THE GLORY OF THE CROSS
Verse 14 says, “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.”
The words “But God forbid” set forth a contrast to what some others were doing. This is brought out in verse 13. Those who were teaching that you needed to be circumcised to be saved were false teachers and all those who were converted to their false teaching were a matter of boasting. Verse 13 says, “For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.” They boasted and bragged about how many converts they were having. Does this sound familiar? Paul says, “But God forbid that I should glory . . .” The words “God forbid” mean “may it not be.” Paul uses this expression fourteen times from Romans to Galatians. It is the expression of abhorrence at the thought. It is a verb and is aorist tense and middle voice. It is like Paul is saying that should he do something like this, he is
inviting God, Himself, to stop him on the spot. This is a serious expression and comes as a result of Paul’s observation of a serious error.
The words “that I should glory” (kauchaomai) translate a word that means “to boast.” This word is used mostly in the bad sense. It is something that is common today. It is not only done by politicians but also by Christians and church leaders. Pride that causes boasting is so woven into the fabric of our lives in the U.S. that Christians think nothing of it. People who would be shocked if they saw their pastor drunk, think nothing at all about him bragging about the numbers he runs in Sunday School. They are both sin. The politician running for office spends a lot of money for advertisement to have the opportunity to tell you what a great guy he is. The pastor who fills out a resume and sends it to a church that he is interesting in becoming the pastor, sends a resume filled with his accomplishments. I know, the Churches demand a resume. And a resume is not necessarily filled with boasting of one’s accomplishments. I wonder sometimes if anybody believes that Jesus is the Head of the Church and that prayer is the primary way of getting a pastor. But what if you want a church and you are afraid the Lord won’t answer like you want him to? You send a resume!!! Ha! You might be like the guy I knew that told one church that he had successfully pastored ten churches in the last nine years! And he was serious.
The next words are, “save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “save” means “except.” The word “cross” stands for the gospel. It is the death burial and resurrection that defines the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). It is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes (Rom. 1:16). Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Then Paul goes further in 1 Cor. 2:1-5, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” What does Paul mean when he says, “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God?” Doesn’t he mean that man’s wisdom could get mixed up in the presentation of the gospel so that men would put their faith in the speaker instead of Christ? Where do you draw a line on where to eliminate the human element in the presentation of the gospel? I do not know. On my part, I believe it is personal between me and the Lord. When I rightly submit to him and depend utterly on him for the result of the preached message, I will be ready to praise him for the results and quick to refuse any praise that people attempt to bestow on me. I believe you will have to do the same. If God is using you, there will always be the temptation to take credit. You will have to deal with this personally within yourself. In my case, God has always brought people into my life, or brought people across my path to let me know that I am what I am by the grace of God. These people are just not impressed with me at all. And when I catch myself being offended by their attitude, I say, “Thank you Lord, I knew I was like that because you told me, now I know it because you knew the buttons to push that caused it to be manifest in my experience.” “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .”
Next he says, “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” The word “crucified” is put for the manner of death as well as death. It is speaking of His death because Paul says, “by whom.” The action of the verb confirms this. It is a perfect active indicative. The perfect tense represents completed action in the past, that completed action having present results. The completed action in the past is his crucifixion. And that to which he was crucified is still as true today as it was in that day. And since we share his crucifixion by our baptism into him (at salvation), all of that to which he was crucified we are also crucified. So it is not a matter of re-crucifixion. It is a matter of maintaining our crucified position in Christ. The words “and I unto the world” is a corollary, which is a proposition that follows with little or no proof required from one already proven.
There are three things that were evidently true in Paul’s life from which the truth of this verse comes: first, Paul had trained himself to think right about himself. This is a studied position. It is not a concept that comes from the world or out of the old sin nature. Jesus taught that we are to walk humbly before our God. He taught us not to boast or brag. Paul says in 2 Cor. 10:1, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ . . .” We are here for one reason and one reason only after we are saved, to glorify God. Paul had learned that lesson and we should too. Second, Paul was focused on the cross. Paul did not allow himself to be distracted. It is easy to get involved in the Lord’s work and become work oriented instead of cross oriented. The cross dominated Paul’s thinking. If you had been a man of the world and had known Paul you probably would have said of him that he was useless to any other cause except the preaching of the cross. Paul would have been complimented if he had learned that someone thought this of him. Third, Paul was willing to live what we would call the crucified life. It is simply a death to the world. Paul was useless to the world. I can just hear them say, “He is a brilliant man and had a great future. But he blew the whole thing by becoming a Christian. He definitely takes his religion too seriously. He needs to be reasonable.” But Christianity is not reasonable. Not to the world. But if Jesus is who he claimed to be and if what he taught is true, then it is the most reasonable thing in the whole world. What reasonable man would not trade what we are living in today for heaven? No drive by shootings. No AIDS. No sickness of any kind and no death. No discomfort of any kind and no crying. No feeling bad. No depression. No mid life crisis. No wrinkles. No needed surgeries. No weight problems! No disagreements between brethren. No separation. No computer problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll tell you if I keep talking like this I will want to catch the next load out! For Paul the cross was the sole reason for glorying. And I trust it will be for us.
May the Lord bless each of you.