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Rejoicing In The Power Of The Cross

"All who want to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they want to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And all who will follow this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen."
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're so glad you're here.

We are living in a day when Christian freedom is being abused. Freedom should not lead to corruption.
Christian is freedom from sin, it's not freedom to sin. Christian freedom does not mean we do whatever we want to do. Christian freedom means there's an obligation to keep the flesh in check, not to please the flesh, but to please the Lord. The supreme ambition of Christ was to please the Father, "Not My will but Yours be done."

There's a new kind of sense of Christian Freedom emerging that is really nothing more than a license to sin. Citing Romans 6 says I'm free from the law, I'm no longer under the dominion of sin, my sin past, present and future are forgiven in Christ, I'm free to do whatever I want to do. 
I am appalled at how many people think their Christian freedom includes the freedom to do what is clearly forbidden in the Word of God. Indulging their flesh because God is gracious and forgiving. They are abusing their freedom.

When we breakdown all the religious choices all people have, throwing out the denominational names, broad characterizations and different names, we are essentially left with only two choices, which a person must make. They can choose the religion that states that they must work for their salvation, or they can choose the religion that proposes that salvation comes by the grace of God only.

It was a self-willed effort that caused Cain trouble in the Garden of Eden. He wanted to offer his own kind of sacrifice to God in an attitude that was not acceptable to God. As a result, God rejected his offering. Adam and Eve made their own efforts by eating of the fruit God commanded them not to eat, thinking they would be like God and know all things. They were in turn were cast out of the garden.

A study of the various religions and cults of the world will reveal that all are based to some degree on the idea that one can do something to make themselves acceptable to God. All the religions and cults that deal with the supernatural also trace their origins to angels, extraterrestrial creatures or some other spirit beings.

In the Mormon religion, the angel Moroni is said to have presented the Book of Mormon on golden plates to Joseph Smith. In the religion of Islam, the angel Gabriel supposedly dictated the Quran to their prophet Mohammad. It was supposedly angelic revelations to Mrs. Herbert Armstrong that led to the founding of the Worldwide Church of God.

In addition to teaching that one must work for their salvation, these world religions and cults also deny the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus and his sacrificial atonement for humans. Muslims, for example, believe Jesus to be a prophet, but they accept Mohammad as their great prophet. It is the same for the Jehovah Witness. They see Jesus as only a prophet, though they may try and convince you otherwise.

However, there is only one religion that teaches salvation comes only by the grace of God. It is Bible-based Christianity. According to the teachings of the Bible, only through believing in the work Christ did on the cross is a person made right with God. It teaches salvation through faith not works, even though good works are result from a relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,
Lord, we pray that You will do a mighty work in every heart that is gathered with us today. For who do not yet know You, may this be that great day when they would embrace Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior. May those who know have a grateful heart, thankful for all that You've done. Father, we know that You have established the way to salvation through Jesus Christ, may those who know and love Him, kneel at the foot of the cross, confess our sin before Him and embrace the power of the Holy Spirit, to lead our lives, that we would be useful to You, for Your plans and purposes.
For Christ's sake and for Your glory.
In Christ's precious name we pray
Today's Message: Rejoicing In The Power Of The Cross
It is only through the cross that we can be made right in the eyes of God. We can never be good enough on our own to please God. His standards are too high, it's impossible for us to reach. Jesus said we must be perfect to please God. Since this is impossible, we must attain that perfection through someone else, and that person is none other that Jesus Christ. If it were possible to please God, through something good we were capable of doing, the death of Christ would have been rendered meaningless.
It is only by the power of the cross, Christ's crucifixion there that purifies us in the sight of God and makes us presentable to Him.
I John 4:10 teaches us, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Christ bore our sins in his body as he hung on the cross. It is because of His sacrifice, the cross has so much meaning to those of us who believe!
Those who reject the work of Christ on the cross, is a slave to evil and its influence. Though their life may seem meaningful, it truly is not. Theirs is a life ruled by the desire to gratify their sinful and selfish desires. They are in chains to these desires, whether they recognize it or not. The world promotes this system of evil. All we have to do is take a look around us and we can well see how evil is promoted and good is being persecuted and mocked.
Those without Jesus Christ, though they may try to turn over a new leaf, longing for things to work out, often claiming "this year will be my year," they are often haunted by the past and things they did or said or failed to do. There is no way to relieve that guilt or anxiety. While they may continue to hope that tomorrow will be better, it never is. 
Over the years, their lives often become nothing more that a huge pile of frustrated hopes and broken dreams. Many choose to live for the day only, taking in all the sinful desires they can and not worrying about tomorrow. Every unbeliever is a prisoner to the frustrations and futility of this world system whether or not they want to admit it. They often seek to find love, which may be found temporarily, however, it remains to be short lived. There is always a underlying feeling of hopelessness, and dissatisfaction.
God created us with a void in our hearts, that can never be filled, apart from Him. Though many will seek to fill this void, it cannot be done. Money, power, possessions, alcohol and drugs can never take the place of God.
Open with me your Bibles to the sixth chapter of the book of Galatians. Today, we will take our last look at the book of Galatians. A temporary farewell to this wonderful epistle, which has become a precious friend, one that we’ve been studying for some time. I invite you to follow along with me, as I read to you these last verses of this marvelous epistle. Galatians 6:12-18
"All who want to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they want to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And all who will follow this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen."
He says in verse 12, "All who want to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ."
A way to escape persecution is to preach legalism or external standards and work that can be done by the power of the flesh rather that dying to self by the power of the cross of Christ. Paul was persecuted because he preached the way of the cross and the grace of God as the means of salvation. Paul identified himself with this instrument of death to life in the power of the flesh and was persecuted.
When we are more concerned about pleasing ourselves than pleasing God, when our good deeds work against the good that God desires us to do. When we refuse to confront legalistic ideas because we would rather preserve our own sense of well-being. Instead of promoting truth, we become more concerned about preserving our way, or we become more concerned about our temporary security or position, rather than the eternal condition of others.
In Matthew 23, Jesus exposed hypocrisy. In speaking about the scribes and Pharisees He taught in verses 5 through 7, "And they do all their deeds to be noticed by other people; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the seats of honor in the synagogues, and personal greetings in the marketplaces, and being called Rabbi by the people."
In verse 13, Paul says "For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they want to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh."
These legalists wanted to boast about these new converts becoming part of their legalistic subgroup as verse 13 indicates. In other words, they want to show you off like some kind of convert when they can’t even keep the law themselves. They may be fastidious in keeping the ceremonies, rituals and rites, wearing their religious robes and garments, and they never miss the opportunity make their presence known at an assembly of people, yet they themselves, could not keep the law. They were religious phonies.
Our Lord Jesus confronted them in Matthew 23, here in verse 27 and 28 He says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you too, outwardly appear righteous to people, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
Some of the legalists were emphasizing circumcision as proof of their holiness, righteousness, or devotion, but they were ignoring other weightier portions of the law. People often chose a certain principle or prohibition and make it the measuring stick of the faith. So Paul condemns them for their dishonesty. They had no intention of keeping the whole law, even if they could, which no man can. Their seeming reverence for the law was only there because it helped them obtain their real goal, more converts to their cause. They wanted to brag about how many they had won over to their system. Legalists want things that can be done in or by the power of the flesh to be the mark or standards of true religion. 
In verse 14 Paul refocus all of us on the central thought of eternal life. "But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

Paul comes back to the cross again because it is central to theology and life. Why does Paul boast in the Cross? He highlights two thoughts concerning the Cross. First, we should only boast in the Cross of Christ because of the person of the cross. Jesus Christ is mentioned 45 times in this letter. One third of the verses contain some reference to Him. Jesus Christ captivated Paul and caused him to glory in the cross because of the person of the cross.

The second reason he boasted was because of the power of the cross. For Paul the cross meant deliverance, liberty and victory. By the Cross of Christ Paul had been crucified to the world and the world had been crucified to him. There is no power in the law, or the world to give man power over the flesh. But through applying the power of the crucifixion and the resurrection God puts to death the flesh and releases believers to live in daily victory. The same power that brought Christ back from the dead is operative within those who are Christ’s. The Resurrection is ongoing.
Crucifixion is not an instantaneous death, but a very slow and painful death. Just so, the death of a Christian believer to sin does not take place in a moment of special blessing, but as in physical crucifixion is painful and slow. Nevertheless, it is essential if we are to walk in the Spirit and live a truly effective Christian life. 
For only by identifying our self with Christ’s crucifixion can we die to the fleshly thinking and worldly living that seeks to dominate our earthly life. The world is full of enticements. Daily we are confronted with subtle cultural pressures and overt propaganda. The only way to escape these destructive influences is to ask God to help crucify our interest in them, just as Paul did.  

Paul tells us in verse 15 tells us the purpose of the cross is to make us a new creation. "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation." The purpose of the cross of Jesus Christ is to bring about "a new creation." The law was the preparation, for the coming of Christ o show the way, to teach them how far short of the glory of God they fell. The cross was to bring about a new creation, a new people, a new nation, to bring into being the Church of Jesus, the Redeemed of the Lord.
The old creation is that which the people of Adam, head of the first mankind and the law are a part. The new creation of God is brought into being by the death and new life of Jesus, the new Adam, and the Holy Spirit’s power. As II Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." God has done a new thing in the work of Christ and makes things new for those who live and service in His power for His glory.

Those who walk in the resurrection power of the new creation will be bless with peace and mercy as verse 16 states. "And all who will follow this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God."

The rule is that salvation is by grace through faith and that the saved will live the crucified life. Those that live by grace through faith in Jesus alone have the great blessings of peace and mercy given to or pronounced upon them. "Peace" is the serenity of heart and mind that is the portion of those who have been justified by faith, Romans 5:1, and walk in the Spirit. In the midst of the storms of life they are safe because they have taken refuge in Christ, in the cleft of the Eternal Rock of God. Even in the day of desolation God hides those who take refuge in Him. This peace is spiritual wholeness and prosperity.
Peace and mercy are inseparable. Without God’s mercy being shown, there could be no peace, for what we deserve is wrath, not peace. God’s mercy opens the door for His grace and love to be shown to man. The thought concludes with "the Israel of God." The blessing seem to be a continued pronouncement upon all those, Jews or Gentiles, who truly glory in the Cross. The creation of this new Israel does not disintegrate the Jewish nation of Israel but it does say that only those who glory in the cross are being blessed and they make up a new nation of God ruled ones.
With a final warning in verse 17 to those who have been causing strife and agitation Paul concludes the letter. "From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." Paul has fully answered the legalists and replied to all the trouble they were causing. The issue should now be settled and he expects the Galatians to end their participation in legalism and to remove it from the church.

He says let there be no doubt about his commitment to Jesus for he bears His "marks." Marks is the plural of the Greek word from which we derive our word stigma, which means a mark of shame or dishonor in English. Marks carries the idea of our practice of branding cattle. In that day slaves and even some soldiers were branded, in order to show to whom they belonged.

Paul too bore marks as to his ownership. These were not marks of dishonor but of honor. He is referring to his scars resulting from stoning, beatings and probably from manacles and leg irons. They were the marks of his faithful service in the face of extreme difficulty. These marks speak more forcefully of Paul’s commitment than any words he could utter.
This is something of the meaning of Paul’s statement. It was his crowning reply to his adversaries.In verse 18 Paul closes with a brief parting word to his friends. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen."

Paul’s closing blessing is not that the law of Moses be with their spirits but the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s desires that the marvelous grave, love to the undeserving, of the Lord Jesus be theirs.

As the letter begins so the letter closes. Throughout the letter there has been the contrast of the marvelous grace of God and human effort. He is called Lord because He owns, governs, and protects us. He is called Jesus because He alone is our Savior, and Christ because He is our anointed Mediator, our Prophet, our High Priest, and the Eternal King. The Galatians may be erring, they may be misguided, and even following false doctrine, but in closing Paul calls them brethren.

Paul’s letter to the Galatians boldly declares the freedom of the Christian. Doubtless these early Christians in Galatia wanted to grow in the Christian life, but they were being misled by those who said this could be done only by keeping certain Jewish laws.

In Closing...

How sad for any believer in Christ, to have be freed from the bondage of sin, only to return to rigid conformity to a set of rules and regulation given to restrict the flesh. Life in Christ is life in the Spirit.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have been set free. Instead of going back into some form of slavery, whether to legalism or to sin, I encourage you to use your freedom to live for Christ and serve Him as He desires and deserves.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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