Galatians Part 15 - Galatians 2:15-21

vs. 15-21. 1. Paul here says to Peter, “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,” (v. 15). A. Paul is certainly not insinuating that Jews have no sin. c/w ROM 3:9. B. A contrast is simply being drawn between the Jews to whom pertained the adoption, glory, covenants, law, and promises (ROM 9:4) and the late-comer Gentiles who were “...graffed in among them...” (ROM 11:17) and were spiritually Jews. ROM 2:28-29. (1) The gospel was first to the Jews informing them of Christ’s justifying work. Jews were the ones who “...first trusted in Christ” (EPH 1:12). c/w ACT 3:26. (2) The Jewish believers’ preeminence in time, original favors and knowledge was all the more reason for them to not waver on the futility of law-works for spiritual justification. v. 16 c/w ROM 3:19-20. C. Sidebar: Some (like Campbellites) deny the doctrine of inherent sin and affirm that EPH 2:1-3 (“...were by nature the children of wrath...”) is speaking of acquired nature, as when one does something long enough that it becomes second nature to him. Such reasoning would be ill-applied to “We who are Jews by nature...” (GAL 2:15), or “...uncircumcision which is by nature...” (ROM 2:27). 2. These verses openly present the glorious doctrine of justification. The word justify and its different cognates (justifier, justification, justified, justifieth, justifying) are used in two different senses in Scripture. A. Sometimes, as in DEU 25:1; ROM 5:18, it is used in this sense: (1) “Made just or right; made or accounted righteous; To absolve, acquit, exculpate; spec. in Theology, to declare free from the penalty of sin on the ground of Christ's righteousness, or to make inherently righteous by the infusion of grace.” (2) In such application, the object is the passive receiver of the justification. B. Sometimes, as in PSA 51:4; LUK 7:29, this sense is intended: (1) “To show (a person or action) to be just or in the right; to prove or maintain the righteousness or innocence of; to vindicate.” (2) In such application, the subject does the justifying. A man may justify himself, another, a thing (in the abstract: a concept, proposition, theory, conclusion, etc.). 3. The underlying question concerning eternal justification that must be addressed is how this comes to pass for the spiritually dead, alienated sinner. Is it something that is done for him? Or, is it something that he procures for himself by fulfilling certain conditions? Or, is it a combination of these? Is it Christ's personal faith or man's faith that justifies sinners in the first sense of justify (above)? A. Scripture clearly teaches that the eternal salvation of fallen sinners (which includes their justification, ROM 8:29-30) is not based nor dependent upon their works. It is not: (1) of works. ROM 9:11; 11:6; EPH 2:8-9. (2) by works. TIT 3:5. (3) according to works. 2TI 1:9. (4) with works. ROM 4:6. B. work: Something that is or was done; what a person does or did. C. As GAL 2:16 states, justification (in the sense of absolution) does not come by the sinner keeping the law. ROM 3:20-21; GAL 3:11. (1) By contrast, justification (in the sense of showing one to be just or in the right) does come by keeping the law. ROM 2:13; JAM 2:21-25. (2) He who walks in God’s statutes and keeps His judgments is just (EZE 18:9) and is to be adjudged as such, i.e., justified. DEU 25:1. D. If GAL 2:16 is teaching that eternal justification (in the sense of absolving and declaring free from the penalty of sin) is by our personal faith (belief, trust, confidence) which we exercise, problems are created. (1) Faith which men exercise is something they do and is therefore a work. ACT 16:30-31; JOH 6:28-29. (2) Faith is a doing / work of the law. MAT 23:23. a. Belief of the gospel was a work of the law. HEB 3:17-4:2. b. The faith of the law even included belief, trust or confidence in Christ. JOH 8:56; HEB 11:24-26. (3) Belief in Jesus Christ is the keeping of a commandment and thus we would end up again relying on our works for justification. 1JO 3:23. (4) If our personal faith that we exercise when we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (an act of obedience, ROM 16:26) is a necessary condition to procure our eternal justification, then our justification is not free, a position which Scripture flatly denies. ROM 3:24; 5:18. a. free: (Of a gift): Given out of liberality or generosity (not in return or requital for something else). b. gift: Something, the possession of which is transferred to another without the expectation or receipt of an equivalent; a donation, present. c. The gift of eternal life (ROM 6:23) is commonly assumed to be only an offer (a holding forth or presenting for acceptance; an expression of intention or willingness to give or do something conditionally on the assent of the person addressed; a proposal). But an offer is NOT a transfer of possession. An offer may be rejected but not a gift, as when someone gives you a black eye, an inheritance, or a paid-off title to property. (5) If our obedience is a requirement to procure eternal justification, then justification comes by the obedience of more than one, which Scripture also denies. ISA 53:11 c/w ROM 5:17-19 c/w HEB 1:3; 1PE 2:24. E. The person who truly believes the gospel of Jesus Christ is someone who is already a quickened child of God in possession of eternal life. JOH 5:24. F. If a person truly believes the good news that “...Christ is the end of the law for righteousness...” (ROM 10:4) and acts accordingly, he IS justified. ACT 13:39. 4. Consider that the term “faith of Christ” (ROM 3:22; GAL 2:16, 20; 3:22; PHIL 3:9) means just what it would appear to say: the faith which Christ Himself possessed and exercised. A. Jesus Christ was a Man of faith. HEB 2:13 c/w MAT 27:43. (1) Jesus always pleased God, which cannot be done without faith. JOH 8:29 c/w HEB 11:6. (2) Everything Jesus did or said was by faith, even when He cursed. MAT 21:19-21. (3) Christ fulfilled the law, which required faith. MAT 5:17 c/w MAT 23:23. B. Christ was faithful (full of, or characterized by faith) in that He fully discharged His appointed duties, even unto death. JOH 6:37-39 c/w JOH 10:17-18; PHIL 2:8. C. Christ was the epitome of the faith with works James describes. JAM 2:17-18. D. All that Christ did by faith prior to His death were things in which He was personally active: keeping the law, preaching, reproving, miracles, prayers, singing praise, etc. (1) But the faith He had upon the cross was purely in God’s promise to end His suffering and not suffer His flesh to see corruption. ACT 2:25-27. (2) This was a passive submission to God Who promised, and so He could commend (give in trust or charge, deliver to one’s care or keeping; to commit, entrust) His spirit to God. LUK 23:46. (3) We too are called to not only by faith do what is right (faith with works), but to trust God to do what He has promised where it is beyond our power (faith that God will work). PRO 3:5-6; HEB 11:17-19 c/w ROM 4:19-25. E. Having faithfully discharged His duties, He took the sin of the elect upon Himself, died in their stead, and rose again for their justification (ROM 4:25). He took away our sin and gave us His righteousness. 2CO 5:21. F. Thus, saints should desire to BE found in Him having a righteousness “...which is through the faith of Christ” (PHIL 3:9), not their own faith (which is a law-work). EPH 2:8-9. (1) Compare “...desire to BE found in Him...” (PHIL 3:9) with “...we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might BE justified by the faith of Christ...” (GAL 2:16). (2) God seeks true worshippers (JOH 4:23-24) Who give Christ all the glory in salvation but finds many whose faith is really in their own faith: what Jesus did on Calvary was inadequate to save sinners---it’s really up to the sinner. (3) God seeks men after His own heart (1SAM 13:14). How do you want to be found in Him: trusting in Christ’s work of faith for sinners, or trusting in something you did to procure righteousness and justification? G. This is justification by the faith OF Jesus Christ.
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