Study 57: Gal.6:14-17
The world or the cross
But God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world
is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ
Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk
according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon
the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for
I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
The false brethren wanted to glory in others,
forcing them to follow their line of thinking and
practice. In contradistinction Paul says what he
glories in. Although an apostle, a founder of many
assemblies and father of many in the faith (I Cor. 4:15),
he refused to glory in any of them or of his achievements,
rather his glorying was in the cross of the Lord Jesus
Christ. This, the fruit of a man walking in the Spirit,
one who is dead to himself and his self promotion.
1. The Glory
The false brethren boasted in their followers, Paul in
the cross. The insistence on circumcision was clearly
an attempt at 'DIY' salvation, it rejected the Cross as
God's only way of salvation. It was trying to do
something to help God out, if we may be allowed to put
it like that. Such a notion, if permitted, would mean
that the flesh would have a right to glory in this
vital matter of salvation. Yet the whole message of
Galatians is that this is definitely not the case.
Salvation is all of
God, without any input from man.
glorying is in the Cross - God's way of salvation, and
the only way. Boasting in the cross means an end to all
the flesh and and self effort. Read Paul's very
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in
the Lord. To write the same things to you,
to me indeed is not grievous, but for you
it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of
evil workers, beware of the concision.
For we are the circumcision, which worship
God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Though I might also have confidence in
the flesh. If any other man thinketh that
he hath whereof he might trust in the
flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth
day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe
of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as
touching the law, a Pharisee;
Concerning zeal, persecuting the church;
touching the righteousness which is in the
law, blameless. But what things were
gain to me, those I counted loss for
Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all
things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom
I have suffered the loss of all things, and
do count them but dung, that I may win
Christ, And be found in him, not
having mine own righteousness, which is of
the law, but that which is through the
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is
of God by faith:
Of all the people who could boast and have
confidence in the flesh it was Paul, but he counted it
all but loss. It was of no value, all it did was to
make him a proud Jew and a persecutor of God's people,
thinking he was doing God's service. Paul's own righteousness was
of the law. But now having come into the life of God he
has the righteousness of God through the faith of
Christ. Nothing of self and all of the Saviour! There
is no room for anyone or anything else.
2. The World.
The Cross was an instrument of death, and, here Paul testifies that by
being in Christ he is dead to the world and it to
him. As we read in Romans this is achieved by being
baptised into Christ by Spirit baptism so that on new
birth we are identified with Him. (Rom.6:3;
I Cor. 12:13). This is God's way of
dealing with the human heart: death to the old and
resurrection life into the new. This cannot be achieved
by external observation of rules and regulations but by
true faith in God. The cross brings us into the death
of Christ to self, sin (Rom.6),
the law (Rom.7)
and, as we have here, the world.
In scripture we have
a definition of what is in the world given to us by the apostle
John, and we can apply this to the context of
Love not the world, neither the things
that are in the world. If any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world,
the lust of
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and
pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of
the world. And the world passeth away,
and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the
will of God abideth for ever.
I Jn. 2:15-17
We are told not to love the world, in other words
we are to put any affections we have for the world to the cross.
There are three qualities that John associates with the
2.1 The lust of the
In the wilderness of temptation Jesus was
tempted on this ground, Mtt.4:3-4. The devil wanted Him
to satisfy His fleshly desires and by doing so make His
flesh master. Instead Jesus resisted, stating that He
only moved by His Father's word and not that of the
devil or His bodily desires. In other words Jesus
was not prepared to give in to the desires of the
flesh, not matter how much He suffered, if it meant
disobeying His Father's command.
false teachers, on the other hand, would do
anything to avoid suffering for the sake of the
Gospel. In this case by going back, if they were ever
in it in the first place, from the gospel of grace to
the works of the law. Seeing what it costs to belong to
Jesus, they devised cunningly devised fables to look
righteous but avoid the truth, and the persecution that
follows. This is one aspect of loving the world.
2.2 The lust of the eyes.
The devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world
and offered them to Him on one condition.
that He would worship him. The desire to have what can
be seen, unlike those of true faith who look for a
kingdom that can not be seen. Jesus endured the cross
for the joy that was set before Him. He wasn't looking
at the temporal, but eternal.
teachers look for a kingdom now, they want to have a
following after them and offer many things to those who
would go with them. They are in effect taking the place
of God in people's lives, just as Satan tried that with
Jesus. What a dreadful thing it is for anyone to dare
take God's place in anyone's life. By laying down
rules, regulations and demands on how people should
live is precisely what one does. It is trying to
having a kingdom for oneself in the
immediate and temporal, at the cost of the eternal.
2.3 The pride of life.
Jesus to cast Himself off from the Temple and having
angels to catch Him, the devil was tempting the Lord to
do the spectacular. Mtt.4:5-7. Just imagine what an
impact on the crowds it would have had! Just
as the same cry came from the crowds when He was being
crucified. Mtt.27:39-40. Jesus would, by self effort,
be showing to the world
who He really was, this the pride of the life. But it
wasn't His Father's way. He resisted and was quite
content to rest in His Father's will and way.
Not so the false teachers, they gloried in the
spectacular. They prided themselves in the people that
they made follow them. Their boasting
was in those whom they constrained to be circumcised,
those whom they managed to follow their particular way
of thinking. By having such crowds and seeing their
outward show they persuade more to follow them, and so
were enlarged in their boasting of their
The world is crucified to me
To all this Paul was dead, he had been crucified to
the world and the world to him. None of the claims of
the the lusts of the eyes, flesh or pride of life meant
anything. He was following the one true Master - Jesus, who resisted all
the attempts of Satan to tempt Him to sin. Jesus laid
down any claim and trusted His Father. Likewise Paul was
crucified to all these siren voices.
We too are
called to this. In order to walk by faith, and in the
Spirit we have to be dead to the world and all its
toys. Having being born anew in the first place the
work of God has begun in us, and we are to
continue and resist the temptations of the world. We
have to decide whether to yield to the
temptations of the lusts of the eyes, flesh and the
pride of life, or be crucified to them. Jesus is our
example par excellence, do we want to be
identified with Him? To be like Him means to follow
Him, what choice will we make?
3. The new creation
The false teachers insisted that
outward ritual was the way
to be effective in spiritual things. However the Bible is
emphatic on this point: these outward rituals are not
effectual in spiritual matters, it is the
new birth that avails. Circumcision, which was the
false teachers' thing, was but a symbol of
this new birth Col.2:11-14.
These false brethren were obsessed with
the symbols and outward show, rather than the inward
reality of new life and true righteousness.
How true this is of the human heart, wanting the
outward show and not face the inward reality. Our
discussion above can be applied to much of what goes
for Christianity in these days. However the
important thing is, not to point the finger but, to
first search our own hearts and see that we are right
with God on these matters, and to ensure that we do not
fall into the same error.
4. The marks
Paul says that he bore in his body the Marks of
the Lord Jesus. What were these marks? It is the
context of the passage that reveals to us the true
meaning. Previous to this the apostle was saying that
the false brethren did what they could to avoid
persecution. Paul himself gloried in the cross of Jesus
and on being identified with Him.
We have to
conclude then that Paul is referring to him being
persecuted for the sake of the gospel. This [brand]
marking has nothing to do with the superstitious
'stigmata' of certain religions, albeit that the word
'stigmata' comes from the Greek word used here. Paul is
plainly telling us that the sufferings he endued as one
of Christ's apostles are the marks that he has for
following Christ, rather than the marks the false
brethren boasted of in the flesh of others.
passages of the NT we read of Paul being stoned,
flogged, shipwrecked etc. II Cor. 11:21-27. The
false brethren were trying to place their mark in other
people's flesh, rather than they having the sign of the
cross in theirs. Jesus said that if the world hated Him
then His followers too would be hated by the world.
Jn.18:16-20. Hence the use of Paul's word '[brand]
The brand mark of the true
believer is being identified with Jesus and with all
that it may entail. It can be no other way for we are crucified
to it, and it to us. The world and its system no longer
has any sway of us, we are in a different realm
Jesus identified Himself with
us by His incarnation, life and death. Are we willing
to be identified with Him or the world?