Flush Those Good Works : Galatians 1:11-24

(If you are coming to this feature on nosuperheroes.com for the first time, it might be helpful to start with the first posts in the study of Galatians. Links are found at the bottom to all other articles in this series.)

Paul’s conversion was a radical one. It has the stuff of a best seller.

Galatians 1:11-24  (Click here to read the passage)

Jesus knocked him off his horse, blinded him, and radically changed his life (Acts 9:1-19). Paul was on his way to persecute believers when God stepped into his path (Acts 7:58 and following). It was such a radical change that everywhere he went, people announced him as the former persecutor who s now preaching the message he tried to destroy(23).


But the biggest transformation was moving from a system of works to one of grace.

Paul was trained as a Pharisee. He would have memorized the first five books of the Bible by the age of twelve. Everything that he did was based upon the rules.

Look at his own description of his life in Phillipians 3:4-9

“…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

We see Paul listing all the outward attributes and qualifications he could boast of. He speaks of his culture, his passport, his religious training and accomplishments. Look at how he explains these things that could be considered ‘gain.’ In verse 8, the word he uses to describe these qualifications is ‘rubbish.’ The Greek word for this is “skubalon.” I don’t know many Greek words, but this one is quite memorable. Skubalon is what is thrown to the dogs, or dung. Paul is saying that his long list of outward accomplishments is worthy of the sewer. Flush them down the toilet! Our greatest human accomplishments stink when compared to the work of Christ. Righteousness does not come from striving or living a privileged life but through faith and is a gift of God. We can never add to the work of Christ by our own efforts.

This is why Paul is so passionate in his battle against works. He knows adding works to Christ is another message altogether.

He has lived it. He knows it is a dead-end street. The Galatians cannot fall into focusing on skubalon.

What is the skubalon we get stuck on? What areas do we take pride in, that need to pale when compared to knowing Christ?

Related Links for 7 Minutes a Day:  Galatians Series
Introduction and Summary of the book
Galatians 1:1-10

Portions of this entry were taken from Death of the Modern Superhero, Copyright 2011