It is one of the most majestic ironies of history that the very cross on which Jesus died has become the event in which His followers glory… to the extent that Paul would even determine to revel in nothing other than the cross of Jesus Christ.
The reason for Paul being enamored by the cross is, of course, that salvation for the people of God was accomplished there. And this salvation is described by Paul in terms of two distinct achievements:
First, the cross of Jesus Christ has crucified the world to us. When we gaze, as believers, at our sins that are placed upon Christ and paid for at the cross, suddenly the exceeding sinfulness of sin becomes more apparent to us. We desire no longer to take active part in the worldly pursuits, headlong rebellion, and self-worship that resulted in the gruesome spectacle of the cross. As Jesus pays the heinous penalty for our specific sins, sin in general becomes repulsive to us.
Second, we are crucified to the world. The world is now just as repulsed by us as we are by it. How is this a benefit? Jesus tells us that it is because “I have chosen you out of the world” that the world hates you. And what the world hates about you is Christ in you; they hated Him and so they now hate the way you resemble Him.
It is the great privilege of the cross that it causes us to hate sin and that it conforms us to the image of our Savior, which in turn causes the sinful world to hate us. This transformation can and did only occur because of the cross, and so our exulting should be only in the cross.
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