Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 23, 1951

"Enemies Of The Cross Of Christ"

John T. Overbey, Austin, Texas

JESUS CHRIST is the central figure of world history—every event that antedates his advent points forward to HIM; and every event that has transpired subsequent to his advent points backward to HIM. The CROSS OF CHRIST is the hope of the world—without Christ's death on the cross, the world would still be groping its way in darkness; therefore, "the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1:18) Every bull, every goat that was offered as a burnt offering under the law of Moses was merely a "shadow" of the supreme sacrifice of the body of Christ upon the cross. (See Heb. 10:1-18)

The importance of the cross of Christ is seen in the fact that Paul, when coming into the city of Corinth, determined not to know anything among them save Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Cor. 2:2) And while others did glory in the flesh, Paul said, "for be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14)

But in spite of the greatness and importance of the cross of Christ, there were those in Paul's day who were enemies—"For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." (Phil. 3:18, 19)

If there ever was a time in the history of the church when every member should exert his every effort toward the advancement of the knowledge of the cross of Christ, that time is now. The world is sick—sick of the awful, disease of sin. The cross of Christ is the cure for the disease; but like members of the church in Paul's day, there are those who, by their conduct, hinder the proc­lamation and reception of the gospel, and thereby become the enemies of the cross of Christ.

1) INDIFFERENCE: There is in the church a class that is indifferent toward the proclamation of the gospel and the living of the Christian life. This class announces to the world that Christ's death upon the cross is of little importance, and that there is no efficacy in his blood. Not realizing the blessings received by virtue of their being freed from sin through Christ's death on the cross, find themselves making little if no contribution at all toward the advancement of the Cause of Christ. These are the ones who are described in the New Testament as being "neither hot nor cold"—only serving (?) Christ when it is convenient. There is no place in the church for this class—and the church would be far better off, would have a greater influence in the world, if this class did not exist. They are enemies of the cross of Christ!

2) WORLDLINESS: This characteristic is an actual outgrowth of indifference, for when one becomes indiffer­ent toward his duty as a Christian, it is not long until his thoughts are turned primarily to things of the world. Furthermore, such an attitude is an open violation of the teaching of the New Testament, for the inspired writer says: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. (1 John 2:15) The person who becomes thus minded announces to the world that Christ died in vain—that there is no spiritual value attached to his sacrificial death upon the cross. He is an enemy of the cross of Christ!

However, when our attention is called to this sin, our thoughts usually turn to that catalogue of immoral acts listed in Gal. 5:19-21 to which we rather haughtily assure ourselves that we are not guilty. But, there is another type of worldliness that is far more dangerous than that described in that text. No righteous person will tolerate an immoral character, but there is the worldly minded person who is galvanized into respectability—that person who is scrupulously opposed to anything that is immoral, but on the other hand, has in mind—his heart—centered on things that are material. The gratification of the flesh, as seen in his interest in those things that make for greater social prestige, his business enterprises, his social life among his friends of the world, putting the church in the background while he is putting forth every effort to "get ahead in the world." It is this type of worldliness that is so devastating to the Cause of Christ. Truly it may be said that the greatest danger confronting the church today is our concern for things purely material in their nature. It is this type of worldliness that has be­come such an enemy of the cross of Christ. It is in viola­tion of the command of Jesus to "seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) Those who do otherwise are enemies of the cross of Christ.

3) THOSE WHO CAUSE DIVISION: Division has always plagued the church. Even in the first century, when the church was in her infancy, there were divisions. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth concerning the divided condition there, he said, "brethren, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal...for whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and do ye not walk after the manner of men?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3) Hence, carnality is established as the cause of division—a person who is carnal minded will cause division if allowed to have his way; and when division exists the Body of Christ is torn asunder, and the one who is responsible for such is under condemnation, for Paul further said, "If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy." (1 Cor. 3:17)

Furthermore, Jesus prayed that believers might be one "that the world may believe that thou didst send me." (John 17:20, 21) The nearest thing to an impregnable defense of New Testament Christianity is unity among the followers of Christ. Let us therefore exert every power of our being to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

There are those in the church who, like Hymenaeus and Alexander, will press some doctrine or theory contrary to the teaching of the New Testament even to the division of the Body of Christ. "Such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent." (Rom. 16:18)

Then there are those who, like Diotrephes, love to have the pre-eminence. When such a character (he is usually one who has no moral scruples) is given a little power in the church, he will press his wishes to the dividing of the Body of Christ. It seems to make no never mind about the influence he may be having on those who might become followers of Christ—he must have his way. Such a character is an enemy of the cross of Christ!

Our citizenship is in heaven—our manner of life should be such as will reflect the spiritual nature of our calling. Let us therefore conduct ourselves as good soldiers of Christ Jesus, never lending our support to the enemy. AMEN.