In the book of Galatians, one of the issues Paul addresses is the false notion that we must work in the flesh to gain our righteousness. False teachers had come into the congregation there and had been teaching that the believers could only overcome sin by religiosity. At the center of the religious activity these false teachers were promoting was the rite of circumcision.
In Galatians 6 Paul rebuts this error, reminding us that by works of the flesh and following the law we cannot please God. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Paul is
In his conclusion he adds a truth so profound that it can change our approach to how we operate in the world: “ Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Here, Paul reiterates the fact that we have been crucified with Christ to the world. Likewise, we are by our inclusion into His death included in His life. Our lives are now in Christ, and it is Christ Who lives in us. The life we now live is His life in us. This is the Christian faith; this is who we are as followers of Christ.
Paul also says something about the world system itself: “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me….” Paul is pointing out that the world has been crucified to us as well. What does he mean by this?
The world is under ongoing judgment for our God. It has been judged, and the light of Christ Jesus coming into the world also judged the darkness of it. That is why Jesus could say that the ruler of this world, Satan, had been judged (see John 12:31 and 16:11). Satan is not awaiting judgment at the end of this world order. That judgment has already happened. The entire world system is under our God’s judgment. Thus, when we touch the things of the world, we not only touch the things of the anti-Christ; we touch a system that is condemned already.
There is powerful motivation here to have little interaction with the systems of the world. The world system is entirely under the control of the enemy of our souls. It is under the power of the anti-Christ. It is designed to deceive us and to separate us from our God. And it is already under severe condemnation leading to death.
The power of the world system of Satan, by which he intends to deceive us and to lead us astray, is already broken for those who are in Christ Jesus. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit,” wrote Paul in Romans chapter 8. Sin and the world no longer have dominion over us because we are joined into Christ’s death and new life. These have been crucified to us in Christ and we have been crucified to them in Christ.
Satan is not done with us. Yes, his control over us is broken, and the world system no longer has power over us – unless we choose to yield to it. Now he has resorted to his last option for our defeat; to influence our choices through deception. He intends to deceive us into choosing to yield to the worldly, anti-Christ system in our daily living. And deceive us he will if we are focused on the wrong things in life.
This is why Paul finishes his words to the Galatians with this: “For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!” If we do not see ourselves as a completely new creation, alive now only in Christ, living now only to allow Christ to live His life in and through us, we will be deceived. Religiosity will not help us, for we are powerless in our flesh.
The path to victory over sin and the world is found only in giving the Spirit of Christ in us complete control over our living each day. We are new creations with a whole new life – the life of Christ Himself. We are not merely the same people with remodeled or upgraded lives. As we live lives fully surrendered to His life in us, we will experience increasing power over sin, self, and the world systems of the anti-Christ every day. No longer will we be living as if we are powerless against sin and the world. We will be living in the power of the Spirit of Christ who is free to live through us. We will know what it is to go from powerless into powerful by the life of Christ lived in us every day.