Did Christ Die for No Reason? [Galatians 2]
14But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "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?
15"We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles;16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17"But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18"For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19"For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
I can't have it both ways. Either righteousness comes from Christ (and me with Him) being crucified and "faith in the Son who loved me and gave Himself up for me" or it comes from obeying the Law. I either live this life by the grace of God or I set it aside and in doing so, nullify Christ's sacrifice for me.
I know this to be true about justification, the point in time when Christ declared me "not guilty" because I received what He did on the cross for me (believed). I have agreed that "a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus." It is clear to me that no human being will ever be justified by the works of the the law. But what about the life I now live? Is that also by faith in Jesus' love and faith in the truth that He died in my place, taking all of God's wrath for me?
As I examine my own thoughts I see how often I make up rules for myself to try to be righteous. Thoughts like, "I will be loved if I give up my own rights and serve this individual." It sounds Christian. But living by that code keeps me enslaved to pleasing that person. As I am trying to please that person, "am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10) The contrast is living knowing that I am loved by Christ, loved with a love that caused Him to die for me. Then I know longer will do things to earn love. Instead I will do things by God's power working in me (grace).
Thank You, God, that Christ's death satisfied Your wrath against me. Because of faith in Christ's death, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." I praise you that I live in Christ by Your power (grace).