“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”
But God forbid
“God forbid” is literally may it never come to be. Paul never wanted to boast in anything but the cross. Anything else was unthinkable to him. Glory in self-accomplishment was both an aversion and a worry to him.
that I should boast
In contrast to the legalists’ boast, Paul would not boast in anything except the cross of Christ. He refused to boast in himself or his self-reliance. In his humanity, Paul had much he could brag about, but all that was so much manure.
“…have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish [manure], that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:3-11).
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Paul’s boast is in the cross that gives him eternal salvation. At the heart of the cross is the concept of grace. God gave us salvation based on the work of Christ, not our work.
Paul’s “boast” appears to justify pride, but the word “boast” in this context carries the idea of praise. The cross was an object of shame to the Judaizers, but it was the object of praise to Paul. They gloried in the flesh; Paul gloried in God.
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
We should never boast in what we do but in what Christ does.
Religion is based on human performance, while Christianity is based on God. Religion always rests on self-righteousness, not God’s righteousness that comes from Christ’s cross.
“But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).
The believer does not look for pardon in self but in Christ. If we look for forgiveness in self, we put God under obligation to forgive us. If we glory in the cross, we glory in the matchless attributes of God because it took the cross to give us a perfect and absolute righteousness.
The cross is the accomplishment of Christ, not us. When God does the work, this is grace. When we do the works, this is works-righteousness. Our innate righteousness is only good relative to other people. The righteousness Christ gives us is relative to God’s absolute righteousness. In other words, God declares us as righteous as He is because of the cross.
Legalists put little focus on the cross and more on themselves. To those who are grace-oriented, the cross means everything. We glory in the cross. We totally reject self-righteousness. We hold a clear view of the cross. When Jesus becomes the center and circumference of our life, we enter into spirituality as it should be lived.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9).