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?
6Even 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 says: 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 it is not our works, our doing good which make us righteous. It is faith in Christ, believing that Jesus, the Son of God gave up His life for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Today’s text says: Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. So it is faith, it is believing God, believing in Christ that brings about our righteousness. We are: saved through faith, by grace and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Again, Paul says: I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. If we believe that we can be good enough on our own, we nullify the cross. If we could have achieved righteousness, Jesus would not have needed to suffer and die.
There is though also another way that we nullify or diminish the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. If having received the righteousness of God by grace, through faith, believing that Jesus died for us, we choose to presume on grace and act as though what we do no longer matters, we also nullify the gift of grace we have received. Romans 6:1-2 says: 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? There are many today though who promote a gospel that does indeed diminish and nullify the cross by embracing, tolerating and accepting sin. They say that since Jesus died for our sins, once for all, past present and future, what we do does not matter. They say that even the sins we might commit tomorrow were already forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus. What they say is not a lie, but it is only part of the truth. Being saved by grace, through faith, as a gift from God Ephesians 10 says: we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Christ died that we would be redeemed from sin, to walk in God’s righteousness and do His will and His works. If someone were to sacrifice and give you a gift, by paying off your mortgage and rather than living free from debt, you chose to remortgage your home for selfish indulgences, that would nullify their gift to you. The same is true of the gift of redemption that we have been given by God through faith in Christ, if we choose to continue living in selfish indulgence, we nullify the gift of redemption. In John 14:21-24, Jesus says: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus says: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Our righteousness does indeed surpass the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. Their’s was based on the Law, ours is based on the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. Still if we do not do what Jesus and the father command, if we accept, tolerate and embrace sin or if we teach others to do that, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We nullify the grace and the gift of God.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You for the gift of redemption from sin given freely by grace. May I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me and not nullify the grace of God. Believing, having faith to receive what You have given and what You have done, may I empowered by the Holy Spirit live free from sin. May I choose the good and righteous life that You have given and prepared for me in Christ. Amen.