Faithlife Sermons

It's In Black & White - By Faith Alone

Who Am I In Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:37
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Good Morning. It’s great to see you all again. Do you have an idiom you like to use often? Some famous idioms we’ve heard are: Up in the air, it’s a piece of cake, under the weather, it’s raining cats and dogs, put your game face on, I’m in a pickle, and cut to the chase — which is what we’re going to do. These phrases have developed in our society over time. Many are a play on words that describe a situation or meaning that is not normally seen from just the words themselves.
This morning we’re going to take a look at an idiom Paul is bringing forward. Today, it’s all about black and white. Where we’re going to see some things plainly and clearly. I’ve heard some mention over the years there’s no such things as simply black and white. That there’s gray, something not completely black and not completely white. Where it’s considered to be somewhere in the middle. Some call this — the gray area. Here’s the things about the gray area. See here’s anther idiom. The gray area is a situation that can be unclear, a place that somewhere between here and there. There’s no real definition.
When we’re talking how the good can out weight the bad, many believe that the good can out weigh the bad, especially when we’re talking about eternal salvation. For some, when we stack up the bad and measure against the good, a person might say that a person was considered good. There was more good in that person’s lift than bad. And, vise verses. When we talk about our eternal security, things are different. God does not count as we count or measure as we measure.
Paul talks to us in black and white, or as some would say, give it to me straight! Turn with me in your bibles to Galatians Chapter 2, and let’s read together verses 15 through 21, as we talk about black and white — by faith alone.
Galatians 2:15–16 ESV
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 2:17–18 ESV
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.

Pastoral Prayer

[Display Verses 15 and 16]
Paul starts off with verse 15 with a phrase where he identifies himself with the Jews. Paul was a Jew by nature, which means by birth. But, notice the reference to the Gentiles as sinners. The Jews considered themselves to be religious, and thought as the Gentiles to be sinners. But! When talking, many considered Gentiles and sinners as meaning the same thing. There’s a larger picture here that Paul is referring to. What Paul is getting at that all Jews, all Gentiles are sinners, which means that all people are sinners. Paul is talking about the foolishness in keeping the law. The law lets us know something is wrong, but the law doesn’t fix it. It’s not a cure for sin. The law is holy and it is divine in that it is able to show us where we’re sick and where we need help.
Before we moved here, the Green Hornet needed an emissions test. The emission test failed, and we had to have a diagnostic done to try and figure out what the problem was. So guy come up, plugs into a terminal, and tells us — it’s your water pump. I thought — WOW, you could get all that from that. Ok — we know what the problem is. The thing is, although I have the diagnostic, the problem remains. I still have to get it fixed. I don’t thing the MVD would allow me to register with a failed emission. Even, if i begged and pleaded, saying I was mostly a good driver on the way over. I only texted 6 times on the way over. My radio was down, so I could hear emergency vehicles. I wore my seat belt. I used my turn signals. I drove 5 MPH under the speed limit. I even waived to someone when I was at a complete stop at the stop light. I think there’s a good chance the person at the MVD would have guided, I know you did all this good, with a little bad mixed in. But your car is still broken. You need to get it to someone who can fix it. This means the sin in our life needs fixing. And, the thing about it, we cannot fix-it ourselves! This isn’t something we find on YouTube and break open the tool box from the garage to fix.
That’s the folly Paul was trying to get across. There is no amount a good works that can be added to tip the scales in our favor with the bad we’ve committed. Paul’s point here is that a believer in Jesus Christ is justified by faith alone, not by works. The word justified is an important word! Paul uses it 3 times here in verse 16 alone. Many of the popular versions use the word justified. If you’re in the NLT, you’ll see the word “right.”
By coming to Jesus Christ, they were confessing that their laws, religion, practices were not enough for salvation. They needed much more, something more. That something more is Jesus Christ. A person is not justified and made acceptable to God, by works or by law. Now why? Because man is short of God’s glory. When Paul was writing to the Romans he informed them of this very aspect. The Bible says in:
Romans 3:23 ESV
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Man in imperfect, incomplete, and less than what we should be. Everything that lives in God’s presence must be perfect and complete. Therefore, since we are imperfect, incomplete, we cannot stand in God’s presence. A question needs to be asked. Is there a work that man can do, or a law that man can keep that will make us perfect, that allow us to stand in the presence of Almighty God? The answer is no, absolutely not. The work a person does is considered to by imperfect and incomplete. The Bible says “all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags (that’s from Isaiah 64:6). This includes our righteous acts on our best days. An imperfect being cannot do anything prefect and complete. We’re short of God’s glory.
[Display Verses 15 and 16]
What then is our hope? How can we become justified? Made complete and perfect before a holy God? God says there’s only one way – the middle of verse 16 is our answer, with two words! JESUS CHRIST!! A person is justified by Jesus Christ alone. No person is justified by works or by law. Justification means to count someone as righteous. God counts us acceptable to Him. Justification is necessary because of the sin of man. Man has rebelled against God, taking his/her life into their own hands. We live as we desire, fulfilling the love of our eyes, the love of our flesh, perfection in our own strength. We see many clinging to the pride of life (you can read more about that in 1 John 2:16). Why is it hard sometimes hard to let go and trust God? The gospel of John tells us why:
John 3:19–21 ESV
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
That’s the thing about the light. When the switch is turned on — everything is exposed. Sin separates us from God. It breaks our relationship. If you learning about this, think about it like something that has come between you and your best friend. Whatever this “something” might be, it has caused a break in your-all’s relationship. The relationship is not quite right. Generally one or both of you, at one point wishes for the relationship to be restored. You two talk about what happened, you reconcile, and the relationship is restored. With God, sin breaks our relationship. It drives a wedge between us and God. How can a relationship between man and God be restored? Here’s two more words for you — JESUS CHRIST! Why is God willing to do this? It’s because God loves us that much! All we have to do is read John 3:16 and 17. We have some tremendous spirit up-lifting in:
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Now, that’s some tremendous love we’ve got from God to be counted as “justified in Jesus!” Paul says in:
Galatians 2:17–18 ESV
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
Verse 17, It’s crucial to see what Paul’s admitting and not. He’s admitting, first, that he other Jewish Christians are seeking justification not in works of law but only in Christ. If Christ has come simply with more rules, then he has not come to bring life and righteousness, but rather has come to bring more sin, more condemnation, and more death, so Paul’s argument here is Christ hasn’t come to bring new rules! It’s not why he’s come! He hasn’t come with a new bag. Instead, he’s come, saying, “I am your righteousness. I’m taking God’s wrath from you. I am freeing you from the effects of the fall. I am rescuing you from the clutches of sin and death.” He doesn’t say, “I’ve come to fulfill the law, and now here’s some more law. Since you couldn’t keep it the first time, I’ve got some maybe weaker ones.” The Law was as basic as it gets. “Hey, don’t steal.” Right? That’s not complex. What Paul argues here is if you make Jesus a bringer of rules, you make him a minister of sin and condemnation and death, and is he that? We see in the ESV, the words “certainly not,” the King James puts it as “God forbid.”


Why can man never approach God with works alone? We talked about this earlier. Man is incomplete. Jesus Christ is what bridges our incompleteness! I know you’ve heard people claim to be righteous. Essentially pointing out all the good that has been performed over a lift time, with the understanding the law was kept perfect. So it comes down to the question, can a person be righteous before God by keeping the law, pleasing God. A person can do this — only if the person can keep the law perfect, never breaking it once, never violating it a single time, keeping every act, every word, every thought, never displeasing God in anything? I’m not talking about some of the time, this is all the time 24/7.
Go back the MVD illustration. Everything was done correctly. The radio was down, seat belt was worn, turn singles were used, there was no speeding. And, for an added bonus a kind jester was given to another motorist. The only law broken was texting while driving. We have a 5-to-1 ratio of good works. Here’s the thing, the Bible says in:
James 2:10 ESV
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
That means we have to keep everything, not violating a single piece. That’s what make Jesus so special. He was sinless — 100% of the time. And, because of Jesus was sinless, Jesus Christ imputes his righteous onto us, allowing us to be declared justified before God. We’re going to watch a short video about why begin “good enough” is not enough.
Play Good-O-Meter Video
There is no work or law that we can keep that declares justified. If we can generate our own self righteousness, then Jesus Christ died a cruel death, a horrible death on the cross of Calvary.
Coming to church does not justify you before God
Giving a tithe to the church does not justify you
Buying the hopeless person a meal does not justify you
Being an overall nice person does not justify you before Almighty God
In a couple verses down, Paul said:
Galatians 2:21 ESV
21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
To sum up verse 21: Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved! A person cannot be saved by keeping the law or anything else other than believing in Jesus Christ, as the only way to salvation. We’re justified by faith through belief in Jesus Christ. That’s black and white! Perhaps you’ve been feeling out of sync with God, today can be the day you make the decision to get right with God. The isles are clear, and the front is clear. There’s nothing in the way stopping you this morning.

Closing Prayer

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