Law-Keeping Cannot Save You

Galatians 6:12–15, Part 1

Principle for Bible Reading

People by nature want to boast in their own abilities, efforts, and achievements. Therefore, the cross of Christ is an offense to everyone. In this lab, John Piper looks at why we resist the message of the cross, as well as what the good news of the gospel says to our self-righteousness.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:38)

Law-Keepers Love to Boast (01:38–05:46)

  1. Those who are pushing for circumcision and law-keeping in Galatia want to boast in what they’ve done. (Galatians 6:12)
  2. Therefore, they are trying to convince others to do the same to validate and commend what they themselves have done. (Galatians 6:12)
  3. The reason they’re requiring circumcision is not because they have successfully or perfectly fulfilled the law themselves. (Galatians 6:13)
  4. No, their motive is to boast in themselves by others’ circumcision. (Galatians 6:13)

Law-Keepers Lose Christ (05:46–10:36)

  1. One reason these false teachers are requiring circumcision is to avoid persecution (Galatians 6:12). What is it about the cross that would cause persecution?
  2. If you want to try and contribute to your salvation, Christ is of no advantage to you (Galatians 5:1). It is all Christ or no Christ.
  3. If law-keeping will be any part of the ground of your salvation, it will be perfect law-keeping. (Galatians 5:10)
  4. The cross strips us of the ability to boast in any part of our being made right with God. (Galatians 5:11)
  5. We are persecuted over the cross, because people want to boast in their effort and achievements.

Summary (10:36–11:36)

Study Questions

  1. Describe the false teachers in Galatians 6:12–13. What is their message? What is their motivation?
  2. Read Galatians 5:1–11. How do these verses in the previous chapter help you understand the situation in Galatians 6:12–15?
  3. Paul says the law-keepers do not want to be persecuted for the cross. Why are Christians persecuted for the cross of Christ?
Piper: “We are persecuted for the cross of Christ, because people want to boast in their abilities and achievements.”