Dead In Vain?
My title today comes from the last verse of today’s Scripture reading. And what a weighty verse it is:
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain“.
There is so much to say about “works” and “law” and should’s and shouldn’t’s that it makes my head spin to think about it, really. In fact, to get a better understanding, let’s just go ahead and get right into the Word with Paul…
Galatians Chapter 2
(1) Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
(2) And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
(3) But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
(4) And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
(5) To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
(6) But to these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
(7) But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
(8) (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
(9) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
(10) Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
(11) But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
(12) For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
(13) And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
(14) But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
(15) We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
(16) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
(17) But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
(18) For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
(19) For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
(20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
(21) I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
No One Is Justified By the Law
Paul said that no man would be justified by the law. But what does that mean? It means, simply, that even following the Old Testament law to the “T” would never SAVE us. Only faith in Jesus Christ can do that. In fact, once we are saved and have placed our faith in Jesus, that old man is dead. We should no longer be living in the fleshly state of things, but in a spiritual state, by that faith.
Does that mean that once we get saved, it’s like some magic switch is thrown? Absolutely not. In fact, Paul went on to ask, if after we’re trying to be justified by Christ, we are found to be in sin, does that make Jesus a minister of sin? “God forbid!” he said. In other words, that’s an absurd idea!
No, rather, it is the work of Jesus IN US, that produces outward results such as holy living, choosing to do right instead of wrong, and not hiding our light under a bushel, so to speak. In fact, the manner in which a saved person lives an, I suppose, look a lot like “works” coming to the surface.
But trust me when I say, works like that do NOT come by our flesh!
Peter and Paul
I have to say, as far as I can tell, Paul was absolutely no respecter of persons. He didn’t care who you were, he’d tell you like it was. Like he knew it to be.
And keep in mind, now, that Paul never actually WALKED alongside Jesus the way that Peter had. No, Paul had just been knocked off his horse and blinded on the road to Damascus. And when he asked by who, the answer was, “Jesus, whom thou persecuted”.
Still, it was Peter, in this very chapter, that we find trying to ride the fence. Eating with the Gentiles, until the Jews showed up. What was he thinking? That’s why Paul said, in layman’s terms, if the Gentiles see you Jews living like Gentiles, then why should they try to live like Jews?
He was talking about the circumcision here, but Paul was talking about the way Peter ate with the Gentiles, until the Jews showed up. Yet the Jews thought that the Gentiles, being the Gentiles that they were, should be circumcised, because it was Jewish law, LAW mind you.
What It All Boils Down To…
When the rubber really meets the road, it’s all about Jesus. Has been ever since he was raised from the dead and ascended into the heavens. Ever since the Holy Ghost fell and Peter preached to thousands, and 3,000 got saved right off the bat.
Somewhere along the line, and not too long after receiving the Holy Ghost himself, Peter fell back into the comfort of certain parts of the law, apparently. And so, Paul was not at all against withstanding him “to his face”, in front of all those who were with him.
It was NOT ok to tell these Gentiles that they absolutely HAD to be circumcised in order to be a Christian. Because they didn’t. It would make just as much sense to continue offering sacrifices on the altar for the forgiveness of sin. Besides, Jesus said he didn’t come to do away with the law, but to FULFILL it.
I’m not sure everyone then, or now, understands what that meant.
It just goes along with my posts over the last couple of days, where I’ve stressed the importance of reading the Word. We won’t know what Jesus wants us to do, or how He wants us to act, or what He wants us to say, unless we know who He is!
And there’s only one way to do that.
Read, read, read! And then read it some more. And then read it again. Read it in context. Compare side notes, leading your to other Scriptures that talk about the same things. Make notes. Keep a journal. Pray for wisdom and revelation. Because He WILL reveal Himself within His Word to you. It is the Rhema, LIVING Word of God.
And I pray it blessed you greatly today and always!