Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 20:- Dead to the world (Part 2)

. No 20:- Dead to the world (Part 2)

Experiencing the power of the cross (Sermon 20)

Dead to the World (Part 2)

Galatians 6:11-16 (ESV) “11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

Introduction.

We started last week to look at our next sermon in the series ‘Experiencing the power of the cross’, and specifically at the next concept which is ‘being dead to the world’.

During last week’s sermon we first of all established what the ‘world’ is not. It is not the globe or earth that we are walking on, neither is it simply humanity and it is also not simply spiritual vs. unspiritual or worldly vs. spiritual as we often define it. The danger with a term like worldly is that it leaves itself open to interpretation. When I was a kid, the movies were worldly, volkspele (folk dances) were worldly, wearing denims was worldly, long pants for ladies was worldly and good Christian guys did not drink, smoke or chew, and did not go out with girls who do.

We then took note that our key verse namely verse 14 is snugly fitted into the context of verse 11-16 which gives us a better understanding of what Paul means with the statement in verse 14 that we crucified to the world and the world to us. So to understand it we began to unpack the various verses surrounding verse 14.

We saw in verse 12 that there are legalists who have entered the fold of the Galatian church and drew them back under the law. I am sure that circumcision was only one of many issues. The reason I believe so is based on the following statements in these verses. In verse 12 the legalists are what they are in their fibre for the sake of boasting. They simply want to make a good show, or to show off as far as their type of spirituality is concerned, and they forced the Galatian church into this same mould. The bottom line reason for this behaviour is fear of persecution for the sake of the cross. They will rather conform to legalism and look good, than to stand against it and possibly face persecution.

We saw in verse 13 that they are people who are quick to get others to keep their laws so that they can boast in what they are achieving in the lives of others, but at the same time they are champions at not keeping their own laws. They are a people who care for the letter, but not the spirit.  The religion of human achievement is always concerned about how you look on the outside while not caring too much for the inside. Such is the religion of human achievement.

The next verse is the heart of what we are dealing with here so far, and here we learn a million dollar lesson for our Christian faith.

14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

So Paul says, ‘far be it from me’ or as you and I will say today ‘heaven forbid’, or ‘no ways’ will I boast except in the cross. With Paul we have to say, that we ourselves will NOT glory in the flesh and human achievement.

I am sure to some extent we all have somewhat arrived in our Christian walk. Surely we are more mature than we were at first. Now if you look at the flesh, you think you have arrived, but soon as you look at the cross you know you have not. Paul knew all about this and by the way he had a lot of reasons to boast. If the legalists of Galatia wanted to compete Paul might possibly have outclassed them all. Look at what he says about himself in Philippians 3:3-7 (ESV) 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Church family the insignia or emblem of Christianity is the cross and not the two stone tablets of Moses. The insignia represents the heart and soul of who we are as part of Christianity. The only way you come to God is through the cross. Anybody, here this morning with two stones with ten laws around your neck? So why a cross, because ultimately all it is, is a torture instrument. But Christian, realize this: - the cross is the most important thing that ever happened in redemptive history because it's the only way that men can be right with God. You cannot come to God through human achievement. You cannot come to God through works righteousness. You cannot come to God through religious ceremony. The only way is to have your sin atoned for on the cross, to have Christ pay the penalty for your sin, nothing else will do it for you. We glory in the cross then because it is the act of divine accomplishment that brings salvation. The cross is the crux of the religion of divine accomplishment. On the cross the purpose of God was summed up, on the cross the purpose of God was worked out and on the cross the purpose of God was finished. That is why Paul can say in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Oh may we always boast in the cross. It is there at the cross that Christ Jesus clothed Himself in our unrighteousness to such an extent that I believe the Father turned His face away as He could not look upon the sin His Son was bearing. Just think of the anguish of the cross that Christ would cry out, ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’. Then it was at the same cross that Jesus clothed us with His righteousness. God’s justice demands that our sins be paid for by blood, and Christ did it. He paid our sins in full, and was able to cry out Tetelestai, which means, it is finished or it is paid, as our account for sin, the wages of sin was settled in full.

Christian, listen carefully what I am going to say now. If you could achieve eternal life through the flesh, through obeying the law, through traditions, through works, then the death of Christ was stupid, irrelevant, pointless and meaningless. Do we even grasp the fact that He died the death we should have, that He died in our place. That is why Paul can say in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 (ESV) 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Sadly today, many churches have wondered from the message of the cross. The story is told of a church whether true or not that had on its front outer wall the words: ‘we preach Christ crucified’. The ivy against the wall started covering the sign and soon it said ‘we preach Christ’, and then later it kept on growing and eventually the sign said ‘we preach’, and then even later the sign said ‘we’. And so many churches start with the cross, and later just preach Christ without the cross, and later it is all about preaching their own doctrines, and then it becomes all about ‘we’ or ‘us’ and our own achievements in the flesh. This is sadly where the Galatian church was.

May we once again share Paul’s determination in 1 Corinthians 2:2 (ESV) “2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Paul understood clearly that we are living in a moral universe where sinful man will reap the wages of sin which is death, and the only hope man has is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So let’s join Paul today by saying boldly that we will boast in nothing else but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now why would we come to the cross and boast in the cross alone?

Firstly, because it is through the cross that we are dead to the world and the world to us.

Verse 14 again: 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

The relationship that we formerly had with the evil world system is over, death has severed it. The world is Satan’s prevailing dominating system of false religion that demands of men loyalty and submission and impossible achievement. It is that satanic system that produces the wrong goals and aims and ends and desires, that which every man is born into as it says in 1 John 5:19 (ESV) 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”.

That is what we are dead to, that system that lies in the power of the evil one. Church family, the death of Christ has changed your relationship to the world. Even your wisdom now is not what it was before. James 3:14-17 (ESV) 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

We are no longer part of a system that is under Satan, and our wisdom is no longer worldly wisdom. Our mindset fits the new Kingdom we are part of. Paul says in Philippians 3:20 (ESV) that 20 our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”.

For the Galatian church the worldly system that was seeking to corrupt them was law, Judaism and the flesh, all controlled by Satan and the basis is demonic and earthly and unspiritual. But as for us, we will not boast in the flesh, we will boast in the cross. All of my life, all of my decisions, all of my wisdom, zooms in on the cross, where I know I died to sin, Satan, the flesh, the world, the law and anything else that is driven by the forces of darkness. We died to those enemies of the cross, that parade as wolves in sheep clothing, that parades as an angel of the light, but has one aim and that is to force us to lose confidence in the cross and to trust in our great archenemy, the prince of this world, the ruler of this world.

Church family, do you reckon yourself as ‘dead to the world’. We have been cut off from the worldly system that is demonic, and the worldly wisdom that is demonic. We think differently, we act differently. Sadly today, many Christians have adopted the world’s wisdom, the world’s agenda, and the world’s theology. Being dead to the world and the world to us is not new legalism. It is not issues like I do not drink, or smoke, or watch movies, or whatever legalists will throw at me. That is more law. But if anything of these is destructive to me, seeking to destroy me and breaking my family and my life apart, then I shun it as it is set on fire by Satan and his forces.

So we came to the cross and we boast in the cross because through it we are dead to the world and the world to us. But there is more.

Secondly, we come to the cross because the cross did what the flesh could not do.

Verse 15 tells us where the real difference lies. “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation”.

Christianity is not a matter of do’s and don’ts. Whether you are circumcised or not does not make a difference. The issue here and in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Paul cuts to the chase and says that whether you are circumcised or not, whether you participate in rituals or not, whether you participate in ceremonies or not, it means nothing. The existence of these or the non-existence of these do not subtract or add to your salvation. Your salvation is in Christ alone, because of the cross alone, and there Christ accomplished that what flesh and the world can never do. I came to the cross because the cross did what the flesh couldn't do. Christian, these legalistic things do not free you from sin, it does not free you from guilt and it does not free you from judgment. It is meaningless, absolutely meaningless. All it does is to rob you from freedom and to put you back under law.

If you put confidence in the flesh, then you are responsible to create your own new world, to establish the rules, and to determine your conduct, but if you are a new creation, you embrace the freedom, not freedom to sin, but freedom to enjoy Christ. People who are changed by the cross can say with Paul from Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Life in the flesh, life under law is where we determine the path that we should walk in, but true believers walk in the path determined by God.

There is a third reason why we come to the cross and boast in the cross.

Because it brings me all the benefits of salvation.

Galatians 6:16 (ESV) “And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

I love Paul’s comment here. He is not simply writing off the Jews and Judaism. Paul is definitely not anti-Semitic. All he is writing off is their desire to come to God apart from a full confidence in the cross. There is an ‘Israel of God’ and that is not you and me by the way. We are the church of Christ, but the ‘Israel of God’ are Jews who put no confidence in the flesh but who come to Christ and come to the cross, and enjoy the freedom the cross now gives them from achieving their spiritual status by laws and works.

Peace and mercy is available for all who walk according to the rule of the cross, even those who are Jews. Christian if you are sold out to this concept of glorying in the cross and not the flesh, do you realise that peace and mercy is yours? Church family, this sums up everything. True peace is in the cross. True mercy is in the cross. That's all we need. Peace means that the relationship with God is right and the resources are available and you do not work for it. Mercy means that God will deliver whatever is needed to cover the misery that sin continues to bring even upon us who belongs to God.

As Christians we are of the cross, severed from the world, and we find in the cross and the Christ of the cross all the sufficiency for every issue of life.

In closing.

Have you concluded with me today that if one died for all namely Jesus Christ, then all died to the world and to the ruler of the worldly system. Christian, don’t go back to the system from which you were cut off. Why will we look for what we need where it does not exist? Your answers do not lie in the world, it lies at the cross.

My friend, today we all stand before only two choices in life. You either believe you're going to make it into God's presence by some virtue of your own or some religious accomplishment, or you come to the foot of the cross. You will not make it on your own, the religion of human achievement only damns. If you come to the cross and you find in there the power of God to save, you will find there from that point on and for the rest of your life the sustaining and sanctifying power as well. And I submit to you that the same Christ whose death could save you, now lives to sanctify you. We have this glorious promise in Romans 5:10 (ESV) 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” If in death He can redeem, imagine what He could do in life. And that's precisely what He is doing as you now daily experience the power of the cross.

Pursue Christ, pursue the cross and remember you are dead, so that you may live.

Amen!

Logos Community Church:- 25 August 2013