Easter people are made into new creations through crucifixion, even if are living in Good Friday darkness.
Galatians 6:11-18: See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on 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.
Have you ever bought a new pair of shoes that hurt your feet, but you were determined to wear them anyway because they looked really good on you? My wife has some pairs like that, but the more she wears them, the less they hurt. Last summer, I bought a pair of boat shoes, but they hurt so much that I stopped wearing them. Since I was not tough enough to break them in, they sit in our bedroom closet like a decorative piece.
Some of us treat our new life in Christ the same way. Since being Christian in our society could hurt our image, career, and social life, we put it away, like a decorative piece, because of the fear of people and love of the world. But if we continue to wear it, daily we begin to set in the mold that we were created for, because we are a new creation through crucifixion.
In Galatians 6:11-18, Paul admonished the Galatians for compromising their faith. Whether this was to please people or out of fear of persecution, Paul wanted them to know that they were made a new creation through crucifixion.
We have not been made a new creation through crucifixion to be people pleasers or to live in sin, shame, guilt, and fear of people, which will lead to compromising the gospel. We have been set free, and our new life in Christ might be unfamiliar and uncomfortable. However, as we are set in the mold that we were created for, though we learn we might be living in Good Friday darkness, still we are Easter people of hope.
Galatians 6:11-18 shows three distinctives of Easter people who are made a new creation through crucifixion: they have been crucified with Christ, they have been crucified to the World, and they have been crucified for Christ for the World.
Crucified with Christ
As Paul closes this book that we have been studying since September, he takes the pen from the hand of his assistant to write in large capital letters to emphasize that what is written here is not an afterthought but rather an intentionally worded admonition. Verse 11 says, “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.”
Do you ever type or text in all caps? If you do, either you are mad or getting older, like me. I think Paul is yelling at them because he’s upset. Notice the strong language in verses 12-13: “It is those [the false teachers, the Judaizers, the legalists] who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised. Only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.”
Why are these false teachers, posers, and pretenders bullying the Galatians and forcing circumcision on them, a common practice to convert a person to Judaism? Paul says it was to avoid persecution. The Jewish authorities would not hunt them down if they first became Jews. They compromised the gospel because they were afraid and wanted to please people.
You know I come from Pakistan, and I always took pride in the stubbornness of the persecuted church. I remember one time when our church and house were under attack and bullets were flying, and even little children belonging to our church were taunting the invaders that they were not afraid of getting shot.
We may not be hunted down for our faith in Christ in the United States, but I see Christians compromising the message of the cross in an attempt to please people because it can be offensive.
The message of the cross has always been and will always be offensive and scandalous to all that are perishing. The message of the cross is offensive to religious people because it does not differentiate between criminals and upstanding citizens, between those who live a moral life and those who live an immoral life. To them, it is too inclusive. To non-religious people, the message of the cross is offensive because it is disrespectful to dismiss all other religions. To them, the thought that your good works do not matter makes the message of the cross too exclusive.
I don’t blame them because the message of the cross is offensive to the human mind, whether religious or non-religious. It transcends human logic and rationale because it treats all sinners, present or former, the same. Unless you are a new creation through crucifixion, you cannot understand the message of the cross. Through the cross, we receive what we did not deserve, which is our complete forgiveness of all sins, and because of the cross, we did not receive what we did deserve, which is the just wrath of God for our sins.
Do you know what an upper-cut punch is? This is Paul’s upper-cut punch to knock out his opponents, the false teachers. If they had experienced new life in Christ, they would have been crucified with Christ, and as a result, they would not have been boasting about human works but rather about the cross that saves.
Do not be people pleasers because then you will always live in fear of others’ opinions, and you will make compromises.
Crucified to the World
The second distinctive of Easter people who are made a new creation through crucifixion is that they have been crucified to the World. Verse 14 says, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Twice in this passage, Paul uses the word boast. In verse 13, we notice this boasting was in one’s own flesh, that is, what we can do, but here in verse 14 this boasting is in the cross, that is, what Christ has done for us on the cross.
In Greek, the word “boast” is kauchaomai, which also means taking pride. In the Bible, pride is the root of all evil because it distorts the picture of reality—about ourselves, others, and God. Satan was cast out of heaven for pride. In Greek thought, this boasting kauchaomai is motivated by self-interest.
When we are crucified with Christ, then our self-interest will align with God’s, and we will crucify our worldly desires and motives with Christ and boast not in the flesh but in the cross of Christ. To Paul, the cosmos translated in verse 14 as “the world” represents worldly desires, pleasures, seductions, riches, fears, and all other worldly affairs.
New Paul has no fear of man, no love for worldly affairs, and no reason to boast in anything but the cross where he was crucified with Christ and the world was crucified to him. Can we say that with the same confidence?
Boasting in works or the cross comes down to what you believe is the gospel. As I have explained before, the false gospel said: believe, obey, and be saved. The false teachers put the focus on obeying, which demands work and human efforts to be saved. The problem with doing good deeds is, we do good, but God is good. He is the source of good. Now you tell me how we can ever boast of doing good before the source of good. It is like comparing a 60-watt light bulb with the sun.
Paul preached the gospel of grace that said: believe, be saved, and obey. He put the emphasis on believing because only by believing in Jesus are we justified before God. This means we are declared completely innocent of present, past, and future sins, and instantly, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the triune God, begins our sanctification.
If you still boast, if you take pride in your human works, then you have not been crucified to the world because when we solely believe in Christ’s work for our salvation, our sanctification, and glorification, we have no reason to boast in anything but the cross.
New Creation through Crucifixion
The third distinctive of Easter people who are made a new creation through crucifixion is that they have been crucified for Christ for the World. Verse 15-18 says, “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on 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.”
In these verses, Paul gets right down to the source of their boasting in the flesh and circumcision: their racial pride. They could not see God’s vision for the nations or God’s heart for all people everywhere because they divided the world between Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised, pure and impure, the law bearers and the lawless.
In verse 15, Paul says it does not matter whether one is a Jew or not, circumcised or not. The Messiah has come to die on the cross for everyone everywhere, so whoever believes in Him has eternal life and is a new creation. Paul was persecuted for preaching this Messiah of the World.
In verse 17, he says, “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” The word Paul used for “marks” is stigmata. In his time, masters would burn their names as a brand mark into the skin of their slaves. The false teachers were slaves to the law so they avoided persecution by bearing the mark of circumcision.
Paul’s master was Jesus and the mark he bore was the cross where His master died to give him life. Hence like his master he endured lashes, hardships, and even death. Through the cross, Christ has created a new creation that is free of racial, religious, and regional boundaries.
Listen to Romans 3:22-26, starting at the end of verse 22, “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith… It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Here we have two of the most fundamental theological concepts regarding the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross: propitiation and expiation. Propitiation in Romans 3:25 is the appeasement of God’s just wrath toward sin. Expiation is the removal of sin or guilt. The sacrifice of God the Son on the cross satisfies the justice of God the Father to pay for sins and to remove our guilt to reconcile the world to Himself.
We see this dual function of propitiation and expiation of atonement in the Old Testament in Leviticus 16:8-10. Aaron was told on the Day of Atonement to take two goats and cast lots. One goat was sacrificed, and the other was prayed over and sent into the wilderness, carrying away the sins of the people; thus, temporarily, sins were both paid for and removed. It was done in anticipation of the Messiah, who has come, died on the cross, and rose again. He is the sacrificed lamb and the living lamb of God, who takes away our sins.
What is the application? Don’t carry any other mark than the mark of the cross to present yourself before God and man, or else you will remain condemned. You were saved for Christ to be a living sacrifice for the World.
A young lady was brought before the judge in court. She was happy to see it was her father. She said to her dad, the judge, “Yes, I was speeding and ran through the red light, but you know I am a good person. I feed the hungry and have obeyed the law my whole life, except this one offense.” What do you think the judge would do? Which is going to win out, his love or his justice? The judge said it doesn’t matter how good you are, for this one offense, you stand guilty before me, so he charged her guilty and fined her $500 or a week in jail. The young lady could not understand.
She didn’t have the money, but when the bailiff was about to take her away, the judge took off his robe, came down from behind the bench, gave her his credit card, and said, charge it to my account. What she owed to his court, her dad, the judge, paid in full. God executes perfect justice and does not overlook even a small evil deed, but in and through the cross, He pays for every sin.
We are set in the mold that we were created for before the foundation of this world to be more like Christ. Unless you have been crucified with Christ, crucified to the World, crucified for Christ for the World, you will continue to live your lives in sin, shame, guilt, and fear of people, which will lead you to compromise the gospel to please people.
Let me close with this: Since God is fully just and fully love, on the cross, God’s justice and love were fully realized in the substitutionary atonement of Christ to secure your salvation, achieve forgiveness for your sins, and to attain eternal life for you, this leaves us with no other reason to boast in any human works but the cross. Only through the resurrected Christ’s victory over sin and death do we see the cross as not an occasion for grief but for boasting.
So, boast in the cross, boast in the resurrection, and boast in the new life in Christ by living it to the fullest to show the world how new creation through crucifixion is not improved humanity. It is a brand-new creation in Christ that never existed ever before.
Now, to all the backsliders and those who have yet to receive Jesus, I say this, His death on the cross and resurrection dealt with the wrath of God toward your sins to remove the guilt to extend forgiveness. It is offered freely. You can receive it freely today. Right now is the time.
Before God, the amount of your sins and the nature of your sins matter not. On the cross, Christ has paid it all. The only thing that really matters is whether you believe. So, believe, be saved, and obey Jesus. Jesus died the death that we deserved to offer us the life we don’t deserve.
Galatians 6:6-10: Belonging to the Family of Faith
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