Tuesday, April 5, 2022

May I Never Boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

 Read Galatians 6

I know that you are excited.  How could you not be?  We have another chance to talk about circumcision.

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

What is it to be persecuted for the cross of Christ?  This is what Paul did for a while.  We knew him as Sault back then.  It’s more than that.

The cross tells us that all fall short of the glory of God.  Jesus was nailed to that cross because of our sin that we could not reconcile with God.  Only Jesus could do that and he did.

You either receive the cross as one of the main symbols of your salvation or you must fight against it and hold fast to the law, even though the law had no efficacy when it came to salvation.

The law permitted religious leaders to exercise control over people.  The law made them feel like masters and those whom they should have been shepherding, they turned into slaves. Christ set us free.  Why would anyone want to return to slavery?

Circumcision was just the most obvious and newsworthy point in this dichotomy. We also see Paul plant a seed that he will develop further in other letters, that of the new creation.  The old is gone.  The new has come.

Let’s jump to Philippians to see what Paul says about his old self.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

All of the religious credentials that Paul had acquired counted for nothing as far as he was concerned when it came to righteousness with God.  That didn’t mean that he denounced being a Pharisee.  He used that status to get him into having an audience for the gospel in synagogues, but his religious status did nothing for his right standing with God.

Paul was a Hebrew.  He was circumcised as required by the law.  He was a Pharisee.  He scored as close to perfect on the abiding by the law test as anyone one of his contemporaries. 

He noted that all of these things, all of the outward signs, all of the metrics of religion didn’t count for diddly. What counted was that his old self was crucified to the world and world to him.

I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me.  I am a new creature.  I am a new creation.  I am a new person.

Here’s the bonus as we go forward.  We will talk a whole lot less about circumcision and a lot more about being this new person that we are in Christ.

I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me.  I am a new person!


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