2000-03-14 - The Saddest Verse in the Bible

Philippians 3:18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.

I say this is the saddest verse because this verse speaks of those who once followed the path of faith and after following for a time, for whatever reason, turned away.

Paul says that he had often told the Philippians of these people who once used to walk the Christian walk. We must remember that Paul probably wrote many letters and only a few of them were included in the Scriptures. So Paul says, "I have often told you about these folks, and now I am telling you, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ." Startling words, words that should shake you in your chair. They once followed, now they are enemies.

Paul goes on to explain the results of falling away from the faith and why they fell away in the next verse, "whose end is destruction, whose God is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things."

Their God is their appetite or belly. What Paul has in mind here is falling into the trap of consumption or overly gratifying the sensual appetites. Those who fall into this sin give the same attention to their sensual appetites as the righteous give to God. God has been replaced by food, drink, money, lust, or any other sensual indulgence. "For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites … " Romans 16:18

Their glory is in their shame. Not only are they found to be in sin, they are proud of it. Rather than shame they feel pride. And finally they set their minds on earthly things. There was nothing earthly in the ministry of Jesus and to be followers of Christ means that we ought to seek to adopt a similar mind set that is more heavenly than earthly. When they ought to have affections that bend toward the things of God, they cherish affections that are grounded in things that are tied to this earth.

What is the result of this falling away? The end is destruction. "Therefore, what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death." Romans 6:21 If we apply this personally, we can examine our lives and try to discern if we are heading down the path toward destruction.

Have we set our minds on earthly things? Are we guilty of having improper appetites? Only we know. But the Bible is written to us to help us examine our lives, to give light where we have been walking in darkness, and to show us the way that God would have us live. It is true that many walk, and I have known many who walked for a time and then fallen away. Let us pray that we would be those who are faithful to the high calling of fellowship with God.

"None will have such a sad parting from Christ as those who went half-way with Him and then left Him." William Gurnall

"The best way never to fall is ever to fear (falling)." William Jenkyn

Soli Deo Gloria,