Thursday, September 12, 2019

2019.09.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 2:17-21

Questions from the Scripture text: By what (Whom!) do Christians seek to be justified (Galatians 2:17)? What are we still found to be? What did Paul’s opponents say that this would mean about Christ? How does the apostle answer that? What does Galatians 2:18 say it would do to ourselves if we go back to being justified by works? To what does a Christian die (Galatians 2:19)? To Whom does a Christian live? What has happened to a Christian with Christ (Galatians 2:20a)? Who no longer lives? Who does live? By what is such a life lived? What has the Son of God done? What would we be setting aside to say that righteousness comes through the law (Galatians 2:21)? What then would have been in vain?
The apostle’s opponents slanderously reported that he taught, “let us do evil that good may come” (cf. Romans 3:7-8). They claimed that if being right with God comes only through depending upon Jesus, then this makes Jesus somehow responsible for the sin that we continue to commit. It’s a common charge, even today: “Oh, I can’t really believe in Christ, because those who hold to that idea do bad things.”

But just as law-keeping can’t make us right with God, it also can’t make us able to obey God. Ability to obey can only come from Jesus Christ. If we say that only Jesus Christ can make us right with God, but that somehow law-keeping can make us able to keep God’s law, we “rebuild what we destroyed” in order to trust in Jesus in the first place. And if we do that, we pull the rug right out from under our ability to grow in holiness.

Growth in holiness only comes by living unto God (Galatians 2:19). Growth in holiness comes only by Christ living in us (Galatians 2:20). Growth in holiness comes only by living in dependence upon Jesus (verse 20). Growth in holiness can come in this way only because Jesus loved me first and gave Himself for me in every way—including that I might grow in holiness (verse 20).

If we are going to say that our law-keeping makes us able to keep the law, we might as well say that Jesus died for no reason. It’s just as irrational as saying that our law-keeping could make us right with God—you can’t start by grace and continue by works (Galatians 2:21).

The problem is that it’s not just Pharisees and Judaizers that say this. We might disagree with the doctrine, but still easily slide into feeling like “things are going to go better with my walk now, because of how determined I am, or because I understand better what the law requires in this or that situation, or because I’ve set up these boundaries to make sure that I keep that part of God’s law.”
Commitment, and understanding, and even good plans are good. But they are not what enables law-keeping. Only the life of Christ in us that we may live unto God can enable that law-keeping. What we need most of all, for holy living, is to joyously cling to the One who has loved us and has given Himself to BE our life!
By what habits do you rejoice in Jesus’s love for you and Jesus’s life in you?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

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