Summary: God made a promise—a covenant with Abraham. That covenant, which is based on faith and not on the law, is still valid today.
Galatians 2:15-21 “Promises Kept”
We are a people who believe that justice is one of our unalienable rights along with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are frustrated when justice doesn’t take place. For example, we don’t like the lack of closure in the Jodi Arias trial, which was caused by the jury’s failure to determine her punishment. Some people are still upset that O.J. Simpson wasn’t convicted of murder. The fact that not one of the people who were responsible for this county’s economic collapse and the loss of millions of homes and jobs has been brought to justice eats at a lot of people.
We want lady justice to be blind and fair unless it involves us—then we’d like a little slack.
Paul was an expert at keeping the law, but he also knew what every Jew knew—that the law wasn’t enough. It is an empty life simply following rules and trying to please God and everyone else.
Most of us have encountered a person whom we tried valiantly to please, but never could. It might have been a parent, coach, teacher, or even a friend. We’d work harder, longer, better, in a vain attempt to receive their praise. It never came. Some people see God from that perspective—that God can never be pleased.
Add to our inability to please others to the fact that we often can’t please ourselves. We are not the people we want to be. There are things in our lives of which we are ashamed. We’d like to receive some slack, but we don’t even give ourselves slack.
The law kills. When we arrive at the realization that the law leaves us empty, then the only thing we have left is Jesus—God’s love, grace and forgiveness in Jesus. We become dead to the law and alive to Christ. It is then that we experience true justice, freedom and life.
Sometimes life is tough. At these times, people may slap us on the back, as a way of encouragement, and exhort us to keep the faith. That’s tough to do. When our loss is so great, or our pain excruciating, or our life so changed, keeping our faith may be beyond difficult. God is distant, and our prayers bounce off the ceiling.
I have often said that at these times it is important to be a part of a Christian fellowship. When one is a member of a group of Christians, others can believe for us, when we find it difficult or impossible to keep the faith.
Paul takes it one step further. He has something even more constant than the love and support of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In verse 16 Paul writes that we are justified by Jesus’ faithfulness. (There is some controversy over varying translations. Some say “justified by [our] faith in Christ,” while others translate it as “justified by Christ’s faithfulness.”)
Even though we struggle with faith, Jesus is consistently faithful to us. His love, grace, forgiveness, and presence are constants in our lives.
When we stop relying on our faith and begin to rely on Jesus’ faithfulness, we begin to experience true freedom and life.
CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
Paul closes this part of his letter with one of the most powerful and confusing statements—that he has been crucified with Christ and that it is no long he who lives but Christ lives in him. Wow!
We have been crucified—we have died to the old. We have died to the law and to trying to be perfect in every way. We have died to relying on our faith to get us through. We now live celebrating Jesus’ faithfulness. We live rejoicing in God’s grace and love.
Living in that close relationship with Christ, empowers us to live a free, forgiven and abundant life.
Once again, Paul has reminded us to turn our eyes away from ourselves and look to Jesus. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and faithfulness provide us with everything we need to live as children of God.