But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me…
Let us look for a very little to the expression, "the Cross of Christ." This, my brethren, has different meanings in Scripture. Sometimes it signifies simply the wooden cross to which our Saviour was nailed — the accursed tree on which He hung; sometimes, again, it is used in a figurative sense, to signify those sufferings which our Saviour endured on the cross — the death which He died on it. In a wider sense still, it is employed to designate the whole of His sufferings both of His life and death, of which sufferings His death was the consummation. Lastly, the expression is not unfrequently used to denote the doctrine of Christ's Cross; in other words, the way of salvation through a crucified Saviour; and it is in this sense chiefly that we are to understand it in the verse before us.
I. Let us consider the nature and description of Paul's feelings towards the Cress of Christ. "God forbid," he says, "that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." You all know, my brethren, what it is to glory in any object. It is just to have a very high esteem for it. For example, if we speak of a man glorying in his good name, his riches, or his friends, we just mean that he esteems these things very highly, that he sets a great value upon them. The consequence is that he thinks and talks continually about them, and nothing sooner excites his indignation than to hear them undervalued or dispraised. When Paul says, then, that he gloried in the Cross of Christ, you are simply to understand him as meaning that he placed a high value upon it, that he prized it greatly. The consequence was, that that Cross was the all-engrossing theme of his meditation, his conversation, and his preaching. Observe, however, more closely the nature of the apostle's glorying, as described in the text: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. This shows his glorying in the Cross to have been an exclusive glorying. The Cross not only appeared to him as an object worthy of esteem, but it appeared to him as the only such object. We often see men taken up with several objects at once. No doubt there cannot well be more than one object on which the mind is supremely set, but there may be others on which a considerable share of attention is at the same time bestowed, and for which a strong attachment is also conceived. It filled his whole soul; it displaced and shut out every lesser object. Some of the Judaizing teachers among the Galatians, while professing Christianity, were yet glorying more in some of the institutions of the law and in the proselytes they made than in the grand doctrines of the Cross; and Paul, with special reference to these, says in the text, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross." The glory of the Cross appeared to him so great as to eclipse every other object. Although, as the Scriptures say, there is one glory in the sun, and another glory in the moon, and another glory in the stars, for one star differeth from another star in glory, yet such is the superlative glory of the sun, that when once it has risen and attained its meridian splendour all those lesser lights disappear.
II. Let us now point out some of the grounds of the apostle's glorying, especially the one stated in the text. Notwithstanding the ignominy usually attached to the death of the cross, there was something transcendently glorious in the death of Christ. Never were the Divine perfections so conspicuously displayed as in that event. The mighty changes which the preaching of that Cross had produced, the wonderful effects which it had wrought on a dark and benighted world, might well have made him glory in its behalf. Was it not a glorious sight to see the wilderness and solitary place made glad, and the desert rejoicing and blossoming as the rose? to see the parched ground becoming a pool, and the thirsty land turned into springs of water? But while the apostle thus gloried in the effects produced by the Cross upon others, his glorying as mentioned in the text seems to have had especial reference to the effects it produced upon himself. "By which," he says, "the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." But what was it that produced such a change as this upon the aspect of the world to him? It was just, my brethren, the Cross of Christ. No sooner was it beheld by him than the world lost its charms. The light which shone from the Cross at once revealed to him the true nature of all earthly things; it showed him a hideousness and ugliness in them that he had never discerned before. Many things, you know, appear smooth and beautiful in the dark but once let in the light upon them, and they immediately wear a very different aspect. So it was in the case of Paul. He thought at one time that the world was all fair and lovely, because he viewed it through a thick and darkening medium, the veil of unbelief. But when that veil was taken away, and when the flood of light which streams from Calvary's Cross was let in upon his soul, what a changed aspect did the once lovely scene begin to wear! But this was not the only effect which the Cross of Christ produced on him. It not only made the world dead to him, but him likewise dead to the world: "by which the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world." Not only did the world become changed to him, but he became changed towards it. Not only did it lose its charms, but he lost his desires after it. He now viewed its pleasures, its joys, its amusements, with as little relish and delight as a man hanging on a cross would view the richest delicacies and most inviting fruits that might be spread out before him. The current of his affections was completely changed, and the direction they had taken was just the very reverse of that in which they had formerly been flowing.
Parallel VersesKJV: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.