See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 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. 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. 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. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. – Galatians 6:11-18 (ESV)
At the end of the day what really matters? Paul answers this question in verse 15: “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Notice Paul’s balance. With the coming of Christ we don’t move from Jew good/Gentile bad to Gentile good/Jew bad – “neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision.” What matters is that God has brought about new creation through the person and work of Jesus Christ and by placing our trust in Him we participate in this new creation. “The Jews in Paul’s day often looked forward to a ‘new creation’ that would follow the destruction or renewal of the world. What the Jews eagerly anticipated, for Paul has already arrived in [Jesus] Christ (Andrew Das).” History has dramatically turned on a hinge. All ‘simply human’ factors become meaningless in the face of God’s world-transforming work in His Son Jesus Christ. To place confidence in the flesh reveals that we have totally missed what God has done. As Paul would later write in 2 Corinthians chapter 5:
…, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
That’s what matters for you both today and for the rest of your life. Are you in Christ and therefore a participant in His new creation – or are you separated from Christ and part of the world that is passing away? If you put lipstick on a pig – it’s still a pig. If you put the shiny veneer of religious activities on the decaying corpses of a fallen world – they are still dead. What we need is not new makeup but new life – and that life is in God’s Son Jesus Christ and in Christ alone.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 65
Q. 65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations.