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. (Galatians 6:14)
I have learned to stop and examine myself whenever the focus of attention is on me. We must be aware of this temptation. Anytime the attention is on what we should do, it is not on the redemptive work of Jesus. This temptation is the focus of Galatians 6:14.
Paul was cautioning his audience to be aware of the temptation to turn the focus on themselves. We are nothing without Jesus and must always keep this in mind. The good news is that we will never be without Him!
Have you ever heard a person go on and on about the things they have accomplished? I have and have been guilty of doing this myself. We must never forget that all our accomplishments in the Christian life result from God’s mercy and the cross.
A revelation of the cross of Christ will eliminate pride and arrogance from our lives. Martin Luther came to an understanding of this while reading Romans 3:27:
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
The message of the cross is humbling. The cross was where Jesus paid the price for our sin and obtained eternal redemption for every person who will ever live.
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (Acts 17:28)
Paul was addressing the men of Athens in this verse. He understood that his life was dependent on Christ. The question for us is whether or not we have the same revelation or have allowed pride to cloud our understanding leading us to think we are something extraordinary.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (Romans 3:27)
“Works” refers to the things we do to get a response from God in this verse. Paul tells us that our ability to boast is “excluded” by the “law of faith” and not our “works.” We have favor before God because of Jesus alone! God paid the price for our sins and has offered His gift of salvation to any who will accept it by faith.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
You were “created” as a righteous and holy being when you received Jesus as your Lord. If you have not yet done this, He only asks you to believe in your heart and confess Him as Lord. The price for your sins has already been paid, and He is offering salvation to you with no strings attached.
I pray the Holy Spirit is speaking to you through these words. The cross provides so much, and few Christians understand or have a revelation of its message. I’ve sat in services and heard ministers preach on the cross, heard people say “amen” enthusiastically, but then heard them void everything they heard with their words when the service ended. So, how do we “void” the message of the cross with our words? One example is determining the result of healing prayer by a lack of change in our physical body.
“I’ve prayed, fasted, and confessed the Scriptures several hundred times and don’t see any changes in my condition. Why hasn’t God healed me yet?”
Statements like this violate the principles of faith by which we should live the Christian life. They turn the focus away from God and onto our efforts. If our “works” could gain a response from Him, He would not have needed Jesus to endure the sufferings of the cross.
God completed the “works” of our redemption before we took our first breath. His only motivation for doing so was love. There is nothing expected from us in return except to receive what He has provided in the redemptive work of Christ.
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16 – 22)
The man came to Jesus seeking eternal life. He had followed the Law and was outwardly flawless, but this was not enough. Jesus asked him to sell his possessions, which was too much, so the man left without receiving. Many of us are just like this rich man. We come to Jesus seeking healing or another blessing declaring that we’ve read our Bible, fasted, and spent hours praying.
God will never move based on our efforts. He asks for us only to enter into the rest of faith. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us do this, but few will turn to Him for help. The Spirit is waiting for you to look in His direction and will teach you everything needed to know about walking by faith. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority will spend their entire Christian life focused on self-effort and never turn to Him.
We may not be willing to admit it openly, but when the focus is on us, we are “glorying” in our effort and not in the cross. I’ve heard people talk about the amount of time they prayed and, in the same sentence, mention how unfaithful God was for His lack of response. They do not understand the message of the cross.
The end of our self-effort is the cross. Gaining revelation of its message will result in a level of freedom that you cannot find in anything else. Jesus did everything needed to redeem you and enable you to walk blameless before God before you were born.
I once had a man recite his sins and ask if I thought God could forgive him. The answer was that God could not. My statement shocked the man who had been seeking freedom from the guilt that weighed him down resulting from his sinful life. It may surprise you to think I would say such a thing but God could not forgive him because He had forgiven the man through the cross of Christ before he had committed any sin. The only thing remaining was for him to receive the provided forgiveness.
Everything that God will ever do in your life results from the cross. Jesus completed His redemptive work before your birth, before you committed your first sin, and before you did any “good” work. Your forgiveness is independent of you, and there is nothing that you can do to “deserve” God’s goodness being manifested in your life.