Everyone desires to be in the right. We want to be considered righteous and have others approve of our actions. We either accuse others of wrong so we might appear superior or make excuses for our shortcomings so we might be accepted.
Everyone is also prone to think they’re justified by good works. There’s something in all of us that tells us we’re ultimately justified because of the good we’ve done or the bad we’ve avoided. Ask the average person on the street if he’s going to heaven when he dies, and his answer will most likely be based on his good works, or lack thereof.
The book of Galatians was written to a group of Christians who were tempted to believe that, in order to be justified before God, they needed to place their faith in the finished work of the crucified and risen Jesus and perform certain good works. After Paul planted this church, it appears a group of Judaizers (people trying to impose Judaism on Christian converts) came in and stressed that Christians needed to obey certain aspects of the law (e.g., circumcision) if they were to be justified.
In response to this threat, Paul wrote to deliver the Galatians from the spiritual danger they’d bring on themselves if they indeed accepted and believed the Judaizer’ teaching. His main thesis is simple: we’re justified by faith in Christ alone, not by works of the law.
The book can be outlined as follows:
- The gospel belongs to God and cannot be altered. (Galatians 1-2)
- Trying to be justified by the law only leaves one cursed. (Galatians 3)
- Realize that God has made you sons through faith, so do not be enslaved again. (Galatians 4)
- Christ has freed us from condemnation and given us the Spirit so that we might pursue holiness. (Galatians 5)
- Pursuing holiness by the Spirit means loving others. (Chapter 6)
Father, we pray that you would help us to trust that we are justified by faith in the finished work of Christ, not on the basis of our works. Amen.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
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