A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus… For if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. Galatians 2:16, 21 ——————————————————————————————————————-
Mixing Law and Grace
Peter was visiting Antioch, the first Gentile church. There Peter at first mingled with the Gentile brothers, which was in harmony with what God has taught him earlier (Acts 10, 11). However, when some of those Christian Jews appeared, who insisted that believers must observe the Mosaic law, Peter began to “draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles.” The other Jewish Christians in Antioch joined him in this hypocrisy (11-13).
To Paul these believers were clearly “not acting in line with the truth of the gospel. Paul confronted Peter. He argued that “we who are Jews by birth know a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (15, 16). Justified means to be declared righteous by God.
It was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. 2:4, 5
The fact that Christians do fail and are sinners does not mean that the law ought to be reestablished. Paul says “through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God.”
I think he means that God fulfilled our obligations to the Law (serving a sentence that was due) by dying on the cross. Paul is saying that he also died by burying his old self/sins (repentance) and has resurrected with Christ through his faith in Christ and now has a new life in God.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. 2:20
Through the gospel God has provided a new dynamic which infuses the life of the Christian and has nothing to do with the law. “Christ lives in me,” Paul says. And “the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.” To return to law would mean setting aside the grace of God, the only hope mankind has to achieve righteousness.
The Bible is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened in my life. It was there like a rock I stumbled upon. Offered free of charge like yellow pages in a motel room. At first, it was like the song “Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so…” I learned in kindergarten. I memorized the lyrics in English phonetically and could sing it. But I didn’t know what the song meant because I didn’t know English. My relationship with the Bible was like that for a long time. I looked at it and looked at it some more and then gradually it dawned on me…
Without the factual act of God dying on the cross, and its meaning so clearly spelled out in the Bible, I would have never figured it out. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense, delighting my heart every time I think about it. But, if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have logically figured out that God must die to solve the ultimate problem of ours.
I would have judged myself and others through the eyes of this world. By flesh and by law. Now I know about the freedom and equality we have. Bible is an invitation to the beautiful world we dream about – “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I see it now. Yet, I am so forgetful. Each time I open the Bible, it’s a new movie playing:(! Faith comes by hearing and experiencing. So let’s remember to read it and absorb the meaning of the words in it. Have faith in what I am hearing, what my God is saying to me.
When my faith meets God’s grace, I can take the leap. Break away free from the unforgiving laws of the world and run into His grace that has forgiven already before we even ask for it.
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