Philippian Christians to follow him and others like him. In our text, (you will note the parentheses), Paul brokenheartedly describes those the Philippian Christians should not follow or in any way imitate.

You might think to yourself, “But I am a natural leader. People have always followed me and looked to me for direction and guidance.” My friend, the Apostle Paul stands against you in that regard. He advises Christians not to follow or in any way emulate you or someone like you. You are poison. Stand with me and read along silently while I read aloud:

 

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 mind earthly things.)

 

Notice some of the phrases in this passage, from back to front, phrases that describe you:

 

First, “WHO MIND EARTHLY THINGS”

 

You would never deny that you mind earthly things. Paul contrasts this pattern with what Christians do in the next verse: “For our conversation is in heaven.” You do not like that about your dad, do you? His conversation is in heaven. You want his conversation to be turned more to you than God, more to your interests than to God’s interests. You are completely secular in your thinking, are you not? You have never had what I like to refer to as a God moment, a time in your life when the invisible God somehow mysteriously communicated to you that He is real and that He is present. Understand that until you have a God moment you cannot be saved, for unless you believe that God is you cannot have saving faith, Hebrews 11.6.

Yes, you are probably like those losers who spend all their time at Starbucks. You have seen them as well as me when I go to Starbucks on occasion. They virtually live there, wallowing in their self-indulgence and pontificating from the Philosophy For Dummies book they have begun reading. What do they pay attention to? It is always the same, in essence. They mind earthly things. Eternity, sin, souls, salvation, God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, and such things as that will never be the topics of serious discussion with them, or with you, because you mind earthly things.

 

Next, “and whose glory is in their shame”

 

This refers to people who brag about and take great pride in what is actually shameful. They will put on public display the disfigurements of their bodies, they will relish in stories of their repulsive behavior, and they will arrogantly comment on perversions and misinterpretations of Bible truths as if they had a right to their opinions about such things.

Excuse me, but no one has a right to any opinion that is not the consequence of thoughtful contemplation and meditation upon the facts that bear on the issue. In logic, this is referred to as the law of sufficient reason. Therefore, to hold to an opinion that you are not willing to subject to the careful scrutiny of others is a violation of the accepted laws of rational thinking. Everyone who does this, and multitudes can be found doing this very thing at almost any Starbucks on a sunny afternoon, are what I call self-authenticating. Are you self-authenticating? Are you one whose thoughts run along the line of, I believe what I believe that that is that? I have my truth and you have your truth. Is that so? If you think like this, you are one of those who despise authority. Never mind that all authority has been given to Jesus Christ, you claim the right to exercise illegitimate authority whenever you choose. You behave as though you are self-created, rather than being created and owned by God. You dare to manufacture your own value system, which you will not subject to the scrutiny of others lest the flaws in your thinking be exposed to your great embarrassment.

 

Third, “whose God is their belly

 

This is perhaps the most telling of Paul’s descriptions of you. Your God is your belly. In other words, what you worship is your appetites, your urges, and your lusts. You go to church with your parents because they feed you. Of course, being good parents, their leverage is appropriate. God deliver us from wimpy moms and dads who provide room and board for children who will not faithfully attend church, for then you could have no respect for them. Or you go to church because the church feeds you and entertains you.

Let me ask you a question. Despite your apparent sophistication, how are you different from some naked aborigine who grovels for grubs and roots in the jungle? You both have no all-powerful Creator, a personal God who made you and to whom you are accountable. You both do what you do for a meal, and for shelter, and for little more. Except for the technology that you have access to, are you not just like the primitives who live in a backward state in remote parts of the world?

Of course, why you should do what you do should be more than a meal or entertainment. Why you do what you do should be for God. Your belly should not be your God. God should be your God.

 

Fourth, “WHOSE END IS DESTRUCTION”

 

You are doomed, you know. Fill your thinking with all the false reasonings and justifications that you can conjure up in your imaginings and you are still faced with the unwavering fact that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. That is the major premise. The minor premise is that you are a sinner. The conclusion is that you will die. And it will not be so simple a matter as death, but as we see here, destruction. This means ruin.[4] Paul speaks, of course, of the judgment and wrath of God known as the lake of fire. I read from Second Thessalonians 1.6-9, where the Apostle informs the new believers in Thessalonica about the fate that awaits those who are not Christians:

 

6      Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

7      And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

8      In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

9      Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

 

Do you not think that you who are lost do not trouble the Christians who love you, who pray for you, who seek to bring you to Christ? You trouble us when you do not come to church. You trouble us when you reject our Savior and repudiate the gospel. You trouble us when you turn your back on our God. For troubling us in this way, Jesus will take vengeance on you who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will “be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

 

Finally, YOU ARE “THE ENEMIES OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST”

 

In what ways are you the enemy of Christ’s cross? The cross is the instrument that is uniquely Christian as the means by which the punishment for sins is vicariously made by the Savior on behalf of sinners. Therefore, to be an enemy of the cross of Christ is to be the enemy of God, to be the enemy of Jesus Christ, to be an enemy of all that is Christian, and to be an enemy of all that is Biblical.

How are you an enemy of all that is Biblical? From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible speaks of man’s sin and his great need of forgiveness to be reconciled to God. However, you see no pressing need to be reconciled to God, therefore your life and example repudiates the totality of what the Bible teaches throughout.

How are you an enemy of all that is Christian? Christianity is that community of believers in Jesus Christ. We are the blood bought and blood washed saints of God who stand opposed to everything you embrace. We are neither surprised nor troubled by the fact that those who are lost are our enemies. It has always been so, since the days of Cain. However, though we recognize that you are everywhere our enemy, we are not your enemies. We wish you no ill, but instead, we pray, strive, and give of our time, treasure, and talents in a valiant effort to see you come to Christ.

How are you an enemy of Jesus Christ? Jesus said it very well Himself when He said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”[5] If you are against Him, if you oppose His grand purpose and design in suffering, bleeding, and dying on the cross for sinners, if you seek by your stubbornness and rebellion to thwart His grand and glorious purpose, then yes you are His enemy. And while He is not in this dispensation your enemy, there will come a day when you will very much regret having Him as an adversary, I promise you.

This, of course, makes you an enemy of God. You cannot be an enemy of Christ and not be an enemy of God. You cannot be an enemy of God’s children without being an enemy of God. You cannot oppose the plan and purpose of God without being God’s enemy. You cannot insist on getting your way in all things while denying God’s will in this matter of salvation without being God’s enemy. And you cannot reject God’s claim on you as your Creator, as your Sovereign, and as your Judge, without being God’s enemy.

 

I ask you, sir. Have you lost your mind? The Sovereign Monarch of the universe sent His only begotten Son to take upon Himself human flesh, live among us for thirty-three years, and then die a substitutionary death for your sins to satisfy God the Father’s righteous demand that sin be punished. After suffering God’s wrath on the cross of Calvary, His body was buried, and He was raised from the dead three days later in demonstration that God was well pleased with His sacrifice and that He accepted it as payment in full for our sins. Some days later, the risen Lord Jesus then ascended to the Father’s right hand in heaven, where He is presently enthroned until His enemies are made His footstool.

I ask you again, have you lost your mind? Turn to Psalm 110 to read this prediction made a thousand years before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” This verse is quoted or paraphrased eight times in the New Testament, each time applying it to Christ’s present enthronement until God the Father makes Christ’s enemies His footstool.[6] Do you realize what that means? It means that it is a major undertaking of God that He make you, the enemy of Christ, something that is no better than a footstool, with all the terrible Asian implications of being under someone’s foot, if you leave this life unconverted. That will be your only relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior you are rejecting, so long as you remain indifferent to the gospel.

Die without Jesus Christ, as your Savior and you are certainly doomed.



[1] Genesis 3.12

[2] Genesis 3.13

[3] Luke 5.32

[4] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 127.

[5] Matthew 12.30

[6] Matthew 22.44; Mark 12.36; Luke 20.42; Acts 2.34; 1 Corinthians 15.25; Ephesians 1.22; Hebrews 1.13; 1 Peter 3.22



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org