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The book of Galatians was a letter written by the apostle Paul to the church in Galatia. It is largely a letter correcting wrong interpretations of the truths of the gospel of our salvation, primarily in relation to the Judaizers who were trying to convince the Gentile Christians that they had to be more like Jews and that they had to be circumcised, and that they had to obey some of the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, and dietary laws and restrictions. But this needs to be read in the context of the whole book to get the right meaning and understanding of the message.

For many people today are pulling some of these Scriptures out of their context and they are making them say what the Scriptures do not teach in whole. But if we read these specific Scriptures here in light of this whole writing we will see the fallacy of some of the interpretations which are commonly being spread throughout the gatherings of the church, at least here in America. For many are drawing a false conclusion that we are now free from having to obey our Lord’s commandments and that repentance is no longer required of us for salvation from sin and for eternal life with God.

Galatians 2:20-21 ESV

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

So, what do the Scriptures teach about being “crucified with Christ”? Well, in Romans 6:1-23 Paul taught that it meant no longer continuing to live in sin. For “our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

And then in Ephesians 4:17-24 he taught that we must no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) like the ungodly who have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. For that is not the way we should have learned Christ. For the truth in Christ Jesus teaches us to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”.

And in Galatians 5:16-21 he taught that we must walk by the Spirit so we do not gratify the desires of the flesh, for the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh. And he said, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who DO” (are doing, practicing) “such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

And what did Paul teach about the grace of God?

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

So, when he stated that he did not nullify the grace of God, he was not referring to a grace that gives us permission to keep living in sin and that does not demand obedience to our Lord and to his commands under the New Covenant. And when he said that “if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose,” he wasn’t saying that our obedience to our Lord’s commands (New Covenant) had no bearing on our salvation. For he clearly taught that it did, as referenced above and below:

[1 Co 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-14,24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; Gal 5:16-21; Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 1:18-32; Titus 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:10]

And then look at what the apostle John taught: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7) And “By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.” (1 John 2:3-5)

So, when Paul said he had been crucified with Christ and that he no longer lived, but Christ who lived in him, he meant he was dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. He meant that the old sin nature no longer had control over his life. Sin was no longer his practice. Now righteousness and godliness and obedience to his Lord and to his commands (New Covenant) were his practice. He meant that he had denied self, and he was then in the process of dying daily to sin and to self and following the Lord Jesus in obedience to his commands under the New Covenant.

So, when he spoke of “the law” he was specifically referencing the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, purification, and dietary laws and restrictions of the Old Covenant. And he made that clear throughout his writings. And John made it clear that those who are righteous in the eyes of the Lord are those who are putting into practice the righteousness of God in the power of God. And those who are unrighteous are those who are not obeying the Lord but who are still living in sin (see 1 John 3:4-10 and..).

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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