Sunday Evening Bible Study

January 21, 1996

Galatians 2:14-21


Paul is writing to a group of churches which he had helped to establish.

After having established these churches, there were a group of teachers called "Judaizers" who came in and began spreading their own doctrines.

The Judaizers felt that a Gentile couldn't really be saved apart from first becoming a Jew, and that started by being circumcised.

We've had Paul describe his conversion, and how he was taught his theology not by man, but God had taught him.

Then we read at the beginning of chapter two that 14 years after his conversion, Paul went up to Jerusalem to have the apostles listen to his teachings, and make sure that he was doctrinally correct.

We saw that not only was Paul checked out as OK by the church in Jerusalem, but they gave him their "stamp of approval" by giving him their "right hand of fellowship".

The only thing they encouraged Paul to do was to remember the poor, which he was glad to do, and had already been doing.

After Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, Peter showed up, and starting fellowshipping with the saints there.

But when some men from the church in Jerusalem showed up, Peter started acting hypocritcally, and started pulling back from the Gentiles, setting the example for the other Jewish believers, so that even Barnabas started acting strange.


:14  walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel

The truth of the gospel is that salvation comes only by trusting in Jesus.

This alone is what makes a person clean or worthy before the Lord, not circumcision.


Eat with sinners.

Beyond that, look at the example of Jesus Himself:

Mark 2:16-17  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees because He ate with "sinners".

Yet those are the people that need to be reached.


Don't eat with backslidden Christians.

The only people that you and I are not to "fellowship" with, are those who claim to be Christians, but are in open rebellion against the Lord.

Even those who are caught in a sin need to be reached and brought back.

It's only when a person rejects the counsel to get right before the Lord, and continues in their sin, that we are to "dis-fellowship" with them.

1Corinthians 5:9-13  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10  Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer,

or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

:14  I said unto Peter before them all

This is kind of unusual, since the general rule to follow when a person is living in sin is to confront them privately (Mat.18:15-17).

If they don't listen to you, then you go again with a witness.

If they still don't listen, then you bring it to the church.

But the difference here is that this is an issue that involves the whole church, and Peter is respected as an elder in the church.

1Timothy 5:19-20  Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20  Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

It's not easy being an elder!

:14  If thou, being a Jew ...

NAS  "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?

Peter is living a double standard.

He allows himself to live like a Gentile for awhile, but later behaves in a way that tries to make the Gentiles do the changing.

:15  Jews by nature

Those who are born Jewish.

Paul is appealing to Peter's Jewishness, and the fact that he knows the truth.

:15  sinners of the Gentiles

Those who weren't so lucky to be born Jewish.

Paul is simply using a terminology that is Jewish in nature.

The Jews called all Gentiles "the wicked of the nations of the world".

That doesn't mean that the Jews weren't sinners themselves!

:16  Knowing that ...

Peter, having been born a Jew, and raised a Jew, knowing God's Word and such,

He knows that the following is true.

:16  a man is not justified by the works of the law

justified - dikaioo - to render righteous or such he ought to be

Paul is saying that Peter knows full well that a man is not declared to be righteous by keeping all the commandments.

It is impossible for man to keep the commandments perfectly.

This is kind of the floorboards, the foundation of Paul's whole teaching about justification.

It's important that we understand that there is not one bit of righteousness that we can achieve that earns any bit of God's favor, just by keeping a list of do's and don'ts.

We can never do it perfectly, and so we can't do it at all.

James wrote:

James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

For a person to achieve righteousness by keeping the law, it would have to be done completely and perfectly.

Paul could have even used Peter's own words before the church council in Jerusalem:

Acts 15:10  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

That's why Jesus said:

Matthew 5:20  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

There was no one who kept the law more closely than the Pharisees.

Yet Jesus said that it was not enough.

Matthew 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.


There is no room for pride in your accomplished salvation.

Because it had nothing to do with you.

You did absolutely nothing to earn the righteousness that God now credits to your account.

You cannot look down your nose at anyone and think, "I wish that dirty rotten sinner would get their act cleaned up!"

We're all familiar with:

Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It affects how we view others and how we treat them.

We can not hold up our heads and pride and think, "Well I belong to the church were nobody owns or watches TV".

And "We don't associate with lowly types who watch TV".

Some people are quite proud of this accomplishment.

But the truth of the matter is that is does nothing to credit righteousness to their account before God.

It's only the righteousness of Jesus Christ that God can accept.

This is the first part of understanding GRACE.

The second is ...

:16  but by the faith of Jesus Christ

or, "by faith in Jesus Christ"

Again, Peter's own words to the Jerusalem church:

Acts 15:11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Our salvation is not based upon what we do for God, because that is always flawed and less than perfect.

Our salvation is totally based on the work that God has done for us, in sending Jesus Christ to die as an offering for our sin.

When we choose to receive God's gift, Jesus' payment for our own sins, then God is able to take the righteousness of Jesus, and give it to us.

2Corinthians 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

:16  for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified

Now Paul quotes from the Psalms:

Psalm 143:1-2   <<A Psalm of David.>> Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. 2   And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

Compared to God, standing before God in judgment, no man is going to be able to say that by himself he is righteous.

It just cannot be done.

:17  while we seek ... we ourselves also are found sinners ...


If we claim to be saved by faith in Christ, yet there is no change in our lives, and we only continue in sin, does that mean that Jesus promotes a sinful life?

Absolutely not.

:18  if I build again ... I make myself a transgressor

If Paul (or, rather, Peter) would want to go back to trying to please God through the law, the only thing that is evident is that he is sinful.

The purpose of the Law was to show men their sinfulness, not to justify men before God.

:19  I through the law am dead to the law

When I look at my life in light of the Law, I am only worthy of death, because of my sins.

:19  that I might live unto God

The law came to condemn you to death.

Then you might be open let God do His work in you.

:20  I am crucified with Christ

This is one of the mysteries of the believer's life.

Somehow, as we come to trust in Jesus, we find that we were somehow wrapped up in Jesus when He died on the cross.

And when He died, so did we.

One of the benefits of being crucified:

Romans 6:6-7  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7  For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Our freedom from that slavery of sin comes by dying.


Learn to be the walking dead.

Sounds pretty gruesome, huh?

We need to learn to allow our old sin nature to be crucified, and to die.

One of the keys to victory over sin is learning to die.

It's not by casting out the "Demon of Lust".

It's by crucifying the sucker.


Pirates of the Caribbean

"Dead men tell no tales".

They also don't sin any more either.

How does this really work?

When I am faced with a temptation, I need to ask myself, "Am I going to feed my flesh and give in, or am I going to crucify my flesh and resist?"

:20  nevertheless I live

Though I'm dead, somehow I keep on living, but in a new way.

:20  Christ liveth in me

Here's the next key to walking in victory over sin!


Let Jesus do the walking.

The more I allow Jesus to have control of my life, the more I exerience victory.

It's letting Him have everything.


It's kind of like the glove and the hand.

A glove can't do much by itself.

It certainly can't play the piano.

But if I put my hand in the glove, it can do a lot better!

Let Jesus fill your life!

:20  I live by the faith of the Son of God

or "by faith in the Son of God"

It's a matter of trust - another key to victory


Get in the wheelbarrow!


Blondin the tight rope walker.

He was able to walk across a tightrope over Niagra Falls.

He would go slowly across, then build up speed.

For his finale, he would push a wheelbarrow across the river on the rope.

"Am I the greatest?"  "Do you believe I'm the greatest?"  "For my next act, I'm going to need a volunteer, I need somebody to get in the wheelbarrow."

We need to live our lives in the wheel barrow.

Just climb in and sit down.

Are you going to take the backseat and finally let Jesus take the wheel?

:20  who loved me, and gave himself for me

Keep in mind who has His hand on the wheelbarrow.

It makes is a lot easier to climb in when you keep in mind His love for you, and how He's proved it.


When will you trust Him?

In the easy times?

How about the times where He leads you through the valley of the shadow of death?

When you remember how much He loves you, you realize that You can sit back and trust Him all the time.


It's not so easy to relax and let other people drive all the time.

There are some where all you do is sit on the edge of your seat and keep hitting an imaginary brake pedal on your side of the car.

But with others you can relax and even go to sleep.

I remember as a kid being terrified of mountain roads.

But as long as it was my dad was driving, I could fall asleep.

Jesus is one who loves you like no other, and He's a good driver to boot!

:21  if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain

The whole reason the Jesus came to die was because man was helpless on his own to achieve the necessary righteousness to stand before God.

Man is totally helpless to fulfill God's standards of righteousness.

And that's why Jesus died.


Warning for legalists:  Why did Jesus die?

For people who want you to think that you must now please God by keeping a set of rules and regulations, they need to think about the Law.

Has man ever been able to please God by keeping the Law?

Romans 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Isaiah 64:6   But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;

Our pleasing God can only come by the means of what God has done for us.

The best we can do is simply trust in God's work for us.