In this letter, he deals with the false teachers who said that you needed to come under the law in order to be saved. There were people trying to convince the church that Christ forgives your sin, but the law makes you acceptable to God.
Paul had an answer for these people that we need to take to heart in this generation.
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
If our focus is on the outward behaviors, then we’ll avoid the cross at all cost. In spite of this, we still want God’s grace to work in our lives. We want to see God’s blessing on our finances, health, jobs, and family.
At that point, our mind tells us that there must be something we can do to obtain God’s blessing. So we put ourselves under all kinds of rules and regulations in order to earn the grace of God.
Here’s why that approach doesn’t work. Under the law, you can live for yourself by invoking a string of technicalities. It’s the same thing the Pharisees of Jesus’ day would do. You simply tell yourself, “I’m okay. I go to church, read the Bible, and live a good life.”
In reality, these people want to avoid the fear of the cross. The word persecuted in the above verse comes from a root word that means to run away or retreat. That tells me that these individuals are cowards who have decided not to embrace the cross. Instead of running from it, we must live in its shadow.
Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Instead of trying to avoid being worldly by our own willpower, we must embrace the cross. Think about what Paul is saying here. The world is nailed to a cross. I’m nailed to another. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get over to that other cross. Neither can the world get to me.
That’s what we do to our flesh by invoking the power of the cross in our lives. When we nail our flesh to the cross there’s a power that’s released to work God’s righteousness in us. It’s not a struggle to keep pure, but reliance upon the Holy Spirit in us.
But we need to remember, we nail our flesh to the cross by the spiritual walk. The more I pray in the spirit, the more my flesh is dealt with.
I can never crucify the flesh with its wants and desires by my will-power. My flesh can’t change itself, no matter how good my intentions are. It can only be accomplished by cooperating with the Holy Spirit.
This is the path to all that God has for you. I’m talking about healings, increase, miracles and the provision of God. It’s everything you need for life and godliness.
It will only come in its fullness as we embrace the pattern laid down by the Lord. We must follow the path of the cross by a walk in the spirit. Allow the Lord to work His pattern of salvation in us. It’s the way to freedom in Him.
Question: What would the church look like if we all embraced the path of the cross?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017