This is the one-hundred-ninety-ninth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
“Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised…. 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. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” Galatians 6:12-15
Paul wrote this letter, which we call the book of Galatians, to certain Christians who had begun their new spiritual life with faith in Jesus, but then were told by others that Paul’s message of grace was horribly incomplete and probably dangerous. They taught that it’s not enough to believe in Jesus and follow him; you must also continue to observe those hundreds of regulations in the Old Testament. Even if you’re a Gentile, you should still observe the dietary laws, the sacrifices, and circumcision, they said.
Paul saw this as a spiritual emergency, and he wrote this letter to warn these believers not to be bewitched by those legalists.
There’s one way to God. Let the things in your life that should die, die. Let strivings die, let legalism die, let love for the world die, let personal spiritual pride die. Resign it all, give it all over, let it be crucified as Jesus let himself be crucified, and you will be free.
Then we’ll have something to boast about. We’ll brag about Jesus Christ. We’ll shout his name to the world. We’ll fill up with a pride not in ourselves, but in him. And we’ll look at his cross and see it as a moment of glory, not shame.
Are there things you have been boasting about in your life? What needs to happen for you to boast only about Christ?
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.