GRACE TO GROW
Boast in the Cross
Jerry A Collins
v What is the contrast between Paul and the Judaizers?
v What are the brand marks that Paul carries on his body?
v What motives do false teachers have?
Everyone likes to boast in something or someone. We are nearing another football season and I will not be boasting in the lions. We would like to boast in the Tigers but they have recently lost 8 of 11 after such a stellar first half of the year. Think about what you boast in often. For a believer, boasting should naturally be in Christ. This week during breakfast with a couple of fellow believers the conversation drifted toward our mutual need to boast in Christ. We thot about our salvation, then God’s daily provisions, then prayer, and faith and the Word—all of that meant boasting in God alone. We are absolutely nothing without Him. We will have to constantly put the brakes on boasting in anyone else. This book concludes with the outcome of a holy life—boasting in Christ not ourselves.
1. DON’T MANIPULATE PEOPLE BY A DISPLAY OF SPIRITUALITY
Letters 11 Paul now takes the pen
in hand from his stenographer and writes the rest of this letter instead of the
mere farewell greeting usually given. Writing with large letters probably means
he wanted to take charge here and give particular attention to this closing
paragraph. He may even have written this conclusion in large caps as a way to
emphasize his thots here. He returns to the subject
of his opponents in
Make a good showing 12 He examines his opponents—they only desire to make a good outward show. In chapter one we learn they want ‘the approval of men’—that is, they want to cater to those they think are important. Jesus said about these ‘you clean the outside of the cup and dish but they are full of greed and self-indulgence inside’ Matthew . By the way, if you own a favorite coffee it, it is usually stained on the inside over time even though the outside design remains intact and appealing. Human observers usually only see the outside of the thing. If that is the crowd you want to please then you will follow the rules to do so. But remember this—God is absent from the whole thing. So these opponents want to manipulate others to think and act as they do. Here it is to get circumcised—that is their brand mark. This is what sets them apart and find respect among their crowd. One purpose for this is that these opponents are afraid to be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Circumcised believers will not get persecuted nearly as much by Jews as uncircumcised ones would. So false teachers promoted this outward sign for believers. You cannot tell the story of Christ without the cross and the cross is our only badge of honor. The cross is a place of rejection, ridicule, and resistance. When we preach it we will be marginalized, misunderstood.
your flesh 13 As before, if you
determine to live by the law then you must live according to all of it—you
cannot pick and choose. And the OT already displayed that no one can do that.
Everyone fails even these OT judaizing hypocrites. It
is impossible for them to do so 5:2-3. But these opponents have still another
agenda for this outward display of spirituality. It is that they may boast in
the circumcision of others they have manipulated. Their intention is to take
control by using their religious authority over people. They can then tally
their numbers of followers, keep track of the amount of their converts, and
subdue a group of followers—like a pyramid scheme. They get to rise higher as
people come into line underneath them. So their interest is really only in
getting people to follow them so they can build themselves up in the process
and look good in the eyes of the ones they are trying to please. Remember that
even Peter got caught up in this in chapter two when the circumcision party
visited town. Peter removed himself from the gentile group of believers to
avoid the grief he mite get from these Judaizers for
hanging around this uncircumcised group when he returned to
2. RECOGNISE TOTAL RELIANCE ON CROSS TO DELIVER YOU
Boast in the cross 14 The only outward show worth mentioning is the one Christ displayed on the cross. Make that the object of your affection. For the judaizer, the cross was an object of shame. For us it is an object to glorify! Here the cross speaks of the whole doctrine of justification. Jesus was our substitute, redeemer, deliverer, sacrifice, sin-bearer, Savior. The whole package. So we do not boast of controlling and manipulating others. We do not boast of the size of the circle of influence we have. We boast of God the Son who in the flesh died a criminals death—one I deserved to have. It is all because of Him. Because of the cross the world system lost its appeal to Paul and he had lost his appeal to the world. The world’s allurements were crucified and Paul was crucified—the only thing that mattered now was Christ!
New creation 15 In view of this crucifixion no outward symbol was significant anymore-only that something had changed on the inside. Namely, becoming a new creation not bringing any of the old along with it like circumcision. W get to say no to tradition and legalism and rule keeping. We are entirely different people with an entirely different allegiance. We now have a new reason to live. A new passion for life and a new source of strength. I do not expect this world’s thinking to pay off. It does not persuade me any longer and it does not respect me any longer. So I do not have to try and please this world any more.
Peace and mercy 16 Instead of making a show outwardly I will boast only in what the Savior has done for me. This is the rule I will live by now. I will trust him and pray to him and serve him and obey him. I can expect God’s peace and His mercy in my life when I do. So can every believer and even the Jewish ones-the Israel of God. If you want God’s peace and mercy then live this way as His child!
Marks of Jesus 17-18 One set of marks was circumcision. But the marks here are from stones, chains, cuts, bruises, beatings, scrapes, and robbery that were badges of ownership he had for Christ. These revealed he was no man-pleaser but a slave of Christ. Not a manipulater of people but reliant upon Christ! These are scars of honor. So which is it? Self promotion by outward manipulation or a new creation persecuted for Christ and glorified with Him?
1. False teachers always have ulterior motives to gain a following and make themselves look important 12-13.
2. A xians view of the world is dependent upon his outlook on crucifixion of Christ 14 Col 2:20.
3. World has been cut off from us in two directions—me to it and it to me. Don’t try to please it and don’t expect it to be pleased with you—unless you compromise Christ and the Word.
4. External rituals in themselves are nothing. The crucial issue is a nee creation.
5. You can expect God’s peace and mercy when you live with understanding that you need to rely upon Christ is total not partial.