12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
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.
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Gal. 6:12-15
When people hear the world “persecution” they immediately conjure up images of beheadings and other forms of cruel mistreatment for the Christian believer by the world. Indeed, it is a stirring statement on the phenomenal times that we are living in, that we are witnessing these things happening right before our eyes and, moreover, that we, too, could become subjected to such suffering.
However, that fact notwithstanding, the word “persecution” as used by scripture here talks of something more: it denotes the entire process of the uprooting of the “world” from the believer’s life. The “world” is the carnal, sinful nature that resides in man.
Uprooting this system in us is what the gospel is all about, at least in our earthly context. If we are to be effective for God, then we must get serious with God. Otherwise, we will end up entertaining people, thinking we are serving God. We will unwittingly end up as one big entertainment industry.
Notice, in verse 12 above: “… lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.”
The cross of Christ is revealed in our lives for only one purpose: in order that we might suffer for the gospel’s sake. In other words, the cross brings suffering. There was a time the cross was taught as a final restingplace for all our earthly troubles, but that’s not true. Here the Bible says “…suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” “Suffering” should be a word that is central to a believer’s life.
The Bible states categorically in 2 Tim. 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
In Philippians 1:29 also we read: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake…”
And Jesus did say: “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” (Lk. 12:49)
According to the liberal gospels making the rounds today, it is like Jesus brought a fire engine to put out the fires that Satan had started upon the earth: the fire of disease, the fire of poverty, the fire of this and that. But the Bible has news for us. Jesus came to light the actual fire, and we better be prepared to burn!!
Disease, poverty and all the things that these other gospels talk about are all things that have to do with the outer man. But the true gospel of Jesus Christ deals with the deep things of our hearts.
The true believer, who walks on the narrow road of the cross, will tell you how much of a conflict they find themselves facing for the gospel’s sake, and that much of it comes from deep within themselves. The cross does not come to coddle us. And neither, for anyone’s sake, will the cross ever be ‘politically correct’ with the world. The world is Christ’s sworn enemy, and if the world is alive in us, Christ is ready to march in and engage it if we will only allow Him to.
The Bible says,
“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 Jn. 2:15-16)
This scripture is central in our fight for the gospel’s sake. Think about “the pride of life”, for example. How much does the cross need to work in our hearts to uproot “the pride of life” in us?
I am sure a lot of “persecution” is needed for this to happen.
And how about “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes”? Have you, through experience, not found that these things demand that our lives be immediately ordered into the “strait and narrow” way that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:13-14?
We cannot deceive God, nor should we deceive ourselves. We need to change! Indeed, we ought to be grateful for the cross of Christ. Where would we be without it?… and I am not just referring to the initial act of salvation but, even more importantly, for this that Paul is talking of here – the transforming and maturing of our characters – that we might be worthy to be called sons and daughters of God.
Now, notice in Galatians 6, that many in Paul’s day who claimed to be followers of Christ were actually people who would not allow the cross into their lives. They made loud proclamations and did many outward acts (like circumcision) to prove their adherence to the gospel, but in their hearts they had put a “STOP” sign to the work of the cross in their lives.
Loving the world comes in hundreds of different ways.
When one is walking on the wide and broad way of the flesh, they will never allow the cross to touch them. But when a believer decides to follow Christ on the strait and narrow road, the cross will confront them. This confrontation brings a transformatiton in their lives.
What I love about the Apostle Paul was that he welcomed the cross into his life. Indeed, this is the real difference between a spiritual Christian and a carnal one: one can allow the cross to work in him, and the other will not, no matter they are saved.
But the Apostle Paul would only glory in the cross. For what purpose?
“… by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
We could paraphrase Paul’s words here thus: “… by whom sin is crucified to me, and I to sin”.
Wow! I love that with all my heart. I root for that. Don’t tell me about a “great man of God”; instead, show me a man or woman who has crucified their lives for the gospel’s sake! That I will consider. That is the singular man who can keep God’s law. The gospel came that we might keep God’s law.
Christ said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Mat. 5:17)
This is what the gospel is all about – fulfilling God’s law. The only way any man can keep God’s law is to have the “world” uprooted from him. And it was revealed to the Apostle Paul and the other apostles that the only thing that could do that uprooting was the cross of Christ. (Eph. 3:1-5).
We cannot claim to be serious with God if we are not keeping His law. By extension, this means that we cannot claim to be serious with God if we are not walking fully in the revelation of the cross of Christ. The two go together; there is not one without the other.
Should we fail to submit ourselves under the pruning work of the cross of Christ, we shall turn the church into a circus. Today, the church has become a laughingstock for the world in many ways, because of its lack of seriousness in portraying the life of Christ to the world. Indeed, it cannot do so, for it has rejected the cross of Christ. It is slowly turning into the greatest circus the world has ever seen.
But that need not be so. We can turn things around, for there is balm in Gilead! By crucifying our flesh, our lives shall impact the world in a big way, as Jesus affected the world through His death on the cross. We see Paul and the other apostles doing the same by crucifying their lives with Christ’s. Their lives are legendary.
But, even more importantly, when we thus crucify our lives on the cross, we shall be ready to meet our Lord when we finally face Him in heaven!