Summary: Where does our confidence lie? In our tradition, our religious heritage, or in the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross? This sermon reminds us that boasting in anything but the cross is a tragic mistake, and explores how such boasting leads us
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Those who peddle advice and package wisdom say to pick your battles carefully. When deciding to stand your ground, to draw your own proverbial line in the sand, they say to pause...and ask yourself this question, "Is this really the hill I want to die on?"
What is this kind of question supposed to make us evaluate? In a word, the PAY-OFF. Is the PRINCIPLE worth the PAIN? Is the TRUTH worth the TROUBLE?
Jesus had to endure such questions. He understood more perfectly than we can comprehend the COST, and the REWARDS of the cross, and He showed us, by His flawless example, that there is only ONE hill worth dying on, the hill called Golgotha.
Jesus said, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." (John 18:37)
That "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
It is the message of the ages! The truth that sets us free! The answer to the question of life!
But it wasn’t long before that message was muddied. Ironically, by the same spirit that took the Law of God under the Mosaic covenant and turned it into a religious club that Jesus Himself condemned.
You see, you get into the CLUB, but you MISS the Kingdom. But hey, there’s perks to being a CARD carrying MEMBER! There’s a sense of pride, an aire of elitism...oh wait, that’s a bad thing. No wonder Jesus said,
Mat 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Mat 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
"You don’t go in, and you don’t let anyone else in either!" Strong words! For all of your religiousness, Jesus said, you miss the POINT entirely. Those wascally faiwisees! Yeah, we’d like to feel smug, but we do it too.
We have our own Pharisees. At times, we’ve even been pharisees. The very blind guides that Jesus warned about. And somewhere along the way, we didn’t recognize that moment when
-Our rightness led to wrongness
-When our form of godliness led us away from the knowlege of the truth
-When a private relationship became a public show
-When our tradition twisted the Truth
-When fences became the focus
And tragically, we failed to recognize
-When our separateness separated us from the heartbeat of God
You know, that’s what Pharisee means, a separatist. They took great pride in being separate, in being different. And why not? It was GOD who said,
2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Being separate is not a bad thing! It’s HOW we’re separate, however, that makes ALL the difference in the World!
God defines that difference time and time again in scripture in terms of CHARACTER as well as CONDUCT. WE, on the other hand, use exterior markers that can be governed, measured and controlled. We’ve measured Christian growth by how well people conform to OUR image instead of how well they conform to HIS.
But make no mistake, Chistian means by definition "LIKE CHRIST". It does not mean "LIKE US." To make such a presumption exalts US, not God. It’s supposed to be about God remaking, recreating us in His image. What religion becomes is US making men in OUR IMAGE.
And when we do, we make them twofold more the children of hell than ourselves. (Matt. 23:15)
That’s what Paul was dealing with in our opening text.
Gal 6:12 Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised want to look good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. (afriad of being kicked out of the club?)
Gal 6:13 And even those who advocate circumcision don’t keep the whole law themselves. (Isn’t it funny how selective people can be when quoting from the Old Testament? Jezebel put on make-up, bless God, so you’d better not! Yeah, she also looked out a window. She also arranged her hair.) They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples. (Yup, our people are in-line!)