I do not nullify the grace of God...
Galatians 2:17-3:9 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
3 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
In today’s text Paul is continuing to make his case for the fact that we are justified, saved by faith not by the law or our works according to the law. It’s not about what we did or what we do. John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It is faith in God and His promises; having faith in Jesus His Son, which leads to salvation. The text says: Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. In addition to salvation and justification, we also are reckoned as righteous and we are blessed by our faith.
But it still remains that we need to fully recognize who and what it is that our faith is in. Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Is our faith based simply in a God we cannot see? Many who are doubters and skeptics would say that it is. They would say that our faith is based on myths and fairy tales; stories which there is no evidence of. Our faith though is not just in an unseen God. It is in His love and His grace, things which there are tangible evidences of. The tangible evidence of God’s love is seen in the cross of Christ, that as Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We must believe more than that Jesus lived, that He as God’s Son came and lived among us as a man. Our faith is based on the love of God, that Jesus died for our sins. We are saved, justified by believing not just in who Jesus was or is, but rather by believing in what He did. So our faith is not only in God and Jesus, but in what Jesus did for us on the cross. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says: The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. So the cross is the demonstration of God's love and it is also the power of God to and for us who believe. When we think of God’s power we often tend to think of the mighty forces of nature which He controls. The oceans and rivers, the winds of a storm, the energy of the sun which sustains all life on earth, all these are evidence of the power of God. So too though is the cross a demonstration of the power of God, because not only did Jesus die for our sins, but God also raised Him from death. Romans 10:9-10 says: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. So our faith is in believing and confessing who Jesus is and also believing and trusting what He did, that He both died for our sins and was raised up from death to live.
In today’s text Paul says: I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” So we nullify grace if we try to earn our salvation through our own works and in our own power. The power of God, which comes through the cross is more than just that Christ died for our sins so that we would no longer be judged in sin, but rather that through the cross we are justified, seen as righteous in Christ. The power of God in the cross is that we also are given the Holy Spirit, that we can live free from sin. Romans 6:1-2 says: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? In the same way that we nullify the grace of God if we continue to rely on our own works, we also nullify His grace and the power of the cross, if we continue in sin. Grace is not God’s permission for us to continue as we were. Grace is God’s opportunity for us to become who He wants us to be. He demonstrated His love by sending His Son so that through the power of the cross and the resurrection, we too could become His children, walking in righteousness through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:1-10 says: You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
2 Corinthians 5:7 says: We walk by faith, not by sight. This verse is often quoted regarding our ability, in faith, to walk above and overcome the circumstances of the world we live in, the things we see and experience. But walking in faith and not by what we see is more than just overcoming things which come against us. It is walking in the power of God, above the bondage of sin. It is doing what God prepared for us, the good works He has for us. We are not saved by what we do, but rather because we are saved, we do what God wants us to do. We do not nullify the grace of God by relying on works, but neither do we nullify His grace or reject the demonstration of His love by continuing in the very sin that Christ died for. We walk by faith, in power and righteousness doing the good works He prepared for us and prepared us for. Our faith is not in an unseen God, but rather is seen in the demonstration of God’s love and power, the cross and the resurrection. Our faith will be seen by others not by what we declare, (the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing) but rather as we walk in the demonstration of His love and in His power to live above sin.
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe, in faith, that You not only lived, died and were raised from death to life, but that it was for my sins that You died and that it was so that I too could walk in the power of God, through the Holy Spirit, that You were raised back to life. May I never nullify the love or grace of God, relying on my own works. But may I also never nullify the love and grace of the cross by continuing in sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit may I walk by faith. Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. Amen.