Summary: Paul wraps up his letter to the church in Galatia by reemphasizing our dependence upon Christ and the sufficiency of the cross.
The Way of The World/The Way of The Cross
I am so glad you are with us today as we finish this study of Paul’s powerful letter to the Galatians. Won’t you open your Bible to Galatians 6:11-18 and let’s read together.
11See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12Those 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. 13Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 14May 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. 15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. 17Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (Galatians 6:11-18 NIV)
This week we bring to a close our study of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia. This is our twenty-fifth study in this little six chapter letter. For the past twenty-five weeks the Apostle has drawn a bead on those who oppose the way of the cross, those who have crept into the Church to try and substitute a weak, powerless, pitiful alternate to the only remedy for our sin—the cross of our Savior.
During these twenty-five weeks of study the Scriptures have come alive to me and God has shown me that the same options which were available in Paul’s day are still with us today. The world is standing at the crossroads today—you and I are standing at the crossroads this very moment. We are standing at the fork in the road and we must make a choice this very morning. Will we choose the path of human justification and self-righteousness or will we fall upon the path of God’s mercy and grace? There is no other option. There is no other road which we can choose. There is no other option for you or me this morning.
The path of human justification and self-righteousness appears noble and appealing. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Dig in and get the job done. Atone for your own sins, and then hold your head up high, proud of what you have accomplished. Appearances are not always as they seem my friend. Many choose the road of human justification and self-righteousness. They seek to make their lives count. They try and do “good” to cover the hardness of their own hearts. Many find the path satisfying and pleasing for awhile, but they eventually realize that the road leads to destruction, absolute emptiness, and abject despair.
There is the other fork in the road—the way of the cross. This path does not gleam with the glitter of fame, accomplishment, or a rising self-esteem. This path is splattered with the blood, sweat, and tears of Another. It appears to be the path of defeat and surrender, not victory and valor. On this path there is no room for pride or arrogance. There are no class distinctions. No self-satisfied soldiers who claim the victory. All of those who travel this path know their absolute spiritual bankruptcy, they are all too familiar with their depravity, and they are well acquainted with their moral degeneracy.
Those who travel the path of human justification believe that they can fill their emptiness with their efforts. Those who travel the path of mercy and grace know that they have no power and no hope of every filling their emptiness unless they drink of the Living Waters which flow from the Father’s fountain of mercy and grace. John MacArthur writes,
Those two approaches to salvation are the only two that exist, the only two forms of religion that man has ever known. There is grace/faith/Spirit religion, known as Christianity, and there is law/works/flesh religion, which identifies all the rest. God’s way is the way of grace, working through man’s faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. All other ways, no matter how seemingly different, are an attempt at salvation by fleshly works of the law. It is as if, on the market shelf of world religions, there are hundreds of attractive packages, with a great range of shapes, sizes, labels, claims, and prices. But inside all of them is the same tasteless, nutritionless sawdust of works-righteousness. Standing alone, unattractive and repulsive to the natural man, is the gospel, which alone contains real food. (John MacArthur, Galatians, p. 194)