Thursday, July 16, 2015

Putting on a good show - Galatians 6:11-13

"See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 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 6:11-13)
It is unclear exactly what was the problem with Paul's eyes. However, Paul makes mention of it in this letter when he reminds the Galatians that the reason he stayed with them in the first place was because of of some illness that affected his eyes, for he says, "For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." (Galatians 4:15) Because of this affliction he apparently had to write with large letters which because his signifying mark in all his letters to show that they were authentic and from him. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes, "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter;" (2 Thessalonians 3:17) During the time of the Apostles there were a lot of forged letters being circulated that purported to be from the Apostles, The large letters of Paul's own hand was his mark of authenticity in his letters.

There is a seduction in the law that allows us to appear righteous without actually having to be righteous. All the law requires is external conformity without any real heart change within. Those who preached circumcision preached a very attainable righteousness; all you had to do was be circumcised. It did not require a radical transformation of your heart, it did not require the adoption of a new life style, it only required a mark in your flesh.

While they delighted in their apparent righteousness, the lives of the true believes witnessed against them. Their lives stood as a shining beacon of hope to all who desired real righteousness and exposed the shallow righteousness of those who depended on the law. Fools Gold may look real by itself, but when placed against the real thing its fakery becomes quite apparent. When surrounded by those whom Christ had changed, it became very hard for those who trusted in the Law to continue to assert their own brand of righteousness.

The persecution of the cross is different from the persecution of men. The Greek word for "persecution" means to flee or to pursue. The cross pursues those who trust on the flesh. It witnesses against them. It testifies of their own inability to obtain righteousness. It shows us the depths of our own depravity. So deep is that depravity that nothing other than the death of the Son of God could free us, transform us, and restore us to right standing before God. The cross is an offense to those who trust in the law because it declares the utter futility of what they are pursuing; righteousness apart from Christ.

Those who trust in the law despise our freedom. Only by bringing us back into bondage under the law can they hope to convince themselves that only in bondage can righteousness be found. However, in doing so they nullify the power of the cross and make Christ of no avail to themselves. They boast in your conformity, not because it makes you any better, but because it eliminates the witness of your freedom that testifies against them. Let us not surrender to them. Let us not stop being "the light of the world. A city set on a hill." (Matthew 5:14) Let our lives continue to show what true freedom and righteousness looks like in Christ.

David Robison

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