Galatians Part 17 - Galatians 2:19-21

6. In vs. 19-21, Paul emphasizes the fact that the law, with all of its ineffective sacrifices, ordinances and impossible requirements (ACT 15:10; GAL 3:10; HEB 10:1-4) had served its purpose, and its purpose was never to produce the righteousness of God in sinners. A. Sinners might be credited with righteousness for acts of righteousness that conformed to God’s law (DEU 6:24-25) but a nature of sin interrupted by occasional acts of righteousness is NOT the righteousness of God Who “...is righteous in ALL his works which he doeth...” (DAN 9:14) and “...the judgments of the LORD are true and RIGHTEOUS ALTOGETHER” (PSA 19:9). (1) Further (as Paul became keenly convicted of in his conscience), heart sins are as guiltful as sins in word and action (ROM 7:7-9). Mind that some Jewish writers have held that texts like PSA 66:18 should be interpreted as meaning that God gives no heed to internal sin. (2) Further (as Paul also came to realize), being blameless (without censure / judicial sentence) is not the same as being sinless. PHIL 3:6-7. a. One can sin but not get caught, or not charged, or be wrongfully acquitted, and so be blameless. b. The sentence of the law dealt with words and actions, not thoughts. One might be an outward keeper of the law (and thus blameless) yet corrupt inwardly and condemned by God as a sinner. A mute, paralyzed man on a ventilator and feeding tube can still sin. (3) As Christians, we need to avoid muddy thinking such as this. Cleansing must begin within and then worked out. MAT 23:26; JAM 4:7; PHIL 2:12-13. B. To revert to the Law’s form as a standard of life and practice or rely upon keeping its commandments to procure the righteousness of God and eternal life would be to deny the reality of what Christ did on the cross and in the resurrection. ROM 4:25. C. The law most certainly did not procure the righteousness of God. (1) It rather worked condemnation and wrath. ROM 3:19; 4:15; 5:19; 7:7-11. (2) It made nothing perfect. HEB 7:19; 9:9; 10:11. (3) It was the ministration of death. 2CO 3:7. D. The problem was not with the law, but with man. ROM 7:12-14; 8:3; HEB 8:7-8. (1) The law could only regulate sin’s outbreaks, not remove sin itself. (2) The sacrifices of the law were not only ineffective, they were offered by priests who themselves were sinners that died. HEB 7:23. E. Thus, the law was valuable in driving men to Christ, teaching them of their inadequacies and helpless estate. GAL 3:24; 4:1-3; HEB 10:1-4. (1) NOTE: There are many who do not fully come to God because of a sense of futility: they know that they cannot possibly measure up to the righteousness of His law and so remain trapped by their sins and consciences. For such is the true gospel of a Perfect Man and a realized salvation especially made. 1TI 1:15. (2) It is said that the great escape artist, Harry Houdini, could pick the lock and break out of any cell except the one that was already unlocked. Such is the lot of those held captive by their own misconceptions of apparent barriers to God. F. The law, with all of its demands, rituals, sacrifices and penalties was only for a season (GAL 3:19; HEB 9:10). It was FULFILLED in the person and body of Christ Who faithfully met all of its requirements. MAT 5:17 c/w ROM 10:4; GAL 3:25. (1) NOTE: It is the Law system that is the temporary institution, not the church (contrary to Dispensational theory). (2) God will always be glorified in the church. EPH 3:21. G. This is how Paul was dead to the law (v. 19). He and all of the elect, be they Jew or Gentile, were represented in the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1) When He died under the law, they were deemed as having died with Him, and the Law has no power over a dead man (the opposite of a testament, HEB 9:17). (2) Likewise, when He arose, they were deemed as having risen with Him to serve under a new covenant and order. ROM 7:1-6; HEB 10:19-20. (3) For illustration, visualize the folly of a widow who remarries but insists on digging up her first husband’s corpse to share the marriage bed with her new husband. Ugh. H. That form of religion which Paul once adored and embraced, he now considered himself dead unto. He (and Peter, the Galatians and ourselves) must not try to put new wine into old bottles (MAT 9:16-17), but rather, as Paul puts it, “...live unto God” (v. 19) under the N.T. order that is built upon a completed and provided justification, the “...ministration of the spirit...” (2CO 3:8) wherein O.T. institutions avail nothing and should be discarded along with fleshly lusts. GAL 5:6; 6:15; COL 2:20-3:3; HEB 13:10-13. I. Paul goes on to say “...I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live...” (v. 20). (1) Paul died legally in Christ, as did all the elect. ROM 6:6; 2CO 5:14. (2) Paul still lived, but only by the grace of Christ, Who faithfully took away his sins and changed the inward nature according to the promise of the new covenant, thus enabling the elect to believe and obey (HEB 8:10-12). Thus, it is truly said that we “...live by the faith OF the Son of God...” (v. 20). (3) We are obliged to acknowledge both saving grace and available grace in all of our obedience. PHIL 2:12-13; 1CO 15:10; ROM 5:1-2 c/w JOH 1:16. J. It is contradictory to say that life and the righteousness of God comes by a combination of grace AND the obedience of the sinner to the law. That is a frustration of grace! v. 21. (1) frustrate: To balk, disappoint (a person). 2. To deprive of effect, render ineffectual; to neutralize, counteract (an effort or effect). (2) Righteousness comes from one Man’s obedience. ROM 5:19; 2CO 5:21. (3) The Judaizers were frustraters as were the church’s enemies of old. EZR 4:5; GAL 5:4.
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