“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation”
The word “for” links verse 15 with verse 14. This verse explains why Paul does not yearn for the applause of the world.
in Christ Jesus
Paul looks at legalism in the light of the believer’s status quo in God’s eyes. Ritual cannot measure up to a believer’s position in Christ because Christ did all the work necessary for salvation. He did all that is necessary to satisfy an absolutely holy God. There was no merit on our part whatsoever.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything,
Circumcision is of little moment in God’s scheme of things. Human work cuts no ice with God. Circumcision was the pet theological idea of the legalistic Judaizers. Their goal was to get the Galatian believers to submit to circumcision.
but a new creation
It is regeneration that is important, not some ritual. The fact that God introduced us into His blessings transcends the mechanics of religion because it transforms the believer into God’s economy. This is an intrinsic change, not extrinsic.
Regeneration is the essence of true Christianity. The cross can do what circumcision cannot do. Circumcision cannot change lives by radical transformation of character but the cross can. The cross cuts ice with God.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The word “new” means new in quality, not new in the sense of recent. The person “in Christ Jesus” is new in quality. He is new because of what Christ did. He now has imputed righteousness–God’s righteousness put into him.
Christ did all the work needed to satisfy the standards of an absolutely holy God.
Religious rites do not impress God. Church membership or baptism do not impress God. The central factor that impresses God is the cross and the new standing that it affords the person who trusts the cross for salvation. The Law is powerless to bring about this new transformation. This is the fundamental error of legalism.
Properly oriented believers always rejoice in what God does and in what Christ did because they understand that Christianity is not a merit system. On the contrary, Christianity is a grace system–it is all about what God does in Christ.