The Wrong Way to Get Right With God
Pastor Jared Longshore continues in his series on the Book of Galatians as he discusses Galatians 2:15-21 in a message entitled “The Wrong Way to Get Right with God.” One great overarching problem with humankind’s perception of God is a misunderstanding of the great gulf between God’s goodness and people’s sinfulness. This misunderstanding leads to mistakes in approaching God on other than His terms, mistakes which lead to their eternal loss.
The big mistake is trying to get right with God by being good. This passage points to three reasons this is so. First, it will not work! Verse 16 plainly states a “person is not justified by the works of the law,” that is by being good. Our efforts to follow the law are futile because of our tendencies toward sin. We cannot be declared righteous by our own failed efforts. Verse 16 continues; our righteousness can only come “through faith in Jesus Christ.”
Second, attempting to get right with God by being good is sinful. Paul argues against the Judaizers accusations against him. Paul was being accused of sinning by not including works but Paul, in vv. 17-18, turns the tables on the Judaizers. Believing that we can get right with God by our own efforts is prideful. Thinking this way evidences a view of ourselves far too high. The basis for this belief is founded on the belief we are actually good while God’s Word tells us we are sinful. Additionally, attempting to get right with God by being good is idolatrous. God is not approachable by our own efforts; any god so attainable is not the true God and so anyone attempting approach to God through their own efforts actually approaches a different god. We need a savior. It is God who alone provides a Savior whose work is sufficient for our salvation and Who is worthy of our worship.
Third, trying to get right with God through our own efforts rejects the grace of God. Christ did not “die in vain” as v. 21 instructs. Hs death provides a way to access God’s grace. In fact, since death came through the law it is only through God’s grace that eternal life may be attained. It is only as we die to the law, as we are “crucified with Christ,” (v. 20) that we can live through Christ living in us. Christians, therefore, “live by Faith in the Son of God” (v. 20). Living by faith does not preclude a believer’s responsibility to lead a life worthy of his Master. However, Paul’s point is that a believer’s salvation and a believer’s relationship with God has no basis in the believer’s works but only in his God-given faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. Give up trusting in yourself to attain righteousness. Instead, come to Christ and attain His righteousness.