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. Galatians 6:14
There are only two religions in the world, only two. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. They are the religions of human achievement and of Divine achievement. One is self-salvation, and the other is grace-salvation. One is all about man climbing his way up to God, and the other is all about God condescending to man. One is man-centered, and one is God-centered. One leads to boasting in the flesh, and the other leads to boasting in the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And categorically and unequivocally, one is false and leads to an eternity in hell, and the other is true and leads to eternity in Heaven.
This is a great confusion for people in the church today. If you ask the average evangelical why they believe they’re going to heaven, you will hear all kinds of answers. Answers like, “I was baptized when I was twelve,” “I try really hard to keep the Ten Commandments,” “I go to church,” or, “I try to live my life like Jesus.” Now, none of those answers are necessarily wrong in terms of living like a Christian. But none explain how a holy God accepts us and saves us from our sins.
My aim is to challenge you to recommit yourselves to the one true religion of Divine achievement. Or, to put it another way, to make the finished work of Jesus on the cross, your only boast. I have a three-part-plan, taken from Galatians 6:14, to ensure that Christ will be the only thing you brag about.
PART 1: Recognize the threat to your boast
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses the fact that other people, mainly the Judaizers, had come preaching “another gospel” (which we understand is no gospel at all). The Judaizers were teaching that faith in Christ alone was not enough—that people needed works and the law.
In pointing this out, Paul highlights two primary threats to boasting in Christ alone from Galatians: pedigree and performance.
The Judaizers desired to compel the Galatian believers who were Gentiles, to be circumcised simply so that they would not be persecuted for the cross of Christ (Gal 6:12). They were afraid of the Jews who were persecuting the apostle Paul because of his teachings on the need for faith in Christ alone. So, they taught you needed to have faith in Christ, plus circumcision. In other words, if you were to be in covenant with God, you must first become a Jew.
They put all their stock in their pedigree, in their Jewish heritage. They fell into the trap of thinking that their Jewish-ness gave them automatic entrance to the Kingdom of God.
And you may recall, when John the Baptist came on the scene, he called the Jews to repent of their sins and show forth fruit in keeping with repentance. When the Jews thought they didn’t need to because of their heritage, he retorted, “and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matt. 3:9)
Paul said that “ . . . in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, means anything . . .” (Gal 5:6). But pedigree, in its many expressions, is still a danger to us today.
Far too many Christians are still boasting in their ethnicity, culture, politics, or social standing. Sometimes it goes to the extent that these become markers that separate believers in Christ. Your life and ministry should never be built on those things. The finished work of Christ is what binds us together. Let it be said of you that you boast in Christ, and in Christ alone, not your pedigree.
Paul wrote that the Judaizers’ desire was to compel people to be circumcised so that they might boast in their flesh. (Gal 6:12-13) It was all external. They sought to pad their righteous stats and appear more righteous before God and men, but inwardly they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Christ is the performer of our salvation. To add any works, even good works, to our justification, as though that’s the merit by which we gain acceptance from God, makes it a different gospel.
Many Christians walk around boasting in their achievements and good works, as if those are trophies to be displayed on the fleshly mantle of human achievement for God to be impressed with. He is not! We must remember that even at our best we are still unprofitable servants. All our righteous acts are filthy rags before the thrice holy God. Only deeds done out of faith in Christ working through love are pleasing to Him—but never meritorious.
PART 2: Remember the grounds of your boast
How is it that we can boast in the cross of Christ alone? A quick survey of Paul’s words in Galatians provides a strong reminder of just how sufficient the work of Christ is for His people. It is at the cross where Jesus…
- gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age (Gal 1:4)
- made it possible for us to be declared righteous by God through faith in Him alone (Gal 2:16)
- makes us true sons of Abraham (Gal 3:6-9)
- set us free from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us so that we might receive the promised Holy Spirit (Gal 3:13)
- redeemed us and brought us into adoption as sons of God (Gal 4:4-6)
- set us free from the yoke of slavery to the law and places us into the liberty of God’s grace (Gal 5:1)
- secures eternal life for us (Gal 6:8)
PART 3: Realize the outcome of your boast
We boast in Christ Jesus alone because of what He accomplished for us. The world has been crucified to us, and we are crucified to the world. We are now part of a new creation. (Gal 6:15) In this new creation, there is no distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision, Jew and Gentile, or rich and poor. The only thing that matters is faith in Christ alone.
So how could we ever brag about anything but what He has done for us? How is it that we unify ourselves around worldly things, when in fact, we exist on a new plane in Christ? I pray that you will tether your heart to the cross. May it be your center, your core, the very fuel that drives you in life and ministry.