Scripture: Galatians 2:11-21
Observation: Paul recounts his confrontation with Peter in Antioch, making it clear that we are made right with God through faith – there is no other way. He explains the freedom we have through believing in Christ Jesus and makes it clear that simply obeying the law will never help us get to God.
Application: The first few weeks of college are absolute bliss for eighteen year olds who have always lived at home with their parents. There are no longer curfews or chores or rules about eating your dinner before you have dessert. Instead, all of the sudden, you have complete freedom to eat what you want when you want, to clean when (if) you want, to go out when you want, to stay in when you want, to be friends with who you want, to basically do what you want, when you want, all the time.
It’s a dream, right?
But after a few weeks, the novelty wears off, and you realize that freedom is best experienced in moderation. Eating all the greasy food you can handle, staying out until 3 a.m., hanging out with those people that you know are a bad influence, watching Netflix instead of doing homework and realizing that you’re in danger of failing your first class of freshmen year – it’s actually not all that great. The things that felt like freedom are the very things that begin to enslave you.
As Paul tells the Galatians about his public confrontation of Peter, he makes it clear there is one way to get to God and to experience true freedom: faith in Christ Jesus.
“And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” (v. 15-16)
Paul is adamant here: we are made right with God through our faith in Jesus alone. That’s it. That’s the Good News. Don’t add to it, don’t embellish it, don’t overcomplicate it.
Unfortunately, there were quite a few people claiming it couldn’t be that simple. We are saved through faith alone and have no obligation to follow the rules or live under the law? That’s crazy! Isn’t this just like throwing a bunch of eighteen-year-olds into their first week of college, telling them can do whatever they want, and then watching their sin and bad decisions increase exponentially?
In typical Paul fashion, he shuts them right down. He refuses to let them add anything to salvation except through faith in Christ alone. He makes it clear: when Jesus becomes the center of our lives, everything changes. We’re not left alone to try to uphold some impossible standard. No! Jesus lives inside of us. The power of his Spirit inside of us is stronger than the power of our sinful desires – and that is true freedom.
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (v. 20)
It’s so easy to fool ourselves into believing that we need to live a Jesus + ____________ life. Jesus + doing the right thing. Jesus + being worthy of God’s attention. Jesus + being kind and patient and strong and peaceful. The truth is this:
Jesus + nothing = everything
Prayer: God, thank you for your son Jesus, for making a way for us to come into a relationship with you through one thing: faith alone. I pray you’ll help me set aside any behaviors or attitudes I’ve developed, fooling myself into thinking I have to perform, become, and do to get to you. Help me live in the freedom of loving Jesus alone. Amen.