The Cross Part 19

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19. Offensive as the cross is, it was Paul's only testimony for justification or purification. " And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased." (Gal. 5:11.) Here was the grand truth. If a man is justified by the cross, in itself and by itself, simply by the knowledge of it, then he is justified, but that comes entirely and solely from God: and it is a thing too which thoroughly condemns the world and all its wisdom-for the cross is a stumbling stone to the Jew, and foolishness to the Gentile, and a thorough condemnation from God of all that is natural to those whom He justifies by it. Nature, therefore, seeks to add some little thing to it; but whether we add circumcision or reformation, or a new life, or anything else, then is the offense of the cross ceased. It is the cross, in itself and by itself, for justification, which is God's instrument; arid not only is it His instrument, in itself and by itself, for justification, but also for purification; 'for, " they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." (Ver. 24.)
Observe, if I know the cross of Jesus, I know pardon for myself; but I know it there where my flesh was put to an open shame, a cruel, lingering, disgraceful death: for that cross was not the expression of God's feelings to Christ's own, flesh, but toward ours, when the spotless Lamb of God stood in our place in judgment. This, you will observe, is just in substance what we saw before in chapter ii. There, however, it was said to have been Paul's argument with Peter, when inclined to turn back to the law: as though he had said, Why I told Peter, the apostle of the Jews, that he and I were justified and purified from the world by the cross, not by the law; how much more then you. (Gal. 3:1.) In this fifth chapter he shows how the same thing is the theme of his own preaching; and in the sixth, how it ought to be the experience of the Galatians: three times repeating the same things in different connections.