Tuesday, 21 June 2016
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
The emphasis of the Greek in this verse is in the word “I.” Paul had just said, “For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.” He now contrasts himself to these false teachers. They boasted in the flesh of those they misled; Paul boasted in Christ’s cross. They boasted in that which only leads from death to death; he boasted in that which leads from death to life. They boasted in that which was carnal; he boasted in that which is spiritual.
His words then reflect the very heart of God’s redemptive plans for man. In man, there is sin, separation, and death. In Christ, there is freedom from sin, adoption as sons of God, and eternal life. There is no other place that anyone should ever make the boasting of their religious life, because only in the cross of Christ is there any true hope.
A question arises as to which it is that Paul is speaking of though in his boasting. Is it the cross or is it the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, should this read “by whom” or “by which?” The Greek allows for either, and so one must refer to the previous verse to really make the proper deduction. The Judaizers had boasted in the flesh based on circumcision. It was where their boast lay. Therefore, as a contrast to that, Paul introduces His boast which is the cross based on crucifixion. Therefore, the term “by which” or “through which” is a better rendering of this verse.
It is the cross of Christ, meaning His work, which we boast in. This in no way diminishes the glory of Christ, but rather highlights it. When we say, “My son got straight A’s,” we are boasting in his accomplishment. And yet, at the same time, we are highlighting the son. Had Christ not suffered and died on the cross, there would be no point of boasting. However, the cross is the instrument of His victory. It is that instrument “by [which] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
We are dead to sin because our sin has been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14). The law which stood against us is no longer in effect because it is Christ who was nailed to the cross, and it is Christ who embodies the law. The boast is in the act; the highlight is on the Son. Charles Ellicott eloquently describes the matter –
“The Apostle is aware that in this he is putting forward a startling paradox. The cross of Christ was “to the Jews a stumbling-block.” They attached to it only ideas of ignominy and shame, and yet it is precisely this of which the Apostle is most proud. He is proud of it as the ground of his salvation, and therefore as the cardinal object of all his hopes and aims.”
The term “the world” here is speaking of the carnal world of the flesh. This is the very thing that the Judaizers boasted in. But such things are ended in Christ’s cross. They are no longer able to trap us and tempt us if we have our focus on Christ. Instead, we are dead to the world through life in the Spirit. Praise God for the cross of Jesus Christ!
Life application: Memorize this verse.
Lord God, there is only one thing which I will boast in concerning my relationship with You. That is the work of Jesus Christ, culminating in the cross. He was born under the law, but without Adam’s inherited sin. He lived under the law without violating it. He died in fulfillment of the law on Calvary’s cross. As He embodied the law, the law was nailed to the cross with Him. I will never (no never ever) boast in deeds of the law. Rather, I will boast in the cross of Jesus Christ my Lord, and in Him alone will I find my rest. Amen.