Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 39
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Today we are going to say goodbye to an old friend. We’re going to just close out the book today. Galatians 6.|
One Final Look
Turn with me if you would to Galatians 6, and we’re going to say goodbye to an old friend. We’re going to just close out the book today. Galatians 6. You know, the thoughts of the apostle Paul as he closes out the book of Galatians have just been so important to my life in these days. The things he brings out to the Galatians that we’ve just looked at the past couple of weeks, when he talks about sow good seed. I just love that. That’s been over and over and over in my mind. Make choices that say yes to Christ and His will. Walk by faith, and by the way, that is walking by faith. He just calls it sowing good seed. It’s the same thing. Paul calls the choices we make as sowing seed. And I love that, because any time a sower sows seed, he expects a harvest. And Paul wants to make certain that the Galatians understand that every choice they make bears a consequence. There will be a harvest. What a clear picture.
He says in verse 9 to those sowing good seed. And I think we all need to hear this every day of our life. He says, “Don’t lose heart, don’t grow weary in doing good, don’t turn back the flesh.” That word “lose heart” means to go back to fleshly ways, and fleshly means of making something happen. In other words, in the midst of sowing, the harvest is going to come. But if it’s not there and you don’t see any results, don’t resort back to the flesh to try to make something happen. He says, “We will reap in due season if we will not grow weary.” And that “grow weary” there means if we don’t faint. I can testify, and I’m sure you can, that this truth is sometimes a very difficult truth to remember when you’re sowing good seed and there’s no harvest.
I remember those days, and in the South farmers would plant and it would just be barren for so many months. It’s like, is that seed doing anything? And then finally the rains come and the sun comes out and that harvest begins to come up. And that’s what he’s saying to them. You keep sowing the good seed, sow the good seed. We must encourage one another. I believe in this great truth. When there seems to be no visible result, let’s encourage each other that if we’re sowing the right seed it will come up in due season.
Well, today we see that Paul is finishing his letter. And what he’s going to do is kind of like the wrapping on a present. He’s just going to take them to four basic themes that he’s been talking about in the whole book and put it together and leave them with this letter, this beautiful letter that he’s written. Now remember, this has not been a friendly letter until at least we’ve got down to the last part of chapter 5 and chapter 6. At times I’ve probably sounded negative from preaching from this book, but I apologize if that’s the way I’ve sounded. I just want you to know that this is the most negative book that you can find, probably in all of the New Testament. It’s hard to make something positive when you’re dealing with something negative. It’s awfully difficult. But he does this in such a beautiful way so as now to turn it and bring us up on a higher plane of living, a more positive way of living.
And this last chapter is just phenomenal to me of what it could be like and what it can be like if we’ll sow the right seed. Let me read the verses to you that we’re going to cover today, beginning in verse 11 of chapter 6. He says “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
In these last verses he really puts an emphasis on some very important things that sum up what he’s been saying in the whole epistle. He takes the pen from the writer who’s been transcribing his letter. And, as was his custom, he finishes it out himself, but he does it in a very emphatic way. He says in verse 11, “See with what large letters I’m writing to you with my own hand.” And there are at least three different interpretations of that. One is that he had such bad eyesight that he had to write in large letters. Two, is he couldn’t write very well and therefore his handwriting was large and messy. Or three, that he wrote in large letters to catch their attention, kind of like a person who’s using a computer or typewriter that puts them in the caps. He wants to make sure they are paying attention to what he’s got to say.
I personally think it’s the last one. Now we may disagree on that, and certainly we don’t want to argue about it. I don’t think it makes much sense to me that he couldn’t write very well. I mean, he was one of the most intelligent men in the New Testament. I don’t think it was because of his eyesight, because as a pattern, he doesn’t say that each time. I think what he’s saying is “I’m going to finish letter in my own hand and I want to make certain you’ve heard what I’ve tried to tell you.” And so he puts it in large letters. I think what he’s saying is pay attention. Pay attention, I’ve got something to say.
And there are four things that are going to close out the letter, that sort of just nail everything he’s talked about all the way through. First of all, he puts in large letters, he describes one more time the evil of a counterfeit. Now what he’s going to do here is describe, and very succinctly, the false teachers that they have fallen prey to their doctrine. He’s going to describe them for us. Now we don’t have to go back and re-preach it because we did that when we were coming through. But let’s just see what he has to say in verse 12. The first thing he tells is that they’re all arrogant. He said those teachers you’ve fallen prey to they’re arrogant. They’re very boastful. They’re braggarts.
Look at verse 12: “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh.” Now Paul’s exposing them and he says your teachers only want to impress you; these false teachers that gave them nothing. And here’s Paul that risked his life to teach them the word of grace; they don’t even listen to him. They’re going to people that don’t even care about them. He says your teachers only want to impress you. They simply want numbers and a following. The word “desire” there is the word thelo. Thelo is not a simple wish, that’s another word. The word thelo means they are committed to this. They’re committed to getting you as a crowd and to getting your numbers and to make an impression on you. That’s their whole heartbeat.
Behind this word is an emotional determination, a commitment to make sure something happens. Making an impression and attracting a crowd was really all these false teachers lived for. He said “those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh.” The words “good showing” is really one Greek word. It’s euprosopeo. It’s a compound word. Eu means well or good and prosopeo or prosopon means an appearance. And so what he says it’s all surface. It’s all shallow. It’s all just them making an appearance to you.
And then Paul adds “in the flesh,” and it kind of gives us an idea how they made that appearance. This is in reference to the fact that they were good at what they did. They didn’t need the power of God to do this. They were created, they’d been trained, they’d been equipped to this very thing. And they knew how to come in and make something sound good to the flesh of those Galatians. These religionists not only were good using their own flesh, but they preached a message that said flesh could actually accomplish anything for God. These teachers desired to make flesh look good and appealing by their good works and by what religion can do for you.
They simply wanted to boast, however, in causing the Galatians to leave the message of grace which is the true message and come over to theirs. They loved it when they got a convert, a proselyte to bring him back over to their side. It was like a game to them. That’s the feeling I get. As a matter of fact, if you look at verse 13 you can see why I would say that. He says in verse 13, “For those who are circumcised,” talking about these false teachers, “do not even keep the law themselves.” Now isn’t that interesting? The very law that they wanted to put other people under, particularly the Gentiles, they didn’t even keep. “But they desire to have you circumcised,” why? “that they may boast in your flesh.” I’m telling you, it was like a game. Who could get more? And Paul says that’s all they care about.
Well, but secondly, not only are they arrogant and they just want a crowd, they just want a following, they don’t even live what they teach other people to live. But the second thing he says they’re adamant, they’re very adamant. Now that means they just don’t give up. Have you ever been around people that, in false doctrine, they just don’t give up? They won’t go away. I wish we as believers would have the same zeal as we walk with the Lord and never give up on reaching people for Christ. But in verse 12 it says, “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh,” look it, watch this, “try to compel you to be circumcised.”
Now, you see, why circumcision? And I want to make sure very quickly. I’m not going to go back and preach on it. But circumcision was the initiation into the law of Moses. Now they taught that this was the road to righteousness—not by faith, by the law. It was first given as a physical mark to Abraham to denote the physical children of God. You see, we’re circumcised of the heart, not of the body. And therefore we are the spiritual children of God. But it was given to Abraham as a physical mark and it was identifying him and all that were born after him as being part of God’s people. So these false teachers, these Judaizers, compelled the people in Galatia to be circumcised; now either to get saved, and that’s part of the book, or to be righteous once you are saved. If they were going to be a part of God’s family they taught the message that you had to have the physical mark of God’s family upon you, of God’s elect upon you.
The word “compelled” is the word anagkazo. It means to put pressure on. It’s in the present tense, which means they just kept on putting pressure on them. I mean, they just kept on and kept on and kept and kept on and kept on and kept on pressuring the Galatians to be circumcised. “You’ve got to do something physical. There has to be work involved somewhere” was their message. Jesus gave a scathing rebuke to this very practice in the Gospels. Of course, Paul knew the gospel. And look what Jesus said about that very practice of going and finding a Gentile and having him circumcised and making him a proselyte and bringing him into the family of Israel. He gave a scathing rebuke about that. In Matthew 23:15 He says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,” and then He denoted what they were, He said “hypocrites.” He says, “Because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte,” just one. You’ll go at great distances and spend great money to make one. And when he becomes one, Jesus says, you make him twice as much as son of hell as yourselves; pretty strong words, pretty strong words. Well, they still haven’t given up, and they’re doing that right in Galatia.
But thirdly, oddly enough; yes, they’re arrogant, yes, they’re adamant; oddly enough, they’re afraid. That’s interesting to me. They’ve gotten in it so deep they’re afraid of the message of the gospel of grace. He says in verse 12, “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised simply,” now watch, “that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Those rascals, they were afraid of persecution. They knew that the Jews back in Jerusalem would come down on them if they ever preached the message of the cross, and so they had to stay with the message of the law.
Now this made me think, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but in chapter 2 Peter bowed down to what was called the party of the circumcision. And I’ve got to do more study on that, because evidently these guys carried some clout and they could hurt your reputation and they could severely persecute you if they ever found out you weren’t a part of the system. And I’m just wondering if these false teachers were not afraid of the same people. I don’t know. Maybe they were the same people. But whatever it was, there was a fear of being persecuted for the message of the cross.
They didn’t understand that the message of the cross answers everything they’re trying to tell other people. They’re putting them under the law. But Jesus, when He came, He’s the God-man and He lived according to the Law. He dotted every “i,” He crossed every “t.” He just said “I didn’t come to destroy the law. I came to fulfill it as a man. You men that are trying, you can’t do it, but I can, I’m God.” And then He took our sin debt, which is the wages of sin having transgressed the law, He took our sin debt upon Himself, went to the cross, paid the price. He resurrected the third day, ascended 50 days later, glorified. Now when a person trusts Him for their salvation, He that gave the law, He that fulfilled the law, comes to live in us. All we have to do is say yes to Him and the law is taken care of. But they didn’t get it. They didn’t get it. Or, if they did get it they didn’t buy into it. These Judaizers were afraid to provoke the Jews who persecuted those who preached the cross. Paul said if I preach circumcision, then why am I being persecuted? That’s one of his other verses in the epistle.
So they were arrogant. They didn’t care about anybody but themselves. They just wanted a number. They just wanted people. They just wanted to brag on the flesh of others. They were adamant. They hardly ever gave up. They tried to compel the people to be circumcised and they were afraid. Quite interesting, and that’s one of his points as he closes. He says, now, if you want to go listen to them, that’s your choice, but I’m just telling you what they are.
Then the second thing he puts in capital letters to get their attention is the event of the cross. In verse 14 he says, “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to Me.” Now listen to this, “and I to the world.” You see, the event of the cross changes everything. The event of the cross eradicates religion in any form, puts it aside, because He wouldn’t have had to go to the cross if religion could work in any way to produce what a person desires in his relationship with God. The apostle Paul says that “I’m not going to boast in anything except in the message of the cross.”
Now, it’s this message of our dying with Christ and being raised to walk in newness of life that Paul preached everywhere he went, everywhere he would go. That’s why he was persecuted. Galatians 2:20, what did he say? That’s our key verse for the whole book. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” as a result of the cross. “And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” And so Paul says, “May it never be!” That’s one of his favorite phrases. He uses that at least 11 times in Romans. That’s kind of like driving up to a parking place and there’s a sign there that says, “don’t even think about it!” That’s not going to happen again. May it never be! It’s absurd. Don’t even think about it. Paul says, “May it never be that I should boast in anything except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
You see, boasting identifies something. Boasting calls attention to something. These Judaizers boasted in the people they could get to buy into a false message. But Paul says, “I’m not going to boast in anything. I’m only going to call attention to the cross of Jesus and what He came to do for you and I.” Paul says, “I want to be identified with the message of the cross.” Paul was no longer the same person because of the event of the cross. Since he’s met Christ he died with Christ on the cross, the law has no claim on him ever again. Verse 14 again, “But may it never be that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now watch this. This is the change. This is what that event and the event of his salvation caused. Paul says, “through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
Now, what are you talking about here, Wayne? Because of the cross Paul, stands dead to the influence of the world. That’s perfect passive. Perfect tense means something happened back here that causes a result over here. Paul says, “I’m over here because of that event of the cross. Because when I received Jesus I was immediately crucified with Him and there’s something different about me now.” The word for “world” there does not have a definite article behind it, which means that the context is pretty much going to have to help us understand what it means. Specifically in Paul’s life, now not in ours, but in Paul’s life, it was the world of Judaism, the world of law in religious flesh.
I still get this, something that runs up on me; I guess it’s my sense of humor: How these people were trying to buy into something that Paul was so grateful having been set free from that very thing. He’s the greatest religionist that ever lived. He was a Hebrew amongst the Hebrews. He says in Philippians 3, he said “according to the law I was found blameless.” But he said, “man, I count all that as loss.” Paul says, “that world has been crucified to me;” passive voice, “the moment I received Jesus is the very moment it went away. Because of the cross I’m in a severed state;” now listen carefully, “to the world that used to control me.” The Judaizers could not in the least tempt Paul to return to the religious world. No way! There was no way. There was not a single one of them that could in any way get his attention because that’s gone. He’s severed from that world. That world has no claim on him because of the cross. That attachment is gone. It’s severed.
And then he turns it around and he says, “And I to the world.” Not only is that world taken away from me when I received Christ, and he became a man with no country there for a while. The Jews didn’t trust him. The Christians couldn’t. Nobody knew what to do with him for a while. But something else happened inside of Paul, and that is that he was crucified to the world. The world was crucified to him, but it’s reversed around. He says, “and I to the world.” God took the delight out of religion for Paul. He just took it away from him. He found nothing in it anymore. And so there that delight was taken away. He says in Philippians 3, “I just want one thing in my life. I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be there at the resurrection of the dead. I want to be the living among the dead. I’m not a religious person anymore. I’m saved. I’m a believer, the cross, the event of the cross has severed me from a life that can never control me again and the Lord Jesus now has taken away that desire to even be a part of it.”
You say, well Wayne, why do we talk about the flesh? Now listen, the flesh only has power when we choose not to sow the right seed. Then we begin to go back to that principle, like a magnet pulling us back. But truly in our hearts there’s no desire for it. Who we really are in Christ is only seen when we’re saying yes to Him. And Paul says, “I want no part of it. Of these false teachers message, I want no part of it.”
What claim, by the way, this morning have you mistakenly believed that the world you came out of when you got saved still has on you? There are so many people who still haven’t understood this, that when you say yes to Christ you are released from all that old bondage and garbage and everything else that’s in your life and you come into the joy and the newness of knowing Him. And it has no claim on you. If the flesh lies to you and says, “oh yes it does,” no, no! “Brother Wayne, I was an alcoholic.” Listen, God took that away from you. You say, “well, I still have to fight it from time to time.” Mark it down, it’s when you’re not saying yes to Christ. That’s the only time the flesh has any kind of desire to go back. You and the world, me and the world, Paul and the world that we came out of have parted company when you put your faith into Jesus Christ.
Church won’t do it. Christ does it! And that’s what Paul’s been trying to say in the book of Galatians. You didn’t get saved by some religious teaching. Maybe they used PowerPoint. Maybe they passed out things. Maybe they were good at what they did. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Jesus saved you. And the event of the cross separated you from the world that used to control you. So he talks about the evil of a counterfeit. They’re all counterfeit. They don’t even live what they tell you when they get into the flesh works.
But the second thing is the effect of the cross. Religion can’t touch it. I tell you what; when you can have people that’ll argue with you and they’re good; some people can tie me around a tree because I just don’t particularly like to argue; or they can debate you; but I’ll tell you what they can’t touch is a transformed life. A transformed life says more than anything we can ever come up with to say cleverly. A transformed life. When God touches your heart and changes you from the inside out you will never want a religious anything again. You just want Jesus in your life. And he puts it in capital letters. He said now are you hearing me? Did you hear what I said?
And then thirdly, the effect of a new creation. As a matter of fact, the effect is the new creation. Look what he says in verse 15: “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but,” here’s what matters, “a new creation.” No work of the flesh is impressive to God. God is in the business not of building great standards, God is in the business of making new creations. This is what Paul has been trying to get across throughout the whole book. The word “new” is the word kainos. I’ve told you before and perhaps to remind you a little bit, there are two words for “new.” There’s the word neos. You go out and buy a new car, but it’s really not new. You had one before. And as soon as this one gets dirty you’re going to want another one. So it could almost have the idea of another. New, yes to you, but not new. Cars have been around for a long time.
But then there’s the word kainos, which is used here. Kainos is also used in the New Testament, new covenant. Every time you see that word “new” when it comes to our relationship with Christ, this is the word that’s used and it means qualitatively, totally brand new, never seen before. We’ve become, because of God’s grace and faith alone in Christ alone, we have become new creations. Second Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he’s a brand new creature,” same word. The process of making a new creation in Christ will never be changed or replaced. Religion cannot make a new creation. Oh, they can bring some innovations; they can even dress it up a little bit; but they cannot change the heart. Only Christ can make a new creation. We are products of the cross and therefore the effect now is that we are new creations.
Circumcision or uncircumcision, Paul says it doesn’t matter. It hasn’t got a thing to do with you being who you are. When it comes to producing new creations, it’s faith alone in Christ alone. It’s only through faith in Christ that we’re made new creatures. You say, “Wayne, he didn’t say that right there.” Oh, he’s summing up the book. And I just picked one verse. My goodness, we talked about this for six weeks, from chapter 3 verse 26, “For you are all sons of God,” how? “through faith in Christ Jesus.” There is no other way. This will never change. The making of a new creation is only through faith in Christ, never change.
And so Paul is building here, but he’s really summing the book up. He talks about the evil of the counterfeit. They’re arrogant, adamant, they’re afraid and they’re a joke because they don’t even live what they tell you to live. But not only that, the event of the cross; the event of the cross is what severed us from the world that used to control us. And the result is the effect of that, is the new creation that we now have become. And then he finishes the book, and I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little sad. I hate to leave in Galatians. You get in a book this long, to me, it becomes part of you. And it’s not like saying goodbye to an old friend because I’m going to stay with it. I mean, there will be times when we’ll come back to it. But in verses 16-18 he finishes it out. He gives the evidences of this new creation that has become one because of the event of the cross. Certainly not the evil of a counterfeit.
Verse 16: “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them and upon the Israel of God.” The word for “walk” there is the word stoicheo. It’s not the normal word for walk. You know the other word for “walk” means wherever you are just circumspectfully just make sure that this is that. But this is different; this has the idea of marching. You know, you march in a row, in a rank. It has almost the idea of follow. You know when you are marching, even though you’re in a row, you’re following a guide. Somebody is calling that cadence, and you’re following that leader. But this is the idea. You’re walking to a standard. It’s got nothing to do with legalism or anything like that. But it’s just an evidence that you’re following a rule.
“Those who walk by this rule.” The word for “rule” is the word kanon. Kanon refers to a standard, a plumb line. There’s been a plumb line that’s been dropped and this is governing the way you walk. It’s a truth that is agreed to and evidenced by the way one lives. Now don’t lose the context. Verse 15 tells you the context. He’s in a finishing mode here. He’s not going to elaborate. He says, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” And how do new creations walk? What is the rule? What is it that’s evidenced in their life? By faith, by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith. The truth of being new creations is only by faith in Christ. And once you are a new creation, as he said in verse 20, “The life I now live I live by faith.” And so he’s helping us to understand now the evidence of being a Christian.
How do you know Christians? Well, a person can be a Christian and not be walking by faith. That’s not what Paul’s saying. But Paul’s saying it’s obvious when they’re walking by faith. You know you’ve got a new creation and it’s because of the event of the cross, not by some evil counterfeit trying to tell them that religion is the way. And those who live only by faith, those who walk by this rule. This is the same thought we had back in 5:25 and he says “if we live by the Spirit,” since we can, “then let us also walk by the Spirit.” How do you walk by the Spirit? By faith.
To those specific believers who so followed or modeled this standard, were living by faith, he says, “Peace and mercy be upon them.” Now, that’s another evidence here. “Peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” I tell you, that term “the Israel of God” is an ouch term, because what he’s saying is the spiritual Israel of God are those who have placed their faith into Christ, turned their back upon the Law being the way of righteousness, and because of the event of the cross, been severed from that world and become new creations. This is the true Israel of Christ. Now, don’t jump ahead of me. This has nothing to do with the nation of Israel. God has made promises to them and one day they will be the spiritual Israel of God in the sense that there’ll be a day of their redemption. He’s not talking about that. He’s talking about every man’s born a sinner whether Jew or Greek or whatever. There are only two—Jew or Gentile. And everybody’s born with the sin of Adam. It doesn’t matter who they are. And they have to come in the same way, and that’s through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, he just simply sums up what he said in 3:7 in other places, all of chapter 4. He said, “Therefore be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham;” believers who have trusted Christ and Him alone, whether Jew or Gentile make up what he calls the true Israel of God.
Paul wishes upon them two things, these people who exemplify faith. He wishes peace and mercy. When you walk by faith you’re going to have the peace of God all over you. It’s something that’s inward. Your life may be caving in on the outside, but you’re going to be so inwardly strengthened with peace on the inside. But not only that, when you make those mistakes, the mercy of God be upon your life. Whenever; God never talks about perfection in Scripture ever, but always predictability. And when we make those wrong choices as we saw in 6:1, if you see a brother caught by a sin, when we make those wrong choices and sow in the wrong field, the mercy will always be there because our heart is to walk with God and to say yes to Him. So the evidence is peace and mercy. It’s people who walk by faith.
But he adds one more as he concludes, and that is that there’s a price to pay. Second Timothy 3:12 says “Indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” I so often wish it would say “might be persecuted.” I kind of like that better. It didn’t say that: “will be persecuted.” And some, for whatever reason and I don’t understand this, seem to be asked to pay more than others. I have never fully grasped that. I know that Tozer wrote a book and he said that only the people that God trusts does He allow to suffer greatly. That statement has stuck with me for many years. Maybe that’s part of it. I don’t know.
Verse 17 he says, “From now on,” here it comes, “let no one cause trouble for me; for I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus.” Boy, I’ll tell you what, my heart just softens when I hear that and think about the apostle Paul. I think about the casual Christianity that has invaded America today, and people know nothing about persecution. But then again, maybe we don’t know anything about walking by faith. And when I say “we,” I’m not talking about us, I’m talking about the church as a whole in our day.
Paul has been severely persecuted for his faith in Christ. His statement, “From now on let no one cause trouble for me,” tells us everything we need to know. The Judaizers had caused a lot of grief in Paul. They had assaulted his integrity; as we saw in chapter 1, he had to defend his apostleship. They had assaulted his message which is the obvious reason he had to write Galatians. And then they sought to kill him on several occasions. One’s listed in Acts 20:21 and that context there when they tried to assassinate him just because he preached the message of the cross, the message of Christ. The false teachers intentionally went after Paul and the message of grace. You can preach law, I’ve discovered, and pretty well get away with it. People like you because the flesh is being pampered and it can do things and measure it. But you start preaching the message of living grace, you start preaching the message of flesh is rotten and only Jesus can be Jesus in us and that He didn’t come to make our flesh better, He came to replace it, that’s when the persecution comes, that’s when you become the target of others because they’ve got to get rid of you. If they don’t, they’ve got to deal with their own flesh. And that’s been true in church history, much less in our day.
The word for “trouble” is the word kopos. It refers to laborious toil. It is mostly used in a bad sense. It’s something that causes one to be extremely bothered. And because of this, perhaps he’s hurt or whatever, but because of this it requires a lot of mental and emotional time and labor to deal with whatever it is somebody’s done to him. Now that’s the inward side of this persecution. But Paul goes on to reflect on the outward side of that. He says, “Let no one cause trouble for me; for I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus.” Now this is the actual physical torture that he went through. The word “brand marks” is the word stigma. It comes from the word stizo, which means to puncture, make a mark in the body to puncture it or to brand the body.
Pain is automatic, and in understanding the essence of the word, the evidences of Paul being a bondslave that he calls himself in Romans 1:1 and a prisoner of Jesus over in Ephesians 4:1. Those evidences were outward on his body. You know Paul talks about himself being a weakling kind of in appearance. He says over in 2 Corinthians 10, and I get the picture he’s a little bowlegged, hook-nosed bald-headed little Jewish boy that doesn’t look like much. He says “When I am with you my boldness is not from me it’s from the Lord.” But my heart breaks when I think of the marks on his body. A man who for once understood what Christianity really is and he had paid a price because of it.
The marks of persecution, what I believe Paul’s talking about, is found in 2 Corinthians 11:13-30: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers [speaking of these same types of people he’s dealing with in Galatia], disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it’s not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their deeds.
“Again, I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I may boast a little [he’s going to have to defend himself]. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to their flesh I will boast also [but in a way they don’t think about]. For you, being so wise, bear with the foolish gladly. For you bear with anyone if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he exalts himself, if he hits you in the face. To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison.
“But in whatever respect anyone else is bold—I speak in foolishness—I am just as bold myself. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as I’m insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren. I have been in labor and hardship through many sleepless nights and hunger and thirst, often without food and cold and exposure. Apart from such external things there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all of the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.”
Oh, for the 21st century to produce a believer who lives what he says and bears the marks of the Lord Jesus on his body. What marks do you bear? What marks do you bear today?
The evil of a counterfeit: they’re fakes; they’re arrogant, adamant, they’re afraid; they don’t even believe what they teach you. The event of the cross: the event of the cross severs us from the world that used to control us. And the effect is a new creation and the law and the religion cannot produce a new creation. It’s only by faith alone in Christ alone. The evidences of a Christian; he walks by faith. He lives by faith. He doesn’t live under some kind of rule and regulation. He lives up under the Master who made them all and he says yes to Him. What evidences are in your life today that bear witness that you’re a Christian?
I found a song I want to close with, and I think this song says what Paul’s been trying to say.
- Free from the law—O happy condition. Jesus has bled and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Christ has redeemed us once for all.
- Once for all—O sinner receive it; Once for all—O brother believe it. Cling to the cross, the burden will fall. Christ has redeemed us once for all.
- Now we are free—there’s no condemnation; Jesus provides a perfect salvation; “Come unto Me,” oh hear His sweet call, Come, and He saves us once for all.
- Children of man—oh glorious calling, surely His grace will keep us from falling; Passing from death to life at His call, Blessed salvation once for all.
- “Once for all—O sinner receive it; Once for all—O brother believe it.” Both groups right there.
You say, “Wayne, I’m going to put you up against a wall and hold a gun to your head and tell me now give me one succinct sentence that tells me what it means to walk by faith.” Let me do that. First of all let me tell you this. Get into this Book for yourself. Get in the Book. Why? Because faith comes from hearing and hearing from the what? How can you walk by faith if you’re not going to walk in the Book? That’s got to absorb and saturate your mind. Well, when you get into it understand that the One who wrote it is the One who saved you and He has delivered you and so therefore your confidence is not so much in this. It’s in Him, therefore, it can be in what He says. Trust it. Stand on it. Make choices, sow the right seeds from it and allow Jesus to be Jesus in you. That’s Galatians. Don’t go back to religion. It’s not worth it.