In Gal 6:14, we read, ” But as for me, may I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
When Paul wrote these words, it would still be another 400 years until the cross became the symbol of Christianity. But even so, Paul tells us only to boast in the cross.
Why did Paul tell us to boast only in the cross?
Throughout his ministry, Paul, the Apostle, was faced with constant opposition from what is called the circumcision party. These were people who believed a Gentile believer in Christ had to prove their salvation by circumcision. If they were circumcised, they were saved, how they behaved after circumcision could never endanger their salvation. So to them, the proof of salvation was not the moral choices you make; the evidence was the physical circumcision.
Circumcision is a commandment in the Torah, but it is not a requirement for salvation. There are two reasons for this; one is in Genesis 26:5, where it says Abraham was righteous by faith because he believed in and obeyed the Torah. Abraham was not circumcised right away; he first had to learn how to obey Yehovah. The other is Acts 15: where it says, Gentile believers are saved if their faith in the cross is shown in repentance back to Moses. When they have repented, they have to learn how to obey Moses. In Gen 26:5 and Acts 15, we see how obedience is emphasized over circumcision but not instead of circumcision.
So what the circumcision party did was to take one commandment in the Torah and twist it to mean something completely different. Yehovah never intended it to be a proof of salvation, only as a commandment we are to obey as we grow in faith. So why did they emphasize circumcision that much?
Paul says, in Gal 6:13, their motive for doing this was to boast in how many they had circumcised. So their purpose was to take credit for saving people, not unlike many Christian denominations today boasting on how many they have led to Christ.
The Bible says, in John 6:44, we can’t save anyone only Yehovah can save. So when someone takes credit for saving people or leading them to Christ, they are making themselves into an idol, and that is a severe grave sin because they claim the credit that belongs to Yehovah.
Paul says in Gal 6:14; we are never to boast in how many we have won for Christ, we are only to boast in the cross. Why should we boast in the cross, and what does it mean to boast in the cross?
As Christians, we would expect Paul to say we should boast in the cross because Yeshua died for our sins, but instead, Paul says in Gal 6:14 is we should boast in the cross because the cross separates us from this world.
What is Paul talking about, and why is he not referring to the cross as atonement?
In Gal 6:14, Paul quotes Jeremiah 9:24 where Yehovah says, “But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am Yehovah, who exercises loving, devotion, righteousness, and justice on the earth-for I delight in these things declares Yehovah.”
We know, from the book of Exodus and 1.John, when Yehovah refers to love, righteousness, and justice, He is referring to the Torah. So what Yehovah is saying in Jeremiah 9:24 is this, He delights in His Torah. This should not surprise us, considering how the Torah is the very essence and character of our Father in heaven and His Son Yeshua. So what Yehovah is saying in Jeremiah 9:24 is this, we are to boast in and have the Torah as the object of our faith. Why the Torah? Because the Torah is the essence, character, and personality of our Father Yehovah and His Son Yeshua. If we boast in the Torah, we know who Yehovah is and what He expects of us.
But is this not what Paul is criticizing the Jews for at the beginning of the book of Romans? Paul is not criticizing them for obeying the Torah, not even for boasting in the Torah. He is criticizing them for not following the Torah they boast about. As long as we obey the Torah, we are supposed to have the Torah as the object of our faith and brag about it.
Who do we resemble if we boast about the Torah?
Yeshua, we resemble Yeshua because He made it very clear in the Gospels how He loved the Torah to such a degree that He would destroy anyone who did not obey it. (Matt 5:19)
So what Paul is trying to tell us is this, by having the Torah as the object of our faith, we will become more and more like Yeshua, and this is why we should boast in the cross.
Paul says in Gal 2 and Rom 6 if we believe Yeshua died for our sins, we also must believe we were buried with Yeshua and raised to a new life with Him. Paul would not agree with those who only emphasize the cross, and not the burial and resurrection. According to Paul, we need to believe in all three to become more like Yeshua.
If we believe, Paul says it has to show itself in how we live our lives. This is what the book of Galatians is all about, how Paul time and time again says if you are saved circumcision of the flesh is not essential. What is necessary is a new creation in Yeshua and a changed life.
In Rom 6, and Gal 2, Paul says if we believe we died with Yeshua on the cross, we have a responsibility to yield to righteousness. Here we see Paul agreeing with James, faith without works is dead and can not save us.
What is righteousness? 1. John and the book of Romans say righteousness is obedience to the Torah. If we believe Yeshua died on the cross, Paul is telling us to prove our faith by allowing Yeshuas personality to live through us. What are Yeshua’s personality and character? His personality, His character, is the Torah (the written law of Moses.). So if you reject the Torah, you reject Yeshua. If you believe in a Jesus who did away with the Torah, you believe in a different Jesus, then the Jesus of the Bible.
Paul says all of this can only happen because of the cross where Yeshua died for us, was buried, and resurrected. So Pauls proof of salvation is not circumcision, Pauls proof of salvation is the cross that made it possible for us to enter into the new life where we live as obedient sons and daughters of Yehovah.
On the cross we died with Yeshua, we were buried with Yeshua, we were raised to a new life with Him. If we genuinely believe this, it is our responsibility to live our faith and walk our faith in obedience to the new life and Moses. When we do, we become sons and daughters of Yehovah. We will overcome the devil (Rev 12, Rev 14), and we will have no reason to worry about anything (Matt 6:25-34, Deut 28:1-13.) But most important of all, we will never hear Yeshua say “depart from Me for I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness (Matt 7:21-23.)”
So choose to boast in the cross today, and show the world you boast in the cross by walking in obedience to Moses.
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