I hope that this week has been enriching as we've studied through Galatians 2. As we've said before, Northside is a church and not the Church. It is vital to our health as a church family that we know the gospel and don't let it get muddied up. Luther put it this way "The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian." That might sound funny at first since as Christians we hear the words "Law" and "Gospel" tossed around so much that we might think that they are opposites, or at least only the Gospel is important anymore. But if we're honest it's so easy for us to try and add something to God's grace that he's already freely given to us and to think we're in the right. Grace is foreign to us. It is against our natural inclinations. It's kind of like somebody buying you lunch and you offer to get the tip. If you're trying to pay them back for the lunch, then it wasn't really a free lunch, was it?
As we look back on chapter 2 and Paul's defense of the gospel, let's stop to consider two ways that we can distort the gospel and how to fight the lies.
1. Adding our own requirements to earn or maintain our righteousness. This is so easy to slip into because this is where we want to add all the good things: Bible studies, longer quiet times, more prayer, more evangelism, more serving, more generously, etc... Who doesn't like good things? However, the motive is often making "me" look better and we heap up a burden that would be unsustainable if we looked at where all of that would take us. You do still need to sleep, right? When this temptation comes up, we can look back at verse 16:
"yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified."
2. Using the gospel as an excuse for sinfulness. We're unconditionally forgiven and accepted, right? God's not holding it against us, so what's the big deal? When we start to veer off into this territory we can recall verse 20:
"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."
The next few weeks are going to be really exciting as we watch Paul's argument unfold. So far he's made a bold sketch and outlined the contours of the gospel. Soon we'll see him filling in the details. If you've enjoyed these posts, then pass them along to your friends at Northside and elsewhere. Studying the Word together with others can be deeply enriching and will help us to grow as a community.
This week's posts were written by Chris Adams.