“[M]any live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18b-19
Philippians 3:18 points out that many “live as enemies of the Cross of Christ” even though the bible clearly states we should not do so. Although Philippians 3 is most commonly discussed in reference to those who are false teachers in the church, Philippians 3:18-19 also pertains to hypocritical Christians who are actively practicing one sin or another instead of denying their fleshly desires in obedience to Christ. One frequently picked-on group of Christians who fall into this category are those who live together like husband and wife, but who are not married to one another. To understand how Christians are living as "enemies of the Cross of Christ" in terms of their eating habits, we must meditate further on Philippians 3:18b-19.
First, the passage of scripture warns the "end is destruction," for all of those who live as enemies of the Cross of Christ. However, "their end is destruction” has a different meaning for believers than it does for non-believers. For non-Believers, destruction means you suffer the consequences of your sin here on earth, gaining weight, declining health, and an untimely death, to name a few. Then you spend eternity in hell if you die committing the sins of gluttony and idolatry as with any other sin, instead of gaining eternal life by submitting to the Lord's discipline and confessing your sin.
On the other hand, for believers, destruction means you are subject to God’s discipline in this life, but you do not suffer the consequences of hell in the next life. For example, Haggai 1:6-11 describes Israel suffering the consequences of her sin of failing to repair and maintain the temple as commanded by God. Accordingly, the scriptures illustrate God’s discipline of the nation individually and collectively. That same discipline applies to modern-day Christians who fail to maintain the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is their bodies. However, discipline from the Lord is actually a good thing.
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Revelations 3:19
How does God discipline us?
1. Permissive Will
This means a person is outside of the will of God, and he is subject to the consequences of his sin. For example:
A) Gaining weight
B) Declining Health: Hypertension, diabetes, stroke, etc.
D) Poor self-image
E) Early death
2. Divine Will
This means a person is submitting to the will of God. When a person submits to the will of God, he has automatically entered into God’s favor and blessings because God performs what He promises in His word. Accordingly, those abiding in God’s Divine Will may claim His promises when things do not seem to be working in accordance to what He promised. Since God never fails, He will bless, protect, provide for, and otherwise, lovingly care for all of those who put their trust in Him and obey His will.
In other words, one way God disciplines us is to rebuke or admonish a person who has sinned by disobeying His commands. He does this through His word which teaches us to live lives of holiness. Consequently, obeying God’s word is submission to God’s discipline and its end result is a blessed and favored life.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 
Or to put it even more plainly, the New Living Translation states the same passage of scripture in this way:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.” 
However, God also utilizes other methods of discipline as exemplified in Chapter 1 of the Book of Haggai. For example, God used a drought in Haggai as He did at other times according to scripture. (Deuteronomy 11:16-17; 2 Chronicles 7:13-15; Isaiah 5:6; Haggai 1:11) Likewise, God has employed famines, plagues, fire, and even locust to impart discipline on both believers and unbelievers. (Exodus 7:14 – 12:32; 2 Samuel 24:10-16; Jeremiah 21:1-7 & 44:12-14; Amos 7:1-3 & 8:11-12, Joel 1:3-4 & 2:3; Ezekiel 30:8-16; Revelation 6:6-8; 8:6, 9:3; 11:4-6, 15:1; 16:1-21)
In terms of eating to worship God, God employs both methods of discipline. He convicts us of our sin, and then provides instructions to correct our errant behavior through His word. Because of our intentional or unintentional disobedience, God imposes the same discipline exacted on Israel in Haggai upon us, both individually and collectively.
Second, we must understand what "their god is their stomach" means. There is a scripture which is similar to Philippians 3:18-19. It is found at Romans 16:18, and there are 3 schools of thought regarding these two passages of scripture. Romans 16:18 states:
“For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” New King James Version 
1. In the first school of thought, it is believed that Philippians 3:18-19 only refers to gluttons giving in to their excessive physical desires for food, while Romans 16:18 refers to individuals putting their selfish lusts in general before Christ. For example, a minister who tells a congregation what it wants to hear in order to maintain his position as pastor.  This school of thought can be seen in the following translation of Romans 16:18:
“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. Romans 16:18
2. The 2nd school of thought states Philippians 3:18-19 has a broader meaning than that of an excessive, physical desire for food. Instead, they believe it refers to lust and self-indulgence of all kinds. 
3. The final commentary states the individuals referred to in Philippians 3:18-19 and in Romans 16:18 are one and the same, and that both passages of scripture refer to gluttons who regard eating and drinking above devotion to God.  This opinion is based in part on Romans 14:17 declaring earlier in scripture that the “kingdom of God is not eating and drinking” alone.
The third commentary is the correct interpretation of the scriptures. God’s metaphorical descriptions of what occurs spiritually can often literally be observed taking place in the natural, so it stands to reason the same thing is happening in regard to Philippians 3:18-19 and Romans 16:18. Although Philippians best emphasizes making an idol of the stomach due to gluttony, Romans best emphasizes making an idol of one’s stomach due to selfish concerns about one’s own welfare, which corresponds to, paying a mortgage, utilities, car note, and/or having enough to eat, as well as indulging in one’s overall sinful desires. Nevertheless, the result is the same, the excessive eating habits of one and sinful desire to gratify the overall lusts of the flesh in general of the other take precedence over God in their lives. Therefore, both have literally and metaphorically made an idol of their stomachs.
Commentaries aside, we have already studied that the lust of the flesh led to the sin of gluttony which in turn led to idolatry. We also learned that gluttony is a symptom of a society’s downward spiral into being primarily focused on the satisfaction of all its fleshly desires instead of denying itself in obedience to God. In short, the sin of gluttony is not just excessive eating. It is a pattern of excessive eating which encompasses other self-gratifying behavior, and that behavior, if left unchecked, leads to making an idol of one's stomach.
Our focus in this lesson, the book of Philippians, clearly points out those who practice the sin of gluttony may also inadvertently practice the sin of idolatry as evidenced by the scripture teaching gluttons have made their god their stomachs. This occurs in two ways, and sometimes individuals do both without realizing it. The first method occurs when individuals look to food to provide a need only God can fulfill instead of turning to God the Provider. The second method takes place when individuals obey their bodies’ cravings without restraint instead of obeying God’s commands regarding eating and maintaining the temple of the Holy Spirit they are responsible for, meaning their own bodies.
The purpose of food is to provide sustenance and nutrition to our bodies. The problem is that we have increasingly come to require and expect food to do more than it is able or intended to do. For instance, you should not run to food if you feel angry, depressed, lonely, disappointed, stressed, or hurt. Whatever hole is left in your heart by life will never be filled by a tub of ice cream, a pizza, burgers with fries, or any other earthly thing you could eat. In other words, food was never meant to be your comforter, the source of your joy and happiness, a crutch to make life bearable, or a shield against pain and disappointment. That’s the Lord’s job, and only He is uniquely qualified to do it.
1. God the Comforter
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:16-18 NKJ
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7
2. God the Source of Joy
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
3. God the Crutch to Endure Life
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.“
4. God the Shield Against Pain and Disappointment
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, your stomach is the equivalent of a bottomless pit. It will continue to require more and more as it probably already has been with each passing year. It only takes in what your body craves, and it never gives you what you truly desire. That’s because it cannot. It’s a false god that neither sees, hears, nor speaks, yet you run to its altar with peach cobbler and ice cream as your offering in times of trouble. The so-called comfort food only earns you a temporary reprieve from your cares. You recognize too late that your crutch is crippling you, and you are increasingly growing more disgusted with your eating habits instead of happily indulging in what once was purely a source of pleasure. Furthermore, instead of shielding you from your pain and disappointment, you realize your stomach and its cravings are slowly becoming, or have already become, a major source of pain and disappointment in your life.
Next, we must understand what "their glory is in their shame" means. Usually when the bible speaks of glory, it refers to the word in terms of the Lord. However, in this instance, the word refers to human beings who are living lives that are adverse to God. Accordingly, although the word “glory” often indicates the presence of God when utilized in a sentence, since this reference concerns human beings, the word is descriptive of a person’s honor or renown. It signifies a person’s reputation or what they are known for. Simply put, your honor and renown are currently found in something that is actually shameful, a sin, when it should be found in Christ Himself.
“[W]e all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
That’s what you should be known for by those who know you best: becoming more like Jesus each day. Instead of being honored and renowned for your mind constantly being on the things of Christ, are you known for constantly worrying about your next meal or something to do with your weight and your eating habits or other sinful activities?
Finally, the scripture teaches us that those who are enemies of the Cross of Christ have "their minds on earthly things." Romans Chapter 8 explains it best:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8
In other words, those who set their minds on the things of the flesh are one and the same as those who set their minds on earthly things. As it relates to food, the glutton’s mind is always on his next meal or “fix” (earthly things) because his stomach, addiction, or rather, his god is whatever his belly craves next.
“But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then His disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought Him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to finish His work.’”
Jesus was so focused on His purpose that He was not concerned about food. Pleasing the Father was sustenance (food) for Jesus. When we stop obsessing over food and renew our minds to the Will of God and His purpose for our lives as exemplified by Jesus, then our thoughts won’t be centered around food anymore either. Instead, you too, will find it easier to focus on the things of God instead of setting your mind on earthly things.
Please visit our blog next week for Part 2 of this study. The topic: How to Stop Living as an Enemy of the Cross of Christ. Looking forward to seeing you in the Promised Land of Healthy and Fit for LIfe! God bless you!
 King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
 New Living Translation (©2007)
 The New Open Bible Study Edition, Copyright 1990.
 For the Elect Alone internet article “The Belly Problem: Philippians 3” by Mark McCulley(?). http://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/the-belly-problem-philippians-3/
 Enduring Word Internet Article “Philippians 3 – Leaving Law and Pressing on to Jesus” by David Guzik, Page 13, Copyright 2006 (Printed 08/20/12). http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/5003.htm
 Internet article “Enemies of the Cross of Christ Philippians 3:18-19, printed 08/20/12 (no website information printed at the bottom of the page).
Ann Wooten Taylor
Ann is an attorney who has been licensed to practice law in the State of Arkansas since 2004, practicing in the areas of child abuse and neglect, special education, and unemployment insurance law. Mrs. Taylor is also the C.E.O. of Eating as an Act of Worship Ministries and a Christian author. Her first non-fiction, Christian book entitled, "Eating as an Act of Worship Workbook" was published and released by Life to Legacy Publishing in 2015. Her second book, the "Eating as an Act of Worship Teacher's Edition" was published and released in December 2016.