This Sunday, God-willing, we will complete Galatians at FBC. It is a sweet time, but also difficult. I have really enjoyed preaching through this book and working through the theological and practical implications of being justified in Christ apart from any works. So this week we plan to look at 6:11-18. I have loved my prep time this week. I have also been very convicted in my own life from my study. I would like to point out a very real truth that I fear many in the church today have abandoned based on this text.
There are two different types of people in this text. There are the false teachers (teaching the people they must be circumcised in order to be saved), and then there is Paul (trusting in the death of Christ alone for salvation). But what I have found striking about those two types of people is the motivation for going where they are. For the false teachers Paul writes in verse 12, "It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ." Two things stand out from that verse. First is that they want to have people circumcised so they can boast in their flesh. The second is that they do this so they can avoid persecution.
On the other hand is Paul. Paul refused to boast in his flesh. In fact, Paul says in verse 14, "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." His only boast is in the very thing that the Judaizers were trying to avoid. They didn't want to be persecuted for the cross of Christ (vs. 12) so they added to the cross and were accepted by the other Jews, and Paul says I will not back down from persecution and avoid the cross. In fact, he goes on to say in verse 17, "From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." Paul not only did not boast in his flesh but rather the cross, he also did not avoid persecution but rather was branded under the ownership of Christ.
In many churches today (at least in the West) we have taught that the Lord wants us to be safe and therefore we move away from the hard places. We have said it is right that we place our children, homes, spouses, etc. in the safest of neighborhoods. I am sure the Lord leads some of us there. But is our motivation to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ? Have we used Him to get out of taking the gospel to those who need to hear? May we be more like Paul and bear the marks of Christ on our bodies than like the false teachers who cared more about boosting their numbers than the salvation of souls!