Justified by faith, not law!

Scripture reading for September 15th: Galatians 2:1-16

After fourteen years, Paul the apostle went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to share his revelation of the Gospel with those who had walked with Jesus.  He did this privately so that he could receive correction, if necessary.  This was done in response to a revelation and false teachers who were trying to add to his Gospel some of the Jewish laws.

After sharing his Gospel that he preached to the Gentiles with Peter, James, and John, they gave him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.  (Galatians 2:6-10)  These pillars of the church recognized that God’s grace flowing through Paul towards the Gentiles was the same as Peter’s for the Jews and added nothing to his message, only encouraging Paul to remember the poor.  This encouraged Paul and his traveling companions.  There is wisdom in the elders through the Spirit that keeps the Gospel message pure.

However, sometime later, Peter visited Antioch where Paul was a teacher.  “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  but when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.  The other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray.” (Galatians 2:11-13)  Paul was watchful about division and favoritism and noticed Peter drawing back from his usual openness to the Gentiles.  He was living in fear of those Jews who held onto the law and was trying to appease them.

This was causing division so Paul confronted Peter to his face.  “I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.  How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?  We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:15-16)  Paul knew that trying to add law to faith would pollute the power of the Gospel and cause division in the church.  The law could not save anyone, only bring condemnation!  Only faith in Jesus Christ would set men free!  Thank God today for justification by faith alone!

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