From The Heart

Publish date: 10/13/2002

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:1-4 NIV

The apostle Paul went to the province of Galatia to minister to the Galatians, to preach to them the Good News. He came to help them to leave the old life of sin and bondage behind them and to live their new life in the liberty of the Holy Spirit. He suffered many persecutions to bring them the Gospel and he also invested many precious hours praying for them and teaching them and helping them. He felt responsible for them and protective of them as if they were his very own children – which they were, in the Lord.

There were a group of Christians, converted from Judaism, who had not left the law and self-efforts and work-programs behind them. They preached that circumcision was necessary for salvation – even for the gentile converts -and they sowed confusion and bondage wherever they went. This made Paul very angry, because the Galatians were saved and free in Jesus, but now these Judaizers were trying to place a yoke of bondage back on them. Paul writes a letter to the Galatians to try to provoke and compel them to come back from law and bondage to grace and faith.

15 "We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners' 16 know that a man is not justified by observing 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 observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.  Galatians 2:15-16 NIV

Those who were Jews by birth were descendants of the Jewish nation and of Jewish parents. The Galatians were the "Gentile sinners."  When Paul refers to them as "sinners," he is not questioning their morality, but rather he is referring to their non-observance of the law. They were brought up worshipping idols, without any knowledge of God or of the law. The Christian Jews knew that there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles as far as their salvation is concerned – it is all by faith, not by inheritance or works. Because it is by faith, they are all on equal ground with God.

17 "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! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. Galatians 2:17-18 NIV

If we acknowledge that we must be justified by faith in Christ, but we find that we also need to be circumcised, then what we are really saying is that what Christ did is not good enough – it was not a complete work. We are saying that we are not really saved after all and we make ourselves to be sinners again. How can Christ's redemptive work make us a sinner again? And yet that is what you say when you say that something other than the blood of Jesus is essential for salvation.

This line of human reasoning stems from the belief that God is not pleased with us unless we DO something to earn our salvation, when all along God is telling us that the only thing that pleases Him about us, is our FAITH. The law has been abolished by the death of Christ. If someone acts like a Jew and imposes the observance of the law – which has been abolished - on the Gentiles, then they are building again the things that they destroyed and, in this way, they make themselves transgressors once again, undoing their justification by faith in Christ.

Christ does not promote sin in releasing us from bondage only to bring us back under a legalistic system. We become the transgressor when we revert from Christ back to legalism. The law makes us conscious of sin, but the law gives us no power to overcome sin. The law cannot make us acceptable to God, therefore we must turn from the law altogether.

19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 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

I was in Christ when the law executed Him in my place. In Christ, I died to the law and paid the penalty of the broken law and in so doing, died to the law - the law has no further claim on me. When Christ arose, I arose with Him, and now I might live unto God. I was crucified with Him and I live with Him. It is not really my life – it is His life that I am a partaker of. I have died to the old life and have risen to a new life. My new life is a life of faith in Christ. Galatians 3:11 says, "The righteous will live by faith." I will place my trust in Him alone, not my own efforts, for it is His grace and His mercy and His blood that has saved my soul and my life.