Summary: This is a classic passage for living a life for God. The Christian life is letting Christ live through us.
You may have heard someone describing their conception or rather their misconception of Christianity something like this: Christianity is taking the ten things you like to do most and stop doing them and taking the ten things you like to do least and start doing them.
How can you explain this kind of misconception of a life of faith in Christ?
It is most likely because they have received their idea of Christianity from rulebook Christians. They have come in contact with the kind of institutionalized religion similar to the legalism that Paul is writing against in Galatians.
Jesus was around the Pharisees who emphasized the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. Christ came to give an abundant life (John 10:10). The fruit of the spirit is love, joy and peace. Jesus gives us wells of living water that spring from within and we should never thirst again. Where the spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty.
Paul was dead set against a legalistic Christianity. He called it not only a false gospel but no gospel at all. Not only were these legalists promoting a rulebook Christianity, but they were undermining walking by faith in Christ that Paul taught the churches.
They told the churches not to listen to the gospel that Paul preached and his doctrines of grace, faith, freedom and liberty in Christ. If you do not follow our rules they said, you will have no moral anchor. You will be adrift they warned, and you will end up in complete immorality without any moral boundaries. They were so wrong!
They claimed that Paul was leading them to a lifestyle that promoted gif it feels good do ith philosophy. But Paul is speaking nothing about moral laxity.
So what was and what is the response to the legalists? The response is to set forth what it is in really living for Christ. Actually it is Christ in you, living through you. This is a classic passage for living a life for God.
The response is found in Galatians 2:17-21. (NIV)
17If, 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! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I 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. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!h
Paul smashes the legalistfs philosophies. He completely refutes the idea that obedience to a code of religious law is necessary for salvation. He also blows apart the opposite position of antinomianism that they wrongly charged him of. Antinomianism says that there are no moral absolutes. He does it by focusing on what Christianity really is; Christ in you and Christ living through you!
The Christian life is letting Christ live through us. There is a childrenfs illustration that is used to make the point. It is the hand in the glove. We are like the glove and Christ in us is like the hand. We can do nothing eternally significant until we allow Christ to use us. Gal 2:20 is a great theological statement about Christ living in us and through us.
Paul has preached grace in his Gospel. Now some have come behind him and planted the idea in the Galatian churches that grace promotes sin. Does grace promote sin? Paul addresses this in Galatians 2:17 when he asks if Christ is the promoter of sin. Never! Paul wants to be very clear here. Christ does not promote sin. No way! Of course not! God Forbid! May it never be!
Grace does not mean that we throw morality out the window. Christianity can be distorted in either direction. The Christian path is a narrow road with big ditches on both sides. There is the legalism ditch on one side and a licentiousness ditch on the other.
The legalism ditch is stuck in a rules and regulations Christianity that seeks complete conformity. This ditch was the Galatians church problem. On the left side ditch is a disregard for morality that is an affront to the Holiness of God. It is a sin without regret that leads to disorder and chaos, like at Corinth. Christ is not behind either.
The false thinking that Paul is accused of is that if you sin you produce more undeserved favor. Paul has to clarify that he never said anything like this. Grace frees us to really live for God. Paul stated his position clearly in Romans 6:15, gShall we sin because we are not under law but under grace.h By no means!