Setting Aside Grace

Setting Aside Grace

Words of Faith 5-20-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 2

     [17] "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!   [18] If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am 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 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!"  

 

       Apparently, the visitors who had infiltrated the church at Antioch covered their prejudice with an argument that the Gospel promoted sin. They contended that if people could be justified by faith, then they would do whatever they pleased. Paul resoundingly rejected this argument. In fact, he argued that if one who is in Christ goes backward to rebuild the system of the Law, they simply prove themselves to be lawbreakers.

       This becomes a core argument in this letter to the Galatians. In Christ, we die to the law so that we might live for God. We no longer live for sin or for the law. This is the central declaration of Paul-- "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

       Salvation by faith is not a ticket we get "punched" by kneeling briefly at an altar. Salvation is a complete and profound identification with Christ such that we are crucified with Him by faith and He begins living His life through us. Our old life ends at the cross, and Christ lives in us from that point on. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)

         Paul refused to set aside the grace of God for anyone or for any reason. He would not under any circumstance rebuild a system of legalism or rule-based living. Why? To do so would vacate the work of Christ and render it meaningless. Coming back under the Law as a source of earned righteousness means that Christ died for nothing.

         Paul made it clear that Peter and the others who followed him were setting aside God’s grace. The essential meaning of grace is that God gives people what they have not worked for. As Paul wrote to the Roman believers, "When a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation (4:4). Both justification by works and sanctification by works nullify the grace of God and render the death of Christ meaningless. As one commentator put it, "If righteousness comes by keeping the Law, the Cross was a futile gesture, the biggest mistake in the universe."

         So what about us? We will spend much of this study re-examining our human tendency to drift back into this very trap. Grace is difficult for our human pride and fleshly prejudice to grasp. We often want to add requirements or create some rules. We will often want a way we can think we are a little better than others rather than simply receive the grace of God and discover how very wonderful He is.

        We will do best to cling to this profound truth expressed by Paul. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

       Father God, give me the grace to receive Your grace. Give me the focus to live as one crucified with Christ and no longer living but instead experiencing Christ living in me. Teach me to live in this body by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. In Jesus' Name.  

 

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