Why add to the equation?
Why add to the equation?
We’ve arrived at the key passage of Galatians which is chapter 2:16-21. As a context to explaining the core subject of the letter, Paul narrates an encounter he had with Peter. Paul noticed a difference in behavior with Peter. Peter had dined with the gentiles before. Now Paul noticed that he was withdrawing and separating himself from them. Not just that, he did that because he feared “those who were of the circumcision”. Paul had just one word for that kind of behavior – hypocrite.
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. (v 11-13)
Paul accused them of not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel (v14). The truth of the gospel is simply this, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” Acts 16:31. Believe is the key word here. The equation is simple and straightforward. Faith = Salvation. No additions and no subtractions!
When a Jew realizes that the laws that he had been keeping so faithfully aren’t going to be accounted as righteousness for him, but in turn only condemned him and when he understands that by faith in Jesus Christ he can be justified, that is when he is saved. There is no addition or subtraction in the equation. However, there is an assumption, meaning, there needs to be a realization on our part, that we are a sinner in need of salvation. This applies to Jews and gentiles alike. The laws or in other words, the good deeds we’ve been doing are not sufficient to redeem us. “And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;” Isaiah 64:6
Once we’ve come to grips with the reality of who we are, we can dive into the equation. “that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” (v16) If this is your new faith, if faith in Christ is the foundation on which you build your new life, fully knowing that the works cannot save you, then why go back? Exactly Paul’s question to Peter: “I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” (v14)
Although faith is the basis for our salvation, we are expected to bear fruits, because “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (v20) Faith in Christ does not provide us with a ticket or a free pass to a sinful life. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” 1 John 2:1
How will our lives be, if Christ would take control of our bodies? I’m reading a book called Just like Jesus by Max Lucado and in the book, Max invites us to imagine how our lives would be if we had Christ’s heart in our body. We would have a forgiving, compassionate, listening, worship-hungry, focused, honest, pure, hope-filled and enduring heart like Jesus! This is what God has called us to be. And by His grace, we can, because He took the first step, by humbling himself and becoming one of us and dying in our place.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2: 8,9
The all sufficient grace might be a little hard to comprehend, but it is true nonetheless. For by it we were made right with God. It was the purpose of Christ’s death. Why would we ever want to add anything to it?! “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (v21)
Read next post from this series: Put your Faith in Christ