In their hit song, “Hallelujah for the Cross,” the Newsboys sang: “Up to the hill of Calvary / my Savior went courageously / and there He bled and died for me / Hallelujah for the Cross / And on that day the world was changed / A final, perfect lamb was slain / Let earth and heaven now proclaim / Hallelujah for the Cross / Hallelujah for the war He fought / Love has won, death has lost / Hallelujah for the souls He bought / Hallelujah for the Cross.”
These lyrics capture the spirit of what Paul meant when he said: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14). Verse 11 probably indicates he had been dictating this letter to a scribe, and now he picked up the pen himself to write a few lines as a kind of authentication or signature.
Since this was his last opportunity to make his case to the Galatians, he summed up and restated his main points. The Judaizers, those who wanted to impose circumcision and the Mosaic Law on these new Gentile believers, had wrong motives (v. 12). They sought to impress people, live by the flesh, earn salvation by good works, and avoid persecution (by fitting in better with other Jews). Furthermore, they were hypocrites, since no one can keep the Law (v. 13).
Followers of Christ, by contrast, should boast only in the Cross of Christ (v.14). The Cross is the clear dividing line between Christians and the world. We’ve been freed from sin and the Law. The old order is ended; we’re no longer under its power. Nothing can or should be added to the saving work of Christ. By his blood, we are new creations (v. 15; 2 Cor. 5:17)!
Apply the Word
The hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is fitting: “When I survey the wondrous cross / On which the Prince of glory died, / My richest gain I count but loss, / And pour contempt on all my pride. / Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, / Save in the death of Christ my God! / All the vain things that charm me most, / I sacrifice them to His blood.”