Sunday Worship Service
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May 31, 2020
Galatians 2:11 – 21
By Pastor Josh Munan
We live the justified life by dying to the law and living in the Spirit
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Galatians 2:11 – 21
Proposition: We live the justified life by dying to the law and living in the Spirit
Application: By faith receives the gift of God’s righteousness
I begin this message by sharing a Peanuts comic strip where Lucy and Linus are watching a rain storm through a window, Lucy says, “Boy, look at it rain… What if it floods the whole world?” Linus responds, “It will never do that… In the ninth chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.” Then, Lucy responds, “You’ve taken a great load off my mind.” Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that!”
The passage we are looking at reminds us that what we believe affects the way we live. And sometimes we don’t act in ways that align with what we believe. Even Peter the great apostle, who was at Jesus’ side when he was transfigured, who preached a sermon and 3000 souls were saved, even he was guilty of hypocrisy.
1. Condemned (2:11 – 14)
The Compromise (2:11 – 14): Peter’s lapse in conduct occurred in three stages:
- Peter set aside his Jewish lifestyle so he could eat with Gentile believers (2:12b).
- He withdrew from Gentile Christians because he feared the group from the Jerusalem church (2:12a)
- Finally, Paul challenged Peter in public because of his hypocrisy (2:14).
Setting Aside Preferences (2:12b): The phrase eat with the Gentiles refers to fellowship meals, known as love feasts, equivalent to our modern-day potlucks. These meals contained foods that were not kosher – like pork, shellfish, and other unclean foods.
While Peter was with the church in Antioch, he set aside his Jewish lifestyle, so he could have unhindered fellowship with Gentile Christians. That is until some men from the Jerusalem church arrived.
Separating from the Fellowship (2:12a): At this time, the Jerusalem church had over 5000 people, and James, the brother of Jesus (not one of the 12) was its main leader. This group came to Antioch from James’s church, likely not sanctioned by James and surely not representing his views. Their influence among the Jewish believers in Antioch was quite daunting.
Something these men said, caused Peter to compromise his beliefs and withdraw from fellowship with Gentile believers, sending a message that they were second-rate.
Perhaps these men from Jerusalem said something like “Peter, if word gets back to the Jerusalem church and to the Jewish people in Jerusalem that you have set aside your Jewish way of life you will loose your credibility. How will you carry out your apostolic ministry, if you so easily set aside your Jewish ways? No doubt you will jeopardize your testimony and your mission to the Jewish people.” I suspect Peter was also weary of living like a Gentile. He may have been missing the familiarity of his Jewish way of life. Add to that the fear he felt from the Jerusalem gang.
Application: Fear can lead to compromise. Fear can lead to actions we would not normally consider under normal circumstances.
Read Prov 29:25
Stumbling Block to Others (2:13): Because of Peter’s apostolic authority his hypocrisy exerted a forceful yet misleading influence upon the other Jewish believers in Antioch, including Barnabas, the champion of Christian freedom. Seeing Barnabas side with Peter likely had a major impact on the Gentile Christians in Antioch.
The book of Galatians reminds us how quickly we can drift into hypocrisy.
Read 2 Pet 3:17
The Confrontation (2:14): Because Peter’s actions affected the Antioch church, Paul had to confront Peter in a public way. The phrase straight forward about the truth means to walk uprightly, to walk a straight course, to live in a way consistent with our convictions.
Walking uprightly is the opposite of hypocrisy. While staying in Antioch, Peter lived like a Gentile and not like a Jew for the sake of the Gospel. As an apostle to the Jewish people, I believe living like a Gentile, becoming all things to all people, on a long term basis, was not easy for Peter.
Read Acts 10:9 – 16
The fact that Peter received this vision three times, suggests he was averse to a non-kosher diet. This may be one reason why he quickly withdrew from the Gentiles in Antioch.
For a Jewish believer to practice the hall marks of Jewish identity – Sabbath keeping, kosher eating and circumcising – within a Jewish culture was not an issue for Paul.
What angered Paul was to impose a Jewish lifestyle on Gentile Christians as a requirement for discipleship. Jewish believers are free to live a Jewish lifestyle, but Gentile believers must not be compelled to live like Jews.
The hypocrisy was that Peter found it hard to live like a Gentile and yet he was urging Gentiles to adopt a Jewish manner of life as a requirement for their Christian walk. This was not the earlier view of Peter and certainly not in step with the truth of the Gospel.
While Paul insisted that Jews not force Gentiles to live like Jews, the tragedy of church history is that the reverse took place in a horrific way. In the Middle Ages, and ever after, the Gentile church produced its own “circumcision” faction. In many European countries, the church threatened Jews to the forsake their practice of keeping sabbath, eating kosher and performing circumcision or else face persecution.
Jews were forced to believe in Jesus, compelled to be baptised, and join the church, otherwise they would be expelled from the country in which they lived or worse be killed. This took place in a big way during the Spanish Inquisition. This is not being straight forward with the truth of the Gospel. What is the truth of the Gospel? That all people from all nations are saved in the same way – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone without being compelled to forsake one’s distinctive identity. A male in Christ remains male, a female in Christ remains female, a Jew in Christ remains Jewish and a Gentile in Christ remains Gentile. No one should be forced to be someone they are not.
Read Gal 3:28.
The truth of the Gospel is that we are one in Christ Jesus yet diverse in our identities!
2. Justified (2:15 – 21)
Declared Right with God (2:16): Justification is a mega word in Scripture. It is one of Paul’s main doctrines. What does it mean to be justified? The term is taken from the courtroom. Justification and condemnation are opposites. To be condemned is to be declared guilty by one who applies the law. A condemned person is not made guilty but declared to be what they already are. Justification is the same. It does not make us righteous, but declares us to be righteous. Justification is the gracious act of God whereby He declares us to be forever in a right relationship with Him solely through faith in Christ Jesus.
We are not more justified today than we were yesterday. Nor will we be less justified tomorrow than we are today. To be justified is a once and for all verdict that will not change over time.
How can God justify the ungodly? How can He declare a sinner like you or me to be in a right relationship with Him?
Through Faith in Christ Jesus: There are three options to this question. The first is He can lower his standard of righteousness and overlook our sin. God will not make Himself less holy to justify our sin. The second option is the Lord can insist we live up to His holy standard by keeping His law perfectly in thought, word, and deed. If we obey perfectly, He will justify completely. This is outright impossible.
The third option is He can transform us into righteous people. That is exactly what He does. Through faith in Christ Jesus the righteousness of God becomes our righteousness.
Read Phil 3:7 – 9
Like an open hand, faith in the Lord Jesus receives the gift of God’s righteousness. God takes the righteousness of Christ Jesus transfers it to us through our faith in Him, just as He took our sin and laid it upon Christ Jesus and condemned it once and for all.
Read 2 Cor 5:21
Believing that Jesus atoned for my sin, does not justify. What justifies is believing in Him who atoned for my sin. Justifying faith believes in a person not in a proposition. Justifying faith believes in Christ not in Christianity.
Our good works can never justify us before God. But no truly justified person wants to be without good works. Good works point to the reality of our justified status. But good works cannot confer a justified status with God.
Transition: Now that we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus, now that we are made right with God, how can we live a justified life?
Die to the Law (2:19): We live a justified life by dying to the Law. The goal of the Law is to work itself out of a job. The Law reveals the character of God, that He is holy. The Law exposes the nature of our sin and condemns us when we sin. The Law points us to the Saviour. Once we have come to Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, the Law has done its job.
But should we rely on Law obedience as remedy for sin, should we rely on Law obedience to justify us – we are asking the Law to do something God never meant it to do. The Law diagnoses our sin problem but does not solve our sin problem. To die to the Law, is to die to it as a means for justification. To die to the Law, is to die to the hope that the Law can ever save us. To die to the Law, is to die to its power to condemn us.
Transition: We live a justified life by dying to the Law. We also live a justified life in the power of the Spirit.
Live by the Spirit (2:20, 21): Sometimes our Christian life is lived by paying Jesus back for all that He has done for us. Instead we should let Lord do what He wills through us. Living the justified life is not about living for Jesus it is about Him living in and through me by His Spirit.
Transition: We live a justified life by dying to the Law. We also live a justified life in the power of the Spirit. We live the justified life by faith. Not just faith in Jesus who died for me. Not just faith in Jesus who rose from the dead. But faith in Jesus who lives in me.
We live a justified life by dying to the Law. We live a justified life in the power of the Spirit. But we cannot live the justified life in our own strength.
Suppose you want to show someone your appreciation and take him out for dinner. Then the waiter comes with the bill, and your guest grabs it. "Give me that," you say. "No," he says. "I'm going to pay." "No," you insist. "I invited you. I want to do this for you. It's my way of showing appreciation to you." "No," he says. "I'm paying the bill."
He ends up with the bill and uses his debit card. When the waiter scans his card the screen flashes "Insufficient Funds." Five minutes later, the cops arrive, slap handcuffs on your friend, and carries him off to jail, for "Insufficient Funds." You would be frustrated, not only because your friend was too proud to let you pay the bill, but because he was not able to pay it in the first place. That's the message of Galatians. It is God’s will to bless us by paying the bill. If we say, "No, I'll pay it myself," sooner or later, we'll discover that we don’t have enough funds. By refusing to accept the grace of God, not only will we be poorer presently, but we'll suffer eternally.
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Galatians 2:11 – 21