The Cross:

The End of the Religious Man and of the Secular Man.

Galatians 2:19-20; Galatians 6:14.

Christian Friend vol. 14, 1887, p. 74.

Both are here before us, and both are ended in this epistle. Christ, the new Man, only avails before God. No one could have been more religious than Paul. His religion, that of a honest, natural man, only tended to raise Paul in his own estimation. In chapter 2:19 it is all at an end. What he was clinging to and providing himself with in (the law) has killed him. The bubble has burst; and then only, and not before, he gets life. Life is not by law, but from God; but there was an end for Paul of the religious man. Religion under law is bondage.

Many an honest heart is groaning under this yoke, trying hard to improve the natural man. It only lands you in wretchedness. You cannot improve him. Nothing avails for man but death. Not till then do you get life; but the life is Christ Himself, not Saul improved, or made religious, but Christ displayed in Paul in a human body. So the next verse says, "I am crucified with Christ." This was the end of the religious Saul of Tarsus. Then he says, "Nevertheless I live." This was Paul; but it was not an independent life. It was one dependent on Christ; so he adds, "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." If I live it is Christ that is displayed. True liberty is this. It is the joy of Paul's heart to have entered upon it - to be set in this world, a vessel to display the life of Christ. No law-keeping could come up to that. It is the perfect, blessed liberty of the Spirit, the liberty "wherewith Christ has made us free." It is not a religious man according to the law, the measure of what a man ought to be - not this being that is set before us, but a human being to be down here on the earth, a vessel for the display of the life of Christ in the power of the Spirit. Blessed, holy liberty! It is the end of me as a religious man.

But the end of the epistle (6:14) brings before me the end of myself as a secular man. People talk of religious matters and secular matters, the latter being matters that God has nothing to do with, they say. These occupy them six days out of the seven. It is a solemn truth, but one which they readily own. Well, how is it here with Paul? Is it with him six days for the world and one day for God? Very different is the conclusion he comes to in the verse before us. Whatever may be my opinion of the demands of the world upon me, Paul carried his "life," and that life was the "life of Christ," into all the business he had to do in this world. During the six days therefore, as well as during the Lord's day, he could say, "For me to live is CHRIST." But what more does he say here? He says, "The world is crucified unto me." There is the end of what many are going after; and as for himself he says, "And I" (am crucified) "unto the world." There is the end of the secular man. Paul had no world for the secular man, and was no secular man for the world. Both are gone. There is no attractive magnet in it, nothing for the heart. It is the affections that cause the feet to stray, and that render the path a wavering one. With him it was always straight on.

He (as all Christians likewise) was soon going to be like Christ. This Christ dwelt in Paul; He was Paul's life. While walking on earth it was his one desire to manifest Him; but the prize for the apostle was bright before him. He did not lose sight of it in the race he was running. "I press toward the mark," he says when writing to the Philippians. What he was going to be then, and what he could be daily now, filled his soul. People ask where they must draw the line between what is "secular" and what is "religious." One can affirm that Paul never needed to ask such a question. He never tested things in that way. Had he then any doubt of where the line must be drawn? No; the "life of Christ," displayed in a man, tests everything in a divine way. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is the thing now, but "a new creature." (Gal. 6:15.) God's new man to live (as Paul did) is to display the life of Christ in this body; all else is death. We are poor and failing, alas! oftentimes; but is any thing else reality or life? H. C. Anstey.

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The perfect ones spoken of in Phil. 3:15 are those who have laid hold on the truth of being risen and glorified with Christ on high; not only knowing that my sins are forgiven, but apprehending the higher truth of resurrection with Christ. And it is as such we are called to walk. This is the same perfection as is spoken of in 1 Cor. 2 - "We speak wisdom among them that, are perfect." The only perfection the apostle has before him is to be like Christ in glory.