Summary: Paul’s life as a new creation authenticated the gospel but not even the mark of circumcision could authenticate legalism.
NOT CIRCUMCISION BUT A NEW CREATION
TEXT: Galatians 6:11-18
I. LARGE LETTERS (v.11)
Galatians 6:11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
A. PAUL AUTHENTICATED THE EPISTLE
1. Paul had a practice of dictating his letters.
2. Evidently someone had written a letter to the Thessalonians claiming it was from Paul.
3. 2Thes.2:2 Paul says don’t believe any letters supposedly from him which claimed the Day of the Lord had already come.
4. From then on, he personally signed each of his letters.
5. Not only did he sign Galatians, he wrote the last paragraph in his own handwriting.
B. WHY WERE THE LETTERS LARGE?
1. Some have claimed that Paul used large letters because of poor eyesight.
2. This is purely conjecture.
3. Others have claimed that Paul used large letters because he had poor penmanship.
4. This is highly unlikely due to Paul’s scholarship and familiarity with the Greek language.
5. I believe Paul used large letters for EMPHASIS!
6. It is likely that Paul deliberately used large letters to call attention to what he was about to write.
7. Dr. MacGorman from SWBTS said, “The boldness of the handwriting at the end matches the boldness of the letter throughout.” (Class notes)
C. PAUL WROTE IT HIMSELF AND HE WROTE IT LARGE!
1. Paul signed the message to prove that it was AUTHENTIC.
2. Paul signed it in large letters to prove that it was IMPORTANT!
3. It was important because they had LARGE PROBLEMS…
II. LARGE PROBLEMS (v.12-16)
12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.
14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
A. OBSESSION WITH ECCLESIASTICAL STATISTICS
12a Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised.
13b …they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.
1. The legalists wanted to make a good impression on the Jews.
2. They wanted to boast about their number of circumcisions.
3. They were trophy hunters obsessed with statistics.
4. Sometimes, people will do things out of competition that they would never do from self motivation.
5. I read the testimony of a Mormon missionary once who did not even believe in the teachings of Mormonism, however he wanted to baptize more people than anyone else because he had a competitive nature.
B. FEAR OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
12b The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
1. The legalists were afraid of Jewish persecution.
2. Many of them were Jews and faced the possibility of being ostracized by their families, friends, and business associates.
3. They decided to mix Judaism with Christianity to pacify both sides.
4. In so doing, they compromised the message of the cross.
5. Many today compromise the message by mixing it with other religions.
6. Mixing AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY AND MARLBORO
The Hollywood branch of the American Cancer Society decided to hold a benefit night in conjunction with a professional tennis tournament. It turned out to be embarrassing for them, however, when they learned that a major tobacco company was sponsoring the competition. Officials of the society found out too late that they had committed themselves to selling 500 tickets to an event that was named after a well-known brand of cigarettes. The publicity sent out by the Hollywood chapter portrayed a young woman with a tennis racket in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
7. It is just as bad to try to mix grace with legalism as to mix the American Cancer Society with a tobacco company.
C. CONCERN WITH EXTERNALS
13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh...
15 ...Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
1. Like contemporary legalists, the legalists in Galatia were only concerned with externals.
2. They were only worried about how things looked.
3. Their faith was shallow.
4. They were only worried about the surface, they were not worried about the inside.
5. They valued human approval more than God’s approval.