Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Only as many as desire to put on a good show in the flesh compel you to be circumcised, lest they are persecuted for the cross of Christ.”
If you don’t understand the concept Paul is trying to communicate here, you will never understand the relevance of this verse to your life because the debate over the actual act of physical circumcision long ago ceased.
In Galatians 6:12, Paul was referring to the great pressure to be circumcised which Jewish believers were putting on Gentile believers. But circumcision itself was far from all that was involved. Circumcision was merely the doorway into the world of the law’s ceremonial observances. Circumcision admitted a man into a life that had to be lived according to the ordinances and religious rites of Moses’ law. Paul warned these same saints in Galatia, “I testify again to every circumcised man that he is obligated to keep the whole law” (5:3). The quarrel was not just about whether or not to receive circumcision; it was a matter of what was required by God of a man who received circumcision.
It was the question of whether God is worshiped by performing ceremonial works that was being dealt with by Paul. He was warning us Gentiles not to embrace that kind of religion because true worshipers now worship God “in spirit and in truth”, and worship “in spirit and in truth” excludes religious rites of any kind. That was the real issue, and God’s people, in the main, still do not know that.
God has never given the first ceremony to us Gentiles who believe in His Son Jesus. It is not His will that His New Covenant people should perform any ceremonial rites or observe any day as being holy. That kind of worship is “in the flesh”, and only those who want to put on a good show for the flesh insist that we perform ceremonies. Beyond that, Paul said, they are running from the reproach of Christ, hiding sin and rebellion behind religious rites, choosing an appearance of godliness instead of the substance of it.
Those who correctly perform religious rites look good; in fact, they look holier than those who simply trust in God. But then, looking good is what the flesh wants, and if Jesus were here today, he would judge them as he did when he was here the first time: “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” They have their good show and the praise of men, but they had best not present themselves at the feet of the one who was cruelly slain on a cross with their fine ceremonies. On that day, many a soul that hid their sinful attitude and deeds behind the good show of religious rites will learn how it was that “the wrath of the lamb” could make mighty men tremble and hide themselves in caves of the earth.
Jesus said that those who worship God in this covenant must worship Him in spirit and in truth. That is the will of God. Paul said that believers among us Gentiles in Galatia who added to their spiritual life circumcision and other religious ceremonies after entering into Christ were in danger of losing their souls (Gal. 3:1-3). Listen to that man of God: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ, crucified, has been publicly portrayed? This only would I learn of you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of law or by hearing of faith? Are you that foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now perfected by the flesh?” And later (5:2-6), “Christ has made us free in our freedom. Stand, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, say to you that if you are circumcised, Christ is worthless to you. I testify again to every circumcised man that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are set apart from Christ, whoever is justified by law; you have fallen away from grace. Only by the spirit of faith do we anticipate the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is worth anything, but faith energized by love.”
Stay away from the worthless ceremonial forms of Christianity. Unlike the works of Moses’ law, the ceremonies and holy days of Christians never were of God. For the time of the law, God gave Israel some ceremonies to prepare them for Jesus the Messiah. Jesus has come now. The law and all its ceremonies have been fulfilled. That yoke has been forever destroyed. Now, we are forever free to worship our Father in spirit and in truth. Child of God, stay free. That is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Remember: “Christ has made us free in our freedom. Stand, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”