“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.” ~ Galatians 2:17-21
In Galatians 1 Paul is adamant about the most important truth in our Christian faith: that salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:12
This was also the battle cry of the Protestant Reformation. It was commonly expressed as the “Five Solas” which summarize our salvation:
Sola Scriptura, Salvation is revealed in Scripture alone.
Solus Christus, Salvation is found in Christ alone.
Sola Gratia, Salvation is entirely by grace alone.
Sola Fide, Salvation is received by faith alone.
Soli Deo Gloria, Salvation is given for the glory of God alone.
Paul chastises the Galatians for following the false teachers who were telling them that salvation is received through faith in Jesus, plus our obedience to the law.
As he continues his explanation of salvation by grace through faith throughout Galatians 2 he ends up stating that if we could save ourselves by obeying the law then Christ died for no purpose. Paul says that Christ had to come because we were, and are, unable to keep the law. In fact the law accuses, enslaves, and condemns us all as sinners.
God’s standard is a perfection of which we fall terribly short. This is why the gospel is such good news to the weak and powerless like ourselves. It is Christ who has done it all for us. He has kept the law, he has payed the debt, and he continues to work in his people. This is why Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” (vs. 20).
[H]ere in his own person he gives us an excellent description of the mysterious life of a believer. He is crucified, and yet he lives; the old man is crucified (Rom. 6:6), but the new man is living; he is dead to the world, and dead to the law, and yet alive to God and Christ; sin is mortified, and grace quickened.
– Matthew Henry (Commentary on Galatians)
Danger of Owing God
Salvation is all of grace. But we sometimes grow confused as to our response to that grace. All too often we look at what Christ has done for us and we feel like we owe him. We ask, “What can I do for Jesus?” And sometimes we feel the need to somehow pay Jesus back for his gift of salvation. There are 3 problems with this:
1) Salvation is a gift, and gifts are not to be paid for by the recipients. How would you feel if you bought someone a gift, a gift they would both need and love, and they wanted to pay you for it. To take payment would mean the gift wasn’t a gift, but a commodity.
2) There is nothing good enough or big enough that we can do to pay Jesus back for what has given us.
3) Christ is not done doing for us. He continues to work in us, to forgive, to change, to heal, to correct, and to grow us.
Read those verses again. What does it say? It says that now that Jesus has saved me my life is no longer about me – it is about Christ in me. So what are we to do since Christ has done and still is doing everything for us? Paul tells us in the second part of verse 20:
“And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God.”
That is our response: to believe and to live by that faith. Faith believes that Christ has paid it all. Faith believes that Christ will complete his work in us. Faith trusts that Jesus is enough and that in Him alone our salvation is complete.
While there are numerous passages that tell us that we need to obey, this obedience is only possible because of Christ in us. Obedience is not the cause of our salvation, but the consequence of it.
Looking To Jesus,