18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
Here we are, on the other side of some serious christian life admonitions. See the emotion that fills Paul’s words. He is warning us about a deadly disease that plagues many christians. He pours out his heart to avoid us from falling prey to this dirty disease. You can live as an enemy of the Cross. You can be overly focused on the things of this world and flee the reality the cross has brought.
Let’s work backwards in verse 19: If you are focused on earthly things, the things of this materialistic realm which seem to provide happiness, you’re here. Paul doesn’t want us to be people who treat each other how it seems we need to be treated. He doesn’t want us focused on our own selfish growth or pleasure. He wants us to shift our perspective from earthly things which we can see, feel, and touch and rather focus on the eternal things of the cross that Christ has given us!
Focusing on your earthly life, your earthly pleasures leads to destruction and slavery again to your flesh. You will experience joy literally fleeing from your life. As you focus on all these things that are extremely temporary you will experience the most earth shattering let down. The word is “disillusioned.” You feel as though these things are going to please you. You feel like there’s going to be SOME enjoyment, in fact you may even believe there will be EXCESSIVE enjoyment from the things you’re focused on. However, when you finally accomplish all you have set out to do… you will still feel empty. Joy, happiness, fulfillment, all destroyed. Your spiritual maturity, destroyed. Yet again slave to your flesh, your stomach.
This is why I am constantly talking about the Gospel and sanctification. On April 19th (this last Sunday) I preached about sanctification and how the lack of seeking it, the lack of seeking change, is like letting the enemy slowly poison you. If you are focused on earthly things and not sanctifying your life, or conforming it to Christ’s image you age allowing the enemy to slowly weaken you and lead you to ultimate failure. We need to seek after the things Paul has told us. It is for our benefit, do not forsake sanctification!
Lord, it’s not easy to forsake our flesh. It is not easy to ignore the desires that we have catered to our entire lives. Yet I know it is for the better to do so. Strengthen me to reject my flesh! Strengthen me to seek after Your righteousness instead of my stomach’s guidance. I do not desire to be enslaved, once again, by my flesh. Instead I want You to conform me to Your Son’s image!
You should be spurring your loved ones (and pretty much everyone) on to seek God’s truth. In the very lease you should be directing your christian friends towards living in accordance with Scripture. Unless you are comfortable watching them be enslaved by their flesh, their stomachs, then you need to help them! We are called to gather around one another and lift up, encourage, motivate in the Word. Don’t let these verses fall dead after reading this. Share the truth with others!