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Who Not to Follow

Scripture: Philippians 3:17-19

I. You do not follow enemies of the cross because they live opposite to Christ’s way.

A. Paul makes a bold request in vs. 17: “Brothers, join in imitating me.” He is saying, “If you want an example of what a Christian looks like, look at me. Follow my example.” Paul recognizes that much in the Christian life is more easily caught than taught. We need models that we can see. Who are you imitating? And could other Christians imitate me? Make it your goal to be someone worth imitating.

B. Some bad examples of Christians are called by Paul in vs. 18 “enemies of the cross of Christ.” They professed to be Christians. They were inside the visible church of the Philippians, but they were outside of the Christian faith. They pretended to be the friends, but they were instead the worst enemies of the Gospel. Jesus lived a life of sacrifice and suffering.  But these enemies of the cross did not want to pick up the cross and suffer with Jesus.

II. You do not follow enemies of the cross because they are spiritually sick.

A. The first sign of their spiritual sickness is who their god is. Their god is their belly (vs. 19).  Their god is their bodily appetites. Which is the very first of the 10 commandments? Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before me.” The enemies of the cross also glory in their shame (vs. 19). They are proud of things that they ought to be ashamed of. Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”

B. The third way that we see sickness in the enemies of the cross is in their minds. They are sick in the head. Their minds are set on earthly things (vs. 19). All their values and cherished goals are tied to what belongs to this world and this earth. They are not at all like the apostle Paul whose passion according to vs. 11 was to attain the resurrection from the dead. Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

III. You do not follow enemies of the cross because they reject the cross as our remedy.

A. What would God say is our greatest problem? Sin. Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What is the remedy to our sin problem? Jesus and His work on the cross. What remedy is left to you if you are an enemy of the cross of Christ as were the false teachers inside the Philippian church (vs. 18)? None. What would it say if we kept living the old comfortable sinful life rather than the new creation life that God had given us in Christ? Is not this to oppose all that the cross means? Is not this to live as an enemy of the cross?

Application:
Follow the example of those who love Jesus and the cross.

Sources:
The letter to the Philippians
Commentaries on Philippians by J.A. Motyer, Moises Silva, D.A. Carson & Steven Lawson

Sermon Discussion Questions

1) Can you say that you have a Christian you are imitating and that you are living a life worthy of imitation by other Christians? How does an enemy of the cross live?

2) How did Paul diagnose the sickness of the enemies of the cross in verse 19? Do you have any of these symptoms of an enemy of the cross? If so, confess that sin and repent.

3) Who can provide the only remedy for our sin problem? What other remedies do people try for their sin? But what happens if you reject the remedy of Jesus and the cross?