Re: What Do You Boast In? – Gal 6:11-18
This past Sunday, we concluded our series of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The question was asked, “What do you boast in?” Though boasting is often viewed in a negative light, it does not necessarily require such a connotation. The question can be rephrased, “What do you find your greatest confidence, satisfaction, or hope in?” As Paul closes his letter, he exposes the Judaizers' boasting in their flesh, while also revealing that he boasts as well. His boasts, however, is not in the flesh, but in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! As we went through this passage on Sunday, there was much I wanted to share and also some I wanted to emphasize more but was unable to because of time. So here we are =)
The Judaizers boasted in their flesh in order to make a good showing (12a) and gain the praise of others, but they also boasted in their flesh to avoid be persecuted for the cross of Christ (12b). What is it about the cross of Christ that draws such persecution? At first glance, the message seems to be one of God’s love in sending Jesus to die for us, however, upon further examination we see that there is much more. John Stott, in his commentary on Galatians, writes:
Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying,’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.
And of course men do not like it. They resent the humiliation of seeing themselves as God sees them and as they really are. They prefer their comfortable illusions. So they steer clear of the cross. They construct a Christianity without the cross, which relies for salvation on their works and not on Jesus Christ's. They do not object to Christianity so long as it is not the faith of Christ crucified. But Christ crucified they detest. And if preachers preach Christ crucified, they are opposed, ridiculed, persecuted. Why? Because of the wounds which they inflict on men’s pride.
Later in the passage, Paul writes how neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision matter, but a new creation (15). This verse is a wakeup call for us today, as much of our “Christianity” is focused on our work and external actions. Yet when Paul explains that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, he is not referring to a prayer that we once prayed, attending Sunday School or fellowship, carrying a Bible, or even serving at church. He is referring to a transformation, a change in nature, desire, and priorities that stems from a change in heart. Again, John Stott so powerfully explains:
Throughout history God’s people have tended to repeat the same mistake. They have debased a religion of the heart into a superficial, outward show, and God has repeatedly sent His messengers to reprove them and to recall them to a spiritual and inward religion. This was the great fault of Israel in the eighth and seventh centuries BC, when God through the prophets complained, “this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me (Isa 29:13). Jesus applied this Scripture to the scribes and Pharisees of His day and exposed their hypocrisy (Mk 7:6-7). . . And so much contemporary “churchianity” is the same-dry, dull, dismal and dead, largely external show. Indeed, it is natural to fallen men to decline from the real, the inward and the spiritual, and to fabricate a substitute religion which is easy and comfortable because its demands are external and ceremonial only. But outward things matter little in comparison with the new creation or the new birth.”
As we begin this new year, let us boast in the cross of Christ as new creation in Christ Jesus.