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Friday, March 15, 2024

Jesus Christ Crucified



For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

—1 Corinthians 2:2


Paul was unwaveringly in his determination to know only Jesus Christ and what He had accomplished in his life. He knew what would happen when you take your eyes off Jesus and the cross. Turning away from “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” will only lead us back to ourselves. You will be deceived about who you are in Him. 


That is what happened to the Galatians when they began struggling to prove their righteousness by trying to meet the requirements of the Law. Religious leaders who endorsed the Law were infiltrating their church gatherings and causing the Galatian believers to doubt the freedom they had received in Christ.  


What if Paul had been wrong? What if they were really not righteous through grace? Should they go back to the Law to relate to God? Were the rules more important than having a relationship with Him?


The Galatians were easy prey for those who promoted the Law. In response to their deception, Paul gives His strongest rebuke in the Scriptures. 


O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified” (Galatians 3:1)?


Paul was shocked the Galatians had rejected the grace of Jesus for legalism. They were no longer persuaded to believe the truth of the Gospel! Paul declares that their actions defied logic. Christ’s death on the cross had been clearly presented to them. The Law could not save them. They had believed in the perfect work of Jesus on the cross for them. But now they acted like an evil spell had been cast over them. 


Paul asks them some questions to make them think about the foolishness of what they were doing.


“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”  (Galatians 3:2-3).


Paul was asking them, “Did you receive the Spirit by keeping the Ten Commandments?  Did the Spirit come to live inside of you because of your performance or because you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Can you add anything to Jesus’ finished work of grace? Can you add to the righteousness you have received by your own self-effort?


It was just foolishness for them to try to make themselves right with God! Only the Spirit gives life. Self-effort would profit them nothing (John 6:63)!


Paul continues:


“Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:4-5)?


After having suffered persecution for believing the gospel of grace, the Galatians were yielding to the pressure from false religious leaders. They had even experienced many miracles because of God’s grace—not just randomly, but consistently. In fact, the verb phrases “supplies the spirit” and “works miracles” are active verb particles. There was a constant supply of the Spirit and a continuous working of God’s power for miracles. Why would they ever go back to the Law after experiencing the outpouring of the Spirit?  


Having begun by faith in Jesus, why would we try to live for Jesus by our own self-effort? Why would we attempt to justify ourselves to God? The fear of what others think about us and the temptation of self-righteousness are powerful things when we take our eyes off Jesus and the cross. 


“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” Paul declared, “and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).


The Galatians had returned to a weakened mixture of faith and works, law and grace. Are some of us doing the same? 


When we work to prove our righteousness to God, we are only proving our own foolishness. We are entangled with a yoke of bondage to the dos and don’ts, rules, and regulations instead of living in the liberty by which Christ has made us free. 


We are not changed by what we do. We are changed from the inside out. Outward holiness without inward heart holiness is a yoke of bondage. You are always reaching and always trying, but never making yourself holy. Holiness and righteousness are works of grace that you receive and put on by faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:24).


Jesus’ yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Jesus carried your heavy condemnation of not being good enough to the cross. He was crucified for you, and you are crucified with Him.


“I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul writes. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).


Keep your eyes on Jesus and Him crucified, and you will keep your eyes off the glaring debt of your unworthiness. Instead, you will see yourself made righteous in Jesus’ perfect work of grace. Your need to prove your worth to God will be crucified with Christ. It will be Jesus who lives in you, and you will live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself for you.



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