Whose Accomplishment?

Galatians 6: Whose Achievement?

This morning is kind of a sad day for me, because we are getting close to the end of our series in the book of Galatians. I’ve been preaching here for six and a half years, and we’ve gone through a lot of scripture together, and every time we do, every single book that we look at changes my outlook a little bit in a way I didn’t anticipate.

No book of the Bible that I’ve ever looked at has done more to solidify my belief that salvation isn’t because of anything I’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done, than the book of Galatians.

Remember, this book was written by the Apostle Paul to confront a specific problem. There were jewish Christians who were trying to make gentile Christians follow the jewish law and the big point that Paul (and the Holy Spirit through Paul) makes in this whole book is that Salvation is by grace, it’s not our works, and the moment you add our works to the mix you mess up the whole thing.

It’s either grace or works. You are either saved by grace - by what Jesus has done, or you are saved by works, by what you have done. ::It’s one or the other. It’s “do” or it’s “done.” “Do” stuff to make your way to God or accept what God has already “done.”::

And the message of this book - I believer, is that Christianity is about what Christ has done, not about what we are expected to do. It’s about Christ’s achievement, not our works.

That’s how this book starts and that’s how this book ends. So let’s look at Galatians 6:11-18

”[Gal 6:11-18 KJV] 11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. 12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14 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. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with your spirit. Amen.”

In Bible times, they had no copy machines. They had no printers. They had no screens. They didn’t even have printing presses. The only way to record something was to write it out by hand. Pen to paper.

How many of you are proud of your penmanship? I’m certainly not. I have terrible, terrible penmanship. I remember in elementary school, when penmanship was a subject, my report card was like A, A, A A A D. And the D was always in penmanship. I write thousands of words every week. I’d be lucky if I write 1000 words a year using a pen and paper.

So in Bible times, everything was handwritten, and if you had something important to write - something you actually wanted people to read - you would hire a scribe to write it for you. You would dictate to this scribe who was kind of like a human printer. He had immaculate, extremely neat handwriting.

Probably all of Paul’s letters were written by dictating to a scribe or a secretary and then, at the end of the book, Paul would write the last paragraph or so in his own handwriting. So people would know it was actually from him and not a forgery.

That’s what we have here in verses 11-18. This is probably the part of the letter Paul wrote in his own handwriting. Look at verse 11:

”Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

I always thought this meant that this was a long letter and Paul wrote it all. But I actually don’t think that is what it means. “How large a letter” could also mean “How big handwriting” and I think that is what he is saying here. I think whether Paul took up the pen to write the last paragraph or wrote the whole thing himself at this point Paul purposely wrote in very big letters.

Why? And why mention it here?

Yesterday I went to Wal-Mart by myself to pick up a few things for supper. Amanda sent me a text reminding me what to get. If she said “get Dr. Pepper, Milk, Coffee” and then in all capitol letters said “AND DON’T FORGET THE CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP.” What would be the point of all caps?

If you get a letter and at the end of it in 22 point font, all caps, with exclamation points, red ink and underline it says “Make sure you vote on March 20”. What would that mean?

It’s obvious, it’s an emphasis. It means, if you forget everything I wrote, don’t forget this. What I think Paul is saying here is “Listen, this is so important that I want you to see that I am writing it myself, in my own handwriting, and I’m just in case you miss it, I’m writing it really, really big.”

So what did Paul want these Galatians not to miss?

Look at the verses 12 and 13. Remember this whole book was written about these people who claimed to be Christians but who were introducing works to salvation and preaching another gospel. Notice what Paul says about them:

”As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.”

There is a lot to unpack here. Remember, there are only two religions. There is the religion of “do” and there is the religion of “done.” There is you trying to get to heaven by your works, or you trying to get to heaven based on Christ’s works. Do vs. Done.

Every false religion, every single one of them is a “do” religion. All of them say “here is what you have to do to please God and get to heaven.” Mormonism, The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholicism, many Christian sects, Islam, Christian Scientists, Hinduism, Bhudism, Taoism, we could go on and on. All of them are man’s attempts to please God with their own works.

And the difference between them and Biblical Christianity is this. Biblical Christianity says there is no way you are going to please God with you own works. You can’t do it. You are broken. You at your best isn’t good enough to reach God’s standard. You are a sinner and your sins must be paid for. But God loved you so much that he sent a substitute to pay your sins for you.

So to summarize: the cost of admission into heaven is so high you can’t possibly pay it yourself, and Jesus Christ came and died on the cross to pay it for you. All you have to do is trust Christ’s work. It’s not “do” it’s “done.”

The false teachers in Galatia took the gospel - which is the religion of “done” and they added the works of Judaism to it. They were telling gentile Christians that they had to be circumcised and that they had to keep the law.

Why? Why do people come up with false religions? Why do people add works to the gospel? Why do people insist on a religion of “do?” Paul answers it here.

Basically, what you have in these closing motivations are ::the motivation of the “doers” vs. the motivation of the “donors”::

So that is the outline I’m going to give you this morning.

Let’s start with

1. The motivation of the “doers”

Paul gives us three things that are driving these false-teachers and false-religions:

The first is

They do it for achievement.

They want to “make a fair show in the flesh.” They want people to be able to look at them and see how holy and how righteous they are. They want to feel like they have done something.

Listen to me folks, beware of any religion that likes to pat itself on the back. Anytime you feel yourself saying, well I’m a good person, I don’t do this and this and this, and I do this and this and that - that’s not Christianity speaking, it’s pride speaking.

The easiest thing in the world is to turn Christianity into a bunch of rules. A lot of people want that. They just want rules. They just want me to tell them exactly what to do. They want a dress code. They want a bunch of check boxes they can tick off so they can say “look, I’m a good Christian, I do this and this and this.”

If someone asks you “Why should you go to heaven?” what are you going to say? Here are some answers I’ve heard:

  • Because I was baptized.
  • Because I go to church every Sunday.
  • Because I’ve lived a good life.
  • Because I give to the church.
  • Because I don’t sin like those people do.

All of those are wrong answers. All of those are human achievements. All of those are you trying to work your way into God’s good graces. They are false religion.

The second motivation of “do” religion is…

They do it for approval.

Paul said in verse 12:

”only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.”

The religion of the cross offends people. When you tell people they aren’t good enough, it offends them. When you tell people all of the works they have been working don’t matter, it offends them.

Most people in this world will tolerate a “do” religion. That makes sense to them. They’ll approve of that. But the moment you say that you are a sinner that can’t save himself, then you are offending them.

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 1 and we are going to read verses 20-25:

”[1Co 1:20-25 KJV] 20 Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

The gospel is an offense. It’s a stumbling block. It is too simple for the intellectuals. It is too easy for the religious folks. It’s foolishness to them.

In Paul’s day, if you were a Christian who preached the cross - you would be cut off from your jewish friends and family. You would be persecuted by the Roman Government. It was an unpopular position, and these false teachers were trying to soften it a bit so they weren’t as unpopular.

They were doing it for approval.

The last thing they were after is…

They do it for applause.

Look at verse 13:

”For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.”

These false teachers weren’t keeping the whole law. It’s impossible to keep the whole law. They were failing by their own standards. But do you know how they got over that - they made converts.

This is something that a lot of false religions, a lot of “do” religions do. They go after converts as a way to salve their conscience. They know they are failures by their own standards, so they go out and get more people to be failures with them. It’s why the mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses keep knocking on your door. They need converts so they can have something to brag about.

But it’s not always converts. It is always something they can brag about in the flesh. That’s what the words “glory in” mean. They mean “something to brag or boast over.” “Something to pat yourself on the back for.”

They do it for achievement, approval and applause. That’s the motivation of the “doers” but what is…

The Motivation of the “doners”?

Look at verse 14:

”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.”

Remember, “glory” means to “boast or brag.” Paul is saying “I only have one thing to boast or brag about, and it’s the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do you know what a cross is? We are going to see a lot of crosses this week. It’s easter week. You see people with cross tattoos and cross necklaces. Do you know what a cross is? It’s an instrument of torture and death.

Literally, it’s like having a guillotine necklace or an electric chair tattoo. It’s the most unlikely symbol ever.

So why do we brag on the cross? Why do we glory in the cross? Because the Bible teaches that we can’t save ourselves, we are sinners, and Jesus died on that cross for our sins. He paid my penalty and he paid yours.

I want to imagine that there is this beautiful house in your neighborhood. Immaculate lawn. Beautiful architecture. I mean, it’s a mansion. And there is this smiling guy who is always coming out of the house and getting into his Mercedes wearing nice clothes. And one day you meet him at the mailbox and you say “Man, you must be proud of all of this.”

And the guy says “Actually, I have nothing to be proud of. You see, I was in prison for a crime, I was awaiting my execution, and I was guilty. Then some man who was completely innocent took my penalty, He died for me and all that you see here, it was given to me by Him.” I have nothing to be proud of, but I’m sure grateful for that guy, he saved my life.

That’s the gospel. We don’t have anything to brag in, besides Christ. We were guilty, Christ took our penalty on the cross. Everything good about our life is a gift we don’t deserve. And if we are going to brag in something, we need to brag in Christ.

The cross changes our relationship with the world.

”by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”

The cross changes our relationship with religion.

”For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”