Journal Gal 2 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (Paul speaking) “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 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.” Gal 2:15-16
Observation: The church at Galatia is having mongo problems keeping the Gospel the Main Thing; similar (if I can pull this example into focus) to when the Children of Israel abandoned God at Sinai and put their own spin on things when Moses went to meet with God.
Man is always tempted to put their own spin on things…
Analysis: Chapter 1 of Galatians recounts this:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly DESERTING him (Jesus) who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a DIFFERENT gospel—not that there is another one (an effective Gospel), but there are some who trouble you and want to DISTORT the Gospel of Christ.” Gal 1:6-7
What gospel are these folks deserting to? Comes back to some theological words: Justification and Sanctification.
Paul is way more succinct and has better explanations than I have, but it is clear in this section of scripture that, “…a person IS NOT justified by works of the law but (IS justified) through faith in Jesus Christ…” And that seems to be the issue of desertion.
Certain people came into that local church and started to distort the Gospel of Grace into a gospel of works: “Certainly God will accept you more fully if you were to, say, for example, get circumcised just like Moses commanded…” Today, it usually comes out in commands of obedience, but phrased in such a way that the recipient focuses on obedience of doing stuff instead of the Grace that is found in Christ.
What about most folks? Does the focus of my life revolve around doing things to gain God’s favor? Paying my tithe? Witnessing? Not cheating on my taxes? Making church service on Sunday? Putting “spiritual” things on my wall and a whole bunch of other stuff?
Why is “doing stuff” to gain favor from the Lord so easy to do? It is because it is a way to keep score.
If I do [this] or [that] God looks favorably upon me. SCORE!!
If I don’t do [this] or [that] God looks DISFAVORABLY upon me. PENALTY.
And the above is NOT the Gospel. It is the DISTORTION that Paul is referring to.
Paul refers to it similarly to the Church at Ephesus (who had the same issues comprehending):
(Paul hammering the point) “For by Grace you have been saved (through faith).” And he keeps hammering: “…(T)his is NOT your own doing; (this salvation, obtained by Grace) is the GIFT of God—NOT a result of works. (It is this way) that no one may boast (that I did something to obtain my salvation or God’s favor).” (Eph 2:8-9; paraphrase mine)
Dear friends, this was not a message to the unsaved, it is a message to the local Church. Why? Because we forget.
Prayer: Help me to remember the Gospel every morning, to see your mercy upon opening my eyes, and to declare your underserved goodness with my morning breath!
“For we are his workmanship,
Created in Christ Jesus for good works,
Which God prepared beforehand,
That we should walk in them.” Eph 2:10