Galatians 6:11-18 - Humiliated Boasting

Galatians: Gospel-Rooted Living  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:18
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Boasting in the Cross crucifies the world's ability to humiliate you

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On May 30th, 2015, 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana jumped to her death off of a highway overpass in Tacoma, Washington. She had been a happy, popular girl at her middle school who had been running for class president, but had recently come under intense bullying and shaming from her classmates and even some teachers, forcing her to withdraw. All of her public humiliation had started when her father uploaded a video to YouTube that he recorded after he cut off all of her hair as a punishment for (in his words, “getting messed up”). To this day, it is unclear what Izabel did to earn that punishment from her father, but the public humiliation that he subjected her to went far beyond what any 13-year-old girl should ever have to suffer at the hands of a parent.
It’s an extreme example, to be sure, but it is only one example of the trend of punishment by public humiliation that we are seeing in our culture. If you go to places like Old Colonial Williamsburg you’ll see the stocks (or “pillory”) in the public square where hundreds of years ago people would be put on display as punishment for crimes like perjury or public drunkenness. But over the past several years we have seen a resurgence of public humiliation as a form of punishment. Sometimes it is actually court-appointed, like the judge in North Carolina a few years ago who sentenced a man to walk for hours around the courthouse with a sign that says “This is the face of domestic abuse”. But far more often public humiliation takes place on social media—like the man who took a picture of a child sitting alone at a restaurant booth while his parents both went up to the buffet line, and then posted it on social media for people to attack them.
It’s out of control, isn’t it? Everything is becoming a target for public shaming—you can hardly even post a comment on a YouTube video without running the risk of being called every name in the book! Disagree with someone’s political stance, and you’re a “fascist” or a “communist”. Point to God’s design for marriage as one man and one woman for life and you’re a “homophobe” and a “bigot”. Defend an unborn baby’s right to life in the womb and you’re a”misogynist who wants women to die!” The world runs on shame and humiliation—if you do not comply with the Accepted Belief System of the world, you will be ground down and kicked around and humiliated until you give up.
If you are a Christian, you know that the world works this way, don’t you? This world wants to humiliate you out of following Christ, and will stop at nothing to shame you out of your faith. Christians are ridiculed as weak, stupid, pathetic losers who are clinging to a dying superstition. (And if you haven’t experienced that kind of attack yet, you will.) So the question for us this morning is:
How do we stand against the world’s attempts to humiliate us out of following Christ?
Here in our text this morning, the Apostle Paul is finishing his letter to the Galatian Christians. He has spent the past six chapters calling them to put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation, and not in their own abilities to keep the Law of Moses. And here, as he concludes this letter, he leaves us with a powerful, glorious promise about how we can stand against a world that wants to shame us into walking away from Jesus:
Boasting in the Cross crucifies the power of the world to humiliate you!
So this morning I aim to show you this in three ways: First, we need to examine the way the world boasts; then we will look at how we are to boast, and third we will see how the death of Jesus turns our humiliation into boasting. First, let’s look at how

I. The World Boasts in Itself (vv. 11-13)

Galatians 6:11–13 ESV
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
Paul says the false teachers were trying to “force” the Galatians to be circumcised—they were coercing or threatening them: “You aren’t a real Christian unless you do this! You’re nothing unless you get circumcised!” But notice what he says—why were the false teachers pushing them into this? Because they were
A. Driven by Pride (v. 12)
They wanted to “make a good showing”—literally, they wanted to “put a good face on” their religious requirements. They want to be able to boast and brag about how “good” they were. And for us today, the pride of the world really is at the root of much of the pressure we face to abandon Christ—the world around us wants to boast in its accomplishments, its achievements, its philanthropy and charity. So it hates the fact that the Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Being called a “sinner” is a deep insult to non-Christians. People don’t like to be confronted by the fact that they have broken God’s laws and offended Him. And so part of the reason that they want to humiliate and shame and attack Christians is because the Gospel attacks their pride! “Don’t call me a sinner! You’re the dirty, rotten homophobe, not me!!
And this shows us another side of the world’s boasting in itself. It is driven by pride, and it is
B. Driven by Guilt (v. 13)
Galatians 6:13 ESV
For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
The false teachers were forcing the Galatians into circumcision and following the Old Testament Law, but they didn’t even follow it themselves! Jesus made the same accusations against the religious leaders during his earthly ministry:
Matthew 23:15 ESV
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
The false teachers knew they were guilty before God! They knew deep down inside that they weren’t righteous enough on the basis of their own deeds, that they had failed to keep God’s Law perfectly! And so they wanted to force the Galatians to join them to make them feel better about their own guilt! Paul says “They want you to go along with their sin so that they can ‘boast in your flesh’”. “Hey, it can’t be that bad; after all, look at how many people are doing it with me!”
We see this kind of thing today all the time—if someone is ashamed of their behavior, and they know deep down inside that they are guilty, they will make themselves feel better by getting someone else to join them in their guilt! “Well, it’s not so bad, because he’s doing it too!” That’s why there are people who will work overtime to get you to join them in their sin—because if they can get a Christian to take a hit, then smoking dope can’t be that bad! “Well, he’s a Christian, and I got him to ‘borrow’ tools from work with me—so he’s no better than me after all!” Do you see how that works? The world boasts in itself in its pride and so it hates the Gospel message that it needs forgiveness of sin. And it cannot escape its guilt before God and so it wants to boast in its ability to get you to walk away from God by joining it in sin.
The world boasts in itself, but in verses 14-18 we see how the Christian boasts:

II. The Christian Boasts in the Cross (vv. 14-15)

Galatians 6:14–15 ESV
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Now, we have to take a moment here and consider what Paul is telling us—there is only one thing he will “boast” in (or “glory” in, as the King James puts it)—he will boast only in the Cross. Now, we don’t hear that phrase the same way that his original readers would have, because we really don’t know what the cross of crucifixion was like. We see a cross as a symbol that we put on a piece of jewelry or work into the painting at the front of our sanctuary or put on top of a steeple. We have forgotten that the cross was an instrument of execution. It’s like putting a little gold charm in the shape of an electric chair around our necks, or hanging a noose from the top of a steeple, or a picture of a gas chamber on the front of our Bibles! Paul is saying he boasts in a method of executing criminals!
But it’s not just that Paul is boasting in an execution—Paul says that he is boasting in a humiliating execution! The fact is, no one in this room has ever seen an accurate depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion. Because every single depiction of Christ on the cross that you will ever see includes a carefully-placed loincloth around His waist. But that’s not how crucifixions were carried out—the humiliation was part of the punishment. Crucifixions weren’t carried out inside the Roman barracks, in a courtyard somewhere out of the public eye—they were done publicly, at the busiest intersection of Jerusalem’s streets, right at the gate of the city. Jesus was stripped naked and stretched out on the cross, spikes pounded into His wrists and feet and lifted up high where everyone passing by could get a good look at His naked, quivering body (and a good laugh at His expense! )Crucifixions were designed not only to maximize the suffering of the victim (some could linger for days), but also to make sure that the victim died in the midst of the deepest humiliation possible.
And Paul says “Boast in the Cross because it represents
A. Jesus’ Humiliation for You (v. 14)
Jesus did not deserve that punishment—there was nothing He ever did, nothing He ever said or thought or felt that ever came even close to breaking God’s demands for righteousness—when He suffered that humiliation He did it for you! The suffering you deserved, the humiliation and shame and guilt you earned before God—all of it was placed on Him! He suffered all of that shame and humiliation so that you would be free from it! The world wants to humiliate you, Christian? There is no humiliation that the world can try to heap on you that will stick—because Jesus already took it! Paul goes on to write in the book of Romans:
Romans 8:33–34 ESV
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Because Jesus died in humiliation, Christian, you are free from humiliation! You can boast in this Cross, because boasting in the Cross crucifies the power of the world to humiliate you!
And not only can you boast in the Cross because it represents Jesus’ humiliation for you, but you can boast in the Cross because it means
B. Jesus’ Life in You (v. 15; Gal. 2:20, p. 973)
In the Cross, Paul says, “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world!” The world doesn’t have any power to humiliate you any more! You are no longer driven by guilt—the world can’t get a handle on you by throwing your guilty or shameful past in your face because Jesus erased it on the Cross! The Bible says in Colossians 2:
Colossians 2:13–14 ESV
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
The world can’t accuse you anymore—it’s dead to you! And you are dead to the world—the “old” you is gone, and instead you have Jesus’ life in you!
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Christian, this is why you “boast in the Cross”—because the Cross is the place where Jesus took your shame and humiliation once and for all, and it is the place where you died once and for all to the world, and the world died to you! You are now free from the pride and guilt and fear of humiliation that the world runs on! And that means you are free to do something that the world simply cannot understand:

III. You Can Boast in Your Weakness (6:11, 17)

The world wants to hide its weakness—deny it, hide it, attack anyone who points it out—but Christian, you can actually boast about your weaknesses! The Apostle Paul does that very thing here in this passage. Notice what he says in verse 11:
Galatians 6:11 ESV
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
Now, why would Paul point something like that out here? What difference does it make that he’s using “big letters” here? Some commentators suggest he is writing in big letters because he wants to emphasize how important this part of the letter is (but frankly that makes me wonder why he didn’t use “big letters” in every letter he wrote? Weren’t they all important?) Some commentators suggest that because Paul seemed to have a problem with his eyesight (cp. 4:15) that he had to write large letters in order to see what he was writing. That’s possible—but I think that the reason he points it out here is directly related to the kind of weakness that Paul suffered from.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul lists some of the ways that he has suffered for the sake of preaching the Gospel of Jesus:
2 Corinthians 11:24–25 ESV
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
And he goes on to list all of the dangers and sufferings and deprivations he had suffered. But each one of those beatings and lashings he suffered were severe enough to cause a fatality—people were known to die during the forty lashes, and he went through it five times. Same with the beating with rods. And the stoning (which is probably the one recorded for us in Acts 14) was always meant to be fatal—people didn’t stop throwing stones until they were sure the person was dead! And Paul had suffered each one of these violent, deadly attacks over the years without any kind of modern medical treatment to set bones or repair ligament or joint damage or internal injuries or infections. The fact that he could go on living and ministering after suffering those things is nothing short of the miraculous power of God to keep him alive.
And so I think that when Paul says he is using big letters here in these verses it’s because he had almost no fine motor control left! He would usually have a secretary dictate his letters because trying to write was a struggle for him with all of his injuries over the years. But here in these verses he takes the pen away from his scribe and writes himself, in effect saying, “Look at the weakness I have because of the Gospel! I can’t even write anymore, I look like i’m a child barely able to hold a pen! My suffering for Jesus has made me weak, but HE IS WORTH IT!
Paul boasted in his weakness because it showed the world that Jesus is worth it! Boasting in your weakness
A. Magnifies Jesus’ Worth to you (Philippians 3:8-10, p. 981)
Look at Philippians 3:
Philippians 3:8–10 ESV
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Paul says he has given everything for the sake of knowing Jesus—Jesus is worth losing everything! Christian, is Jesus worth losing your reputation over? Is what He has done for you worth being ridiculed over? Are you willing to lose your good name, your friends, your job, even your family because you love Him? Are you able to say, “Call me whatever name you want—hate on me however you like; Jesus is worth it!” When you do that, you show Jesus to be your greatest treasure, and that He is worth more to you than all of the approval or acceptance the world can give you!
When you boast in your weakness, Christian, it magnifies Jesus’ worth to you, and it
B. Magnifies Jesus’ Power in You (2 Cor. 12:9-10, p. 970)
Look at 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (p. 970):
2 Corinthians 12:9–10 ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The world wants to shame and humiliate you into abandoning Christ. And so it will threaten to take away your reputation, your security, your livelihood, your friends if you won’t give Him up. But what does Paul say about those things? That his weakness doesn’t separate him from Christhis weakness increases the presence of Christ in his life!
If you have been a Christian for a while, let me ask you—when have you seen the power of Jesus Christ working most obviously in your life? When you’ve been strong and healthy and happy and rich and successful? No—the power of Christ rests on you most gloriously when you are empty! When you are weighed down by the hatred and humiliation and scorn and insults of this world for being a Christian, that’s when the power of Jesus Christ in your life is the greatest!
Think of it! The world wants to beat you down for following Christ, wants to shame and humiliate you into walking away from Him—but by beating you down and shaming you the world is bringing you closer to the power of Christ in you! The weaker they make you, the stronger in Christ you get! Can’t you see how boasting in the Cross crucifies the power of the world to humiliate you?!?
The Cross of Jesus Christ turns humiliation into boasting! He has taken your humiliation of your guilt before God and turned it into boasting over your salvation by His death! You used to be buried in guilt and shame and brokenness, but He bore that shame on that cross so that you could die to it! And now
Romans 8:1–2 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
The world can try to hold you up for mockery and shame and insults and humiliation, but if you have had God Himself take away your shame and humiliation, there is nothing they can do to cause you to walk away from Jesus! The next time someone tries to humiliate you for being a Christian—the next time they try to throw your past in your face or accuse you of being a hypocrite or slander you as being full of hatred or judgmentalism, remember what the Word of God says in Romans 8:
Romans 8:31 ESV
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:35 ESV
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:37–39 ESV
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Boast in this Cross, Christian! This cross means the death of your humiliation, the death of the world to you. It means the death of your old life of sin and shame, it represents the greatest treasure of your life, it is the sign of the power of Christ in the midst of your weakness.
And if you are here this morning and this Cross means none of that to you—if you are still caught in the world’s system of shame and guilt and humiliation—this is the day when you can make this Cross yours! Come down front after the service and we’ll be here to pray with you, to show you how this Cross can turn your humiliation into boasting, how you can lay aside your guilt before God and receive His forgiveness, how you can trade your sin for His righteousness! Don’t put it off any longer—this is why God brought you here this morning, so that you could come—and welcome!—to the Cross of Jesus Christ!
Romans 15:13 ESV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
through Jesus Christ our Savior, both now and forevermore. Amen


Have you ever been pressured to walk away from your faith in Jesus Christ by people who reject Christianity? How does this passage help you understand why some people are so deeply opposed to the Gospel? How can you pray for people in your life who are offended by the Cross?
Read Romans 8:31-34. How does the fact that Jesus was humiliated on the Cross free you from your humiliation and shame? How do these verses help you see the way Jesus’ death on the Cross frees you from shame?
What does it mean to “boast” in the Cross? How does your happiness in Jesus despite the shame the world wants to put on you show that He is infinitely more valuable to you? How can you show the world that Jesus is your greatest Treasure this week?
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