October 14, 2018
“Holding to the Grace of God” - Galatians 2:11-21
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. [Galatians 2:21]
The legalist scoffs at grace because it is an affront to his works. He follows a list of do’s and don’ts, is piously proper, and crosses every “t” and dots every “i” in his religious playbook. He gets great satisfaction in comparing his righteousness to others because of his superior works.
The problem is that all works fall short of the glory of God. It is like trying to cast a line to infinity; no matter how long the line, it’ll never get there. Isaiah said it well: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” [Isa 64:6]
This paints a grim picture for the person that approaches God by works. Isaiah recognized his own unrighteousness: “"Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." [Isa 6:5]. The scriptural principle is this: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” [Romans 3:9] There is no ambiguity in these verses. “All” means all, Jews and Gentiles alike are flawed with sin. “None” means none; no one is able to stand before Holy God because of sin. Man’s works only show that he falls short, because his works are defective.
Paul would go on to teach that the real purpose of the law is not to make a person righteous but to convict him of his unrighteousness, and then lead him to a Savior. “The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ.” [Galatians 3:24]
The interesting thing is that oftentimes after receiving salvation through grace, we then revert to law. We become more religious and do more religious works, and then put that yoke upon new believers.
This was the problem with the Judaizers. They began teaching “another gospel” that was not good news. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” [Galatians 1:6]
Anytime we add to the Gospel of Grace it becomes a different gospel, even if the additions seem good. It is because good works can never make you perfect.
That alone can only be received, through grace, by the perfect work of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.