Enmity to the Cross of Christ
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. - Philippians iii:18.
Are you not ready to say, perhaps Paul, in uttering this language, labored under an erroneous impression? Do not your minds almost involuntarily conclude that none can be the enemies of the cross of Christ? Do you not find yourself exclaiming, this is a most uncharitable indictment of human nature, fallen though it be? Ah! my friends, Paul labored under no mistake. He spoke the words of truth and soberness. There were, in his day, and there are now, enemies of the cross. The indictment he makes out is as true as inspiration can render it. But who are the enemies of the cross? Will any admit that they are justly chargeable with this enmity? It can not be denied that those guilty of impious hostility to the cross, are disinclined to acknowledge it; hence, it is necessary for a minister of the gospel to delineate the characters of those who are enemies of the crosa This is my present object.
I. Who are the Enemies of the Cross of Christ?
1. Those who deny the expiatory nature of his death. - That the Savior became obedient unto death that he might make an atonement for sin, is susceptible of abundant proof. I refer, you to the following passages: "He was wounded for our transgressions - he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." "This is the blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world." "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood. * * * That he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." "Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
It is manifest from these passages, that the death of Christ was sacrificial. He shed his blood as a propitiatory offering. He endured the agonies of the cross that he might sustain the authority of the divine law, satisfy the demands of divine justice, and preserve, untarnished, the honor of the divine throne in the salvation of
lost sinners. To make atonement for sin was the great object of the Messiah's incarnation and death. Those, therefore, who deny the doctrine of atonement, are enemies to the cross. They may say, as Socinians do, that Jesus died a martyr to the truth; or, as Unitarians do, that he died to manifest God's benevolence to man, but if they divest the death of Christ of its expiatory character, they are enemies of his cross. They rob the cross of its chief glory. Whenever this is done, it may be said in truth, "An enemy hath done this."
2. Those who reject the salvation of Jesus Christ. - This salvation was purchased by the blood shed on the cross. Calvary was the theater on which was acted the awful tragedy which laid a firm basis for the hopes of a dying world. When the dark cloud of Heaven's wrath, gathering all its blackness, discharged its fearful contents on the head of Jesus of Nazareth, the light of hope dawned on ruined man. In the language of a fine writer, "The cross received the thunder from the threatening cloud, and gave sunshine to the universe."
The offer of salvation is made through the blood of the cross. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." All His merciful manifestations to man, are made through the cross. But for the death of Jesus there would have been no salvation for our apostate race. Ah! think, impenitent sinner, what it cost the Savior that the offer of salvation might be made
to you! It did not cost him silver, and gold, and gems, and pearls, and treasures of empires, but his blood - his heart's blood!
"This waa compassion like a God,
That when the Savior knew
The price of pardon waa his blood,
His pity ne'er withdrew."
None but the enemies of the cross can set at naught the salvation procured by the Redeemer's blood. And what enmity must they feel! - infernal, and worse than infernal! For Satan, in tempting sinners to reject the salvation of Christ, tempts them to do what he has never done himself. Nothing but enmity to the cross induces a refusal to be saved by the glorious Redeemer who died thereon.
3. Those who love sin, and whose affections are placed on the world. - The cross is the grand antagonist of sin. It was erected to demolish sin. Sin is the great work of the devil, and for this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. The evil of sin appears in the cross. Its turpitude is written far more legibly in the Savior's blood, than in the damnation of the finally impenitent. No man ever learns the lesson which the cross teaches without hating sin. The enemies of the cross show their enmity in their love of sin. The enmity and the love go hand in hand. The enmity never ceasea till the love of sin is destroyed. O! ye lovers of sin, you are enemies of the cross of Jesus.
I have referred to a love of the world. This is incompatible with friendship for the cross. There is something in the cross adapted to expel the love of the world from the heart. What says Paul? "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucifieu to me and I to the world." It is the cross which crucifies our love of the world, and until this crucifixion takes place there is enmity to the cross. In view of these considerations, how evident that those who love sin and the world are enemies of the cross.
4. Those who do not exemplify the precepts of the gospel. - This point has been, in some degree, anticipated, but it deserves to be more prominently set forth. The tendencies of the doctrines of the cross are eminently practical. What is better adapted to produce repentance than the preaching of the cross, developing, as it does, the malignity of sin? What is better adapted to inspire faith than an exhibition of Christ crucified for the sins of men? And when the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, in regeneration, it will manifest itself. Does any one ask how? Jesus says, "He that loveth me keepeth my commandments." Those who love Jesus will exhibit their love in making a public profession of allegiance to him in baptism, in attending public worship, in commemorating his death, in promoting his cause, in living uprightly before the world, etc. "For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, teaches us that, denying ungodliness
and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world." The gospel abounds in precepts. When we love the cross and glory in it, will we not obey those precepts? - and if we do not, is not our disobedience evidence of our enmity? Most certainly. It follows, therefore, that those who do not exemplify the precepts of the gospel, are enemies of the cross of Christ.
II. The Unreasonableness and Criminality of this Enmity.
I argue its unreasonableness and criminality from the fact that,
1. The cross displays the love of God in the most astonishing manner. - That "God is love" is the sublimest proposition ever submitted to the consideration of men or angels. To prove this proposition true, creation and Providence supply numerous arguments, but the cross furnishes the grand argument, or rather the overwhelming demonstration. If ever a truth was demonstrated, the love of God to man was demonstrated when the cross was erected. Look at the expiring Jesus of Nazareth - there is incarnate love - there the philanthropy of Heaven shines forth in all its strength - strength competent to raise the sinner from the deep sorrows of the fall to the ecstatic joys of the Throne of God. The cross is the exponent of God's love to man. How unreasonable, then, is enmity to the cross! And the enmity is as criminal as unreasonable.
The deepest elements of criminality are to be found in this enmity. Nor is it strange that the pen of inspiration has written, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed, the Lord cometh." Enmity to the cross is the precursor of a richly deserved damnation.
2. The pious on earth and the redeemed in Heaven love the cross and glory in it. - The precious doctrines of the cross have cheered many a sad heart. Many a burdened sinner has lost his burden while viewing the cross. Christians have gloried in it in life and death. Much of the best blood that ever ran in human veins has.been shed in honor of the cross.
The ransomed before the throne recur to the blood of the cross as the price of their redemption. To him who was once the illustrious Sufferer of the cross, they say, with adoring gratitude and love, "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." This is the language of all the blood-purchased and blood-washed hosts on high - a multitude which no man can number. How unreasonable, then, is enmity to the cross! The enemy of the cross is the enemy of that which all the pious on earth and all the redeemed in heaven love. He is the enemy of what angels contemplate with the profoundest interest, and from which they derive their best and sublimest conceptions of the character of God. Is it not unreasonable for men to indulge enmity against that which angels love? And how criminal, too! Alas! the enemy of the
cross is. the enemy of that which alone can paeiiy the troubled conscience - cancel human guilt - solace the spirit in the day of adversity - bridge the gulf of death - encircle the grave with a halo of glory, and open the gate of heaven for the ransomed of the Lord. Who can deny the criminality of such enmity as this?
3. While this enmity continues it precludes the possibility of salvation. - There is no other medium of salvation but the cross. Mercy comes to man through the blood of Immanuel alone. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." The atonement of Calvary furnishes the only reasons why God can save a sinner. At the cross alone can God and the sinner meet in friendship. The cross, like Jacob's ladder, connects heaven and earth. Is it not manifest that the sinner, while an enemy of the cross, can never be saved by it? The enmity must be slain. There must be reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ.
Is it unreasonable and criminal for a sinner to destroy his soul? - to exclude himself from all participation in the mercy of God? - to plant thorns in his dying pillow? - to bar the gate of heaven against his own admittance? - to make, so far as he is concerned, the hallelujahs of Paradise inaudible and its bright glories invisible? Then is enmity to the cross unreasonable and criminal, for it does all this. Need I say more in proof of the unreasonableness and criminality of this enmity?
1. How great, how appalling is the depravity of man! History bears testimony that men have been enemies of their country - the enemies of their fathers, their mothers, their brothers, their sisters, their wives, their children, - but all this is not so frightful a demonstration of depravity as enmity to the cross. The human race might well feel dishonored if only one of its members were the enemy of the cross. Alas! the enmity of which I have spoken rankles in the hearts of millions!
2. How deeply humble should Christians be! They were once enemies of the cross. They were once on the way to hell, and would be on their way thither now if God had not interposed by his grace. Ah! Christian friends, if you ever feel the risings of pride in your hearts, remember you were formerly the enemies of the cross. This thought will abase you before the Lord.
3. Many professors of religion are enemies of the cross. Paul says in the text, "many walk," etc. There is, I presume, reference to nominal Christians. I do not wonder that the apostle wept. And there was eloquence in his tears. In the affecting recapitulation of his trials in 2 Corinthians chap, xi, it is not intimated that he wept when he suffered from "hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness," nor when he "five times received forty stripes save one," - "thrice beaten with rods, stoned once," etc. He had no tears to shed
over personal sufferings and calamities; but when he remembered that many who professed to love Jesus were enemies of his cross, it broke his mighty heart, and he wept like a fond mother over the death of her firstborn. The great apostle in tears! What a spectacle!
4. The enemy of the cross is his own enemy. Yes, his own worst enemy. He who indulges enmity to the cross not only despises the love which provided for its erection, and insults the Lamb of God who died thereon, but is hostile to his own best interests. He virtually hates his soul - hates happiness - hates salvation. All this is involved in enmity to the cross. Strange thing for a man to be his own enemy! Yet nothing is more common.
5. What an awful place hell must be! Its population consists of enemies of the cross. The cross has no friends there. The inhabitants are enemies of God - enemies of one another - enemies of themselves - enemies of the cross!
[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via ILL through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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