Sunday, July 05, 2015

Offence of the Cross - Galatians 5:11-12

"But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves." (Galatians 5:11-12)
Paul refers to the stumbling block, or the offence, the cross represents to other people. How could something that represents such great strength and power from God and such great grace and forgiveness towards men be an offense or cause of stumbling to anyone? Its because it is not what it represents that causes their stumbling but what it requires that offends them. The cross testifies of our complete inability to save ourselves and our total dependency on God for our forgiveness and salvation. The cross testifies of what God did in our place since we were incapable of doing it ourselves. As such, the cross also demands our all. You cannot receive a cross in part, you must receive it all, even to the point of death; a death in dying to yourselves and the world that you might live to God.

For those who want just enough religion to save them but not enough to cause them to change their lifes, the cross is offensive because it testifies of the foolishness of what they seek. The Judaizers desires the good things of the Kingdom but wanted to retain their prideful self righteousness that made them seem better than others in their own eyes. To them, Paul and his message was a thorn in their side for he continually preached the folly of trying to save oneself. He taught that the Law was not strong enough and the will too weak to effect salvation. One must humble themselves in total submission and trust of the Son of God. This meant that, because salvation could not be earned, there was left no reason left for one to boast. Paul reveals their true motives. "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." (Galatians 6:13) However, in Christ, all such boasting has been brought to an end. "God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. "(1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

Finally, Paul shows some of his frustration for those who depended upon the law. Since they placed such a high value on circumcision, they might as well just go ahead and amputate themselves. Yes, if you are feeling a bit queasy or squirmish right now then you understood him correctly. However, Paul is driving home a very important principal. Speaking of the Law and its regulations against the flesh, Paul writes, "These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh." (Colossians 2:23 NKJV) We can punish the body all we want; we can submit it to fastings, flagellation, circumcision, and the like; but it will have no effect on our soul where our lusts and passions lie. The problem is not with our flesh; it is our inner man where sin is conceived and birthed. Circumcision values nothing where it really counts; in leading us to holiness. Therefore let us be done with the law and even amputate it from our lives and let us lay hold of that which has true power and true hope for righteousness. Let us lay hold of Christ and his love, forgiveness, and grace for us. Herein is the true power to righteousness.

David Robison

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