Gal 2:19-21 “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
Most of us go through a season in our lives when we think we can live good enough. Some have thought (and some still think) we can live good enough to earn a place with God in eternity. Even those of us who, by the grace of God, come to realize that our home in eternal heaven comes only by the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for those the Father gave Him, often think God’s blessings are directly tied to how obedient we are (living good enough).
We need only to look at Israel as they wandered in the wilderness to know that God does not bless us in relation to how well we obey Him. If that were the case, the children of Israel would have died in that wilderness hungry, thirsty , and naked. Instead, they were fed with manna, drank water from the rock, and their shoes did not wear out. When we have the grace to be honest with ourselves before God, we too must confess that God has blessed us far beyond anything we deserve.
No matter how many times in our lives we have pledged to “do better,” we always came up short. We just cannot seem to manage even one day without violating the law of God. If nothing else, we would have to confess that, in our own strength, we fail to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul.
Like Paul, by God’s grace, we come to realize that we cannot keep the law. Further, we come to understand that even if we could keep the law we still could not stand before God justified. According to the teaching of Jesus, we could only claim to be slow and unprofitable servants: that does not sound like a claim to righteousness. By trying (and failing) to keep the law, and learning that even if we did we have not made ourselves righteous, we become dead to trusting in the law. It is the Spirit that teaches us that we cannot rely on self and the law. It is the Spirit that teaches us that our hope is in Jesus Christ.
Serving God is not like serving the world: sometimes the conclusions are not logical. Like Paul, we become dead to the law when it is revealed to us that we are crucified with Christ. When Christ was crucified, the laws righteous demand for justice was met. Being crucified with Christ, we stand before God in the righteousness of His only begotten Son. Therefore, being crucified with Christ, I can now live a life pleasing to God because His Son lives in me.
Children of the living God, the life of confidence in Jesus Christ that we live today is the result of the faith of Jesus Christ. Jesus was confident that He would save us and make atonement for us with the Father. Our confidence in His accomplishment on the cross and that He represented us there comes from Him. Wonder of wonders, He loves us! He gave Himself for us! His death on the cross was no accident, neither was it by the will of men. With purpose, He went to the cross, and being crucified with Him we were also raised with Him.
Paul says taking the position that righteousness comes by the law (something we can do for ourselves) is a rejection (see Strong’s definition of frustrate) of the grace of God. He further states that Jesus has failed in what He came to accomplish if we are justified by the law. How sad would it be to think that Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, was not able to do the Father’s will? If He who was sinless failed, what hope do we who are born into this world sinners possibly have of satisfying God the Father? In the word’s of a beloved hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name!”
May we be blessed to see our failure in the law and our life in Jesus: being crucified with Him, we now live!