Ryan Strother

Are You An Enemy of the Cross?

You need to make sure that you are not an enemy of the cross. There are dire consequences.

Let me explain from Philippians 3:18-21. This passage teaches us the difference between enemies of God (or the cross) and citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

Some walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. They have enmity with, are in opposition to the cross of Christ–not just that they don’t like it or just refuse to accept the message of the cross, but enemies conveys that they are actively opposing the message of the cross.

What is the message of the cross? It is at least:

  • the shed blood of Jesus Christ;
  • the forgiveness of our sin;
  • the breaking of the bondage to sin;
  • the release from eternal torment and damnation apart from Christ;
  • the fullness of life on this earth, filled with hope and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

And yet, some live in opposition to this!  Philippians 3:19 describes the enemy of the cross.

Their end is destruction.

This makes sense because the cross represents the release from eternal torment. If you live as an enemy to the cross of Christ, then you are heading down a road to destruction.

Instead of destruction, though, Jesus made a better way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

Their god is their belly and they glory in their shame.

Belly is a way to refer to appetites/desires of a person. Those who live as enemies of the cross are letting their desires take the place of God. “They glory in their shame” can be understood in at least a couple ways:

They glory or boast in things they should be ashamed of.

We see this today:  

  • The high school student bragging about girls he slept with;
  • The drunkard celebrating his activities from the past weekend;
  • People not only engaged in sinful behavior but parading it around.

They improperly boasted in glorious things

Some commentators think this passage refers to those who claimed to be associated with God but truly were not. They lived under the law and found their worth there.

Some Bible translations say “their glory is their shame.” The understanding is that they were boasting in things like circumcision and dietary laws they followed—things that would have been to their glory as the people of God—but because of how they spoke about it or because of their pride, they were actually shaming themselves.

Their minds are set on earthly things.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?  The enemy of the cross doesn’t have an eternal perspective, so they can only set their minds on earthly things. Life is all about their desires, and the current situation becomes life or death to them because they have no other framework from which to evaluate it.

This is the life of an enemy of the cross. Does it describe you?  If so, the good news that God has graciously allowed you to be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. The next post will describe how that status affects your life.

 

Five To Focus 53. 4 Reasons For Stagnant Faith

The glory of the past and shame of sin are the first two reasons discussed in this episode on why you might be stagnant in your faith. Next week, Ryan will discuss another two reasons. Let this be an opportunity for personal reflection to see if you are pressing on for the what the Lord has for you (Philippians 3:13-14).  

Feedback

If you have a suggested topic for an episode of Five To Focus, simply fill out this form. If you would like to discuss this episode, you may comment on this post or interact with @rstro on Twitter.

Five To Focus 52. Press On Despite the Past

A race in 1954 is a good illustration of what Paul is talking about in Philippians 3:14. Take five minutes to focus on pressing on in your faith in Jesus without looking back and possibly missing the blessing of serving Him.

Feedback

If you have a suggested topic for an episode of Five To Focus, simply fill out this form. If you would like to discuss this episode, you may comment on this post or interact with @rstro on Twitter.

Five To Focus 51. A Concise Meaning of Life and Death

In one short sentence, Paul tells us what life and death are all about! Let this episode encourage you that whether life or death, it is about Jesus.

Scripture: Philippians 1:21-24.

 

Feedback

If you have a suggested topic for an episode of Five To Focus, simply fill out this form. If you would like to discuss this episode, you may comment on this post or interact with @rstro on Twitter.

Own Your Faith. You Can’t Borrow It.

We sometimes act a certain way because someone is watching. In the presence of a teacher, we might sit up straight and pay attention. In the presence of a parent, we might stop picking on a sibling.

The same could be true with our faith. It is easier to act like a Christian when someone you consider to be a spiritual mentor is watching.

In the letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. . .” (Philippians 2:12, ESV) The Philippians have obeyed the gospel message about Jesus. They were to continue living by faith in Jesus, following the commands of God, whether Paul was with them or not. Living by faith should not only be done when seen by some kind of spiritual leader in your life.

The same is true for us: Our obedience and lifestyle of faith is based upon Jesus, not some other person.

Notice how v.12 says work out your own salvation. Own your faith. You can’t borrow it. The Philippians weren’t made holy by Paul; they were only made holy by Christ when they responded to Him for salvation. If their faith was authentic, then they should continue to work out their salvation, to let it take its effect in their lives.   

Some people try to act better in the presence of certain people, but genuine faith is not a show. Paul was telling the Philippians to live a life committed to Jesus whether or not he was with them.

Some will try to take the title of Christian because they were born in America or because their grandmother was a godly lady and took them to church. But you can’t borrow someone else’s faith. You must make it your own by repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus Christ.

Faith is not dependent on a spiritual leader. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Five To Focus 50. The Struggle of Persevering

You might be wondering somewhat the same thing: Why should I keep on living in the faith? Or maybe even: Why do I still have to be on this earth? What we learn from Paul is this: the motivation to keep striving for Christ has no place for selfishness.

Scripture: Philippians 1:21-24.

 

Feedback

If you have a suggested topic for an episode of Five To Focus, simply fill out this form. If you would like to discuss this episode, you may comment on this post or interact with @rstro on Twitter.

The Fleeting Pleasures of Sin

Was that mingling into sin worth it?

  • That outburst of anger that seemed to relieve some pressure;
  • That venture into pornography that seemed to fill a need;
  • That indulgence of pride that increased your confidence even at the expense of other people’s feelings;
  • That bout of drunkenness that made you forget some of your troubles until you came to your senses with your troubles intensified;

There is pleasure to sin. But the Bible is clear that sin’s pleasure is fleeting. The writer of Hebrews uses Moses’ life to illustrate this point.

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24–26, ESV)

Moses could have continued to experience the lavish and at times unrighteous lifestyle of growing up in Pharoah’s court, but instead, he chose to fully associate himself with the people of God even though it would lead to mistreatment (since the Israelites were slaves at that time to Egypt). He considered mistreatment for the cause of Christ to be more valuable than all the treasures of secular Egypt.

The pleasure of sin is fleeting. It goes away. Then you’re back to where you started–the pressures, the needs, the confidence, the troubles–the things you desired or tried to eliminate are still there, and sometimes even more complicated because of the sin in which you engaged.

The problem is that you’re left with the same result after sinning than what you had before:  the guilt of sin that has been passed down to every person since Adam (Romans 5:12), and the result of sin: spiritual death (Romans 3:23 & 6:23).

So how do you fight past the temptation of sin’s pleasure? You keep your eye on the reward. That’s what Moses did. He knew there was something greater coming in the Lord than what the world would offer. Moses wasn’t perfect, and neither are we. There will be times we give into sin, but remember that whatever you believe is being offered by that worldly temptation, there is something so much greater in Christ.

Look to the reward of Christ, not the fleeting pleasure of sin.

Five To Focus 49. It Has Been Granted To You

If you have been given the chance to know the Creator of the Universe, to be forgiven of your sins, to be declared righteous by God through Christ, to receive the eternal reward of heaven instead of the eternal punishment of torment in hell upon death–If you have been given this chance, then why would you choose anything else?

Scripture: Philippians 1:29.

 

Feedback

If you have a suggested topic for an episode of Five To Focus, simply fill out this form. If you would like to discuss this episode, you may comment on this post or interact with @rstro on Twitter.

The Holy Spirit Gives Confidence in Salvation

Maybe one of the most asked questions by Christians is: how do I know I am saved?

 
We all want a good guarantee with important parts of our lives.
You want insurance on your home to guarantee the replacement of your belongings.
You buy that extra protection on that electronic device or appliance so you are guaranteed that it will be fixed or replaced.
You make sure there is a good warranty on that vehicle so you are guaranteed that it will run like its supposed to.
You want your bank to be insured so your money is guaranteed to be there.

In very simplistic terms, then, how do you know that your salvation will have its effect on your life?  How do I know I am saved?

One area of Scripture that answers this question (not the only one) is 1 John 4:13-15, so we will look deeper into this passage.

 

Verse 13 says ”By this…” John uses this phrase to introduce a concept he really wants to make sure his listeners grasp. In fact, it appears 11 times in this letter.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us. So, what is this? The guarantee of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will be encouraged and gain confidence through this post. this message.
I want to point out a natural movement we see in the text, which consists of three parts. Let’s start at verse 14 first. We see apostolic authority here– John was one of many who saw and testifies about Jesus. So, understand here that it’s not just someone talking without experience. You can trust what you’re reading because it is written by someone who is speaking out of what he has seen.

1st Part of the Movement: v.14

The movements follow a pattern: this happened, then this happened. The first movement: He saw and testified that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

Apart from Jesus Christ, you are perishing and will perish eternally under the wrath of God. But God has made redemption possible for you. The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.


2nd Part of the Movement: beginning of v.15

That happened. Then this:  whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus came to this world and finished the work that is necessary for you to be redeemed. But Romans 10:9 tells us, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  
The second part of the movement is that you have to confess Jesus. It’s not enough just to know that Jesus came into the world. Many people are smart enough to know that Jesus was a real man on the earth, but there must be a belief behind this confession, like Romans 10:9 says.
So, the 1st part is that the Father sent his Son into the world. That happened.
Then, what is to happen is that every person has to decide to confess Jesus Christ. To believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead and that he has paid the penalty for sin and brings victory in this life.
That happens. Then, the 3rd movement.

3rd Part of the Movement: end of v.15

When you confess your belief in Christ, you will be saved. So this happens: God abides in you and you abide in God. Theologically this is called our union with Christ. Wayne Grudem summarizes it:  “We are in Christ, Christ is in us, we are like Christ, and we are with Christ” (Systematic Theology, p. 1256).
Millard Erickson gives 4 implications of our union with Christ (Christian Theology, 3rd Edition, p. 882-883):
We are counted righteous.
We now live in Christ’ strength.
We will suffer.
We have the prospect of reigning with Christ.

Now, even with these three events being true in your life, some might wonder, how do I know this has all happened?

 

The Guarantee

This is where the guarantee of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance.

 

Let me ask:
Do you feel the conviction of sin?
Are you conforming to the image of Christ?
Are you learning and discovering biblical truth?
Are you finding liberty/freedom over sinful thoughts, words, actions?
Are you experiencing the guidance of the Holy Spirit, often evidenced by peace you will feel?
Are you telling others about Jesus, being his witness?
Are you loving others?

This is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. That is evidence of the salvation inside of you.
Look at the similarities to what Paul wrote:

13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,  14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)

Specifically, the Holy Spirit seals the believer and guarantees the believer’s inheritance.
“Seal” generally means to put a mark upon something as a sign of its authenticity. Believers are sealed. And the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee” of the inheritance we have in Christ. The Holy Spirit is valuable enough to give the believer a sense of security by which to live faithfully until that great inheritance comes.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go. You are sealed, which is the link to the secure eternity we have in Christ (inheritance). This should give you confidence.

 

photo courtesy of Xavier Mouton Photographie 

Five To Focus 48. Living Worthy of the Gospel Despite Opposition

Are you living a life worthy of the gospel?  Can people look at your life and see that you are living by the truth of God’s Word? Or will they look at your life and see that you are living in sin and there really isn’t anything different in you than what they see in the world? We continue to look at Philippians 1:27 in this episode.

 

Feedback

If you have a suggested topic for an episode of Five To Focus, simply fill out this form. If you would like to discuss this episode, you may comment on this post or interact with @rstro on Twitter.

Scroll to top
WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com