Journey in the Word

Karen Ingrid Clark

Broken & Redeemed – Paul: Misplaced Zeal and Pride

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Week Four – Day 2. Tuesday, March 28, 2017WK04D02
GALATIANS 6:11-16 SOAP Galatians 6:14-15

GALATIANS 6:11-16 11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

O – Paul is writing, this time at the end of his letter to the Galatians, that it was not the “outward signs” of conversion (i.e. circumcism) that were important. In fact, there were those false teachers who were trying to get converts to be circumcised, in order to boast that they had, in fact, converted them. These “Judaizers” were more concerned with outward show of faith (circumcision by the Law), even though they themselves were not followers of the whole Law. By boasting, they were calling attention to “their” converts.

Paul wanted none of that. If he was going to boast, then it would not be of himself, but of the cross of Christ. This was at a time that the cross was NOT a warm religious symbol, but a symbol of a criminal’s death, of cruelty, of shame. But, it was not the outward “show” of conversion that was important to him, but the inner transformation – the “new creation.” Anything other than that – whether it be the world, the outer signs, or even circumcism (and for a Jew – that was a given!) – that was not important! “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” (Galatians 6: 14–15 – NLT)

A – This is a point in our church where we have to be careful! We have a lot of new and young believers, and discipleship is a focus point in ministry. While it is important that we share how to grow in faith, it is also important to emphasize that it is the Spirit, not us, that causes growth. It is not a “feather in our cap”, or boasting, to disciple others. Rather, it is gently leading others to a relationship with the Lord.

This quote hit me – “This is a recurrent danger in the modern church as believers demand service, enthusiasm, ritual, attendance, Bible knowledge, prayer, or any of the good discipleship techniques as a means of being complete in Christ. Paul’s great truth was that believers are complete in their standing with God when they have trusted Jesus Christ by faith.” (Bob Utley)

Do we still get caught up in the outward show of faith, or are we concerned with the state of the heart? Is our concentration on discipleship for the growth of those young believers, of the younger generation, or is it a matter of pride? Paul stated that “far be it from me to boast EXCEPT in the cross…” (v. 14) And – that nothing counted – except a “new creation.”

This is a good reminder, a warning, for me. It is not “discipleship” or a “program” or “meetings” that are important, nor the number of people who are “being disciple.” It is the state and the growth in each person’s heart. It is seeing people mature in their faith. And as I meet with other women this week, and in the weeks to come, this is a check point for me, in my own motivation.

It is also a reminder in my motivation in developing relationships – both with those in our church, and in our community of neighbors. It should not be a matter of pride, but a sincere desire to bring others to Him – to the cross, to a relationship with God, to a deeper spiritual growth. Not for my benefit.

P – Father God, check my heart today. Remove any pride in what I do. Replace it with a sincere desire to bring others to You. May what I say, and what I do, point to You only – and bring honor and glory to Your name. Amen.

Study notes:
Lumina: Constable’s notes – “Paul boasted only in Christ’s cross, the work of Christ for him. That was all he took pride in. The Cross was a symbol of shame. Because of the Cross the world system had lost its appeal to Paul, and he had lost his appeal to the world. Now circumcision was unimportant. Only being a new creation in Christ mattered.”
“try to compel you to be circumcised” Verses 12-16 are a summary of the entire letter which focuses on the inappropriate emphasis of the false teachers on human effort as a means of being saved or of being fully matured. This is a recurrent danger in the modern church as believers demand service, enthusiasm, ritual, attendance, Bible knowledge, prayer, or any of the good discipleship techniques as a means of being complete in Christ. Paul’s great truth was that believers are complete in their standing with God when they have trusted Jesus Christ by faith. In light of this new, full acceptance, believers then must yield themselves in gratitude to God and service to others (i.e., James 2:14-26). – from Bob Utley – though Lumina

When I survey the Wondrous Cross – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLXx2CJ_drs

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it Lord that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood

See from His head His hands His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing so divine
Demands my soul
Demands my soul
Love demands my soul
My life my all

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