Greetings Beloved what a wonderful day to be alive. Another day to love and to serve Jesus Christ. Another day to experience the love of Christ in our soul. (Rom.5:5) This day, the Lord’s Day, is a picture of heaven, a life of worshiping God. I wonder when we arrive in heaven what the experience of Christ’s love will be then and there. I almost want to say, but I won’t because I am a Presbyterian and know better, I wonder what it will “feel” like? I bet it will feel nice. I bet we will be happy there. Won’t it be wonderful there. 😊
Now this morning we have a passage designed by God the Holy Spirit to enflame our love to God and our love to our fellow man. Paul writes to us about the Cross of Christ, which is the expression of God’s love for sinners. (I Jn.4:7-13) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and that whosoever shall believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life. (Jn.3:16,36, Rom.8:1)
Galatians 6:11. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
Christ Himself taught us as His disciples to pray and to come to God as our heavenly and holy and loving Father for everything that we need and desire. So let’s go to the Father now through the Son in reliance upon the Spirit, pray.
The meaning of the cross of Christ.
Before we begin to unpack our passage, I want us to see the governing truth that governs the apostle Paul. And that is the cross of Jesus Christ.
V.12, 14. When Paul says “the cross of Christ” he is referring to the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. He is referring to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the fundamental truth about the Good News of Jesus Christ is that He atones for the sins of sinners by His substitutionary death upon the Cross.
The good news of the cross is that Christ receives from God the wages of our sin – death. And we then receive from Christ what He merited – eternal life.
This is the Gospel that Paul has been so vigorously defending in this entire epistle against the legalist corrupters of the true gospel. You remember, the false teachers told the Galatians Christians that in order to be saved that they must believe in Jesus, plus they must be circumcised, and they must also keep the law of Moses. (Acts 15:1-5) Jesus plus, plus, plus, plus.
Oh Beloved, once you add anything to the merits of Christ you lose Christ. Once you start adding anything to the cross of Christ, the additions are never ending.
You see these false teachers, who were also false Christians told people to partly trust in the work of Jesus and then to partly trust in their own religious works.
Beloved, I hope if you have been with us in these past 27 sermons that if nothing else you have got that a false gospel of salvation is partly faith in the obedience of Jesus and partly your own obedience. Law plus gospel is law, which means damnation for the sinner.
Christ alone saves. He saves by paying for all of our sins and all of our righteousness alone. True Christianity is essentially what God does for us – Christ dies for us.
Beloved, there are many diverse truths in the Bible. But there is one main truth of holy Scripture and that is the good news of the cross of Christ. Christ pays for our sins by His blood. Believe upon the name of Christ and you will be saved.
Every other truth in the Bible is secondary and tertiary to the Gospel. Every other truth in the Bible is subordinate and somehow subservient to the Gospel, meaning they serve to promote the Gospel of salvation from sins.
Make sure in your Christian faith that you know the gospel of the Cross and that is the animating truth of your life.
Let’s see how this gospel of the cross or this gospel of our justification by faith alone in Christ alone governs this passage. Indeed, how it governs Paul. And how it affects others.
The importance of the cross of Christ.
We come now to the final section of the Galatian letter. And remember it is a letter, it is not a book per se. This is a personal letter from the apostle Paul to the churches in the region of Galatia. And when I say personal, I do not mean casual or informal and certainly not secular.
The apostle Paul writes in his official capacity as an apostle of Jesus Christ to churches in Christ. I would say this, Paul as an apostle, which is an extraordinary church officer, is a public person. That is to say, as a minister of Christ and a minister of the word he always represents Christ, every where and every time. He must live upon the Cross and live to serve the Cross. Oh, who is sufficient for such things. No one. Oh, may Christ be our sufficiency.
This is a religious letter of religious instruction from a religious teacher to religious people.
Beloved, I realize not every Christian is called by God to be an official preacher or teacher of God’s word, such that they would have to be ready in season and out of season to represent the truth of Christ when asked. (Eph.4:11, James 3:1I Cor.12:1-31)
But as professing Believers we always represent Jesus Christ, in all places and in all times. And all Believers should be ready to give an account to everyone about our hope in Christ, in a truthful and winsome and loving way. (I Pt.3:15) You are Beloved Believer a solider of the Cross.
There is really no such thing as secular versus sacred for the true Believer. All of our life is religious for us that love the Lord. We are called by Christ to devote ourselves body and soul to Him as a living sacrifice. Whether we eat or drink, buy or sell, everything is to reflect to the honor of God in Christ, what we believe about God and the kind of life we live. (Col.3:23-24)
As a Believer in Jesus, I do not want you to think of any part of your life as insignificant. In fact, I want just the opposite. I want you to truly believe that every part of your life is a platform to serve Jesus Christ, every breath you take is an opportunity to glorify God. Even when you are down, even when you are so low you cannot see a way out, even then – we can shine for Christ. Even a groan to Christ brings Him glory.
As a Believer in Jesus the Bible says that you are a royal son our daughter of God, a holy people and priesthood unto God. (Rev.1:6, 5:10, Isa.61:6, I Pt.2:9, Exod.19:6) We have the life of Christ in us. (Gal.2:20) Our whole life is to be our sacrifice of thanksgiving. The hotter the furnace, the harder the trial, the blacker the days only makes the power of the Cross stronger in your life.
The enemies and the pain and the opposition only draw you closer to Christ. They make you renounce all your hope in self and in man – you fix your eyes on Calvary. Oh, the Blood. God did not spare His only Son. He gave Him for you. Surely weary Believer He will come to your aid in your hour of need. (2 Cor.12:7-11)
Don’t worry about getting any acknowledgement or glory from man whether believing or unbelieving man for your service, just love to serve because you love Christ. Christ knows. And that is our glory. (I Cor.15:58)
Now the last thing I want to say about Paul writing this letter is something that he says himself. Paul says he personally wrote this letter with his own hands. We know from other letters that Paul used a scribe, a common practice in the ancient world. He dictated the word of God to another fellow and that man then actually did the writing.
In the epistle to the Romans Paul’s scribe actually identifies himself.
Romans 16:22. I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.
Tertius means “third” in Latin. (Acts 20:4 – Secundus, Rom.16:23 – Quartus)
Paul says that he personally wrote this letter as evidenced by his large writing style. People often remark that Paul (probably) wrote with such large letters because he had an eye problem as he seems to allude to in Galatians 4:13-15.
But the idea is that the subject of the cross of Jesus is so intensely personal and so vitally important that he wants the Galatians to know this by his personally writing this letter.
What changed Pharisee Saul into the apostle Paul? Was it Paul’s own good works? Was it Paul’s own law-keeping? No. V.13. He says, the Pharisees, of which he was one, do not keep the law of God. They break the law of God. You cannot pay for you law breaking with law breaking for your righteousness. No mere man can keep the law of God the way God requires.
Paul in Philippians 3:1-14, says that he considers all works-righteousness or law-righteousness to be rubbish or dung next to the righteousness of Christ crucified. (I Cor.2:1, Rom.1:16-17, 10:1-17)
You see this is why natural man hates the Cross of Christ so much, because the Cross indicts all of man’s so called good works as nothing but shiny sins.
Listen to what he tells the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 1:17. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
And you remember as well, Paul opened by reminding these sinning Galatians that what changed them from being pagans worshiping false gods to children of the true God was the Gospel of the Cross. (Jn.1:10-13) And they have forgotten that. And they have been tricked by a false self-righteous gospel, which is not the gospel and not saving. (Gal.1:3-9)
The offense of the cross of Christ.
Thus far we have focused on what I would call the wonders or the mercies of Christ’s saving and atoning and reconciling sacrifice. The very first instant we truly believed in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins then we are forever joined to the Triune God of heaven and earth. (Col.1:13, Jn.3:17, Jn.10-13, Rom.5:1-10, Eph.2:1-10)
And now in Christ, God is our Father, Christ is our brother, and the Spirit is our comforter and counselor. And every blessing of God is yes and amen to us in Jesus! (WSC 32-38)
But Paul is quick to remind the Galatians and us that both the preaching of the Cross and the believing in the complete atoning sacrifice of Jesus comes with a very real and often times a very painful cost. We do not pay for our salvation. But we do in fact, bear a cost to follow Jesus in an anti-Christ world being deceived by Satan.
Even Jesus Christ tells those that hear Him preach His own Good News that they should count the cost before they come to Him. Christ says all that desire to follow Me must pick up their cross daily, deny themselves daily, and follow Him daily. Going where He leads. (Lk.14:25-35)
The next thing I want us to see is the offense of the cross of Christ. Look at the language that God the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to use.
Galatians 6:12. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:17. From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.
Christ was persecuted.
The Bible states clearly that Christ was hated and He was opposed. Jesus was rejected by both Jews and Gentiles. Christ was condemned to die by both Jews and Gentiles. Think of all the abuse Christ received, verbal, physical, and spiritual.
Now we have to ask, why? Why, what evil did Jesus Christ do that people would hate him so much to crucify Him?
Well, the answer is that Christ did no evil. Christ only did good. Christ is the second Person of the Holy Trinity. As such Christ cannot sin. He is spotless and without blemish. Jesus is altogether perfect and holy. Let me say that last word – and holy. That is our answer. That is why Christ was persecuted.
Lovers of Christ will be persecuted.
That is why all who preach Christ will be persecuted. This is why all who believe in the true Christ and labor to live holy for Christ will suffer. (Phil.1:21, Acts 14:22, 2 Tim.3:2, Jn.16:33) Natural man is unholy and hates holiness and loves sin.
Jesus says, if they hated Me then they will hate you, those that truly love Me. (Jn.15:12-27)
Fallen man is evil.
The persecution of Christ and those who proclaim Christ reveals the true spiritual nature of fallen man. Unconverted people are evil and they hate the Light of Christ. And unconverted people are in the church and out of the church.
God is telling us that apart from God giving man grace to believe, Man hates God. Unconverted men left to themselves hates Christ Jesus. And I mean the real Christ of the Bible. Not the myriads of false Christ’s conjured up by false Christians.
Beloved there are many false Christs in the world. There are many false gospels of Christ in the world. Test every spirit against the word of God. Test every Christ against the Christ of the Word.
Any so-called Christ that appeals to the fallen flesh and is contrary to the Bible is a false Christ. A Christ that winks at sin is a false Christ.
A Christ that admits all into heaven regardless of saving faith is a false Christ. A Christ that takes a place among a multitude of other paths and saviors is a false Christ. And men dead in their sins love their false Christs and hate the true Christ.
A Christ that says He pays for part of your sins and you pay for the other part by your good works is a false Christ. The flesh loves to play lord of their life.
Listen to this. Here is what God says about Man. And this is why they persecute the preachers of Holy Christ.
Romans 3:9. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”
Christ is holy.
You see it is the divinity of Christ and the holiness of Christ that prompted unholy men to hate Him.
Christ is Sin-Bearer.
Christ went around and told people that they must repent of their sins and believe in Him as their Sin-Atoner, as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
Christ is God.
Christ said before Abraham was I AM. Christ said that He is Immanuel God with us.
John 14:6. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Haters of Christ refuse to suffer for Christ.
Notice what Paul says about these false teachers of their false gospel. They preached a false gospel because they did not want to be persecuted for preaching the Cross and the Blood of Christ alone.
False teachers of false gospels are false Christians. They are “Christians” in name only. They are not born again. They are spiritual dead. And not spiritually alive. As such they are not joined to the true Christ. They do not know the true Christ. They have no power. They have no love to Jesus. They are in the flesh and of the flesh. (2 Tim.3:1-13)
Their false Jesus is only for their carnal honor – call me Reverend, call me holy such and so. They preach a false Christ for the material gain, power, prestige, wealth.
They can see that preachers of the true Gospel are hated, even put to death. They want no part of pain and shame. They want no part of cross-bearing for Jesus. They serve mammon. Self is their god. God is not their God.
And so they sell their false form of Christianity that appeals to the flesh. So they can have their heaven on earth. And give people a religion after their own imagination.
The carnal man wants religious rites, religious ceremonies, holy toys and trinkets. Carnal man wants a religion of eternals. Get circumcised. Get baptized. Wear this. Eat that. Oh Beloved, true Christianity is not found in the externals. True Christianity is found in the heart. As Paul says in V.18 grace be with your spirit.
V.15. Natural man hates spiritual Christianity. Natural man brags about the externals of their false religion. God seeks worshipers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
It is a mark of an insincere preacher or under-shepherd that he is unwilling to undergo hardship in his ministry of Christ’s gospel. They are man-pleasers. And not God fearers.
There is a reason beloved, most men that go to seminary never make it into a pulpit. There is a reason beloved that most men that make it into a pulpit are gone within seven years. A tiny fraction of men that start out preaching Christ crucified will retire at the end of their life still proclaiming the Good News of Jesus.
And this is not just for the preacher. All who trust only in the cross of Christ will suffer persecution. All.
Bible preaching and Bible believing is not safe, nor is it popular. Law preaching is hated. Gospel preaching is hated.
These Christians are afraid of the cross. So they preach and teach and believe easy things. Things that the people want to hear. Nice moral stories. Social and cultural lessons. Hints to be happier and healthier in this life. They make up the form of religion that pleases the people. Everyone stays nice and comfortable. Yet, Christ is dishonored. And people are unsaved.
In one way beloved, they are correct. If you tell people religious things that appeals to their flesh, they will like you and say good things about you. What a nice person. So smart. But this is not what they said of Christ. Of Christ they said He was a tool of the devil!
Luke 6:22. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
What different treatment Jesus received by people outside of the visible household of faith and inside the visible household of faith. How were the apostles of Christ treated by Jews and Gentiles? Paul says, they were treated as the off scouring of the earth! (I Cor.4)
We are not saying that faithful preachers and faithful Christians ought to court persecution. No. That is not even normal or sane. No one hated his own body.
Paul tells pastor Timothy this.
2 Timothy 1:7. or God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
The blessings of the cross of Christ.
Unbelievers do not want to pay the cost to follow Christ. But what they do not understand is that there is an eternal cost of not following Christ. And the pain and the shame of not believing and living for Jesus in the eternal estate far outweighs the little suffering we share with Jesus in this life. They will lose their eternal souls for a few days of friendship with the world.
The glory that awaits us makes the opposition we bear for Jesus pale in comparison with what awaits us when we see the Crucified and Risen One. But we do not have to wait until we get to heaven to start enjoying heaven.
We can live on God in Christ here and now. We can enjoy the privileges Christ purchased by His blood here and now. Look at what Paul says lovers of Christ and those cleansed from our sins by His blood enjoy here and now. This is what I am calling the blessings of the Cross. (WCF 21.1)
Death to the world.
By His Cross we are crucified to this world. New creatures in Christ have been rescued from the fallen god of the fallen world. The Cross breaks the bondage of Satan over us. Christ has set us free from the dominion of the devil. We are no longer under his unholy power. (Isa.61:1-2, Jn.8:36, Col.1:13, Eph.2:1-3, 2 Cor.4:4)
Being born again to Jesus the power of the world has been broken over us. We have been translated from darkness into the light. We are no longer enslaved by the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. (1 John 2:16)
Grace, peace, and mercy with God.
V.16-18. Because of the cross we have newness of life with God. The cross of Jesus is our greatest treasure. We are new creatures by His blood. The old has been taken away. The new has come. Amazing GRACE.