Summary: What are the lifestyle implications of the gospel of justification by faith in Jesus? Is salvation through grace by faith in JC alone a promoter of sin? Is setting people free from adherence to the law going to cause people to sin more?
GALATIANS 2: 17-21
THE POWER TO LIVE A RIGHTEOUS LIFE
[Romans 8: 1- 4]
What are the lifestyle implications of the gospel of justification by faith in Jesus¡¯ life, death, and resurrection? Is salvation through grace by faith in Jesus Christ alone a promoter of sin? Is setting people free from adherence to the law going to cause people to sin more? Absolutely, definitely not!
When a man by the power of the cross dies to sin, dies to his old way of believing, to his old way of thinking, and to his old way of living, he can then live in Christ and in the power of Jesus¡¯ resurrection. By the same power that raise Christ from the dead, he can receive a new way of believing, a new way of thinking, and a new way of living life. This new life lived by faith through the grace of God will be a righteous life. It is the power of Christ that truly enables one to live righteously, not the personal power of attempting to keep the law (CIM).
I. DOES THE GOSPEL PROMOTE SIN? 17 & 18.
II. JOINT DEATH GIVES JOINT LIFE; 19 & 20.
III. CHRIST GIVEN RIGHTEOUSNESS; 21.
Verse 17 wants to know if we need to return to the yoke of the law in order to keep ourselves from sin. ¡°But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!¡±
[First class conditional phrase, or assumed true; If & we are] While seeking to be justified in Christ by grace, are we set free to indulge our own natural sinful inclination? Does being set free from the restraint of the law cause more sin to occur? If so then Christ who freed us from the law would be a promoter of sin. May it never be! Let it not come into being. Let it not even be thought in your mind.
The Jews understood that because of the falleness of man, man is inclined to sin. They saw the law as what keeps us from sin, as what checks unrestrained living. If the law is removed in Christ doesn¡¯t that cause us to be release from what keep us from sin? Isn¡¯t justification by faith in Christ alone going to release people into lawlessness?
Yes, Christ taught that it was not what enters a man that defiles him but He also taught that sin comes from what proceeds out of the heart (Mt 15: 1-20). Yes, He taught all meats were clean (Mk. 7:19), but He also taught that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of the Father (Mt. 4:4). [The grace of Christ changes the inside, the law is for external agreement as to what is right and wrong. It is the Spirit of the Living God, not legal regulations that change the inner life of man (5:13-26).]
The Jewish alternative to trusting only in Christ and receiving His all-sufficient grace was obedience to the law. But the New Covenant not only supersedes the Old Covenant, it replaces it, as verse18 states. ¡°For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.¡±
Peter, unknowingly, was starting to rebuild a law keeping or a works oriented salvation by reverting to keeping the ceremonial law under the peer-pressure of those from Jerusalem. But Peter and Paul knew this was transgression because in rebuilding the doctrine of salvation by works or law they were casting down the most fundamental doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.
¡°Paul was quite SURE OF ONE THING- that Jesus Christ had done for him what he could never have done for himself.¡± A man ¡°who re-enacted the experience of Paul was Martin Luther. Luther was a show-piece of discipline, penance, self-denial and self-torture.¡± ¡®If ever,¡¯ he said, ¡®a man could be saved by mimicking that man was I.¡¯ He had gone to Rome; it was considered to be an act of great merit to climb the Scala Sancta, the great sacred stairway, on hands and knees. He toiled upwards seeking the merit that he might win; and suddenly there came to him the voice from heaven, ¡°The just shall live by faith,¡± The life at peace with God was not to be attained by this futile, never-ending, ever defeated effort; it could only be had by casting himself on the love and mercy of God as Jesus Christ revealed it to men. It is when a man gives up the struggle which the pride of self thinks it can win, but must ever lose, and only when he abandons himself to the forgiving love of God that peace will come.¡± (Barclay pp. 23,24)