“For I have told you often before, and now I say it again with tears in my eyes, there are many who walk along the Christian road who are really enemies of the cross of Christ,” the apostle Paul lamented.
“Their future is eternal loss,” Paul continued in Phil. 3:18-19, “for their god is their appetite; they are proud of what they should be ashamed of; and all they think about is this life here on earth.”
I have been blessed to share my testimony at many churches, conferences, and Christ-centered events around the country over the last few years. It has been quite inspiring to see pastors and congregations, faith-based organizations, and Christian elected officials fighting to uphold laws which preserve our freedom to live out our faith and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sadly, I have also witnessed those who have been on the battlefield for years who have turned away from the boldness of faith under pressure to conform to a culture that diminishes the authority of God and His Word.
As I write this article with a heavy heart and “with tears in my eyes,” I bear witness there are those who profess to be Christians but have become enemies of the cross of Christ. They were once followers of truth but through carnal and worldly influences, including social-political popularity, have forsaken the authority of Scripture to accommodate their own interests. The influence of popular culture, moral relativism, and politics has turned their hearts from the truth.
How does a Christian know if he or she is any enemy of the cross of Christ? Paul set forth three descriptors: 1) “their god is their appetite” 2) “they are proud of what they should be ashamed of” and 3) “all they think about is this life on earth.”
Religious liberty is diminishing. Laws legalizing abortion the day before birth are being pursued and have been enacted in the state of New York. Biblical standards of marriage and family are no longer esteemed and have become highly politicized. The increasing trend of normalizing sexual immorality in entertainment, marketing, and media has fueled the increase of enemies of the cross of Christ.
As a result, even Christians with public status and influence in education, government, business, arts, entertainment, media and marketing, churches, and denominations have given support to same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage and transgender ideologies, often for fear of the consequences of speaking the truth.
Worst of all, some now espouse a position that these ideologies are within the scope of Bible truth and are acceptable lifestyles in Christendom. The motivation for Christians who embrace these worldly ideologies (idols) is to satisfy their desire to gain or remain in the favor of popular culture. “Their god is their appetite.”
Initially they are reluctant. But social and political pressures eventually cause them to conform. When the social-political gains for forsaking the truth are greater than the consequences from the church for having done so, their minds are transformed to where what was once a lie has become the truth. In their minds, what was once evil in the sight of God is now good. In other words, if my pastor or church is still supporting me and not correcting me, then I must be right.
Sadly, becoming celebrated for forsaking the cross of Christ often results in public office, re-elections, increasing customer base, being on news and TV talk shows, or retaining a pastoral office. The worldly rewards become so attractive, the cravings for them increase more and more, reaching a point where these once faithful followers of Christ only think about life on earth — compromising Christ for worldly gain.
Because of the perception of the earthly gain of popularity-reward, they become “proud of things they should be ashamed of” making themselves “enemies of the cross of Christ.” The Scripture says, “Their future is eternal loss.” They forget about heaven and the consequences of forsaking Christ. Or worse, they understand the consequences but are willing to try to gain worldly popularity to the demise of their very souls.
As the body of Christ, we must take a loving but assertive approach to holding them accountable and turning their hearts back to the truth. Ignoring, overlooking or placating their behavior makes us just as culpable. We are passively giving approval and are therefore just as accountable in the eyes of God.
Are you an enemy of the cross of Christ? If you are, do not harden your heart. Jesus is calling you to repent. His arms are waiting to receive and forgive today.
Kelvin Cochran is chief operating officer at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta who holds a doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. He is the former fire chief for the city of Atlanta and former U.S. Fire Administrator under President Obama.