As Paul brings his letter to the Galatian believers to a close, he summarizes his main point in 6:11-18. He gives a tremendous challenge to these believers to remain faithful to the message of the cross that he had previously taught them. Paul makes a statement in verse 14 that seems almost off hand if not carefully considered. Most of us catch the first phrase in this sentence and we would readily and whole heartily agree that we “boast” only in the cross of Jesus Christ. Have you really stopped and chewed on the second half of that sentence? “…by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14b ESV) What does that mean? Paul says to these believers, ultimately to us, that the world system in all of its attractions is dead to him. Not only that, he is also dead to these attractions. The things in this world are no longer attractive to Paul. They no longer have any affect on him. Why? Because he has died to them – “…they have been crucified to me…” We know when this “crucifixion” took place. Romans 6:6 states that at the time of conversion, when we are baptized into Christ our old self was crucified. Paul teaches the Galatians that those in Christ and who are led by the Holy Spirit have crucified the passions and desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:24. The next question that comes to mind is what in the world system was crucified to Paul and is no longer attractive to him? What no longer has any influence on him? Well, I am sure this list is not exhaustive; you might be able to add to it. I stopped after seven specific items. I have a long way to go in order to crucify these things so that they are not longer attractive and no longer have any influence on me, so seven was enough. These seven specific items are in no particular order of importance or significance. Power – no longer did Paul have the desire to obtain or exercise direct control over anyone or anything for his own glory or satisfaction. Authority and control for the sake of authority or control no longer attracted him. He was a messenger, a bond-slave, one sent by authority. Popularity – Paul did not have a burning desire to be popular or well thought of by his peers. He told the Corinthians not to judge him nor was it any longer important what any one thought of him since God would be his judge. He told the Galatians that if he wanted to be popular he would preach circumcision and the false teachers would leave him alone. Prosperity – a simple cursory examination of Paul’s life will show that he had no lingering desire for wealth. He worked with his own hands, went out of his way not to be a burden to the churches he ministered to. He often suffered with hardships, like hunger and thirst. Possessions – this is similar, maybe even a shirt-tailed cousin to prosperity. The difference may be in the fact that he did not accumulate “things” in order to be measured successful. He did not have a 2500 square foot tent with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, bonus rooms, or two camel garages. He never mentioned the need to rent storage facilities to “store” his stuff.
Pleasure – Paul took no pleasure from the things of the world. Sex, parties, alcohol, and all things sensual were crucified to him. Paul never appears psychotic or disturbed; he took his pleasure in Christ and Christ alone. Paul would have promoted C. S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and John Piper in his blog site. Paul’s greatest treasure was Christ, read Philippians carefully! Philosophy – Paul was crucified to the vain traditions and philosophies of the world. He told the Ephesians and Colossians to watch out for them and to shun them. The thought process of the world have no attraction for Paul with things like, “love yourself, take care of number one, who ever dies with the most toys wins, God is dead, or taste not touch not in order to obtain some sort of spiritual nirvana. Prominence – Paul was probably destined to be the next great Rabbi and Jewish authority. It did not matter to him. He did not boast in himself or his accomplishments. As a matter of fact, we have his opinion in Philippians – something about dung? Paul boasted in the cross.
One little phrase in a summary as he closes his letter, but a phrase packed with powerful implications. I too want to be crucified to the world and it to me. I want to die to these seven specific items. What did Jerry Reed say in Smokey and the Bandit, “we have a long way to go and a short time to get there?”
Thank God, everyday, He through His grace and His Holy Spirit are at work in me conforming me to the image of His dear Son. I have been crucified to the world and it to me. Day by day I reckon this to be true!