Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 7
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|We are going to be looking today at Galatians 2:11-19. In case you have not realized it, the apostle Paul was in no way a politician. Have you picked that up? When he stood in Peter’s face there, he did not mince any words, did he? It did not matter what was politically correct, buddy, he wanted to stand on what was biblically correct.|
Paul Confronts Peter
Well, would you turn with me to Galatians 2 as we move right along in this wonderful epistle. We are going to be looking today at Galatians 2:11-19. In case you have not realized it, the apostle Paul was in no way a politician. Have you picked that up? When he stood in Peter’s face there, he did not mince any words, did he? It did not matter what was politically correct, buddy, he wanted to stand on what was biblically correct. It is so interesting, in our day when somebody makes a stand like that, people think they are arrogant. I have even heard people talk about the fact that Paul was a real egotist. And, of course, that came from people who do not know a whole lot. They have never studied Paul, a very transparent, very broken man, blinded for three days when he first met Jesus. You think that would not get your attention?
It is interesting how in a day of relativism that we are living in in the 21st century, no absolutes. I will determine what is absolute or not. In that kind of wishy washy culture that we live in, we see somebody that has conviction and resolve and the best way in the world to get around it and not have to deal with what they are saying is to call them arrogant. A good example of that is what people are doing to our president right now. And I will tell you what, here is a man of resolve and a man of conviction. I know folks that work with him and I know his walk and I know he unashamedly loves the Lord Jesus Christ. And here is a man that the world stands up and says is arrogant. Why? Because nobody knows what is absolute anymore. Nobody really has many convictions, at least in our world as we look at it.
The apostle Paul would have fit into the same type of thing, a man that did not mince words, a man that when he said something it had been thought through and prayed over. He is deeply convicted about the gospel of grace. There is no doubt whatsoever about Paul’s heart when it comes to the gospel of grace. He is convicted of the freedom that it offers and really had offered him. He has experienced it. He is aware of the dangers of the performance mentality, what religion does to rob a person of this joy that they can have in walking in that relationship with Christ.
This is why he stands in the face of Simon Peter. This is why he rebukes him the way he does, because he is a man of conviction and a man of resolve. He has seen that Peter has compromised the message of the gospel. Well, we began to look the last time at this confrontation beginning in verse 11. Now, just to review in a second, that followed verses 1-10 which is his consultation. This is so interesting. He had to rebuke the same man that over in Jerusalem sang a different song when he was over there in verses 1-10. He took Titus with him and Barnabas. He went to see the big three, Peter, James and John.
I want you to make sure you understand he did not go for them to approve his message. He went to see if he could approve theirs. Do these guys really know what grace is? And he wanted to make sure that they were on the same page. He did not go for their approval. He went to see and to check them out. They beautifully passed the test. Chapter 2 says in verse 6, “But from those who were of high reputation,” and I love this. Paul did not care what reputation somebody had. He said, “(What they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality.)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.” And what he says is, “they added nothing to my message.” In other words, “they did not correct me.” What they were saying is, “We are preaching the same message to the Jews that you are preaching to the Gentiles. Jesus Christ is enough. He is enough. Faith alone in Christ alone is sufficient for salvation and for sanctification.” And they said this is the same message we preach.
But in verse 11 Peter has gotten out of his comfort zone. Sometimes God does that, doesn’t He? And he came over to Antioch. Uh oh! Antioch is a Gentile area. When he came over, this is when the confrontation takes place. You see, we found out how weak Simon Peter could be when certain people were around, how wishy washy he could be on that message of grace when it threatened his reputation. It says in verse 11, “But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face.” I got right up in his face and rebuked him. “Because he stood condemned.” The word “condemned” means guilty.
What was he guilty of? Verse 12: “For prior to the coming of certain men from James he used to eat with the Gentiles.” We went over that the last time. “But when they came,” this particular group that said they were coming from James, when they came, “he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.” You see, Peter could not take the pressure of these Judaizers coming around him. They said they were from James and that was a lie. In fact, the Jerusalem Council meets after this and they put into a letter that was sent out to the churches “Watch out for people that are coming saying they are coming from us. They are not coming from us. They are the party of the circumcision. They believed that the law of Moses is the path to righteousness, not faith in Jesus Christ.” When they went over to Antioch “Peter withdrew and held himself aloof.”
That word “withdrew,” as we studied the last time, means he hid himself. He did not want to be seen with these people that he had been fellowshipping with, the Gentiles, and eating with them. It says, “he held himself aloof” which means he drew a line and said, “I do not want to fellowship with you anymore.” And Ralph would come up to him, and say, “Hey Pete, you coming over to our house for dinner tonight? You were here two nights ago.” And he would say, “I do not even know who you are. Get away from me.” And refused to associate with them. Why? Because these people that had come amongst them were the same people that had criticized Paul and attacked him and tried to ruin his reputation, and Peter knew the power that they would have over him. The big coward!
Who is it in your life that causes you to do the same thing? Boy, you are living the freedom of Jesus. You get up and you start your day saying, “Lord, I cannot, You never said I could, You can, You always said You would.” You begin to experience His love and His joy and His peace until somebody gets around you and it may be somebody you work with, as we said last week. It may be a family member, somebody puts on you something that you cannot attain, and suddenly you feel like I have got to do something to earn and be pleasing before others and you just walk right out from under the message of grace right back up under the message of law.
Well, Peter did it. Peter was weak. And by the way, if it can happen to Simon Peter it can happen to any of us. And that is why we are not too quick to point a finger. The apostle Paul had to confront him. He had to confront him. It is obvious in our text today who it is that is the most convicted about the gospel of grace. It will be the person, who, in the midst of no matter what reputation people think of him, he is going to make his stand. He is going to stand and he does not care what people think. He is going to make his stand. And Paul makes his stand.
Three things that I want you to see in our text today. First of all, we see Paul’s stern opposition. Now, before I really get into the text and what we are going to talk about, I want to make sure we understand something reoccurring. There is no time in the Christian walk that we are allowed to get in a brother’s face and rebuke him in a fleshly manner over a whim or a difference of opinion. No, sir, that is pure flesh. That is all that is. It may come out of being anxious. It may come out of pressure that somebody has put on you, but never before God do we have that right. We are always to have the character of Jesus which would not crush a bruised reed or would not quench a smoking flash. It is that gentleness of Christ that marks us of being in His Spirit. We do not have that right.
I had a staff member once at another place I worked, and he had the gift of dissention. I believe somehow he woke up every morning wondering whose life he could make miserable. And he always used that Scripture out of Ephesians, he says that you must speak the truth in love and he used that as an excuse to brutally bash somebody’s emotions and who they were by the way he came across to them. And by the way, that passage in Ephesians has nothing to do with that. That is in the context of the pastor/teachers equipping the body to the unity of the faith, and what it is talking about is when you speak the truth, the definite article is used there. He is talking about the Word of God. When you speak the Word of God it has got to be couched in the love of the Spirit or it cannot be received in people’s hearts. It does not mean you can walk up and brutally bash somebody’s whole existence by telling them the truth in love. We never have that. If you ever find somebody who is brutal that way, who is just mean-spirited, you have got somebody that is not walking in the Spirit, has no clue what grace is all about. Those who o are brothers in Christ, we do not stand in their face and oppose them.
That is not what is going on here in Galatians 2 at all. It is exceptional. If you ever see this happen and it be of God it will be an exception, never the rule. You see this is an exceptional time. It is in a time when a man influences many, many people and he has compromised the message of grace. I mean, you know, you have to understand Peter is an apostle and he has done a horrendous thing, and what he has done has compromised the whole message of grace, and people have given into this and they are already being affected. He is a man who knows doctrine. He is a man who understands the message and yet, he has now to be reprimanded to his face, to shake him and to jolt him as to what he has done. It is very, very critical. It is an exceptional time that you see this happen in Scripture. If the message of grace is in any way threatened somebody has got to stand up. The Word of God has got to be held up. You cannot let grass grow. You cannot let time, no; it has got to be right then so that people know immediately that somebody has made error, somebody has stepped away from the truth.
Now this is the situation of what happens with Peter and with Paul. Verse 12, now it is a little bit redundant, but I want to get you into the flow of it again. “For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came [these men of the circumcision, these Judaizers] he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof.” Why? Because he feared the party of the circumcision, what they could do to him, how they could hurt his reputation. The fact that these men came imposing as men coming from James, that is, that is not really a surprise. I mean, they are a dime a dozen.
What the surprise is is how Peter responded to them. That is the surprise. And when he responds others respond. That is the only thing about Simon Peter is if he is going to do it wrong, somebody is going to follow him. He is a leader. He always has been a leader. Most of the time leading the wrong way, but at least he has been a leader. And here is what happens. In verse 13, here he is; now he stepped aside. He has drawn a line. He has not said anything, the Scripture does not tell us at least, but by his actions he has contradicted what he stands for. It says in verse 13, “The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy.” You see what a leader he was. I mean, this is not just a little isolated guy that says it and some people never even know about it, no, no. People listened to Simon Peter. And buddy when he defected they defected with him.
The word “hypocrisy” or “joined in hypocrisy” is made up of three Greek words: Sun, which means together—they joined in with him; upo means under; and krino means to judge. That is the word for “hypocrisy,” sunupokrino. Upo, under, and krino, to judge. And it came off the secular stage in classical Greek and in secular times. And what would happen was when an actor would get on a stage they would not wear make-up, but they would a wear a mask, and that mask would have a frown or that mask would have a smile. You never really saw the person because he was hiding behind a mask. Wonder how many people here today are hiding behind a mask. That is what hypocrisy is. You want them to think this of you, but you know on the other side of the mask you are something else. And that is the word for hypocrisy.
And so what is the mask if they all joined in with Simon Peter to hide behind? They hid behind the mask of hypocrisy, of Judaism. And you see what it is it is not by what they say; it is by how they went about doing what they did. All of the Jewish believers sided with Peter and they hide and they drew that line and by their actions put the mask up in front of them that they were truly agreeing with these Judaizers that had come over saying that they were from James. And you can understand where Paul is going with all this. Look at the rest of the verse. “With the result that even [now listen to this] even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” Barnabas! Oh no, no way. It is hard enough for me to admit that Simon Peter fell into the trap. Don’t put Barnabas, he is a good guy. You know that Barnabas is called the Encourager in Scripture. You know, I get the feeling with Barnabas, he is a peacemaker. And everybody went with Simon Peter, so rather than to make a stir, he just goes with them.
You see the difference in some people that have a compassionate heart and everybody should have, but in some people who are leaders, Paul is a leader. He does not really care who went with Simon Peter. He is going to stand for the truth. But Barnabas gave in. He gave in. “Let us not make a stir. Let us just everybody is okay, everybody is all right. Calm down. I will just come on over here.” Barnabas! You know, Barnabas did the same thing when John Mark and Paul had to split company. Paul got so upset with John Mark because he defected on him in one of his journeys, and I think personally—and you never could prove this in Scripture—but I think John Mark defected because he could not stomach the message of grace. He grew up as a Jewish boy and he could not take the fact that it was only Jesus and just Jesus and he bailed out. And the apostle Paul said “I am not taking him with me on my next journey.” And Barnabas said “Oh, come on Paul.” He said “I am not taking him. No sir! I do not need the man.” So he took Silas. And Barnabas and Paul literally split up because of John Mark, and Barnabas took John Mark.
Good old Barnabas. I mean Barnabas, why are you doing this? That is the encourager. You see how quickly sometimes having a compassionate heart or a merciful gift you can fall into error that quick, because you do not want to hurt anybody’s feelings. You do not want to stir the crowd. That is what happened to Barnabas. He fell right into it with Peter.
What a predicament. Here is Peter; here is Barnabas and here are all the other Jews falling into the same hypocrisy. Somebody has got to do something. Paul has got to act fast and act he does. Verse 14: “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” “When I saw” is a beautiful word there. We have looked at it before. It’s the word eidon. It means to perceive something clearly. When Paul stepped back and said, Oh, and he saw what they were doing. Yeah, everybody else was just milling around. They could not see the difference. Paul had a discernment God gave to him and he realized by what they were doing they were contradicting everything that they were saying. What did he discern? “That they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.”
Now that “not straightforward” is an incredible word. As you understand I get excited about these words. Orthopodeo. It means to walk in a straight line. When you are walking in a straight line it is not hard for somebody behind you to follow. But he says they were not walking in a straight line according to the truth, “not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” The gospel of grace, not the gospel of law. There is no gospel of law. There is no good news in law. The contrast to that would be a drunk who staggers and never walks in a straight line. It is basically, he is seeing here is that, remember in chapter 3 it says, who has bewitched you? Who has put you up under their spell? You act as if you are drunk. You do not even realize what you are doing. You are not walking in a straight line. You are causing all kinds of confusion.
Years ago I was in charge of the gymnasium. And we had to refinish the gym floor. The first thing you do is you sand it, and then you buff it, and then you put your chemical on it which makes it have a beautiful finish to it. You have seen this on hardwood floors in your home, but this is a gym floor. Well, I made some huge mistakes. I made the mistake of not having proper ventilation. You put a big fan, and you open the doors and you pull that air in cause it is toxic fumes that you are dealing with. Instead I turned on the air-conditioner. That really was not wise. And all of a sudden the fumes are just being circulated through the air conditioning system. Well, by the time we got to the foul line on the end of the court I was not walking straight. I have never had a drink in my life, but I do now know what it means to be drunk. I know what it was like. You do not walk in a straight line. As a matter of fact, you do not even talk clearly.
You see that is the contrast of what he is saying here. You do not walk in a straight line when you are under the spell of something else. That is exactly what he is talking about here. It is just another reference to what happens when you get off the track, when you get off the track. Would it not be great if we had that kind of discernment? When we are with somebody who teaches one thing, but lives another way, and immediately we could pick that up, the discernment would hit us. That person is not walking straight. That person sounds good when he preaches or teaches or shares, but that person is not living what he says. I can pick it up. His very lifestyle is contradicting his message. He is walking off to the left. He is walking to the right. He is just not walking straight when it comes to the truth. And Paul discerned that.
And Paul continues and said, “I said to Cephas [or Peter] in the presence of all.” You see, this was a public confrontation. Rarely do you ever see this justified as a believer, ever, ever. If you are going to go to your brother, go to him in private. But here is a man who has, first of all, made his choice to walk off the track publically and publically he has had an effect and publically he is rebuked. This is an exception. This is an exception.
And he says to Peter, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Oh, this was affecting everybody. He says, “Peter, you are a total contradiction to everything that you are saying. If you are going to be a Jew, if you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Now, what is he talking about? He says, “Peter, do you realize you came over here and you have eaten things that the law says you cannot eat, and you of all people know that you can do that because God gave you the vision? But if you are going to back away and side with the Judaizers, you are going to take their law and put it back on the Gentiles. By living amongst the Gentiles the way you have you, have just shown that the law of the Jews is not yours. You do not even live accordingly. So what are you doing now saying that they have to live like the Jews? You are a contradiction in terms.” Peter, by hiding, and by his actions and by refusing to fellowship with the Gentiles was just a total contradiction to everything that he stood for. Over in Jerusalem, oh, he sung a beautiful song. But now over in Antioch he is walking a different way.
I wonder how many of us tell our children to be one thing and we turn around and live differently in front of them, totally contradicting the message we are trying to get across to them. The way we fall into this trap is to preach and teach and share a message of grace and then turn right around and confuse the message by not walking straightforward according to the truth.
I had a staff member work with me one year; I love him to this day. He came in the staff meeting one day and he said, “Wayne, this is the most unspiritual church I have ever served.” I honestly was taken aback by statements like that, and I thought, well, what beautiful revelation did God give you to come to that conclusion? He said, “Well, at Thanksgiving I put a name in the bulletin that the people needed food and I told the people that they need to respond and only three couples responded. Can you believe that, a church that says they love Jesus, only three people responded?” And I said, “Wait a minute. Let me see if I understand correctly what you just said. Number 1, God gave you a burden for this family. Number 2, you took it and dumped it on the church. And number 3, only three families bought it. So now the rest of the church is unspiritual. Is that what you are saying to me?”
He sat there for the longest kind of time and tears welled up in his eyes because he came out of a very legalistic background, works mindset. And he said, “Oh my goodness, I have done it again, have I not?” I said, “You sure have. You cannot take your burden and force it on anybody else.” You see, what happens is we fall in that trap of performance mentality in so many different ways. By telling somebody they are not spiritual unless they do this or do that, and it is amazing how we do this. There is a 1000 different ways that we can get off the track. We say one thing with our lips and yet we turn right around and live in a different way.
No wonder Paul got in his face and opposed him. No wonder, no wonder! He was a total contradiction in terms. Here is a man that taught grace and stood for it, turned right around and by his lifestyle showed that he was still giving into the law, hid behind the mask of Judaism when he preaches grace. There are times that stern opposition is warranted.
But the second thing I want you to see is, Paul makes some serious observations. And these are serious; so serious that we need to hear them even this morning. His first observation starts with the fact that they were Jewish boys, both of them, him and Peter. He says in verse 15, “We are Jews by nature.” Now, I think he is still talking to Peter, but he is writing the story and the account to the Galatian church, so in a way he is talking to both of them here. This is after the fact. He is going back. He is rehearsing a story, but he is making it very germane to what is going on in Galatia. “We are Jews by nature.” That is easy to understand. We were born of Jewish parents is what he is saying. We did not have any choice in it. We were born that way.
I cannot help where I was born. Can you help? Oh, I am sure. You were in the womb and you said “Momma, I do not want to be born here, let’s move over here.” You cannot help that. You cannot help that you are Caucasian or you are oriental or whatever. You cannot help that. You were born by nature as you are. That is what he is reminding Peter of here. And his contrast is “and not sinners from among the Gentiles.” Now isn’t that interesting? All the Jews thought that the Gentiles were just pagans and sinners. In fact, in the four gospels they called them dogs. And they basically had nothing to do with them whatsoever.
Well, he said we were not born of Gentile parents, and this makes several thoughts here. We are not proselyte Jews. A proselyte Jew could be a Gentile who chose to be a Jew later in life and was circumcised, got back up under the law of Moses. But no, we were not born of Gentile parents. We are not proselyte Jews. We were born of Jewish parents. Now he is saying something here. If you are born of Jewish parents it means you were raised up in the law, eighth day circumcised and from that point on you were put under the law. And when you were old enough to know what is going on you had the law drilled into your mind from that point on. He said that is what happened. But look at verse 16. This is so powerful. “Nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law.” The word “justified” means saved, just as if you had never sinned, declared righteous. And justification has to do with the acquittal of all sin. He says, Peter, we were born of Jewish parents. We grew up as Jews. We grew up under the law, but that law could not in any way make us justified before God. No way whatsoever. “Nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Oh, I want to say to you this morning, if you are doing things for God and you think He is aware of it and somehow you will get brownie points with Him, I am telling you they will not justify you. Works never justify anybody. And here is the passage. Paul says, “Even we.” It has got to be through faith in Christ Jesus. He says “Even we,” Peter, you and me, “have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law.” Do you understand this conversation? Two of the most religious Jewish boys you could ever find, and Paul is trying to get him to understand, all of that Judaism, all of the works of the law, did nothing to save us. He says, Peter, don’t you remember? I was just over in Jerusalem and you affirmed that. Have you forgotten it so quickly?
He says, “Since by the works of the Law, shall no flesh be justified.” Peter and Paul both came in the same way, came up the same way, grew up the same way. But the way they came into the kingdom was not by the works of the Law, it was by faith in Jesus Christ, not by the works of the Law.
Now comes his strongest observation. He continues, he staying in the thought, verse 17. “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found [What is the next word?] sinners.” How could they be sinners? They are good Jewish boys. Paul says in Philippians 3, “according to the Law I obeyed every one of them.” He says, “We have been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!” Oh, what were they seeking? To be justified in Christ. At some point in their life they realized it was not going to go this way. So what is the way? And Christ is the way, aorist passive. You see, passive means somebody has got to do this for us. We cannot do it ourselves. Man cannot justify himself while seeking to be right with God in Christ they found themselves to be sinners.
Do you realize that what he is saying is everything we ever did and called it right in God’s eyes, God saw it as sin? God saw it as sin. Now, if you don’t think this doesn’t knock in the face of religion, you are not understanding what he is saying here. There are a lot of people who think, well, I gave last year. Well, I went on a mission trip. Well, I am in the choir. Well, I come to church as much as I possibly can, at least once a year. I mean, I do these things. I own a Bible. Does that not make me a good person? You are not a good person. There is no man born on this earth as a good person. We are born as sinners and that is what they had to understand.
“Is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!” You know what Paul is saying? Paul is saying, if you are going to side with the Judaizers you are telling the Gentiles that now they have got to be circumcised. They have got to be back up under the law. By your actions you are going back to the religious side. And he says, “If that very law that you want to put them back up under, if that very law did not save us and it was sin all the good works that we ever did, then you are making Jesus a minister of sin,” because he is taking sinful works and putting them on a Gentile people. And then he says, “May it never be!” That is one of the key phrases in Romans, by the way. It means that is absurd! It is like driving up to a sign in a parking lot and it says don’t even think about it. It is like my son saying “Daddy, can I borrow your golf clubs?” May it never be! He borrowed my last set; I never got them back.
He continues, watch, in verse 18. Here is the key thought. Everything leads right up to this thought. He says, “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.” What he is saying to Peter is, “Peter, by your siding with the Judaizers, by your coming back to that old works mentality, hiding behind the mask of Judaism, what you have just done is that you have rebuilt what we was once destroyed.” I did not see this years ago when I was trying to study this thing, but I saw it this time. Oh, the word “destroyed” is not apollumi, which means destroyed. It is a different word, kataluo. Kataluo means to be cut loose from something, to cut loose something that has been binding you.
And, man, I cannot help it; my heart is just overwhelmed by that. When you bow before Jesus Christ He cuts you loose from that which has been holding you into bondage. That is what Paul is telling Peter. Peter, you don’t want to go back and put yourself back into handcuffs. You have been set free from a religious system. You have been set free from condemnation and control of the law. Why would you go back? You have rebuilt what you had once destroyed. You have rebuilt what you have once destroyed.
Well, Peter and Paul grew up as Jewish boys thinking that every time they went to the temple and every time that they did what the law said somehow God was having favor upon them. And then one day they found that every bit of that, as Isaiah said, was filthy rags in His sight. They both realized that, when they had bowed before Jesus, all the Judaism, that it was used in a good way to keep them in check, it was used as a boundary or tutor as we are going to see in chapter 3; they were cut free from it: free, free, free! But now he sides with the Judaizers. He is saying you have just put the handcuffs right back on. Why would you do that, Peter? Why would you do that? But when the Judaizers came, Peter bowed down, cowered down to them and he rebuilt what was once destroyed.
Let me ask you a question this morning? Have you rebuilt what was once destroyed? Would you rather have a set of rules? Would you rather feel like you are accomplishing righteousness, or would you rather receive it by faith? Have you rebuilt what once has been destroyed? How do we know that, Wayne? Oh, it is easy. Every time you feel guilty when you did not have, you did not fulfill one of the rules you put on yourself, you have just rebuilt what once had been destroyed. Every time you do what you do to be pleasing in God’s sight, you have just rebuilt what was once been destroyed; because you are already pleasing in His sight, in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every time you do what you do to be loved by God, you have already rebuilt what has once been destroyed; because He has already loved you in Jesus Christ. We do not do what we do so we will be pleasing in His sight. We do what we do because we are already pleasing in His sight. That is the message of grace. But the message of law puts it back on the flesh and a performance attitude and we rebuild what has once been destroyed. It puts us right back under bondage.
I wonder how many believers here this morning claim to be a believer, and perhaps you are, but you are miserable, judgmental, condemning of other people. You have an agenda bigger than Dallas and you, you are just one person that nobody really wants to be around. Why? Because you have rebuilt what once has been destroyed. You go back up under the law, you lose all of it, not in a positional way—oh, no, you are still saved—but you lose that experiential understanding of it. The fruit of the Spirit is not being born in your life. You do not have a true love for other people in the body. The joy is not there. The peace is not there. There is no trust in your life. You are scared to death of everything, worried about the Social Security, worried about the war. What is going to happen in our world? Why? Because you stepped out from under the message of grace and rebuilt what was once destroyed.
Paul had a stern opposition to Simon Peter; he had some serious observations. But finally he had a single obligation, one single obligation. Paul kind of backs away and he says, “Peter, I cannot speak for you anymore, I am just going to speak for me.” And he says in verse 19, “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live unto God.” A much better translation is “For through all I did die, that to God I may live.” He is very powerful here. He died to the Law. That is aorist active indicative. You know what that means? Aorist tense, happened at a certain point in time; active voice, I made a choice. Now, see, he is not talking about what God did to him. He is talking about what he did himself. He made a choice. You either go the way of the Law, you go the way of grace. And he said I chose to abandon the Law. What? Now wait, whoa, hold on. You have got to be kidding me. This is a guy that was the greatest legalist that ever lived. According to the law was found blameless, in Philippians 3. He said, I walked away from it, Peter. I walked away from it. I abandoned the Law as a means of righteousness. I have left it forever.
Somebody got real upset with me on one of my programs the other day and wrote in and said, “How in the world can you talk about being free from the Law?” Oh, brother! And I had to say back, “I did not say that.” “You did too, I listened to you.” “No, no, no. Paul said it!” I wish people would take what Scripture says and get upset with it. They just do not like the messenger sometimes, you know. Paul says, I backed away from the Law. I died to the Law. Now, how clear can you be? Is there any problem?
Well, the message of grace is that Christ, the God-man, did for us what we could never do when we under the Law. That is the message. That is what Paul is trying to say. Why would you go back and try to do what has already been done? Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish it, but to [what?] fulfill it [how?] as a man.” Not one man could do it. But He came as a man to do what all mankind could not do. Romans 8:3, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. And as an offering for sin He condemned sin in the flesh.”
Now, listen carefully; you and I, Paul, Peter, James, John, all the Galatian believers, all believers from the cross, listen. We could never accomplish what the Law demands. But Jesus came and did it for us. He is the one who lives in us, who has accomplished what the Law demanded. Did He do away with it? Hey, He fulfilled it. Now which would you rather? He fulfilled it. Freedom from the Law does not mean freedom to live as I want to live. He gave me freedom now to become what I ought to become.
“For through the Law I died to the Law,” and for people who think this is a passive message, oh no; you have not finished the verse: “In order that I might live [to whom?] to God.” Do you realize what he just said? If you are back up under Law, you are not living under God, no sir, you are not living under God. That performance mentality is nothing more than religion. You can find it anywhere. But when you live unto God you have to abandon the performance mentality and come only as a person who is willing to walk by faith.
Romans 7:4: “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law [how did I die to the Law?] through the body of Christ, that you may be joined to another to Him who was raised from the dead that we might bear fruit unto God.” Romans 7:6: “But now we have been released from the Law.” Oh, we have been released from the Law! The chains have been taken off. I love that song, “And Can It Be?” —“I arose and the chains fell off and I arose to follow Him.” “But we have now been released from the Law, having died to that, by which we were bound [Why?] so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”
Well Paul was so put out with Simon Peter. “Boy, you were brave in Jerusalem, but you sure a coward over here. When certain people get around you, you put the mask of Judaism back up and you hide behind it.” But he did not let him get away with it. He said, buddy, this time you have messed up because I am going to confront you. And he rebuked him to his face. Paul knew that he had a covenant friend that lived within him that he now was obligated only to Christ, never again to the Law. This once great religionist takes his stand. And then he says in verses 20-21, and I cannot wait to get to it and it takes forever to get there, “I have been crucified with Christ.” Now this is not what he did now. He turned away from the Law. What did Jesus do? He crucified him. “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live.” The old religionist, he is gone forever. “But Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh,” he says, “I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law then Christ died [How did He die?] needlessly.”
If you think you can do something to please God other than bow before Him—you are already pleasing to Him—but anything that God would accept and call it righteousness, other than bow before Him, you are of most men most deceived. Paul says if there is one thing that you can do then Christ died needlessly, Christ died needlessly. I wonder how many people here have gone back and rebuilt what has once been destroyed. How are you doing today, by the way? The world is at war, how are you doing? How are you doing? Peace in your heart? Full of joy because you know who is in control? Burden to pray? That is the walk of grace. But I want to tell you, if you have rebuilt you know none of that. Scared half to death, and that is exactly when you can know immediately. Perfect love casts out all what? Fear.
More Articles You Will Love
Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.