21 – Philippians 3:18-19: Frustration


“As I have often told you and now tell you with tears, there are many that behave as if they hated the cross of Christ. The end of such persons is ruin, destruction and perdition, for their sensual appetites have become their gods. They are actually proud of things they should be ashamed of. They are absorbed in earthy matters, because this world is the limit of their horizon.”   (paraphrased)

v. 18
Nearly a decade has passed since Paul founded the church at Philippi (Acts 16:12). He visits them as often as possible (Acts 20:6). But smooth-talking heretics attempt to infiltrate his churches and “deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18). Paul is confident he can contrast his Christian integrity and honesty with that of the false teachers. Paul warns the Corinthians that heretics often are mistaken for credible teachers, looking like “angels of light” (II Cor. 11:14).

Paul evidently has often preached to the Philippians concerning the danger of being seduced by false teachers. He weeps as he anticipates the potential harm to his flock. Daily concern that his church families will stay on track for God cause his earnest pleadings to be mixed with tears. Such teachers are self-destructive and destroy souls, doomed to eternal punishment when they appear before God (Jude 13). But Paul’s compassion extends even to these false teachers. The spirit of Christ demands we intercede for such persons, knowing the harm they do by living hypocritical lifestyles under the guise of spirituality.
When Paul speaks of the cross of Jesus, he refers to all the benefits derived from His sacrifice. Because the cross represents Jesus’ atonement for sin, His sacrifice can never be treated lightly without serious repercussions. These false teachers are living in a manner which proves they are not really born again. They have more interest in gratifying their own appetites than in serving Christ (Mark 8:34). Although Jesus frees people through salvation, heretics would return us to bondage. In verse two, Paul refers to them as “dogs and evil workers.” Here they are “enemies of the cross of Christ.” This causes Paul to lament, inferring that he is weeping as he writes about this problem.

v. 19
Paul shows their inconsistencies by a quadruple indictment:

1. They are destined for judgment.
They may claim they know Jesus, but they deny Him by their lifestyle. Their talk does not match their walk.

2. They are self-indulgent.
“Serving their own bellies” may refer to the preoccupation of the Judiaziers with old Jewish dietary laws they try to impose on Believers. Christ sets us free from such observances. (Col. 2:20-23). In a larger sense, this phrase can refer to any and all forms of sensuality, including gluttony and immorality. Paul groups all such persons together as “those who obey earthly things.”

3. They should be ashamed.
“Glorying in their shame” (KJV) describes their lifestyle perfectly. The word “shame” here refers to private body parts, so Paul may be pointing to their insistence upon circumcision as a guarantee of salvation. Such teachers seek proselytes they can convert to their way of thinking (Gal. 6:13). In a larger sense, all who put faith in dead rituals instead of a living relationship with Christ fall into this category. Those trapped in cults and ritualism should ponder this passage carefully.

4. They live by carnal rules.
The word “mind” here is phronountes and refers to that which the mind and passions center upon. Some of these false teachers attempt to blend Old Testament rituals into Christianity. Such misguided souls diametrically oppose the pure Gospel message of salvation through Christ alone. Because Paul and other New Testament writers are bold to address heresies in the early Church, many false doctrines have been exposed during the past two thousand years.



1. Who does Peter name as an example of a false prophet?  (II Peter 2:15)
A. Enoch
B. Elijah
C. Ahab
D. Balaam
E. Judas

2. Paul informs the Philippians that false teachers:
A. are self-indulgent
B. are headed for judgment
C. glory in things they ought to be ashamed of
D. follow carnal regulations
E. all of the above

3. According to II Timothy 4:3-4, what will happen in the last days?
A. people will flock to false teachers
B. people will be cast into the bottomless pit
C. people will turn from truth to fables
D. people will gnash their teeth in frustration
E. both A and C



1. Read Jude 17-19 concerning false teachers. According to verse 20, what is our best protection against such people? Discuss the importance of this.


2. Discuss ways in which a couple can fall into the trap of allowing sensual appetites to become “gods.”


3. List a few things people take pride in that they really should be ashamed of. 



1. Read Jude 17-19 concerning false teachers. According to verse 20, what is our best protection against such people? Write a paragraph on the importance of this.



2. Write a paragraph concerning ways in which you could fall into the trap of allowing sensual appetites to become “gods” in your life.



3. List a few things people take pride in that they really should be ashamed of. 


Maxim of the Moment

You can’t go forward looking backwards. - Tommy Barnett