Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
June 12, 2016
- First reading and Psalm
- Alternate First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Galatians 2:15-21 | New Living Translation (NLT)
“You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. 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.”
But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God.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. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
For this week’s devotional, we are going to concentrate on probably the most familiar part of this scripture. Remember that Paul is writing this to the church at Galatia and it looks like it may be a church that is made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers. It also appears that someone is trying to force the Jewish laws upon the Christian faith. This is the “other gospel” that Paul has been writing about.
In this passage and other passages, Paul makes it clear that Jesus Christ gives us life. Paul writes, “My old self has been crucified with Christ.” This dying to self is serious stuff. Jesus taught that we must pick up our cross daily to follow Him. Paul reminds his readers that we are not dying to the law – the law that was written in the Torah – the law only leads to death – the law only condemns us – there is no grace in the law. James writes that the one that misses just one point in the law, is guilty of breaking the whole law. The law only magnifies how unable we are to keep God’s laws without the resurrection power of Christ and the Holy Spirit power working in our lives. Paul says, that “if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”
So, we need to die to ourselves and live for Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me. It is Christ working in us through the power of the cross and the power of the resurrection that allows us to live a life pleasing to God. It is only surrender to Christ and his power that allows us to live a life pleasing to God.
This is the life of faith – to live in Christ who gave himself up for us. It is also a life of grace – Grace, grace, God’s grace. It’s a grace that gives us pardon for our sins. Grace is greater than our sin. Grace cleanses us. We don’t want to treat Christ’s grace as meaningless. The price that Christ paid on the cross was much too high a price to treat it as meaningless. Therefore, we must live a life of faith that is pleasing to God.
I will leave this with you from Paul’s letter to the Romans; (12:1-2)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.