The Negative View (Phil 3:18, 19)
There was another group who had to be completely avoided: “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.” It was the existence of such whose plausible teaching threatened the spiritual lives of the Philippian believers. Paul was greatly perturbed about them. It brought him to tears. There were many of them, and he had already warned the Christians about them. What those men believed, and how they behaved, impacted others. Hence the need for Paul to direct the Christians to men of Christian character and commitment, and to himself as a “model.”
These men had five distinguishing marks:
The disguise they wore – their guilt (v18)
“They are enemies of the cross of Christ.” They gave the appearance of being followers of Christ but were traitors to the teaching of the cross. It was a cloak for their impurity. The truth and teaching of the cross had no effect upon their lives; they were bereft of its power. Jude 4 describes them turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness (sensuality).
The doom they faced – their goal (v19)
“Whose end is destruction.” The same word is used of their adversaries (1:27, 28). “Striving together for the faith of the gospel: and in nothing terrified of your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition (destruction), but to you of salvation (deliverance), and that from God.”
The deity they served – their god (v19)
“Whose god is their belly.” There may be a suggestion of gluttony, but it seems more directed to sensual appetites. This was the only god they worshipped. In reference to those in Rome, who were causing divisions contrary to the teaching, Paul wrote, “For such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting” (Rom 16:18 JND).
The disgrace they bore – their glory (v19)
“They glory in their shame.” Such may have gloried in their religious liberty, but it would best be descibed as unbridled lust and license.
The disposition they displayed – their grossness (v19)
“Who mind earthly things,” signifies those whose thoughts grovel on the earth. The Book of the Revelation refers 11 times to “those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10; 6:10). The world and its ways are the entire object of attention. It is at the very center of their being, which in turn, reveals an abandonment of God and rebellion against Him. Believers live on the earth but they are not earth dwellers.
Consider the words of David Brainerd, “To an Enticing World,”written in his journal, dated April 25, 1742:
Farewell, vain world, my soul can bid adieu;
My Savior taught me to abandon you.
Your charms may gratify a sensual mind,
But cannot please a soul for God designed.
Forbear to entice, cease then my soul to call;
’Tis fixed through grace – my God shall be my all.
While He thus lets me heavenly glories view
Your beauties fade; my heart’s no room for you.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“For our conversation is in heaven,” or, “Our commonwealth is in heaven” (JND). This is in sharp contrast to the “earth dwellers.” Just as the Roman citizen, be he so very far away from Rome, would turn his heart and thoughts continually toward the chief city of the Empire, so the thoughts and longings of the Christian are to be centered in their true home. “Our home is in heaven, and here on earth we are a colony of heavenly citizens” (M. Dibelius).
“And from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV). Romans 8:23 affirms, “Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting … the redemption of our body (ESV).
It is said of the Thessalonians that “they turned to God from idols … and to wait for His Son from heaven.”
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.”
“Our vile body.” This is an unfortunate rendering. God never descibes the human body as being vile or evil. It may be put to an evil use, but in itself it is not looked upon as being vile. It is a “lowly body.” A similar expression is found in Luke 1:48: “For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.” It is a body of humiliation, subject to scars, sickness, suffering, and death. It limits and cramps the believer in many ways.
At the moment of the rapture it will be transformed; it will be changed outwardly. “He shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory” (RV). “The body of His glory” refers to the Lord Jesus in His exaltation; it is the manifestation of all that He is beyond Calvary.
“According to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” At the Rapture, and beyond, the Lord Jesus will exert the power He possesses in His place of exalted glory. The transformation and conformation of our bodies will be accomplished by the same power which He will later demonstrate to “subdue (subject) all things unto Himself.” Everything will be placed under His feet.
The Christian is called to walk worthily; to watch carefully; and to wait expectantly for the coming Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.