BOASTING IN THE CROSS (JESUS) VERSUS OUR OWN SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD
In closing, Paul follows the rules of good communication. Tell people what you are going to tell them; then tell them; then tell them what you told them. Maybe then we will get it. So once again he confronts the Judaizers (the Jewish legalists) and defends the cross and the gospel of grace this time in his own handwriting (rather than his scribe’s) using large letters for emphasis.
He exposes the sinful motives of the Judaizers. They use force/pressure to “compel you to be circumcised” and the reason is they are afraid, “to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Then they take pride in their converts (scalp–hunters) “that they may boast about your flesh”; (“they only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side.” The Msg.) And on top of that they don’t even keep the law themselves as required by God: “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW.” (Deut. 27:26) “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)
The cross is an offense to man’s pride and self-righteousness. (Gal. 5:11) People find it insulting to be told that they are too weak and sinful to do anything to contribute to their salvation. Yet the “world system” (anti-God and under Satan’s power) accepts “religion” because it is where man can take pride in his own good works and feel his works are good enough to be accepted by God. “The righteousness that God requires (for salvation) is the righteousness that a perfectly righteous God is required to require.” God doesn’t forgive sins. He forgives sinners who accept His costly payment for their sins on the cross.
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 14a) We boast in (publicly or to ourselves) what we feel gives us a sense of self-worth and significance. The world boasts in position, possessions, popularity, power, success, looks, wealth, intelligence education, etc. (see Jer. 9:23-24) If we boast in the cross we are not bragging about being saved (i.e., “I’m saved and you’re not”) but about Jesus Christ and what God has done for us in Christ which gives us confidence and security that we are dearly loved and accepted by God forever and are heaven-bound.
“Through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (v.14b) Paul is saying here that he (and all believers) are no longer under the judgment of the world system that has been judged by God. Unbelievers in the world are not on trial awaiting God’s verdict, they are under His judgment and wrath now (John 3:18, 36) unless they repent and receive Christ as Savior. “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) and this is true for all believers; substitutionary atonement. God credits Christ’s death for sin to my account and then credits me with Christ’s righteousness. (2 Cor. 5:21) And Paul is also saying that he is crucified to the world system (Gal. 5:24) in the sense he no longer values what the world tells us to value. It no longer pulls on him to have his needs met as he walks in the Spirit. “Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”( 1 John 2:15-17 The Msg.)
“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.” (vv. 15-16) So Paul reiterates that the law means nothing for our acceptance with God for we have been born again and now are led and empowered by the Spirit to obey the Lord (“who follow this rule”- means following the indwelling Holy Spirit not external rules.). The “Israel of God” does not mean that the church replaced Israel (See Rom. 11). This refers to Jews who have received Jesus as Messiah and are a part of the church.
“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.”(vv. 17-18) “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Cor. 11:23-30) This was what Paul suffered for obedience to God, not for God’s discipline for his sin. It may help us to recall this when we suffer for the Lord.
Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD’S WORD
On a scale of 1(low) to 10 (high) how confident are you of your relationship with God both now and for eternity? Explain your answer.
Explain the difference between Christianity and religion?
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”(Gal. 5:24) “Through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Paul is also saying that he is crucified to the world system (Gal 5:24) in the sense he no longer values what the world tells us to value. It no longer pulls on him to have his needs met as he walks in the Spirit. “Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”(1 John 2:15-17 The Msg.) Tim Keller says “crucifying the flesh” means identifying and dismantling our idols. Idols are things we want/need/seek after to gain self-worth apart from the gospel. What idols have you renounced and where do you still struggle with “things of the world” for self-worth?
“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” (v.16) When you are alone with the Lord give thanks to Him for the suffering you have gone through for His sake and honor.
Scripture memory verse: “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.” (Galatians 6:14)