Commentary on "Boasting in the Cross"
Day 3: Monday, December 26, 2011 - Boasting in the Flesh
12 Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised— but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh.
Your quarterly asks you what the verses above are saying. Let me break it down for you so things are clear.
Paul is restating once again that the legalists of the day want to make a good appearance outwardly—the outer sign of circumcision was more important than inward change. Allow me to provide an example from my life.
When I was an Adventist I was all about making a good impression, and since I was a pastor's kid it was even more important that our family made a good impression. We were like actors in a Greek tragedy. Every Sabbath we put on a happy face so that externally we looked like things were going great. We even lied through our teeth saying that our life was wonderful, things were going great, we were really blessed the past week. The reality behind the facade was that often things were filled with tension, frustration, arguments and anger in one way or another.
We had a fantastic outward appearance, but inside we were like an open sepulcher. (See Matthew 23).
Back to Galatia, Paul goes on to say that they did this to avoid suffering for the Cross of Christ. These legalists stayed in what they knew, stayed under the law, putting on a show of outward appearance. They did this because those that were following Christ and giving up the legalism and the law for the grace of Christ were being persecuted in horrible ways for their choice of surrender into a relationship with God and away from the checklist mentality—the "look how good I'm doing from the outside" so called adherence to the law.
Paul rightly notes that these legalists don't even keep the law that they're claiming to keep—it is impossible. It was impossible to keep the 10 Commandments which made up only part of the old covenant, a covenant that included a massive 613 laws and rules. Then the legalists of Jesus' day added even more laws!
In fact Jesus Himself in Matthew 23 mentioned this in his diatribe against legalism:
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.
24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!
Can you see why Paul is using big letters? I'd be ticked too. They tossed the Cross—the very work that Christ was born for, under the proverbial bus of law-keeping.
Copyright 2011 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised December 21, 2011. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Glendale, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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