Now, this will be another passage of Scripture which I am going to look at the broader message rather than the specific subject at hand, because the broader scope of this situation is what is most concerning today. Yes, in context, this is dealing with the subject of the Judaizers trying to convince Christians (or prospective Christians) that they had to be circumcised, and that they had to follow some of the Jewish ceremonial and liturgical laws of the Old Covenant, some of which they had added to with their own laws.
This is still an issue today, but the broader issue here is of false teachers trying to convince Christians (or prospective Christians) to follow their man-made rules, or their man-made religion, which is contrary to the Scriptures, and to convince them that they can make a pretense of faith in Jesus Christ while still living in deliberate and habitual sin against God, or that they can speak one way and yet act another in practice, as though they can profess faith in Jesus Christ while they are living the opposite of what they profess.
Galatians 2:14 ESV
“But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’”
In context, Cephas (Peter) was opposed by Paul because Peter had withdrawn from ministering to the Gentiles out of fear of certain Jews who were of the “circumcision party.” And he was leading others to acting hypocritically along with him. So, the broader subject here is that of hypocrisy, which has to do with professing one thing while living another or giving lip service to God while acting in opposition to God and to his will and purpose for our lives. It has to do with pretending what you are not.
When we profess faith in Jesus Christ, it is required of us that we live in step with the faith that we profess. For being a Christian is not just a name or a status that we wear because we said some words one day in our lives. Being a Christian is a lifestyle, and it is living out the faith we profess in our everyday living, by the grace of God, in his strength and power, as we cooperate with his work of grace in our lives, and we do as he says we must do. We must deny self, daily die to sin, and walk in obedience to our Lord.
Yet, it appears that the vast majority of those professing faith in Jesus Christ today, at least here in America, are not living what they profess, and many are believing that they don’t have to. And I am not talking about sinless perfection here. But I am talking about what the Scriptures teach, and they teach that if our faith in Christ is genuine that we will deny self, we will forsake our sins, and we will follow Jesus in obedience as our practice, though not necessarily in absolute perfection. Yet, not being perfect is never to be used as an excuse for continued, deliberate, and habitual sin.
For, our conduct is to be in step with our profession of faith in Jesus Christ. It is to be in step with the truth of the gospel which must be understood by the whole of the teaching on the gospel in the New Testament, and in context. For many are teaching lies in the name of the gospel because they are pulling Scriptures out of their context and they are interpreting them in ways which are opposed to what the Scriptures are actually teaching. And many are teaching that our conduct no longer matters to God and that we can live opposite of what Christ and his gospel are really all about.
So, in this case, many of those who are purportedly ministers of the gospel are not teaching the true gospel, and so they are leading others astray to follow them in their hypocrisy. For they make no requirements for the forsaking of sin (dying to sin daily) and for walking in obedience to our Lord, or for honoring Christ as Lord. What they are teaching is a self-centered gospel which is all about what God can do for us, but nothing to do what he requires of us or for how we should now be living as followers of Christ.
Galatians 2:20-21 ESV
“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.”
I am going to talk just for a minute about “the law.” “The law” is used in two different ways in the New Testament. One is to describe the liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, and purification laws that the Jews of old were required to obey under the Old Covenant. The Lord did away with those with his death on a cross. Therefore, Christians do not have to be physically circumcised nor do they have to follow any of those outward and physical requirements under the Old Covenant.
But “the law” is also used to describe the Lord’s commandments and his gospel message under the New Covenant, and we are required to obey those, but under the larger umbrella of obeying our Lord Jesus. The New Testament is filled with instructions and commands to Christians that we are to obey. So, the gospel is not a message of lawlessness. God forbid! It is a message of surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ which also includes forsaking our sins and following our Lord in obedience to his commands.
[Rom 2:13; Rom 3:20-31; Rom 6:14-19; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 2:16-21; Gal 3:2-5, 21; Gal 5:4, 14; Gal 6:2; Eph 2:15; Phil 3:9; etc.]
Therefore, the grace of God to us is not lawless. For God’s grace, which brings salvation, trains (instructs) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the power of God while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. For, Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (see Titus 2:11-14).
God’s free gift of grace to us, thus, is not just forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. His grace delivers us from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin and it frees us to now walk in holiness and in righteousness in obedience to our Lord in the power of God’s Spirit. So, when we receive that free gift, we are accepting God’s requirements that we die with him to sin and that we live to him and to his righteousness.
And this is the message in Galatians 2:20. When we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to walk (in conduct, in practice) in accord with sound doctrine in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, but so we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness, to the glory and praise of God (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
So, when it says here that “I no longer live,” it is speaking of our old self, the flesh which has been put to death with Christ. And this is not just some formality, but this is a reality that must be lived out in our lives, daily dying with Christ to sin, and daily following him in obedience. The crucified life is not a status, it is a lifestyle. So, Christ living in us and us living by faith has to do with our walks of faith, our conduct, and our practices. And our walks of faith must be in step with the truth of the gospel (the whole counsel of God), which we must learn via reading all of the New Testament in context.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / August 15, 2012
Based off Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.
God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.
Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.