Circumcision or Cross

“But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.” (Gal. 5:11)

Paul’s question suggest that he is still being charged with preaching circumcision. Perhaps the Judaizers are teaching this to imply that even Paul is in agreement with them. Paul, of course, would deny such a charge and does so by asking why he is being persecuted if he is in agreement.

We know that before Paul saw the light and turned to Jesus for salvation that he did preach circumcision. It is one of the reasons that he was arresting Jewish Christians and persecuting them. Paul’s stance is that when he gave himself to the gospel he left the demands of the law behind. It was not circumcision he preached to the Galatians. If it had been then this letter would not have been necessary.

Paul wants it clearly understood that this charge has to be false. It doesn’t make sense, Paul is saying, to accuse me of doing what I am teaching against and the fact that they are persecuting me proves that I’ve not preached the law in any sense.

If the charges were true then Paul would not be preaching the cross as an offense, which of course he did (1 Cor. 1:23). If Paul was preaching circumcision as a means of salvation then he would not be preaching the cross as a curse (Deut. 21:23, Gal. 3:13). Since he was preaching the cross as a curse and the means of removing their curse acquired under the law he could not be preaching circumcision.

Here it is again. Choose the law or grace; circumcision or cross, Moses or Jesus.

Task for Today: Keep in mind that the offense of the cross has not been removed. The statement of Deuteronomy is still true. Christ went on the cross and bore the curse to excuse you from its claim. You are free in Christ. Live like a person blessed today rather than one cursed. Smile and rejoice in your salvation. Start the day and end it by reminding yourself that you have been freed by grace and you live under a non-condemning God.

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