Christ ‘Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness’ (1 Peter 2:24). In our hearts, we say, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. Paul has something special to say about this statement. This is what he says - ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance’ (1 Timothy 1:15). This is Paul’s message, the message of the Gospel: ‘Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all’ (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Paul speaks of ‘the glorious Gospel of the blessed God’ (1 Timothy 1:11). He speaks as a man with a testimony: ‘I received mercy... the grace of our Lord overflowed for me’ (1 Timothy 1:13-14). God is still looking for people who will say, with Paul, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 1:16; Galatians 6:14). May God help us, in our generation, to be ‘eager to preach the Gospel’ (Romans 1:15).
Jesus was ‘going up to Jerusalem’ - to the Cross (Mark 10:32). He came to die, ‘to give His life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). The death of Christ lies at the very heart of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:23 & 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7, 2:2; Hebrews 2:9). Don’t think, ‘Glory for me’ (Mark 10:37). Think, ‘Glory to God’ (Mark 10:43-44): ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
'Every spiritual blessing' is 'in Christ' (Ephesians 1:3). The moment you begin to feel superior - 'I am blessed because I am obedient' (There is too much of 'I' in this!) - , remember: 'in Christ'. We are blessed because God loves us and Christ died for us. It is His grace which changes us. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Our obedience comes from Him. Our disobedience comes from ourselves. We do not deserve His blessing. We deserve His judgment. There is only one way to blessing: Humbly confess your sin, turning to the Lord in whom alone there is blessing. We must not 'be proud' of our 'obedience'. There is only one thing about which we should 'boast': 'the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 6:14). Thank God for His 'new covenant' (Leviticus 26:42,44-45; Hebrews 8:8-13; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
The ‘wilderness’ was a place of ‘testing’. God was ‘disciplining’ His people. He was teaching them to ‘walk in His ways’ (Deuteronomy 8:2,5-6). In the ‘wilderness’, we must remember this: ‘man does not live by bread alone... man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). Everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord - His warnings as well as His promises! He speaks to us in warnings: ‘Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God...’ (Deuteronomy 8:11). He speaks to us in promises: ‘the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land’ (7). ‘God forbid that I should glory...’ (Deuteronomy 8:8:17-18; Deuteronomy 9:4-6; Galatians 6:14). God gave Israel the land. He gives us ‘the Kingdom’ (Luke 12:32). As earthly kingdoms rise and fall, ‘the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed’ (Daniel 2:44).
God is 'holy'. We cannot 'draw near' and 'come' to Him without a 'sin offering' (Leviticus 16:1-3). We cannot bring 'a sin offering' to Him. We can only bring our sin: Our righteousness is 'like filthy rags' (Isaiah 64:6). There is a 'way' for sinners to 'draw near' to God: Christ is the true and living Way (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19-22). In Leviticus 16:20-22, we have a great picture of Christ bearing the sin of the world: 'Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood... Full atonement, - Yes it is! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’ Atonement has been made for us...We have been cleansed from all our sins (Leviticus 16:30): What a perfect atonement! What a perfect Saviour! - 'God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 6:14).
‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith’ (Romans 1:16). Do you think it was easy for Paul to maintain such commitment to Christ, such confidence in Christ? What kind of world did he live in? - A world of ‘ungodliness and wickedness’ (Romans 1:18-31). Many times, Paul could have given up in despair - ‘There is too much ungodliness and wickedness all around me. How can I go on?’ When you feel like giving up, when everything seems to be so difficult, remember Paul. Remember his longing to ‘impart some spiritual gift’, his desire to ‘reap some harvest’ his eagerness to ‘preach the Gospel’ (Romans 1:12-15). Let us say, with Paul, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). Let us be ‘set apart for the Gospel of God’ (Romans 1:1).
‘You stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe’ (Romans 11:20). In Romans 9:32, Paul contrasted ‘faith’ and ‘works’. Here, he contrasts ‘grace’ and ‘works’ (Romans 11:6). Grace and faith belong together. ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling.’ This is faith, looking away from itself to divine grace. We do not come to God with our religion in one hand and our morality in the other. We hear the Gospel invitation - ‘O come to the Father through Jesus the Son’. Trusting in Christ, we say, ‘To God be the glory! Great things He has done.’ It is only when we bow at the foot of the Cross that we are able to say, with Paul, ‘To Him be the glory for ever!’ (Romans 11:36; Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
‘The arrogant one will stumble and fall’ (Jeremiah 50:32). God’s Word warns us - ‘Pride goes before... a fall’; ‘Arrogance will bring your downfall’ (Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 29:23). We must not trust in ourselves. We must put our trust in the Lord - Our ‘Redeemer is strong. The Lord Almighty is His Name’ (Jeremiah 50:34). We must not boast of ourselves. Salvation is ‘not our own doing’. We must ‘boast of the Lord’. Salvation is ‘the gift of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). When we are tempted to take pride in ourselves - ‘Lord, I thank You that I am not like other men...’ (Luke 18:11-12), we must come to the Cross of Christ, praying the sinner’s prayer - ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13) - and boasting only of the Lord - ‘God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
Jeremiah speaks of those who are ‘circumcised only in the flesh’. They remain ‘uncircumcised in the heart’ (Jeremiah 9:25-26). Paul tells us that ‘not all who are descended from Israel are Israel’. Salvation is not a matter of outward conformity to religious rituals. What we need is ‘circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit’ (Romans 9:6; Romans 2:28-29). Jesus put it this way: ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:7). Many people have been ‘brought up in the Church’, but they’ve never opened their hearts to Christ. They’ve heard the Word of God preached many times, but they haven’t been born again through the power of ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3). Our religious rituals mean nothing if, in our hearts, we remain unconverted: ‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation’ (Galatians 6:15).