"For, brethren, ye have been called into liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." (Gal. 5:13-15.)
There is ever a strong tendency in us to "savour the things of men" in the things of God. We put our construction and draw our own inferences from the thoughts of God, which are not like our thoughts, but infinitely higher and more blessed (see Isaiah 55:8, 9), and thus debase them. Look, for example, at liberty; how wide the distinction between the human and divine thought on this very point. Liberty, according to man, is wilfulness — every check taken off from the human will, issuing in the very worst form of corruption and apostasy. The Jews in their worst state of bondage, both temporal and spiritual, had the hardihood to say, "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" How solemn the reply of Jesus to these boasters of their freedom. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant [slave] of sin." (John 8:34, 35.) The apostle Peter very plainly shows, that in the days in which we live, the loudest boasters of liberty were themselves miserable slaves of corruption. (2 Peter 2:18, 19.) We are called unto 'liberty,' but not a liberty for the flesh to act, but for us to serve. Christians are often led to connect their worship and their service with their salvation. But the truth is, they are made free by Christ in order to worship, to serve God, and serve their brethren; yea, and to serve all men, so far as they can. The gospel is the law of liberty, the law of love. And how easy and blessed is the law of love: love has 'a constraining' power — the law, rather a restraining power. The law of liberty is not "Thou shalt not," but its language is, "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Until the question of our individual acceptance is settled, the heart is not 'enlarged' to serve God. We are made free from sin by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, in order to become servants of God. Real liberty and true holiness are inseparably connected together. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets free from the law of sin and death." When really free ourselves, instead of judging others, we are free to intercede for them, knowing the grace in which we ourselves stand. A legal spirit is ever a fault-finding spirit. If we were more in the region of grace, we should be less in the region of judgment. But the moment we become legal, we bite and devour one another, instead of ministering grace one to another, cheering one another onward, so as to enable us to tread with a lighter step this weary wilderness.
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16.)
How important it is for us to have the thoughts of God with respect to 'the Spirit,' as contrasted with 'the flesh,' The true doctrine of the cross, and life in the Spirit, are intimately connected together; so that we cannot truthfully hold the one apart from the other. God's judgment has been passed on 'the flesh' in the cross of Christ, where God "made Christ to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." In consequence of this, life in the Spirit flows forth from the risen and glorified Jesus. The spiritual man is a new order of man, coming forth after death and judgment have passed on the old man. (See Gal. 2:21.)
It is according to this new order of man that we should walk. The Spirit makes us alive to new thoughts, new affections, new interests. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." The spiritual man finds every thing of the world antagonistic to him. He cannot feel at home in the world. His interests are in another sphere. He worships in an unseen temple, and has an unseen altar and priesthood — all is spiritual, and it is only by walking according to this order that we shall be kept from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. If we would avoid bad company, the best way is to keep good company. And it requires but a small amount of Christian experience to trace our most grievous failures to walking in the flesh; we forget from what we have been redeemed, and at what a price. If we walk not in the Spirit, having our desires, thoughts, and interests in heaven, we shall often fall even below the world's standard of righteousness; because we have not the restraints which the world is forced to put on the flesh, to conceal its real character. When Israel ceased to regard their peculiar privilege of having Jehovah for their king, and desired to be as the nations among whom they were 'not to be reckoned,' they speedily became worse than the nations. If Christians settle down into conventional righteousness, they make the cross only a safeguard from punishment, and know it not as a mighty separating power, even as that which separates between oneself and oneself, and as that which delivers from the world. Hence lowness of walk; because the only real safeguard against fulfilling the lusts of the flesh is to walk in the Spirit.
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." (Gal. 5:17, 18.)
A great truth is here brought out in strong relief. There is hardly a Christian who has not practically attempted to contradict the assertion, that the flesh and the Spirit are contrary the one to the other. The doctrine of progressive sanctification' virtually denies this truth. We are "sanctified unto the obedience, as well as the sprinkling, of the blood of Jesus Christ;" but the flesh, even in the believer, is unchangeably the same, and he is made very experimentally to know that 'the flesh' is enmity against God, and to find his power against it in the cross of Christ. It is the presence of the Spirit which makes us know the evil of the flesh. We become disappointed in ourselves and in others; but this should teach us the unchangeable character of the flesh, whether regarded morally, intellectually, or religiously. We are surrounded by religious flesh — flesh in its most dangerous form, because it uses the name of Christ to sanction itself. But still the word remains unrepealed: "All flesh is grass." But the apostle does not make a one-sided statement, so as to allow us to use the knowledge of what the flesh really is, to sanction its workings. The flesh is hindered by the counter working of the Spirit, so that it cannot carry out its own tendencies. It is still flesh, ever the same, so that the most advanced Christian cannot put off his armour as though it were subdued. He knows it better, and is more watchful against its subtle wiles, and understands how to meet it by looking to the cross of Christ. And when the flesh would say, 'Spare thyself,' it is met by the word of the Master, 'Take up thy cross.'
It is an important thing to be led of the Spirit. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And the Spirit leads us also into conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil; but the Spirit also leads us unto Jesus, and guides us into all truth, and shows us where our strength is — not in legal endeavours, but in receiving out of the fulness of Jesus. "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21.)
What a dark catalogue of the works of the flesh which are manifest. There are other workings of the flesh which are not open and palpable, and which can only be judged by those who are spiritual. There is 'the fleshly mind' (Col. 2:18), and 'the flesh' in its religious aspect, in which Paul could have no confidence. (Phil. 3:3, 4.) But even in the works of the flesh which are manifest, while some are morally offensive to us, others are not so, but are equally offensive to God. We draw distinctions between these works which the apostle classes together. While outward sensuality and libertinism is reprobated as fearfully evil and injurious to human society; 'variance, emulations, wrath, strife, heresies,' are not regarded in so dark a light; and yet they prove equally, that there is no fear of God as an influential principle, and they equally exclude from 'the kingdom of God.' 'Emulation' is the work of the flesh. It is the principle on which most of us have been educated; but it is in its spirit the most opposite to the Spirit of Him "who did not strive, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street." 'Emulation,' as rivalry, or competition, is the life of the world; it is honoured and respected; but it is but "the potsherd striving with the potsherd of the earth," to the utter forgetfulness of the real condition of man before God, as a lost and ruined sinner, and real greatness in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18:1-7.) 'Envyings and murders' are grouped together, even as they came into the world together in Cain. 'Drunkenness and revellings' are found together; and 'such like' comprises all those exciting and refined amusements, for which men are content to pay so dearly. The world is glad to restrain some of the more gross works of the flesh for its own sake, whilst they encourage, as necessary and even advantageous, 'emulations,' 'revellings, and such like.' Herod heard John gladly up to a certain point; but when John plainly touched his conscience, by saying, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife," he put John in prison. 'Seditions and heresies,' party-spirit in the State, and party-spirit in the Church, for such is heresy, may often be found combined together against the truth of God. In this epistle, whilst the apostle presents us with a rich exhibition of the grace of God, he comes in with a most unsparing hand against the flesh, its lusts, its affections, and its works. Stern as the apostle is against the corrupters of the grace of the gospel, he is no less stern in his denunciation of practical ungodliness. "I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." (Gal. 5:22-24.)
There is a happy contrast between "the works of the flesh" and "the fruit of the Spirit." The flesh works, as it were, independently; but the Spirit produces fruit by our abiding in Christ. "From me is thy fruit found." And so we have the connection in this passage between the fruit of the Spirit, and the doctrine of the cross. God, in the Cross of Christ, has passed sentence and executed judgment on the flesh and its works. And so those who are in the Spirit recognize the Cross, and use it practically as their power against the flesh, and its affections and lusts. If the apostle brings in the Cross as a mighty separating power between himself and himself; "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;" he here brings it to bear in moral power on the affections and lusts of the flesh. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." The fruit of the Spirit is but a single cluster, but of beautiful variety; but if we count up the varieties of which the cluster is formed, how they fall numerically below the works of the flesh. Sorrowful truth, but too plain, that which we witness and which make up the outward manifestation of human life, are the works of the flesh, against which the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against which there is law. Many of the samples of the fruit of the Spirit are so unobtrusive, that if we were walking in the Spirit we should be "unknown, yet well known;" passing as pilgrims and strangers through the world, without joining in its restless interest. "The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God." "Against such there is no law." May those who know the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free, so "abide in Him as to bring forth much fruit, that the Father may be glorified."
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Gal. 5:25, 26; Gal. 6:1.)
How little of real spiritual joy is known by most of us. Yet surely "the lines are fallen to us in pleasant places," "the Holy Spirit being the earnest of our inheritance." We do not live in the Spirit as we might do. Christ is the object and source of our life; and, as risen with Him, we are called upon to set our affections on things above. If our conversation be not in heaven our walk will not be in the Spirit. It is a present heaven which is now our portion, because Christ is there; "as is the heavenly, such are they that are heavenly;" We are partakers of a heavenly calling. If we only look forward to the enjoyment of heaven at some future time, we shall have no spiritual joy now. And our walk will be according to our condition — a vain attempt to serve God and mammon. If we live in the Spirit, we enter on eternal life now 'we have eternal life,' and our walk should correspond to that which we have. A Christian should not only walk before God and with God, but be so occupied with those joys which are spiritual and eternal as to be able to help and gladden others vainly struggling with the many forms of human misery. We are not walking in the Spirit when we are desirous of vain glory. We are come down to a lower level, and draw the comparison between ourselves and others, instead of living in the enjoyment of the heavenly realities which are ours in Christ. He who lives in the Spirit lives near to God, and has need to be severe in judging himself, so that he has little heart to judge another; but a legal spirit always binds us down to the world, and sets us on the judgment-seat, instead of bringing us before the mercy-seat.
There is a restoring power in the grace of the gospel of which the law is incapable. The law can condemn, but it has no power to restore. In nothing do Christians show themselves more legal than in dealing with 'a brother overtaken in a fault.' They judge as they are bound in faithfulness to Christ to do; but is it with a view to restoration? The spiritual man knows how to restore; the natural may convict and pride himself on another's fall, but he cannot restore. And how low are Christians fallen; how do they walk as men in judging others, instead of considering themselves, lest they be also tempted. How wonderfully consistent is the doctrine of Scripture; 'considering thyself.' Let no Christian consider himself as proof against a fall, however faithful he may be. It is dangerous to presume on our faithfulness, but safe when considering ourselves; because of our sense of the unchanging evil of the flesh to rest humbly, yet confidently, in the faithfulness of God. We all know our personal need of restoring grace, and to that same grace should we look for the restoration of a fallen brother.
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden." (Gal. 6:2-5.)
It is Christ Himself who invites 'the heavy-laden' to come to Him, and that He will give them rest. And He would have us learn of Him in this respect, that we might bear one another's burdens. The Lord of glory Himself, who had no burden of His own to bear, was pleased to put Himself even under our heavy burden of sin, and "to bear it in His own body on the tree; that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes we are healed." How shall we answer this amazing instance of love but by His own new commandment, "that ye love one another, even as I have loved you." We should go before God and make our brother's sins our own in confession, even as Daniel did, identifying himself, though separate from it personally, with the sin of Israel. "We have sinned, we have committed iniquity." It is in this way that we come into the apprehension of the restoring grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The very fall of another, which would naturally lead us to thank God that we are not as other men, should lead us to see that we only stand by faith, and if we become high-minded we shall fall. The moment we think ourselves to be something, we only deceive ourselves; we forget that grace alone maketh us to differ, and like Jerusalem, instead of regarding the perfect comeliness which God has put upon us, we trust in our own beauty. (Ezek. 16:14, 15.) When this is the case, the real dignity of our standing becomes lost to our apprehension; for our 'nothingness' and Christ's all-sufficiency are necessarily connected together. We cannot hold the one without holding the other. It is both common and easy to glory with respect to another, by drawing a comparison between ourselves and another. But this is to take a low standard. We must look to the perfect example of Christ Himself, and that never fails to cast us on His unfailing grace and His finished work. (See 1 Peter 2:21-25.) We are called upon to prove our own work, not our brother's; to give an account of ourselves to God, and not of others. "Every man shall bear his own burden;" therefore, "let him prove his own work."
"Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." (Gal. 6:6.)
It had been said of old, "Buy the truth, and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23); but is has ever been found, that few attach much value to 'the truth.' The Lord Himself, 'the truth,' was valued at thirty pieces of silver, a goodly price — the price of a slave; and therefore we must not be surprised to find, that the most inestimable treasure, 'the word of salvation,' is prized at but a low rate. Men of the world pay highly for their pleasures and amusements; and men will also pay for outward religion. But 'the truth,' that which comes from God to show to man his real condition in reference to God, and the way of reconciliation with God, man values not. But the apostle found, that even real Christians did not estimate the value of the ministry of the word at all adequately. And he exhorts the Galatians to prove that they appreciated the value of the gospel, and had as much delight in it as the men of the world appreciate and value their pleasures.
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal. 6:7, 8.)
This is a very solemn word to Christians. It is connected with the word which immediately precedes it; "God is not mocked." He regards our objects, our interests, our very tastes. What are they? Is it our object to know so much of Christ only as we think needful for our salvation, and then to sink down into decent worldliness; so that the very men of the world can perceive that we are as eager in the pursuit of this world as they themselves are? Let us not be deceived; for God is not mocked. And the wisdom of God has laid down the rule, that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. 'The flesh' in a Christian, although it be his privilege to recognize its judgment in the cross, will be found putting forth its claims, and craving to be satisfied. It is specially spoken to the Christian: "He that soweth to his flesh." It is easy to see that those who are in the flesh can only sow to the flesh. But there is in the Christian another principle, 'the Spirit.' The contrast is not without meaning, 'his flesh,' the Spirit. There is a way of avoiding the keen edge of the Word of God — the sword of the Spirit — by turning it against the unconverted, instead of allowing us to probe our own consciences. Therefore, says the apostle to us, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." If the Christian sow to his flesh, he shall reap what he sows, even corruption. Nor does it require any very lengthened experience to prove to the Christian how every result of sowing to the flesh has issued in disappointment, if not in deadness of soul, or positive corruption. But there is a peculiar form of 'the flesh' to which the Christian is liable to sow, and that is to religious flesh, in some shape or other. There is the same tendency in us as in the Galatians, to turn aside from the true doctrine of the cross to ordinances, or to seek to please the imagination, or puff up the intellect; and where this kind of sowing takes place, what a harvest of corruption do Christians reap. And, oh what a mercy, however smart the discipline, if all their works are now burnt up, and they, stript of every thing, are led to the Cross of Christ to be saved by that, and nothing else. There is another contrast here, in the respective harvests to be reaped — 'corruption' — 'everlasting life.' There is an everlastingness in all that is sown to the Spirit. When the Lord speaks of fruit resulting from abiding in Him, it is fruit which should remain. Where the gospel is received, it is everlasting in its effects. There will be no forgetfulness, when in heaven, as to how we came there. That way will be had in everlasting remembrance, in the never-tiring new song, "Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." Nothing done in reference to Christ, His cause, His people, will be forgotten, be it small or great; the cup of cold water given in the name of Christ, will have an everlastingness in it. It is well for us now to look to this our sowing time; for our harvest will be as our sowing is, whether to our flesh, or to the Spirit.
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them which are of the household of faith." (Gal. 6:9, 10.)
There was such a blessedness in the gospel, when the Galatians first heard it (Gal. 4:15), that no self-sacrifice was thought too great, so that they might testify their value for it. But when they listened to those who would pervert the gospel, and dim their perception of its rich grace, weariness supervened. They became busied about ordinances and their own salvation, and thus became weary in well-doing, They needed to have the great doctrines of grace again ministered to them to stir up their earlier zeal. Scripture and experience alike show the tendency in the believer to "leave his first love." When first the light of the gospel bursts on the soul, it is so blessed that hardly any thing appears a sacrifice. Little does he know the deadening influence of all around him, or the deceitfulness of his own heart; and weariness in well-doing ensues. Our apostle, in another place, shows us the need of the reiterated application of the doctrines of grace to the heart and conscience, in order to "maintain good works." (Titus 3:4-8.) We may be disappointed in our expectations for the present; "but in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." The Lord's own ministry seemed to be 'in vain' (Isa. 49:4); but it only seemed. He was not discouraged; and now that 'the due season' has come, what an abundant harvest is gathered in from that one "corn of wheat which fell into the ground and died." The ministry of Paul seemed to end in failure (2 Tim. 1:15); but we are witnesses this day that his labour in the Lord was not in vain; while we get strength, comfort, and refreshment from his writings. "Let us, then, not be weary in well-doing." This is our time of 'opportunity.' In heaven we shall have no sick to visit, no widows and fatherless to comfort, no backslider to reclaim. Our hearts should be enlarged to all human suffering, "for our heavenly Father is kind to the unthankful and the evil;" but the "household of faith" has claims on our highest sympathies. And we know, that for the most part it is a tried, tempted, and suffering household. Alas! on a retrospect, how many lost opportunities present themselves to our view.
"Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair show 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." (Gal. 6:11-13.)
The epistle to the Galatians appears to be the only one which the apostle wrote with his own hand. Tertius wrote the epistle to the Romans, and the apostle closed it with his benediction and signature. The apostle's spirit was stirred; for the truth of the gospel was at stake, and hence the urgency of the case. He wrote to them with his own hand. Circumcision was the point in the apostle's days, because it was the badge of adherence to that which was established and formal. It served to accredit the flesh, and nothing does the flesh affect more than to invest itself with all the privileges of the Church of God, and at the same time avoid the offence of the cross. How ready a way to this was opened by a system of ordinances. Men were taught that they became Christians, not by living faith in the accomplished work of Christ on the cross, so as to bring them with a purged conscience to serve the living God, but by submitting to an ordinance. And when once this ground was assumed, one ordinance was imposed on another, so that peace with God was rendered impossible. Peace can only be in one way, the divine way. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." And the assertion of this truth has in all ages called forth opposition, if not persecution, from that which is established and ordered, and where man and his works, and not Christ and His cross, are prominent. It is no question of real practical godliness. They who insisted on circumcision did not keep the law but they would impose it, in order that others might recognize an authority which is not of God. When once the soul has laid hold on Christ and Him crucified on the testimony of God, it dare not allow any other authority to come in between itself and God. Various are the desires to supersede or overlay the doctrine of the cross. In our day a busy activity in social improvement is used to conceal the glory of the gospel, as being the only power to set man in a right and happy relation to God.
"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. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be unto them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen." (Gal. 6:14-18.)
Others might desire to glory in fleshly distinctions, but the apostle would only glory in the Cross of Christ, the great leveller of all fleshly distinctions. What was it that had brought the apostle down from his supposed superiority over his co-religionist? (Gal. 1:14.) The doctrine of the Cross. What had taught him to take the place of the chief of sinners, seeing he had thought it a religious "duty to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth"? (Acts 26:9.) It was seeing the glory which God had given to Him whom men, religious men, had rejected and crucified. What had taught the apostle the doctrine he so insisted on to others, that where sin had abounded grace had super-abounded? The Cross of Christ. What had delivered the apostle from the galling yoke of ordinances? The Cross of Christ. (See Col. 2:14, 15.) But the Cross of Christ had done more for him; it had showed him the world in its true character, as that which could not bear the presence of God in it. It had proved that the world's civilization and religion were alike opposed to God; for all the leading authorities in the world, whether those in political power, or the leaders in religion, or the leading minds of the age, had conspired together in the crucifixion of the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:8.) Then, through the Cross, the world was to the apostle a crucified thing. He could not look on it with complacency, because he saw its real enmity against goodness itself in the person of the Son of God. Is the world so seen by us through the same medium, even the Cross of Christ? "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." Bring the leading authorities of the age in which we live to this unchangeable test, and it is the same world still — the world which crucified the Lord of glory. But the apostle knew not the Cross apart from the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; and therefore, associated with Him risen, he could look down on the world as that out of which he had been delivered. We must know the power of Christ's resurrection, in order to form a right estimate of the world. (1 John 5:19.) And what was the apostle in the world's estimate? 'A pestilent fellow,' 'a babbler,' against whom the wise men of the day directed their wit. (Acts 17:32.) He was, in fact, a crucified thing — one whom the world could easily spare, and would be glad to be rid of. Paul had left the world behind him, as to its interests and pursuits, and was crucified unto it.
The real power of the doctrine of the Cross is, to show the world in its true light as a judged world, out of which the believer has, in God's amazing grace, been rescued. (Gal. 1:4.) So that if he be true to the doctrine of the Cross, he must be crucified unto the world — not only one who cannot help on its interests and objects, but one who stands in the way of its interests and objects. It may be said, that "Christians are not so; the world both accepts their help, and gives them help in return." And why? Because Christians are not true to the Cross of Christ. They do not look at the world through the medium of the Cross; they do not see it, and all that is in it, to be 'not of the Father;' and, consequently, as much arrayed against Jesus as Judas, when he betrayed Him with a kiss. Let us be honest, and test ourselves. Is the world to us a crucified thing, because we glory in the Cross of Christ, and from the Cross see into a glory which makes all the glory of this world fall into the shade?
A new creation bursts upon us when we take our stand by the Cross, and see in it the judgment of God on the old creation. He that hanged on the Cross said, "It is finished." And the same blessed One says from the throne, "Behold, I make all things new." "These words are faithful and true." "It is done." The old creation is passed away, the new one introduced, in which "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain for the former things are passed away." This is the new creation which bursts upon us; and we are to walk according to the rule of it. They only who see the end of the old creation in the Cross, and Jesus as the head of the new creation in resurrection, can take the place of the Israel of God. They have power with God and man, because the flesh is broken and set aside; and they have life in the Spirit meeting its supplies out of the fulness which is in Christ Jesus. "They walk after the Spirit." Peace and mercy be on them.
The false teachers insisted much on the outward mark of circumcision; but, says the apostle, I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Scourgings, imprisonments, cold and nakedness, sufferings in preaching the gospel of the grace of God to sinners had left their marks on the body of the apostle. With these marks of suffering for Christ and for the gospel's sake, it was an impertinence to trouble him with the question of circumcision, or other things equally indifferent in themselves.
The apostle knew one remedy to meet their case, and answer, as it were, all their questionings, and this he expresses in his earnest prayer for them: "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."