Gal Part 3
Series in Galatians
Week one we talked through the history and context of Galatians
We spoke about the gospel and how if we add anything or take anything away from the gospel of Jesus it ceases to be just that
We can not add or take anything away from it or it stops being what it is
Last week we spoke through how the gospel changes everything for us.
Because of the gospel we become a new creation
What Paul has really done in chapter 1 has proved his position, authority, message, and mission
Like, Pauls saying: before we move any further here, let me prove to you that you can trust me and what I’m saying
And now we really start getting into some of the problems at the churches of Galatia
This week is all about justification
So let me pray for us and we will dive in
1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. 11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. 17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 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. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Week one I told us about the Galatian situation
There was something going on where Paul had come in and preached the true gospel of Jesus but then some men came behind them and began to preach a different message
So here are some more details around that.
We’ve seen that Paul received this message and mission from God and it was that “justification happens through faith in Christ alone.”
This was the message Paul came to preach, which was completely contrary to prior OT beliefs.
And so when Paul began preaching this these men came behind him and said no justification happens through works of the law
Essentially, “if you want to follow Jesus, here is your checklist. Make sure you do it.”
The two focal laws that we see here in Galatians would be circumcision and Kosher eating
Every Jewish man was circumcised as a sign to show they were God’s chosen people
And every Jew would only eat Kosher which was a strict eating ritual
So Paul comes and preaches true, biblical, justification
So, what is justification?
“Justification is the gracious act of God by which God declares a sinner righteous solely through faith in Jesus Christ.”
So what that meant for the churches in Galatia and what that means for us here this morning is:
God’s approval of you is not based on your performance for Him
Now, that sounds really good! And it is really good!
It can be really really freeing.
This is a big reason why we’ve labeled this Galatians series as “freedom through Christ because when we begin to understand this we will begin to understand the freedom found through Jesus
The problem for us, me, is that we don’t often let it be
We don’t let justification be what it is because we don’t know how to operate outside of ourselves
In a sense, true justification is really freeing!
In another, true justification is really frustrating!
Because it means that there is nothing I can do to earn the grace, love, and favor of God.
But, although I can not earn God’s favor, Scripture does talk about pleasing God.
Paul talks about this in 2 Cor 5:9
9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
He tells believers to do the same in 1 Thess 4:1
1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
So, now the question is raised, if God’s pleasure in me is not based on my performance for Him than how do I go about trying to please Him?
Gal 2 answers that for us
And Paul gives us 3 different pictures to illustrate it to us
Galatians 2:1-10 we will see right behavior but wrong belief = displeasing to God
There was this debate and discussion about whether or not Titus, a Gentile believer, so not a Jew, needed to be circumcised.
And the heart of the issues was, are their any human requirements for salvation and justification in Christ?
They were debating legalism
legalism being: working in our power according to our own rules to garner God’s favor
The thing about legalism is, it’s usually packaged in good things
It’s right behavior but wrong belief
Circumcision was a good thing, a God ordained thing. It was important in the Jewish life.
Not only was it important, it was the law!
The problem with it, like every other legalistic topic, is they believed performing this act earned merit from God
Now we don’t walk around debating circumcision today but there are a ton of other legalistic traps that we fall in to.
And most of them are all right behaviors
They are just right behaviors with the wrong belief
And right behaviors with wrong beliefs are still wrong
So going to church is a right behavior
Going to church because you believe it earns you some sort of favor with God is a wrong belief
Reading your Bible is a very right behavior
Reading your Bible in hopes to have more good tally marks than bad tally marks on your spiritual resume is a wrong belief
We must fight the urge, always, to going back to legalism. It simply does not work
The next thing we see is right belief but wrong behavior = displeasing to God
Verses 11-14 show us the flip side to the previous coin
It’s one of the most tense episodes in all of the NT
Paul, an apostle, confront publicly, Peter, an apostle
Peter the guy who started the church, the guy who preached one time and over 3,000 people got saved
This took guts, he didn’t stand up to no friends frank
This is Peter we are talking about!
To understand this a little better we need to understand some context.
The church of Antioch mentioned here was made up primarily of Gentiles
When Peter came to visit them he would eat and spend time with them
Now that may not seem out of the ordinary for us but we have to understand a few things
#1 a meal back then was not like a meal today
If you ate with someone, normally it was an event.
You didn’t run to mcdonalds and sit down for 30 min and then go about your day
It would take a long time
They also didn’t have all the distractions we do so they didn't have phones to look at, tv’s to watch, tablets to mess around with
Meals were centered around conversation
And if you agreed to have a meal with someone, you were essentially putting your mark of approval on them
Which is why the Pharisees would be so upset to see Jesus eating with the tac collectors and prostitutes.
It was a sign of acceptance
The other thing is that it wasn’t just unlawful to eat non-kosher for the Jews
It was also unlawful to eat with someone who did
So Peter did this. He got it! He had the right belief.
We see in Acts 10 this account of God revealing to Peter that it was now ok to eat “four footed animals and reptiles and birds of the sky.”
Peter’s response to God in this account is: “I have never eaten anything common and ritually unclean.”
God’s response to that is: “What God has made clean, you must not call common.”
Peter understood that the Gentiles were not less than. The gospel of Jesus is for every man and every women
Their is no tier list in Jesus
Because someone does something you don’t, it does not make them a better Christian.
Because Marshall sings, it does not make him better than you.
Because I get up and preach, it does not make me a better Christian
The gospel shows us that we are all justified by faith alone in Christ alone
We all receive the righteousness of God
So it does not matter what your background is
It does not matter what your skin color is
It does not matter how much money you make
It does not matter if you can sing or preach
The gospel is available to us all
Peter knew this! He had the right beliefs and yet he had the wrong behavior
Peter, at some point, allowed the pressure of those around him to cause him to behave outside of his beliefs
He began to draw back from the Gentiles and separate himself
And Paul publicly calls him out
He says “a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
A person is justified! What does that word mean?
justified! a mega-word in christianity
Luther says “justification by faith alone is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls”
He also said when speaking about justification:
It is the truth of the gospel. it is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.
Now, that may sound a little forceful and extreme but it seems to be exactly what Paul is doing here for the Galatians.
The gospel and justification go hand and hand. They are inseparable
If justification is the gracious act of God by which God declares sinners righteous solely through faith in Jesus Christ
And we break that down, we see the gospel
It’s the gracious act of God
No one is righteous before God, nor is there anything we can do on our own to become righteous before God.
Justification is all about the grace of God
It’s not: do this, this, and this to be saved.
It’s: faith in Christ
It’s also by which God declares
It’s this picture of a court room
We are guilty a million times over
The perfect judge in God the Father with the only option being to declare us guilty
But instead makes a way when there seemed to be no way
Puts Jesus in our place
So now, Jesus takes our punishment and we get to live in freedom
God declares it! It’s not still up for debate, it’s not let’s see how you do tomorrow, it’s not prove yourself first. He declares it
And what does He declare?
Sinners be made righteous
We are guilty. There’s no getting around it!
But we have been made righteous because of what Jesus has done
Last week we had the college football championship. The Georgia bulldogs won. There’s a guy on that team named William Mote. Anyone know William Mote? Ever heard of his name? You probably wouldn’t. Want to know why. He was the back up long snapper. If you don’t know what a long snapper is, he’s the guy that hikes the ball to the punter and place holder on very specific plays of the game. Do you know how many plays William got in for? 0. The first string guy only saw the field a handful of times nevertheless the back up. But do you know what. William Mote is a college football national champion. He didn’t do a dang thing, but he had that Georgia logo on his jersey so that makes him a champion.
God declares us righteous. You know what you’ve done to earn it? Not a dang thing. But you’ve got Jesus and so you get to be a champion
You get to commune with God as if you were His son or daughter
You get to rest in the Father
You get to experience freedom through Jesus
You get to have Him, the ultimate goal and prize for all of eternity because you were declared righteous because of Jesus
And it is solely through faith
You don’t have to go to church a certain amount of times
You don’t have to memorize enough scripture
You don’t really have to do anything but have faith that Jesus is who He says He is and because of that surrender to His Lordship
And here is the thing that we tend to miss out on when we talk about justification
Yes, God declares you righteous, or legally not guilty, and that is wonderful news
But He also declares you His. He declares you son or daughter.
So yes we are saved by Christ, but we also get to be in Christ.
We get to have union with Him
So not only does God declare what we are not, He also declares what we are
So not only does God declare what we are not, He also declares what we are
Yes, we are declared no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer dead, we are no longer an old creation
But we are also declared sons and daughters, we are declared alive in Him, and we are declared a new creation
Paul ends this chapter then with showing us what right belief and right behavior looks like
15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. 17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 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. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
He says we have to believe that we are saved not by works of the law, not by doing enough, but by faith in Jesus Christ
This is right belief
If that is right belief then what is right behavior?
Galatians 2:19-20 (NIV)
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 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 live for God, with Christ, and Christ in me
The life I now have in Christ is not my own, I die to self and live for God
This is right behavior
If you want to please God, you will have right belief that PRODUCES right behavior