(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:…
I. There is reason to believe that MANY PROFESSORS OF RELIGION ARE ENEMIES TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST (Matthew 13:24-30, 47-50; Matthew 7:21, 23). But observe in passing —
1. That Christianity is not responsible for hypocrites and self-deceived professors. Religion does not produce nor countenance hypocrisy.
2. Christianity does not stand alone. There are many false friends, patriots, professors of honesty, temperance, etc.
3. We claim for Christianity only the good it has done, and point to the sinners it has reformed.
4. We ask that on this subject the language of discrimination and justice should be used.
II. HOW MAY WE DETERMINE WHEN PROFESSORS ARE ENEMIES TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST?
1. When they have not been born again. "The carnal mind is enmity with God."
2. When they live in the indulgence of any known sin. It needs no argument to show that the man who is seeking my hurt in any way is my enemy. The man who indulges in known sin shows that he disregards God's authority, and despises the work of Christ which is to cleanse us from all iniquity.
3. When they pursue a doubtful or undecided course of conduct without any effort to know what is right.
4. When they manifest in their conduct none of the peculiarities of those who truly love Him. These are not morality, good temper, etc., for worldly men have these. Christ did not die that His followers might be like other men, but that they should he a peculiar people.
5. When they have a deeper interest in their worldly affairs than in the cause of their Redeemer (ver. 19, Philippians 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:2). The proof of this proposition lies in a nutshell.
(1) Christ said, "He that is not for Me is against Me."(2) There is no better way of knowing a man's character than observation of his walk and conversation.
(3) The interests of Christ's kingdom are intended to be supreme. He seeks no divided sway (Luke 14:26).
(4) The principles of Christianity cannot lie dormant in the soul. If they exist they will be manifested.
6. When nothing can induce them to give up their worldly concerns for the cause of religion upon God's demands. We make a great mistake when we speak of our time, talents, property. The affairs of this life, as well as prayer and praise, should be pursued as part of the service we owe to God. The gospel was designed to overcome the love of the world, and to induce men to surrender all when God urges His claims (Luke 9:23; Luke 14:26).
(1) If a professed follower of Christ will not abandon those amusements which are obviously and certainly inconsistent with the gospel, he is the enemy of the Cross of Christ.
(2) So is he who will not surrender his property to God when He demands it for His service.
(3) And he who employs all his time in doing his own will.
7. When they are opposed to all that is peculiar in the doctrines of Christianity.
(1) When the doctrines of the Bible in general are admitted, but in detail are denied.
(2) When those truths which are found in natural religion are acknowledged, but the truths peculiar to the gospel are doubted.
(3) When a man will not examine those doctrines to satisfy his own mind whether they are true or false.
(4) When a man becomes angry when those doctrines are preached.
(5) When in the circle of the worldly he is unwilling that it should be known that he holds them.
8. When they are opposed to the peculiar duties of Christianity.
(1) When the obligations of piety are admitted in general but denied in particular.
(2) When there is no sympathy with the plans of true Christians in the spread of the gospel.
(3) When all the sympathies are on the side of the enemy of Christ.
III. WHY IS THE FACT OF THEIR BEING IN THE CHURCH FITTED TO EXCITE GRIEF. Because —
1. They are cherishing hopes that will be disappointed, and are exposed to danger that is unfelt (2 Corinthians 2:4).
2. Their influence.
(1) The loss of so much positive strength to the cause of the Redeemer.
(2) It tends to discourage the true friends of God.
(3) It is a real hindrance to the cause of God, for "he that is not with Me is against Me."(4) It gives occasion for the reproach and opposition of a wicked world.
(5) It is the occasion of the loss of the souls of men. An ungodly parent adds to his own destruction that of his children.
3. The slender probability that they will ever be saved. The apostle did not anticipate the conversion of those whose end was destruction (Matthew 13:30). There is more hope for the open sinner and the heathen than for the self-deluded professor.
(A. Barnes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: (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: