Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Apostle Paul's Letter To The Galatians. Day 6, Crucified With Christ

The Galatian believers have been confused by false teachers who insist they must follow the Mosaic law in order to "complete" their salvation. Paul has nothing to say against the law, for he will write to his friend Timothy, "The law is good if one uses it properly". (1 Timothy 1:8) But Paul's point in this letter is that the law has never saved anyone; it is faith in the Lawgiver that saves. He's righteously indignant that false teachers have come in and have perverted the gospel of grace by teaching the Gentiles that they are not really saved unless they keep the law in addition to believing in Christ.

Paul, a Jew and a former Pharisee, has no criticism for the law, but he wants everyone to understand this: There is nothing wrong with the law, but there is something desperately wrong with man. If man could have perfectly kept the law, then man could stand before God justified. If man could have perfectly kept the law, then man would have needed no Redeemer, for he would have been capable of redeeming himself. But the purpose of the law was to prove to man that he was incapable of living a perfect life, and so in this way the law could lead man to God for redemption. The law was intended to point man to God and not to himself and to his own works, yet over time man began to trust in the law more than he trusted in the Lawgiver, and religion became legalistic and dependent upon man's efforts and not on God's efforts. The gospel of grace tells us that our redemption rests upon the finished work of Christ, not on our own good works.

"For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God." (Galatians 2:19) This statement perfectly sums up everything Paul is saying about the law and about grace. He's saying something like this, "When I understood the law, and when I saw that I could not keep it, I knew I could never be justified in the sight of God by my own works. No matter how hard I studied God's holy word, no matter how zealously and strictly I tried to follow the Lord's commands, no matter how much I denied myself even the most simple and harmless pleasures of life in order to be a serious student of the law, I failed at being perfect. No wonder I was such a bitter and angry man before I came to Christ! I was exhausted. I was depressed. I was frustrated by my continual efforts to obtain justification by my own works. It was killing me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In my heart I had already admitted to myself that I could never do enough good works to redeem my soul. Maybe that's why I thought persecuting the Christians would please the Lord enough to overlook my shortcomings, because at that time I thought Christians were heretics and blasphemers. But on the road to Damascus I was confronted not only with my own faults and failures, but with the risen Christ. That's when I knew I had to die to the law (and thereby to self and to the idea of trusting in my own efforts) so that I could be made alive in Christ. I am a new creature now, not because I achieved redemption for myself, but because I trust in Christ who achieved redemption for me. What a relief! What a heavy load has been removed from my shoulders! I am not free to sin because I've been redeemed, but my heart and mind have been freed to concentrate on Christ and be led by Him in everything I do."

Next Paul makes one of the most beautiful statements of faith in the Bible, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained by the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:20-21) Paul says, "The old man is dead! He is nailed to the cross with Christ. The new man is alive! He is risen with Christ. Christ did for me what I could not do for myself. He died for me, so I will live for Him. He rose from the dead to prove that the sacrifice He made for us was acceptable to God for our justification, so all my faith rests on Him and not on myself. I am going to be admitted into the presence of the Lord someday not because my own works were perfect, but because Christ's efforts were perfect. I belong to Him and therefore when God looks at me, He sees the blood of His Son. His judgment will pass over me, just as judgment passed over the houses that had the blood applied to their doors, and just as judgment passed over Israel when the high priest sprinkled the blood of the atoning sacrifice on the mercy seat. Judgment and death did not fall on the people because when God looked down from heaven He saw the blood. In this same way, when we who are in Christ stand before our God and Judge, He will see only the blood."

Below is a link to a worship song that goes along with our passage today.
Crucified With Christ

No comments:

Post a Comment