I think that there is a lot of confusion about the subjects of law and grace, that those of us who were never under the Old Covenant may have difficulty comprehending, and which many have misconstrued to their advantage.
And, I believe that, if we truly want to understand this, and how it applies to our lives today, that we have to read the whole of the New Testament and look at the subjects in relation to all teaching on these subjects. For, I believe a lot of false teaching stems from taking scriptures out of context, while ignoring other critical scriptures which help us with our understanding.
So, we can’t read these passages which talk about no longer being under the law and then make the assumption that not one of us is required to obey the Lord’s commandments under the New Covenant. For, the New Testament is loaded with teaching that insists that we obey the Word of God, and that we obey the commandments of our God (under the New Covenant), and that if we don’t, that we don’t really know God, and we don’t have eternal life.
So, what this means is that we are not under the Old Covenant like the Jews were. We, thus, don’t have to follow all those ceremonial and purification laws that they did. We don’t have to make animal sacrifices. And, we don’t have to follow all the same ceremonies and holy days that they did. We are under the New Covenant now. But, the New Covenant does not teach lawlessness. It teaches that we must obey the Word of God.
Galatians 2:4-6 ESV
“Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.”
So, in our day and time, most of us are not faced with “false brothers” trying to bring us back under the Old Covenant laws, though some of that exists, too. Most of us are faced with “false brothers” (and sisters) who are trying to teach us that we don’t have to repent of our sins, that we don’t have to obey the Lord, and that we don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord, all of which are definitely contrary to New Covenant teaching.
So, the “freedom” that these current “false brothers” are “spying out” is our freedom from slavery to sin, for their goal is to bring us back under slavery to sin, and to cloak it with passages of scripture such as in Galatians 2 which talk about not being under the law but being under grace.
But, if we read all of Galatians, and all of Paul’s teachings, we will soon learn that it is demanded of us that we obey the Lord’s commands, and that we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God and if we want to escape eternal damnation, i.e. if we don’t want to die in our sins (example: Rom. 8:1-17).
So, we have to not listen to those who are saying that repentance and obedience to Christ are not required for eternal life with God. For, what they are teaching is a lie, and it is straight from hell. For, what they are teaching goes directly against the teachings of the New Covenant. And, they free no one from sin, and their promise of heaven is also a lie based on another lie.
So, the truth is that Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. He died, too, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, when he shed his blood for us on that cross he bought us back for God that we might now be God’s possession, and that we might now glorify God with our lives, since our lives are no longer our own (1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 2:10; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
The truth also is that we, under the New Covenant, are commanded to obey our Lord, to repent of our sins, and to submit to his Lordship. If we do not, and we choose to go our own way instead, because we are believing the lies, then heaven is not what is waiting for us. Hell is what awaits us, instead (Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).
But, there are many charming and influential people within the gatherings of the church, and within our governments, too, who are trying to convince you that true Christianity involves tolerance of sin, acceptance of all faiths, freedom to keep on in your sinful practices without guilt, and that it is all about just being “nice” to people to make them feel good about themselves.
So, be wise. Be discerning. Don’t believe everything you hear from preachers, from politicians, from famous people, from the news media, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube, etc. Test everything you see, that you read, and that you hear against the Word of God and in prayer to see if it is true or if it is a lie. For, deception abounds in our day and time.
For, there are many liars and deceivers out there. And, their goal is to deceive naïve minds, and to turn people away from genuine faith in Jesus Christ. So, don’t fall into their traps.
Galatians 2:17-21 ESV
“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.”
It is true that we, in ourselves, can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation from sin or to gain eternal life with God. We will never be good enough, because we are sinners by nature. It is only because of God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, that any of us can be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God. That is not in dispute here.
But, we need to understand that God’s grace and the faith to believe in Jesus Christ are both gifted to us by God, and if from God, they will conform to God and to his commands. So, if my faith to believe in Jesus is from God, and if it does, in fact, literally mean to be persuaded by God, then that faith is going to result in repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord. But, even repentance is granted us by God, and we can only obey our Lord in the power and in the strength of God’s Spirit within us (Eph. 2:8-10).
So, what was Paul’s goal here? It was that he might live for God. So, how do we live for God? It is not by continuing in our sinful addictions convinced that we are free to do so, only now without guilt and without punishment. That isn’t even logical from a human standpoint.
Living for God means to turn away from our sinful practices, and it means to follow Jesus with our lives, according to his will and purpose, not according to our own (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
As well, if we have been crucified with Christ, that means we died with Christ to sin so that we would no longer live in sin. And, if we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, that means we have put sin and self to death by the cross of Christ and that our lives are now surrendered to Jesus Christ, and truly he is the one on the throne of our lives calling all the shots, and not us.
Again, our righteousness is not gained by works of the flesh, trying to be good enough for God in our own strength. But, we aren’t righteous, either, if our lives are not committed to Christ and if we are still walking according to the flesh and in sin, and not in the light of Christ and his righteousness. We can only be righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, but that faith is proved genuine by what we do in heart response to our Lord’s commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Tit. 2:11-14).
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
Hymn lyrics by William Williams, pub.1745
tr. by Peter Williams, pub.1771
Music by John Hughes, 1907
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold.
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee. Amen.
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