"But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen." (Galatians 6:14-18)I know no one that goes around boasting that they are circumcised. In fact, during Jesus' and Paul's days there was a booming business in Jerusalem to performed circumcision reversals. This was so that Jewish men could practice, without fear of ridicule, at their local gyms along side the Greek men who also practiced there naked. However, this is not the boasting that Paul is referring too.
The boasting that Paul is referring to is the boasting in how we achieved what ever manor of success, prosperity, or goodness we have arrived at in our lives. Some boast in themselves as the enabler and producer of their success. The Judaizers boasted in the Law as that which gave them righteousness. Still others boast in a method, program, or conference they attended that caused them to turn around and make something of their lives. All of these boast in the means by which they attained that which they attained.
However, Paul understood that the path to true change wasn't through any combination of will, method, or law. True change comes when one is thoroughly and complacently changed on the inside. So great is the stain of the world on our lives that the only hope for us to be different is to be born again of a purer seed. Peter put it this way, "you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 Peter 1:23) The door that opens up this change to us and allows us to be born again as children of God is the cross of Christ. Nothing short of His death and resurrection on our behalf could have sufficed to announce to us the offer of being born again. To change, one must be changed.
There are many people selling the likes of snake oil, promising to know the path to change, but none of that matters unless you have already been changed. Here is the question: have you been changed? Have you been reborn unto a new life? Have you been set free from the bondages, influences, and forces of this world? Has your heart been changed to desire new and better things then you did when you were still in the world? If not, then no manor of program, discipline, or law will suffice to award you what you truly seek. Those things may seem worthy, but they can never produce the true and lasting change you seek on the inside. All real change begins at the cross. It is at the cross that we die to the world and become alive to God. This is the new birth Jesus came to bring us.
Paul comes to the end of his letter and he asks the Galatians to choose between him and those pushing the law. They mark themselves to appear righteous where as, for Paul, his righteousness earned him his marks in the flesh. One was cutting themselves seeking to be changed yet the other already bore the marks that proved his change. One bore the marks of the law and the other the marks of his savior. Whom will you be like today?