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Do Not Nullify The Grace Of God

This week we wrap up chapter 2 of Galatians.  Paul has defended his apostleship, the gospel and his ministry.  He has visited Jerusalem and found himself in unity with the apostles.  Peter has now visited Antioch and his behavior has been out of sync with the gospel so much that Barnabas and the other Jewish Christians there have followed his lead by pulling themselves away from the Gentile Christians.  Paul bring his argument with Peter to a close.

Paul tells Peter in verse 15 that they are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles.  That sound rather arrogant on the surface, as though Jews aren’t sinners like everyone else in the world.  This really isn’t what Paul is saying.  What he is saying is t hat he and Peter come from a society that followed the Law, which included the dietary customs of Judaism.  Gentiles did not follow the Law, thus not having dietary restrictions at all.  Thus in the context of the Law only, Gentiles were sinners and the Jews weren’t.  Paul is not saying that this is true in the eyes of God.

Paul again indicates, though that he and Peter are unified in their theology.  He states that knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Christ Jesus.  Paul says that this is what he believes and what Peter believes.  This is their shares faith and theology.  There is no disunity in what Paul and Peter believe.  He goes on to say that even we  have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law.  He and Peter have trusted in Christ because the Law that they were brought up to follow cannot justify them at all.

Paul then addresses another argument from the Judaizers.  If, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found  sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin?  Paul has been accused of being a sinner by the Judaizers for living out the gospel rather than the Law.  He eats with sinners.  Therefore, he is making Christ to be an agent of sin.  He denies this strongly.  May it never be.

Instead, Paul says that after being freed from the Law though faith in Christ, he is a sinner if he goes back to it.  For if I rebuild what I once destroyed, then I prove myself to be a transgressor.  He is telling the Galatians that if he goes back to following the Law, then he is a sinner, not for allowing the gospel to free him from it.

In fact, Paul says that the only way to live for God is to be free from the Law.  For through the Law I died to the Law so that I might live to God.    He is saying that there is no way to follow the Lord by trying to keep the Law.  Instead you have to die to it.  He says that I have been crucified in Christ, and it is not longer I who live but Christ lives in me.  Paul says that he has died to his former life.  Now, Christ lives within him and fuels a life of grace, not Law.

Paul now lives a different life.  The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.    Paul now knows that living by the Law gets you nowhere.  Paul does not live a life that contradicts Christ.  He states that I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.  In other words, if we have to back to the Law, then there was no need for Christ’s work on the cross.

What can we takeaway from this section of Galatians.

1.  No matter what our background, we need the work of Christ in our lives.

2.  The gospel unifies.

3.  We must die to our old lives of law keeping.

4.  Christ must become the fuel for us to live a life of grace.

 

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