Galatians 2 – post 3 of 3 (Galatians 2:15-21)
Paul reminds us that if it were works of the law that saved us, no one would be justified. It is Christ alone that saves us.
To continue to rely on the law, or any part of us, to achieve our salvation for ourselves is to look up at Jesus…body limp, beaten and bloody from head to toe, pressed up against the cross, and say, “I see you up there Jesus. You did your part. Good job. Now let me just add my kosher meal, circumcision & good works and we’ll be good to go.”
Pride makes us want to believe it has something to do with us. It is hard for us to ask for help and even harder to grasp the idea of grace – that something so precious, valuable, important is given to us freely.
Grace isn’t us doing our best on our own and then hoping God will patch in the holes. Grace is God doing it all. When we add anything to what Jesus did for us, we are in essence nullifying grace.
Continuing to live under the law is putting faith in ourselves, instead of faith in God -- how well WE can follow the law; how WE can EARN God’s favor. We know how faith in ourselves works...about as good as that New Year’s resolution, that quiet time promise to God, that latest attempt to quit _____ (being so easily angry, listening to gossip at work, eating unhealthily, being impatient with my kids, drinking too much...). We disappoint ourselves more than anyone else does.
There is only one name by which we are saved. There was only one plan that would work.
On the night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed, “Abba! Father! You can do anything. Take this cup [of suffering] away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine." (Mark 14:36)
God answers prayers. If there were any other possible way, God would have spared His Son. But there was no other way. It had to be Jesus. It could never have been us. It was Plan A and the only way.
Justification is a legal concept. It is getting a favorable verdict in court on judgement day. Paul is wanting us to see that because of Jesus, we can get a favorable verdict before God when He comes to judge the world.
Imagine being in court with a pile of charges rightly mounted against you. Though you tried to live a good life, you know you are guilty of all of these offenses and the judge will surely sentence you harshly. The little slip here, the falling into the bad crowd season there, the really stupid decision that day. But just as the judge is about to read your punishment, Jesus walks in and agrees to take the penalty for your offenses and you are free to go home; to start over with a clean slate, living a new life of freedom.
When Jesus died on the cross, He substituted our sin for His righteousness. We are crucified with Christ, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. Our sins were nailed to that cross. The penalty was paid in full. We are free to go.
And Jesus willingly did it, as Paul points out in verse 20, because He LOVES US. He isn’t a superhero who swoops in to save the day, then dashes back to headquarters. He is someone who KNOWS US. Not just the general “world”, but the individual us.
And He LOVES US. Enough to die for us. Why would we want to add anything to that?
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