Nothing but the Cross

Paul writes to the Galatians a letter, so full of inspiration, that you could write volumes from its pages.

 

I’m going to do something a little different here as I was moved by passages in this chapter in particular but in trying to focus on just a limited number of verses I felt I was missing a too much. Because of that, what I will do is go through the entire 6th chapter of the book segment by segment and comment accordingly.

 

The letter from Paul to the Galatians was one of Paul’s earliest letters to the churches.  The exact time of its writing is not determined but the popular thought is that it was approximately 50 AD.

 

Galatians focuses a great deal on Freedom in Christ opposed to bondage to a new set of rules or the old law.

Galatians 5:1 (CSB)

For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.

 

As we come to the 6th chapter in the book Paul exhorts the Galatian Church (and likewise you and I) to focus on what Jesus has accomplished on the cross and steering clear of legalistic controversy.

 

Let’s look closer…

 

Bear and Share the Burdens

Galatians 6 (NKJV)

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.

Verses 1: Trespass & restore – Trespass (paraptoma) means a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (willful) transgression; - fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass.  Restore here comes from the word katatizo which means to complete thoroughly, repair, or adjust – fit, frame, mend, (make) perfect (-ly join together), prepare, restore.

 

Paul is exhorting the faithful to directly involve themselves in the recovery of a brother or sister that ‘slips’ on the path Jesus sets forward for them. The word being translated into ‘restore’ is some fairly strong involvement as what leaps out at you is ‘complete thoroughly’!  This is some serious discipleship Paul is charging us with.

 

Paul goes further and warns us to maintain vigilance over ourselves while helping this brother or sister and ‘consider’ (take heed) that we don’t fall into temptation in the process.

 

The enemy is always attacking us and as we are lifting up another he is especially interested in causing problems as he has successfully distracted that brother or sister and your efforts are in direct conflict with his objective; he will attack you.  Make no mistake.

 

Verse 2 & 3: ‘Bearing one another’s burdens’ is critical if the process of doing so fulfills ‘the law of Christ’.  Thinking of our position being elevated in the equation is a pit fall that makes us nothing short of delusional.

 

Verse 4 & 5: Taking the advice in 2 & 3 to the next level, make sure that we look at our efforts from a critical perspective so we can know without hesitation.  Everyone in this body of Christ needs to pull their own load.

 

Be Generous and Do Good

6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

 

Verse 6: Paul uses the teacher and the student illustration to point out that regardless of the role all the brethren are to be treated equally.

 

Verse 7: Again another caution from Paul appears in verse 7, regardless of how things appear on the outside; you will see the outgrowth of what your do.  Pursuit of desires of the flesh will result in a harvest of corruption; while persisting in the Spirit will harvest ‘everlasting life’.

 

Verse 9 & 10: Encouragement in verse 9 for us to not tire of doing ‘good’, because in due time we are going to have a harvest from those efforts. Going further in 10, we should take the opportunities as they come to us to do good all but especially for those who share the faith with us.

 

Glory Only in the Cross

11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 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. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

 

Now we get to the meat of the chapter.

 

Verse 11 & 13: This is referring to the arguments concerning the Law regarding circumcision.  Paul is saying some may consider going along to get along a good policy, but their motivation is not to be persecuted for having faith in what Jesus has done on the cross. Paul is making clear here that this is about faith and not what transpires in the flesh in accordance with the law. 

This boasting is all about placing your faith in what you do physically and having your faith vested in those physical acts to provide your redemption.  This was a false teaching a prevalent false teaching at the time as some Jewish Christians were trying to make this ‘New Covenant’ fit into the ‘Old Covenant’ box; and it just will not fit. 

 

Verse 14 & 15: To the contrary, we need to be fully vested in the act of Jesus on the Cross in which He took our sin upon himself.  This is what we are to stand upon and proclaim.  The cross which crucifies us with Christ so that we are dead to the world.  What we do regarding the flesh to ‘work through’ our salvation means nothing to Christ Jesus.  What is critical to Him is that we have faith in what He’s provide via the cross, His burial, and resurrection by which we become a ‘new creation’!

 

Blessing and a Plea

16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Verse 16 – 17: To those who place their faith in Christ’s act on the cross Paul gives this blessing.  He goes on to say basically that he doesn’t wish to hear any more on this subject because he as we should be ‘bear in’ his body ‘the marks of the Lord Jesus’.  In other words, he, as we should be, has been crucified with Christ and it is from that his justification comes for Christ completed the old law.

 

Conclusion

Legalism is a trap cast before us by the enemy.  To be certain there are commands given by Jesus make it abundantly clear that we have guides by which we are to follow that are steeped in both the Old and New Testament.  However, there in is not where we find our salvation or our hope. 

 

Nothing but what was done for us on that cross can save us.  It is only because of Christ’s victory over sin and death that we have an eternal life with Him.  We have nothing to boast about in ourselves. We have done nothing to deserve so great a gift. In totally and in truth it is…

 

Nothing but the Cross!