Expository Sermon on Philippians 3:17-4:1 | Friend or Foe of the Cross?

Friend or Foe? (Philippians 3:17-4:1)

My brother and I were rivals. I poked my finger in Aaron’s eye the first time I saw him. I chased him with a brick with the intention of doing some serious damage.

Enemies of the cross are rivals of the defenders of the cross. In this passage, Paul listed the attributes of an enemy of the cross and of a defender of the cross.

Enemies of the Cross, v 19

Their end is destruction.

They shall not succeed. They will not sin. Revelation 17:14. Any “success” will be short-lived; they will be destroyed.

Their god is the belly.

The belly stands for all their earthly appetites. They serve their own desires, their own flesh, and they do not serve God. “Such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites” (Rom 16:18).

Their glory is in their shame.

They boast about those things which should bring them shame. Their consciences are so corrupted that they boast about their sin, their defiance of God. “They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them” (Rom 1:32). The homosexuals did this very thing when they marched on Washington.

Their minds are set on earthly things.

They do not view things from God’s perspective; they only worry about the “here and now.” They strive for earthly honor and earthly wealth.

Friends of the Cross

Their lives are worth imitation, v 17.

Paul held his life ups as an example. He said others were also worthy of imitation. Paul encouraged others to follow him because he followed Christ: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Our example is a great evangelistic tool (1 Pet 3:1-2) If our lives are not worthy of imitation, something is dreadfully wrong.

They teach, v 18.

Paul warned the Philippians about the enemies of the cross; he was concerned about the Philippians. We must warn others of hell (Acts 8:4). Our primary purpose must be to share the gospel.

Their citizenship is in heaven, v 20.

We have security because we are citizens of this country; we have eternal security because we are citizens of heaven. Our citizenship in this country is not eternal; our citizenship in heaven is eternal.

We need to act as though our citizenship is in heaven; we should not get caught up in the big cars, the big houses, etc. Matthew 6:19-21.

They have expectation, v 20.

They patiently wait for their Savior, Jesus Christ. They patiently look forward to the day when Jesus comes again. This is different from the thinking of some. Some Christians dread or fear the day of the Lord. But Paul said that we should look forward to it.

They patiently wait for Jesus to transform their body. Jesus will transform the body of our humility to be like the body of his glory. Our bodies are imperfect, not like his perfect body. But Jesus will make our body like his own body. “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2).

They stand firm, 4:1.

They do not waver, but they stand firm. They know the One in whom they have believed and put their trust.


This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Florence Boulevard church of Christ in Florence, Alabama.

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