Galatians 6v15: “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
Paul said something similar in chapter 5v6: “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love”.
When it came up in chapter 5 I noted that it was interesting that Paul said “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything” – he could’ve just said “circumcision doesn’t count for anything” – that would’ve been enough to make the point that we shouldn’t rely on our religious deeds to earn points with God. But he also says uncircumcision doesn’t count. Back then I said he was not only reprimanding those who trusted that God approved of them because of their religious deeds, but he was also encouraging those who knew there was no way that their actions merited God’s approval – he wanted them to understand that, in Christ, their failure to achieve the right level of religious behaviour – their uncircumcision – doesn’t count. What counts is faith working through love, and that is given to them by God as a totally free gift.
This time, he describes what does count in a different way. Previously it was “faith working through love”; in chapter 6 it’s “a new creation”. We’ve just talked about being “crucified to the world” – being dead to the world’s way of earning approval by performing the right actions – because we’ve realised that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything and we’ve been crucified with Christ – that’s the first part: we’re dead to the law – then referring back to chapter 2 again (v19) Paul said he “died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Christianity is not about turning over a new leaf and starting to try and live God’s way – reading our Bibles, praying, going to church – you can do all those things for decades and it won’t earn you God’s approval. What you need is a new creation. You need to die to the law and be given a new life in Christ: a life based on the knowledge that the Son of God loved you and gave himself for you.