God’s love and our duty! – Galatians 2:11-21

God’s love and our duty! – Galatians 2:11-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 26, 2016

There are folks who confuse God’s love with carte blanche which does not exist anywhere within the pages of Scripture. The love of God for us is founded in the person of Jesus and he was not some quasi mushy-hearted let it go good time fella. God does not wink at our sin in any form nor is he accepting of our halfhearted excuses for deliberately trying to circumnavigate our way into his presence through our own convoluted view of who he is. The Bible makes it plain that the gospel is all about God’s love and our duty.

Paul knew this to be absolutely true. While God accepts anyone from any circumstance he does not accept their sin. In fact, God sees it as abhorrent and totally contrary to his holy nature. This is why Paul got so upset with those who were trying to lead the Galatian Christians astray and back into a works oriented faith practice. And Paul was not afraid to stand up to and toe-to-toe with anyone who thought otherwise. Let’s discover what Paul says about God’s love and our duty…

READ: Galatians 2:11-21

In standing up for the gospel message and that it is by faith alone in Jesus alone…

I. Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise! (Vv. 11-13)

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 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. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

1. For Paul the message of the cross and the empty tomb proved that we could never earn our way into heaven or God’s presence and so “When Peter came to Antioch” Paul related that he “opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” Peter proved his wrongness by his actions. This is just as true today with those who try to doublespeak their way into heaven by making allowances for their ungodly actions, but sometimes actions speak louder than words! Peter was guilty because “Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.” There it is, Peter’s past was catching up with him. In this Paul found it necessary to oppose Peter. Peter, through his actions threatened to compromise the gospel message. “Peter’s conduct in Antioch produced a tense face-to-face confrontation between two Christian leaders.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary) In fact we discover that “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.” By golly Peter was very human in his actions, wasn’t he? He was just like many of us! He tried to blend in with the “in” crowd instead of taking a stand for his faith. Paul would have none of it and was disgusted that even “The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” How awful that a beautiful soul like Barnabas was being lead into their duplicity! But this is what happens when we willingly compromise our faith for the sake of being accepted by others; we influence others into a weaker faith practice and walk. This is why I am glad that Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise!

EXAMPLE: “Stand up!” shouted the drill instructor to the young man who lay prone at his feet. “Stand up and be counted, be the man you are meant to be sailor!” Perhaps this is what Jesus is saying to those who say they have placed their faith and trust in him but back away from declaring it when confronted by others. We are to stand up and be the believers we are meant to be in him. The spiritually weakened world needs a strong faith that does not turn back. Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise!

In standing up to those who would try to confuse the gospel message with works or returning back to the law…

II. Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us! (Vv 14-16)

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter 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? We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing 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 observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

1. There are some things in life that a person should never back away from and one of them is what one believes about Jesus. Paul was adamant about what he believed concerning Jesus and his salvation by faith alone. For Paul it was foundational. Everything else one does in their faith walk comes from the fact that it is faith alone that saves a person. So, Paul continued by telling the Galatians, “When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.'” Paul confronted Peter with his past and his present situation. Peter was a Jew, yet his faith was the same as a Gentile’s faith! And Peter did not live any longer as a strict Jew; he lived in the freedom of his faith in Jesus, not by the chains of the law! How was it then, that Peter would “force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” What hypocrisy! Paul then got a bit sarcastic in his admonishment of Peter and publically reminds him, “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” If the law could have saved anyone by following all of its rules and regulations then Jesus did not have to come and die for anyone! Paul was intimately aware of this fact because he had been enslaved by his Jewish customs all of his life! Peter should have known this as well! Like Paul Peter had lived his entire life under Jewish law and now was free in his faith of Jesus! This is why he related, “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” Peter was denying his Christian liberty in order to be accepted by his fellow Jews instead of Jesus! Such behavior needed to be exposed and Paul willingly did it because Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us!

EXAMPLE: It is easy to try to blend in to the world around us. It is in our human nature not to stand out in any way in order to protect ourselves. In doing so we begin to acquiesce or compromise our faith around others in order to be liked. We also begin to justify our sinfulness. Peter had begun to do this very thing and in doing so he was telling new believers that it was Jesus plus something else. Our faith is never Jesus plus anything else. Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us!

Being justified is one thing but afterwards there is more to life and this is why…

III. Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus! (Vv. 17-21)

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! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 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. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

1. Now Paul knew the arguments the Judaizers would put forward: Namely that Paul was promoting sin. So Paul bluntly related, “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin?” Of course it did not so Paul vehemently retorts, “Absolutely not!” On the contrary, “If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.” If any believer would return to the law after trusting Christ alone for salvation, that law would only demonstrate that he was a sinner, a lawbreaker. Going back to a works oriented faith would have destroyed his witness as a Christian and proven that his faith was worthless and that Paul was a lawbreaker! Yet Paul knew that it was “through the law” that he had “died to the law so that [he] might live for God” alone! Paul had come to Christ by dying to the law, why would he return to that which was no longer any good for anyone? Paul comes back to what he knew to be true and reminds the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Paul’s life was now completely found in Jesus. In fact he tells them, “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary relates, “It is then faith and not works or legal obedience that releases divine power to live a Christian life.” For Paul this was the Christian life, this was what faith meant, therefore Paul did “not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” And Jesus did not die for noting, he died to set us free from the law that we might live for him! Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus!

EXAMPLE: In our day and age we have begun to equate our faith with feelings and this is a dangerous thing to do. Old habits die hard. Peter had fallen back into what he knew instead of relying on his faith. By doing so he had nullified his faith and had begun to rely on how he felt about himself as he desperately tried to appease others. Peter had returned to a worthless ritual instead of living faith. Paul would have none of it and told Peter so to his face. For Paul it did not matter what others thought of him only what they thought of Jesus. Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus!

Conclusion:

Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise! Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us! Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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