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! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
~ Galatians 2:17-21
Continuing from the last post, we are saved not by our own works, by the work of Jesus in our place. Jesus righteousness replaces ours and it can be said that He is living inside us and through us. Now that we’ve wrapped that up, let’s continue on…
“If, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin?…” What in the world is all this about? Remember, Paul is speaking to those who were bound to the law – Jews. He had been speaking about Gentiles as “sinners” (those who are without the law) and he asks here if Jews who are now separated from trusting in the law for their salvation and instead find their salvation in Christ alone are associated with Gentiles who do the same, could they be found to be “sinners” (those without the law) as well? Certainly not!
“If I rebuild what I tore down…” What was torn down? Do you remember? It was salvation by works, and not by the grace of God. If we, now saved Christians, Jew and Gentile alike, now begin to trust in things outside of Christ for our salvation (the law, idols, ourselves and our own works, etc) I prove ourselves to be transgressors (literally it means to cross against or violate) the “law” of salvation by grace through faith. We would then be back under the same yoke of destruction. Paul, in Romans 8:1-2, he calls it the law of “sin and death”. There is no salvation available in the law and to put yourself back under it is a wasted effort. If it did not save you before, how can it save you now?
He continues with “through the law I died to the law so that I might life to God.” Jesus substitutionary death in our place fulfilled the law for us – we are now DEAD to the law. It has no power over us. All of our sins have been paid for – past, present, and future. As a result, we are now free to worship God directly, with no fear of condemnation. Why are we free from condemnation from our pure and holy God who can not withstand any sin in His presence, despite the fact that we still sin every day? The righteousness of Jesus perfect life and His unimaginable worth as the Son of the living God are imputed (placed upon us) and, as a result, it is now no longer us who live (in our sin drenched lives and worthless works) but Jesus who lives on through us. The life that we now live, in everything you do once you are transformed at your conversion, you now live to the glory of God. Why? Because without God working in your life, you’d be destined for hell and destruction. Your very presence proclaims the glory of God, and your eternal destination reveals His mercy and love for you.
“If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” If this salvation were available through adherence to the law, Jesus did not have to die in our place. The cross would merely have been “cosmic child abuse” and nothing more. Instead, the cross is mandatory for our salvation because, as I explained in my last post and touched on above, our works cannot save us, and the law (meaning the moral law of God) is merely a list of requirements to enter God’s presence – given to us to show our limitations and inability before God and to drive us to our knees where we wait on the Messiah to come and save us. That is the purpose of the law before Sinai, through the age of Israel, and now in the age of the Church. God has never changed, His promise for salvation has always been the same – you cannot do this on your own, trust in me.