Calvary Road Baptist Church


Philippians 3.18-19

Turn in your Bible to Philippians chapter 3.

Let me rehearse some things we’ve learned about the situation Paul is addressing in the lives of his favorite church people, the Philippians. Though things are not really bad in Philippi, Paul seems to have written to them from his Roman imprisonment to deal with a problem that threatened to become more severe. Apparently, members of the Philippian church were allowing something to rob them of their joy and unity as a congregation. Joy, of course, is related to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life, which Paul speaks to later on in his letter, but unity is something that only God can bring about in a church, and He seems to be willing to give a people unity only when the congregation is humble.

Any of you who have ever followed directions know that detailed instructions are wonderful, but what people are best able to capitalize on are examples to follow along with the written instructions. Try putting together a Christmas toy for your child with instructions only. Frustrating, is it not? However, when you have an example to follow the instructions usually become much simpler to follow. The same is true with the Christian life. That super pious fellow who claims that all he needs is a Bible to do God’s will is, in all probability, just concealing his arrogant pride and is likely unwilling to follow spiritual leadership. That, or he’s naive. God has so constructed man that even at his best he functions efficiently when he has an example to follow.

Nowhere is that more clearly true than in Paul’s letters to churches. In First Corinthians 11.1, he urged the people to “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” In First Thessalonians 1.6, Paul wrote, “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord.” And to Timothy he wrote, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” First Timothy 4.12. So, it is established that God’s plan for Christians involves examples to follow. In Philippians Paul lines up a formidable array of examples he wants the Philippians to follow. At the end of Philippians chapter one Paul establishes himself as an example to follow. After himself, in one of the most glorious passages found anywhere in God’s Word, he holds up the Lord Jesus Christ as an example to follow. Following the Savior he uses Timothy as an example, Epaphroditus as an example, and then himself as an example once more, in Philippians 3.17:

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”

In today’s text, Philippians 3.18-19, we see why Paul lined up such a formidable array of good examples. It is because he knew that people tend to follow bad examples of the Christian life, and bad examples are all too numerous. Take, for example, the popular Christian television speaker, Benny Hinn, who is notorious for his faulty theology, which has included his suggestion that there are nine persons in the Trinity, as well as the assertion that Adam could fly.[1] Another example is the well-known Joyce Meyer, who denies that Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient to pay for our sins, but that He had to also suffer God’s punishment in Hell.[2] Let me also make mention of Billy Graham. Though he adored by millions the world over, I once heard him interview by Robert Schuller on the television program “Hour of Power,” in which he denied the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only savior of sinful men’s souls. You can listen to a portion of what he said yourself on You Tube. Just Google “billy graham infamous hour of power interview.”[3]

Before I get too excited about those three heretics and anyone who is so spiritually obtuse as to spend time listening to them, join me in reading Paul’s statement about such as them in Philippians 3.18-19. Shall we stand and read together?

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.)

Paul does two things in this single sentence that spans two verses:


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:

There are two ways in which Paul decries these bad examples:

First, by calling attention to their lifestyle.

“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping”

Paul had told the Philippians of these types of individuals formerly. That is, he warned them and warned them and warned them. You may think I am a bit excessive in my tirades against the various errorists who pretend to be Christians and try to enlist followers, but I have the Apostle Paul as an example to follow in warning you again and again and again. So important is it to caution Christians, and warn Christians, and prepare Christians, that Paul had not only done so formerly in person, but he also did so presently in writing, with tears. Why the tears? Allow me to defer my answer to that question for now. The point I seek to stress presently is that it is good pastoral practice to do what Paul did and to do what I strive to do.

However, Paul did not stop at calling attention to their lifestyles, their walk. He went so far as to label them. And what did Paul label those people? He labeled them the enemies of the cross of Christ. My friend, understand that while every lost man is an enemy of God, Romans 5.10, not everyone is an enemy of the cross of Christ. You are an enemy of the cross of Christ if you pose as a spiritual leader and either by the example of your life or your twisted explanation of the gospel, you preach another gospel than that which Paul preached, relying upon something or someone other than the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary and that alone for your standing before God. That stated, Billy Graham is an enemy of the cross of Christ for his multifaceted gospel message that presents different messages to different groups. As well, Benny Hinn is an enemy of the cross of Christ, Pat Robertson and his crowd, and Joyce Meyer, are enemies of the cross of Christ. My friends, those I have named, plus such types as Jimmy Swaggart and Kenneth Copeland, do not preach the same gospel the apostles Paul and Peter preached. Such people as that need to be labeled.


19     Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Look at the four facets of Paul’s description of these bad examples:

First, their destiny is described: “Whose end is destruction”   And what is their destiny? It is destruction. That is, these guys are headed for Hellfire. So, there is a connection between what you believe and where you are headed. Not that Christians cannot be guilty of doctrinal error, because we most certainly can. But when you are way off, and when what you are way off on is the simplicity of the gospel, you simply are not saved and your destiny is destruction. Remember what Paul wrote in Galatians 1.8-9:

8      But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

9      As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Next, their deity is described: “whose God is their belly”   Let’s be very careful not to assume that Paul is referring to licentious gluttons here. If he is still trying to stop the influence of those he has been trying to block for the last two chapters then the guys he is referring to are not a bunch of party animal slobs. Instead, Paul is disclosing, by inspiration of God, something about these guys that may not have been evident to onlookers. Though they seem to be very spiritual, and have high standards, and shun even the appearance of evil, Paul is informing us that even the most spiritual appearing individual who preaches a perverted gospel has his own belly for his God. That is, his concern is his own self-interest, not the glory of God.

Third, their discernment is described: “and whose glory is in their shame”   In other words, these guys have such poor spiritual discernment that they brag about what they should be ashamed of. They glory in their supposed obedience to God rather than mourn over their disobedience. They think we are in the midst of a great Charismatic renewal while abortions, murders, drugs, and divorces continue on. My friends, anyone who does not glory in the cross of Christ, which is an evident token of our complete inability to obey God, and of Christ’s perfect obedience on our behalf, but who glories in the Holy Ghost, or who glories in speaking in tongues, or who glories in anything else, has a serious problem.

Finally, their direction is described: “who mind earthly things”   Do you know someone who minds earthly things, someone whose life is wrapped up in the here and now? Do you know someone who will not take on a ministry or who will junk a ministry at every opportunity to “have some fun” or go amuse themselves? James 4.4 speaks to that mind set:

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

However, take note that Paul is speaking of someone who is far more dangerous to the cause of Christ than the carnal Christians James warns. Those “who mind earthly things” are not straying believers, but are in fact wolves in sheep’s clothing who draw way the sheep after them.

Poor examples of the Christian life are first decried and then described by the Apostle Paul. Why? He wanted to make sure no one in Philippi followed the wrong examples, because those poor examples of the Christian life weren’t Christians at all.

Let me give you some advice. Do not follow the example of anyone on television, Christian or secular. Do not follow the example of anyone on the radio, secular radio or Christian radio. Do not follow the example of anyone who is not in this church. And don’t necessarily follow the example of someone who you have spotted in the church auditorium, either. “But Pastor, whose example can we follow?” Follow a wonderful Christian who is following Christ. Men, follow those wonderful men in our church who provide spiritual leadership to their wives and families. Ladies, follow those wonderful women in our church who clearly follow the leadership of their godly husbands.

Would you consider following someone who does not himself or herself follow godly examples? I hope not. Show up Saturday night and I will point out some godly men for you to consider, and some godly women for you to ponder and reflect upon. When God works in a person’s life that individual comes to the realization that things are not right in every way and that change is needed. Every Christian needs to change, to adapt, to mature, and to grow. Men do not know how to man on their own. Women do not know how to woman on their own. Husbands do not know how to husband and wives do not know how to wife. Dads do not know how to dad and moms do not know how to mom.

So, what is to be done? Find someone with an open manual, an open Bible, who is farther along in learning the instructions and putting them into practice than you are. How would you go about learning how to build a plane? Would you not someone who has successfully built one? Sure you would. Failing that, since no Christian is by any means perfect, look for someone in a scriptural setting who is farther along in building his life than you are. That setting would be in this church. Do we have men and women that are exemplary Christians? We certainly do. God has blessed our church with wonderfully spiritual, scripturally obedient, growing and vibrant believers. And in addition to all that we have in our church, we do a number of special things to help Christians grow. We have men’s retreats for men and boys to grow. We have women’s retreats for women and girls to grow. We bring in wonderful and godly women for our women and girls to meet and learn from. We bring in sound and mature Christian men for our men and boys.

What kind of woman would not want her husband and sons involved in our men’s retreat? What kind of knot head is a guy who does not want his wife and daughters to participate in our women’s retreats and our upcoming ladies tea? That’s not all. Those who are not yet mature enough to be great examples to others soon will be. I am excited about God’s blessings for our church, and I promise to be vigilant to guard against the devil messing things up.

[3] 3/23/2014

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