Living under the shadow of the Gospel –.
“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:15–21 NIV11)
Last week I shared about the sectarian nature of Religion and how we can defeat sectarianism if we know who we are in Christ.
The question that I asked last was: Have you forgotten who you are?
We are in Chris. There are no more adding to the Gospel, and there is no other Gospel. Paul reminds us that “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8 NIV)
In these verses, Paul is about to share what one of the most essential and fundamental principles of the Gospel and that is “Justification by Faith”.
We may be very familiar with this doctrine, especially when this truth comes to us for the very first time. When we share our faith when the Gospel is preached the doctrine of Justification by Faith is preached, and this should be the case. There is no other way! The Gospel of Salvation is in the Gospel of Grace, and we are justified by faith alone.
Paul is so clear about this truth that he repeated with word Justification at least four times in two verses!
“Galatians 2:16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!” (Galatians 2:16–17 NIV11)
This is what Paul says to Peter, to Barnabas and to those who have fallen trap of hypocrisy.
But there is a twist! Galatians is not an evangelistic book, and it is aimed at Christians!
This doctrine of Justification by Faith is for Christians!
I have said it, and I will repeat it the Gospel is not just for Salvation, but the Gospel sustains us for life here on earth, and it is the Gospel that prepares us for a life in the Kingdom.
In what ways the Gospel sustains us for life here on earth?
Paul has already given us a big clue!!
“But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:14 ESV)
How do we walk in the truth of Gospel?
I believe that the answer is here in these verses, and Paul will go even deeper in chapter 5 when he talks about the Fruit of the Spirit!
Justification by Faith alone it is an act of the Grace of God, a gift given to us through Jesus. Justification by Faith has been given to us so that, we stand before the Presence of Almighty God as men and women who are in right standing with God.
Justification before God is standing before the judgement of God and be found right before him. It took an act of God for us to stand before God not condemned but made right before him. Therefore, the act of God, the Sacrifice of God in Jesus Christ who became the one who paid the penalty of our sins and took upon him our sins has made you and me Justified before God, through and only through faith in Christ.
How we walk in the truth of the Gospel?
We walk, and we live as Justified people, that is our new identity, that is at the core of the Gospel. We need to see ourselves; we need to clothe ourselves with the garments of justification. The tags of our clothes are no longer sinners but justified, made right we God.
This made right with is not a one only event, the mystery of justification is that we are declared justified, and we continued in our lives to live like justified people.
We are no longer sinners saved grace! We are justified by faith, we are loved, we are empowered by grace, and we have the Holy Spirit.
I am not saying that we do not sin, we do, but we do so as an act of our will, our choosing, as an act of rebellion. We fight against the flesh, but that flesh does not longer define who I am.
This is important because these verses are more about our identity in Christ rather than coming to faith in the first place.
So I would like to say three things about these verses.
- The Life
- The Grace
“If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.” (Galatians 2:17–18 NIV)
In verse 16, Paul makes it very clear that the Law can justify no one; it is only in Christ; we are justified before God.
Verses 17 and 18 are a warning to us, those who have accepted the gift of Grace and now are trying to justify ourselves through placing the Law before the Gospel, or as it were by placing Church Codes, doctrinal statements and commonly added traditions above the Gospel.
The whole teaching of those who were preaching “Salvation in Jesus plus law” is very logical and reasonable, just as Religion usually is. They were saying that Salvation without the law gives license to “SIN”.
They reasoned that people could believe in Christ as Saviour but then live as they wanted, and therefore their sinful actions make Christ a promoter of sin!
Paul’s answer is NO! Why? Because it is Salvation by Grace Alone and Grace leads to freedom from SIN and freedom from the slavery that leads to Sin.
Grace is a powerful attribute of God – He is gracious! His Grace is manifested in his judgment. His Grace is what enables us to be justified before him through Christ.
Verse 18 is, therefore, the most prominent warning for us! If we believe that after believing in Christ, the Christian life should be lived by obeying the exact letter of the law I am rebuilding the Law again, the very thing that Christ has set me free from!
Then I am a lawbreaker in two accounts:
- Only Christ can really and fully obey the law, and therefore we place ourselves on a legalist relationship with God, and that opens the door for us to break the law.
- We violate the law of Grace; we say your Grace is not enough for me!
This is an argument and the basis of the typical “evangelical phrase “I am a sinner saved by grace” – According to God and the Gospel “we are justified saints saved by grace”. The sinner in me died with Christ.
Which leads me to my second point.
2. The Life.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19–20 NIV)
We acknowledge the road to encounter the Grace of God we are dead and the Law points to that very fact! We were dead in our transgressions and sins, and now we have a second chance of finding life and the life that matters by having an encounter with Jesus. We are alive in him.
How are alive in him? Well, there are some fundamental truths about the journey and the process of Salvation, of finding a newness of life in Jesus. Verse 20 is significant:
- Paul said that we had been crucified with Christ
- We no longer live, but Christ lives in us
- The life we live in the body we live by faith in the Son of God
- The Son, who loved us and gave himself for us
What is Paul saying? He is saying that we have died with Jesus, by believing in Jesus we accept that our lives have ceased, we were already dead in our transgressions. Jesus has taken our death upon the Cross, and now the life that we live is hidden in Christ, that is, I do not own my life, but it belongs to Christ.
So now we live by faith and not by sight, the life that we now live is by faith in the Son of God. This is a substitution, his life for yours and mine and therefore he now lives in me. Because he loves me and gave himself for me!! – That is the beauty and power of the Gospel. You are no longer a sinner, but a saint justified by God’s Son.
What is Paul saying? He is saying that because he has died with Christ and therefore he is in no position to fulfil the Law, he is dead to the LAW. But he is very much alive in Faith, Grace, Love, Hope.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)
“It is true that through the sin of one man death began to rule because of that one man. But how much greater is the result of what was done by the one man, Jesus Christ! All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.” (Romans 5:17 TEV)
3. The Grace
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21 NIV)
The Law points out the sinful nature of humanity.
The Law describes what is sin, even though sin entered the world before the Law was ever given.
But the Law cannot solve the problem of Sin; it can only point to a Saviour!
The grace of God is fundamental, elemental, for Sin to be wiped out. If that was not the case, then Christ died for nothing!!
We are justified by Faith Alone and act of God’s grace, and that means that we died with Christ, the flesh, the old man and woman, is dead in Christ and because of Jesus’ resurrection we are now alive in HIM. We serve him, he living in us so the one who fulfils the law, who lives in us can sanctify us!