by Mike Ratliff
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. (Romans 6:1-9 NASB)
The Christians with whom I have the most “disagreement” are those who are confused about our Justification and Sanctification. I have noticed that most of the articles and videos online that claim to prove R.C. Sproul, Dr. James White or John MacArthur wrong and that their gospel is not biblical while those producing those articles and videos have the real gospel are all of the same bent. They are all infected with the same lack of faith that the Judiazers had in the sufficiency of saving grace made available through the Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. They all, like the Roman Catholics and the Judiazers Paul was dealing with in his epistle to the Galatians insisted that, yes, we are saved by grace through faith, but there has to be something added to it called works.
I had one fellow email me about a year ago or so after I wrote a post on Ephesians 2:1-10 claiming that I was misleading people. He requested permission for equal time on my blog to state his case that he did agree with what I said about our being saved by grace through faith alone as a free gift from God that no man may boast (Ephesians 2:8,9), but he then said that he could prove that I was not telling the whole story. He then asked the hypothetical question, “What about the man or woman who is saved as you stated, but then turns around and sins the next day?” In his system of works-righteousness that person lost that salvation until he or she went to MASS and had Holy Communion again, et cetera. I declined his offer and suggested that he read 1 John 1:9-10 in the context of that whole book. I haven’t heard back. In case you haven’t made the connection, any attempt at works-righteousness through religiosity is an attempt at keeping the Law and that is according to the flesh.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch I stood against him to his face because he had been condemned. 12 For before certain ones from James came, he was eating with the gentiles, but when they came, he was drawing back and was separating himself fearing the ones of the circumcision 13 and the rest of the Jews also joined in pretense with him so that also Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they did not walk correctly with respect to the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before all, “If you being a Jew live as a gentile and not as a Jew, how do you compel the gentiles to live as Jews?” 15 We are by nature Jews and not sinners from among the gentiles; 16 nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 Now while seeking to be justified in Christ, we were found also to be sinners ourselves, then is Christ a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 For if I rebuild what I destroyed, I demonstrate myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law that I may live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me, and that which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself up on behalf of me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:11-21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
Remember in our study on the Sermon on the Mount where we came to that part on “Judge Not lest you be judged!” Here we see that Paul has no problem in showing how he rebuked the Apostle Peter to his face when he was very wrong. What did Peter (Cephas) do that was wrong? He was a Jew, but he knew from his own experience with Cornelius (Acts 10-11) and the Jerusalem Council that God accepted gentiles into the Church with no partiality. He also knew that separation from Christian Gentiles because they were not Jews was the worst hypocrisy yet that was what he was doing. He was showing partiality for the Jewish Christians who came from James the brother of the Lord Jesus. However, Paul sees the hypocrisy and rebukes Peter to his face before everyone.
In v16 Paul makes it clear that Justification is never through works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. Justification cannot be by works of the Law since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
In v18 Paul makes it clear that anyone who attempts to add works of the Law to the Gospel demonstrates himself or herself to be a transgressor and that means we must not heed their teaching or preaching. Why? Within the true gospel the believer, through the Law died to the Law that they may live to God. That is Paul’s description of being crucified with Christ. Instead of living in the flesh to keep the law, Christians live in the flesh by faith in the son of God who loved them and gave himself up on their behalf.
In v21 Paul separates himself from everyone who adheres to the Law as a form of justification for the Christian. He says that those who do that are nullifying the grace of God and if that claim were so then righteousness would come through the Law and that would mean that Christ would have died needlessly. However, we stand with Paul and reject works-righteousness in all its forms. Salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone according to God’s gift alone. There is no other way to be justified.
Christ’s death on the cross was completely successful. His death paid the penalty for everyone he came to save. He purchased a people for himself and he is still building his church.
Soli Deo Gloria!