The Power of the Cross - Galatians 6:11 - 18

August 12, 2000 Galatians 6:11-18

Introduction:

1.  Imagine this:
– You are looking for the perfect present for the most special person in your life.
– You walk into a large room with shelves on every wall
– On these shelves are boxes
 Different sizes
 Different shapes
 Different labels
 Different colors
 All are beautifully wrapped with gorgeous paper and preciously tied ribbons
– Except for one – this box is DIFFERENT!
• It’s just a medium (very common)
• It’s shape is relatively mundane (nothing really fancy)
• It’s wrapping is less than attractive (paper worn, ribbon ripped, etc)
Q:  Which are you likely to grab?
  >  One of the beautiful boxes, of course!
2.  But wait, you forgot to ask one thing – WHAT’S INSIDE THE BOXES?
– Depends on which one you open
– Beautiful boxes – full of sawdust!
– One box – full of all types of treasure, jewelry, gold, precious stones
>  And a piece of paper entitling you to go to any jewelry store in the world @ any time you want for FREE! – for the rest of your life
3.  Now, which box do you want? – the one I mentioned last
4.  But wait:  If you chose that box, there is a ‘warning label’ attached!
• Criticism
• Persecution
• Possibly death
5.  I describing to you the two religions in the world!
God's religion – Man’s religion
Let’s contrast them for just a moment!

God's Religion Man’s Religion
Grace Law
Faith Works
Spirit Flesh
Heaven Hell
6.  Man’s religion is the sawdust of works of righteousness –
– God's glorious gospel – stands alone, unattractive, and repulsive to the natural man!
– But yet it contains treasures that will last forever!
7.  With those thoughts in mind:  Galatians 6:11-18
*  Paul give 4 Reasons for Glorying in the Cross of Christ
1.  The Cross Has the Power to Reveal Motives.
2.  The Cross Has the Power to Free Us From the World’s Bondage.
3.  The Cross Has the Power to Bring Salvation.
4.  The Cross Has the Power to Promote Sacrificial Service

1.  The Cross Has the Power to Reveal Motives.
– The scenario I presented to you earlier gives you the CONTEXT of Paul’s letter and especially the last section of his letter that we’ll study this a.m.
– Remember:
 Paul was writing to combat some false teachers (Judaizers) and their false teaching (legalism)
Judaizers = sought to impose the standards and laws of Judaism upon Christianity
Judaism = salvation by works and living under the government of law (OT Law & whatever they wanted to ADD)
– If you complied – you were considered spiritual
– If you didn’t – you were unspiritual
 There are several problems with that:  One is – Jesus came to fulfill the Law!
 He came to establish a new law – the law of God in the heart!
 While OT believers had to have faith that looked FORWARD to the cross
 God had many expectations from them that He removed in the NT because of the law of grace
– Spirituality is no longer measured by OUTWARD conformity to the Law
– But is now measured by the INWARD conformity to the character of Christ
• Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death and instituted a new commandment:  “That you love one another as I have loved you.” – there is a law, but it’s a law of grace/mercy
• Most of the letter is spent condemning the false teaching of the Judaizers (& their box of sawdust)
• Paul also condemns their MOTIVE for teaching their legalistic perversion of the gospel
A.  Religious Pride
– The Judaizers desired to make “a good showing in the flesh”
– “Flesh” = reference to the works of their humanness and self-effort apart from the Spirit
– They weren’t interested in pleasing God – they were ‘approval junkies’ (please man)
– That’s why Paul wrote
Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
– Jesus warned us about this kind of life
 Religious life (in general)
Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
 Giving:
Matthew 6:2 When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
 Prayer:
Matthew 6:5 And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
 Greedy, scoffing Pharisees:
Luke 16:15 You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God..
Point:  You can’t cover your motives when you focus on the cross! 
“No matter how much it may claim to be Christian, no religion that relies on the flesh and promotes religious conceit has any part in Christ.  Christ accomplished the perfect and completed work of salvation, and only that work can be of any spiritual benefit to a person.  Not act, nor ritual, no ceremony, no deprivation of the body, not self-inflicted sacrifice can add the smallest value to what Christ has done.  Instead, every such flesh-motivated and flesh-oriented activity is an offense to God and brings His condemnation rather than His approval.” – MacArthur. Galatians, p. 197
B.  Cowardice
o Read 6:12 “simply that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.”
o False teaching leads you not only to pride, but also to cowardice!
o These Judaizers advocated legalism to protect their lives and material welfare as well as to feed their fleshly egos.
o Bottom line: They weren’t willing to pay the price of persecution (cf. 6:17) in order to be identified with Jesus Christ.
o They would use His name and attend His church only to the degree that it benefited them and yet caused no offense to those around them!
o They didn’t want anything to do with the persecution that came with the cross
o It’s not so much Christ himself who is the problem here, because Jesus is a teacher (and only a teacher from their point of view) and He can be easily assimilated by Judaism or by any other religion
– The difficulty is the CROSS – because the cross speaks of the need for a divine death as the only solution to the sin of man
– To have the cross is to have 3 ‘unsettling’ and ‘humiliating doctrines:
1)  Man is a sinner
2)  His sin brings him under the cures of God (which Christ bore)
3)  nothing man can do can earn salvation – if this were possible, there would be need for the cross!
[Note:  The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Galatians, p. 506]
o While the CROSS has always been a symbol of a horrible means of death, the cross has become for Christians the most cherished symbol of life
o Jesus dies on the cross – shed his blood on the cross
o In doing that, God transformed the most fearful expression of man’s hatred into the most beautiful expression of His divine love!
o Paul calls us a ‘soldier of the cross’ – DO YOU ACT THAT WAY?
   We sing:  Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus – yet sit down and be quiet when we should speak
   We sing:  When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – yet look at the world with covetous, greed
   We sing:  At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the Light – yet walk in darkness and cover our sin, we won’t confess it and forsake
Point:  The Cross has the power to reveal your motives – you can’t play ‘pretend’ when you focus on the cross of Jesus Christ
Jesus said, “He that is not with Me, is against Me.”
Q:  Are you with Him? 
Q:  Do you boast in the cross or more often run from the responsibility of proclaiming the message?
- Lastly, these legalistic Judaizers were hypocrites
C.  Hypocrisy
o Just like pride and cowardice, the cross has the power to reveal hypocrisy!
o Hypocrisy is inseparable from cowardice, because if a person were not afraid of what other people might say or do, he would have no reason for pretending to be something he is not.
o These Judaizers who were circumcised did not even sincerely try to live by the standards of the Mosaic Law, much less by the power of the Holy Spirit
o All they wanted was recognition for their converts – they were interested in being GENUINE
o Their religion was pure pretense, a sham display put on for the benefit of pleasing man!
o They performed the easy OUTWARD surgery on each other, but never lived out the rest of the Law
o Basically, the thought they could pick and chose what portion(s) of the Law they wanted!
o WAIT: This isn’t new – go back to Gen 3 & 4
• Man has always tried to use religion (religious works) to cover his sin
• The Judaizers demonstrate that it is possible to be extremely active in the church and yet be morally and spiritually corrupt
o Nowhere is hypocrisy easier to more dangerous than in God's work
o And you can be sure that God is most angry when it is done in His name!
Q:  To what degree do these characteristics describe you?
o Paul warns us that this kind of life style will be on the increase in the latter days
– 2 Timothy 3:1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.
“Every person is faced with the choice between the damning religions of human achievement and the saving truth of divine accomplishment in Jesus Christ.” – MacArthur, Galatians, p. 201
2.  The Cross Has the Power to Free Us From the World’s Bondage.
‘World” = the order of the evil world system ruled by Satan and his angels (not necessarily people, but a way of life – a lifestyle!)
o Every person born is born ‘dead in trespasses and sin’ (bondage to the world system)
o There is no good in us ‘for all have sinner and come short of the glory of God’
o Our conscience rebukes us and we try to free ourselves from the guilt
o Some will focus on the FUTURE – constantly expecting tomorrow to bring better things and more meaning to life – but it never does and life becomes a pile of frustrated dreams
o Some will try to live just for the MOMENT – taking all he/she can while he can – because physical life is all he can see or cares about
o He says with the ancient Greeks who denied the resurrection ’Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.’
Point:  A life of frustration, dissatisfaction, and unfulfilled expectations continues because of the bondage to the world – and the person is completely powerless to free themselves.
o But like earlier, in his/her pride, they wont’ look to the cross
o But friend, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so was the Son of Man lifted up and there is forgiveness and hope in looking to the cross
– The person who knows Jesus Christ is FREED from the world’s evil and hopeless
– That person knows his/her sins PAST – PRESENT – FUTURE are under the blood
– His/her present life is in the Holy Spirit’s care and strength, and that his future life is as secure in heaven as if he were already there!
* Read Romans 6:1-14
Point:  The Cross has the power to set us FREE from the bondage to the world!
-  That’s why John could write:
– John 2:15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.
-  According to Paul and John – we do not have to sin – we choose to sin!
-  The CROSS helps us to make the right decision!
-  The CROSS makes the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT possible!
Q:  Since the cross has the power to set us free FROM the world’s bondage, what are we free TO?
3.  The Cross Has the Power to Bring Salvation.
–   Paul gloried in the cross because of its power to do what the flesh, weakened and corrupted by sin, could never do
>  The power of the cross makes a believer a ‘new creation’ in Jesus Christ
>  God Himself can’t even remodel the old life – there is nothing good in the flesh
Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
–   Man needs a new birth:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
–   6:16 makes the invitation to salvation open to any man – even the Judaizers – if they would repent and ‘walk by this rule’
Q: What rule?
‘rule’ = (Greek: kanon) has the basic idea of measurement and was often used in the sense of a principle or standard
>  To walk by this rule is to accept the gospel of divine accomplishment through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and to WALK BY FAITH in the power of the Spirit, rather than to WALK BY SIGHT in the power of the flesh.
--  ‘Peace and mercy’ represent salvation
– ‘peace’ referring to the believer’s new relationship with God – the ‘war’ has ended, a price has been paid and accepted – there is PEACE
– ‘mercy’ referring to the divine removal of sin
1)  Peace is the positive side of salvation – the establishing of a new and right relationship to God
2)  Mercy is the negative side, the forgiving of all a believer’s sins, and the setting aside of his judgment
Point:  Since the cross brings salvation to us – we ought to do all we can to the cross to others
ILL:  Purdue Picnic – over 400 students from all over the world – Russia, Malaysia, India, China, Spain,
>  Next year – we need more GREETERS! – because of the message of the cross!
4.  The Cross Has the Power to Promote Sacrificial Service
Galatians 6:17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.
– For Paul, his Christianity was REAL – he had the scars to prove it
– Paul was probably speaking to a couple of different groups:
1)  Some Christians in Galatia who, though genuine believers, were still being influenced by the perverted gospel of the Judaizers
>  They were not only corrupting the church, but were causing Paul great trouble
>  Some of these believers had probably seen Paul receiving some of the ‘the brand-marks’ put on his body
>  At Lystra, he was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead (Acts 14:19)
2)  Some unbelievers, specifically the Judaizers –
– Legalistic Jews liked to make pretense of great personal sacrifice and devotion
– Yet when compared to the cross – and Paul’s brand-marks (stigma) – their religion was self-serving, comfortable, and empty!
 Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”
– Every blow that Paul received was really a blow against Jesus
Q:  What ‘brand-marks’ of commitment do you carry? (for us, it may be time, energy, criticism)
Q:  Are you willing to face the consequences of the cross? (it’s coming!)
Q:  If we could measure your sacrificial service for the Lord, how would you rate?
Conclusion:
1.  When you look at the cross, you realize . . .
1.  The Cross Has the Power to Reveal Motives.
2.  The Cross Has the Power to Free Us From the World’s Bondage.
3.  The Cross Has the Power to Bring Salvation.
4.  The Cross Has the Power to Promote Sacrificial Service
2.  Do you know Jesus as your Savior?
3.  Are you allowing the cross to make the impact on you that God intends – revealing your motives, freeing you from sin, bringing salvation, and promoting sacrificial service?