I Will Glory In The Cross
“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
Paul wrote these words to the churches in Galatia about what the Judaizers boasted in, and, in contrast, what he boasted in. The Judaizers—the worst enemies of the gospel in the early church—had more in common with the Pharisees and priests than they did with the apostles, including Paul. They spread their false gospel of law to all the Gentile churches they could. They taught that Gentiles needed to be circumcised and follow Jewish laws and traditions to be justified and sanctified (Acts 15:1; Gal. 3:1-5; 4:10).
If the Judaizers had disavowed the necessity of circumcision, they would have been excommunicated from the synagogues, exploited financially, and probably harmed physically by the Jewish leadership. If they preached the atoning work of Christ on the Cross, they would have been persecuted, not only by the Jews but also by the Romans. Christianity was not a legal religion under Roman law. Paul never said anything positive about the Judaizers. He never said words like, “They truly do love Jesus, but are just ignorant of the new covenant.” He never said words like, “They preach the Cross for salvation, but not for sanctification.”
No, Paul had no kind words for them because they were wrong on everything as it concerned the gospel. They preached “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6-7) of law and, as a result, they preached “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4).
Paul wrote that they didn’t preach the Cross because they didn’t want to suffer persecution. He also wrote that they wanted Gentiles to get circumcised and follow their teaching so that “they may glory in your flesh” (Gal. 6:13). In other words, they wanted groups of Gentiles that they could call their own: “These Gentiles are our disciples. They follow us. We have changed them.” That prideful spirit of the Judaizers is still prevalent in the church today.
In contrast to the Judaizers, Paul used the strongest language he could use. He began Galatians 6:14 with, “But (strong contrasting conjunction) God forbid ….” The words “God forbid” in this context mean “Certainly not! May I never have that repulsive thinking.” Then Paul wrote, “that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” The word glory is the Greek word kauchaomai, which means “to speak well of; to draw attention to; to boast, glory, or praise over a privilege or possession.” Kauchaomai could be used in a negative way or a positive way. It’s the word used for what the Judaizers did in Galatians 6:13.
Again, in the strongest language, Paul wrote that he gloried and boasted only in the atoning death of Christ on the Cross. That didn’t mean that Paul didn’t glory in the person of Christ, His resurrection, or any of the characteristics of God. We can glory in and praise God for who He is and everything He has done in our lives. Paul’s point was that he glories in what the enemy refuses to glory in. He gloried in the Cross because every blessing we receive, namely death to the old man and life and being raised to resurrection life, has come through the Cross of Christ. Christ’s Cross became Paul’s cross, and Christ’s life became Paul’s life. He wasn’t referring to the piece of wood, nor was he establishing a doctrinal creed in word only. By glorying in the Cross, he was also glorifying the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s reasons for glorying in the Cross of Christ are the same reasons why we should glory in the cross of Christ:
1. As already stated, every blessing we receive, namely death to the old man and life and being raised to resurrection life, has come through the cross of Christ (Gal. 2:20; 6:14; Rom. 6:3-11). We glory in the Cross because it was there that Christ provided the means for our lives to be changed.
2. It was at the Cross that God manifested His love for the world, and us personally. His love for us was the reason why Christ died (Gal. 2:20; I Jn. 4:10). We glory in the Cross because it was there He showed how much He loves us.
3. It was at the Cross that Christ paid our sin debt completely. Immediately before Jesus died, He cried out, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30). “It is finished” literally means “the debt is paid.” Jesus was “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
4. It was at the Cross that Jesus fulfilled every aspect of the law on our behalf. Mankind couldn’t be righteous before God by keeping the law because we are inherently lawbreakers. So Jesus did what we could not do (Rom. 8:3). He was born perfect, lived perfect, and it climaxed in His atoning perfect death.
5. Finally, we glory in the Cross because it constantly shows us that our own works are insufficient (Gal. 2:21). The one “work” that God is looking for from us is that we believe with our whole heart the all-sufficiency of Christ’s death (Jn. 6:29). Every other work we do is to be based on the foundation of our dependent faith in Christ and His Cross (Heb. 11-12:2).