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Galatians 2:15 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:56 mins 2 secs

Justification and Divine Integrity; Gal. 2:15

The doctrine of the Mosaic Law and Spirituality

1.  Christ fulfilled the Law. (There was a failure at the time of the Reformation to understand that the Mosaic Law was no longer mandatory in the church age. Therefore morality and spirituality are confused and based on legal obedience) Matthew 5:17 NASB "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfil." "Fulfil" there is a the aorist active infinitive of pleroo [plhrow] which means to complete something or to fulfil. So all of the aspects of the Mosaic Law pointed to Christ. The first section of the Mosaic Law which we know as the Ten Commandments were fulfilled by Jesus Christ, and He lived a perfect life on the earth; He did not violate any of those mandates, demonstrating that he was perfect humanity. The second section of the Mosaic Law relates to spiritual issues: the sacrifices and offerings which foreshadow the person and work of Jesus Christ, and He fulfilled that through His life and His death on the cross. The third section of the Law relates to all of the mandates for day-to-day life, all the mandates related to civil obedience. Jesus Christ fulfilled those perfectly, even though He violated the human conditions the Pharisees had built up around them. Because He fulfilled the Law He demonstrated that he was qualified to go to the cross and died on the cross as the substitute for our sins.

2.  Because Christ fulfilled the Law He is said to be the end of the Law for believers. Therefore believers in the church age are not under the Mosaic Law. Romans 10:4 NASB "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." The word "end" is the Greek word telos [teloj]. It basically has the idea of completion, termination or conclusion. So with Christ the Law ends. The phrase "for righteousness" – eis [e)ij] plus the accusative of reference, which indicates the Law with reference to righteousness. Jesus Christ fulfilled all three sections of the Mosaic Law because He is perfectly righteous. Because He was perfect righteousness when he paid the penalty for our sins the righteousness and justice of God which comprise His holiness looked down upon the cross and was satisfied. The word to describe this is propitiation. God the Father was propitiated by the work of Christ on the cross. Next: "to everyone who believes." The only condition is faith alone. Every single sin in human history was poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross. Because sin was paid for on the cross the issue no longer is payment for sin; that would be double jeopardy. The dynamics of this verse foreshadow the whole doctrine of justification by faith because our sins were imputed to Christ on the cross and when we trust in Him His perfect righteousness is then imputed to us who are believers. The believer positionally has the righteousness of Christ. Christ paid our debt and because of that what is imputed to our account, instead of a debt against us, is a balance on the plus side which is His perfect righteousness. Because God the Father looks down at us and sees the perfect righteousness of Christ He therefore can bless us, not because of what we do but because of what Christ has done and because of the perfect righteousness of Christ. The perfect righteousness of God, therefore, approved of the perfect righteousness in us and therefore the justice of God could bless us. That is the basis for all blessing in the spiritual life. It is not our obedience, it is what Christ did. It is what we possess freely as a result of salvation: the imputation of perfect righteousness. This righteousness goes to everyone who believes.

Points of explanation of Romans 10:4: a) Jesus Christ fulfilled every moral and spiritual requirement of the Mosaic Law. He was perfect in every way and thus He satisfied the perfect righteousness and justice of God; b) Therefore Because He fulfilled the Law He is the end, or completes all of the legal requirements of the Law with reference to righteousness; c) This perfect righteousness is now freely available to every human being. Romans 3:22 NASB "even the righteousness of God through faith…" That is dia [dia] plus the genitive which means "through"; it explains the instrument or means by which something is appropriated. When dia is followed by a word in the accusative it is translated "because." We are not saved because of faith. We are saved because of what Christ did on the cross and we appropriate that or make it ours by means of faith.

3.  Though no longer under the Law church age believers are not lawless or antinomian. Romans 6:1, 2. 

4.  The new law is accompanied by a new commandment—Ephesians 5:18, "Be filled with the Spirit." This is the means for the supernatural way of life. A supernatural way of life demands a supernatural means for accomplishing that way of life. It is not based on morality or good deeds, it is based on the power of the Holy Spirit.

5.  The purpose of this new law is to glorify Christ and to produce His character in believers by means of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 4:19 NASB "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—" That is talking about the character of Christ being formed in the believer as a result of first learning doctrine, transforming his mind, and applying it. That is the point: you have to apply it. As it transforms our mind it transforms our character, and so what is revealed in us is the character of Jesus Christ.

6.  God the Holy Spirit is the one who glorifies Christ in the spiritual life. John 16:14 NASB "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose {it} to you." John 7:39 NASB "But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet {given,} because Jesus was not yet glorified."

Galatians 2:15 NASB "We {are} Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; [16] nevertheless 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."

Paul begins v. 16 with a conjunction of contrast and emphasis: "nevertheless." The nasb translates the participle as "knowing," which is not that accurate. What we have here is an adverbial participle, the perfect active participle of the Greek word oida [o)ida] which has several meanings related to knowledge: to know, to understand, to perceive, to have the knowledge as to how to perform a particular activity or to accomplish some goal. It is different from ginosko [ginwskw] in that it emphasises this idea of knowledge related to the performance of a particular activity. Grammatically it is a participle; a participle helps out the main verb. When we have an adverbial perfect participle, because it lacks an article, almost always is causal. That is a very important concept here. Therefore it is best translated "because we know." That adds a whole new dimension to the opening of this verse. Now the reason we get the "we" is that the main verb a little later on is the third person plural, so Paul is talking to Peter and he says to him, Because we know something." Who is "we"? Verse 15, "We are Jews by nature." "We know" back in Genesis 15:7 that we have learned that Abraham was justified by faith alone; he was declared righteous by faith.

The next word in the Greek is hoti [o(ti]. Sometimes this word is not even translated into English. Sometimes it introduces a direct quotation or an indirect quotation. Sometimes it has a causal idea and other times it introduces a principle and that is what is going on here. To get our best understanding of this we could translate it: "Because we know: [colon]" Then the principle is given. They know a principle of doctrine: a man is not justified by the works of the Law. That is the principle the Jews know and have learned from the Old Testament. Why? The Law didn't come until Moses, five or six hundred years after the death of Abraham, yet Abraham was justified by faith. So we have a principle: a man is not justified by the works of the Law.

The word "justified" comes from the Greek verb dikaioo [dikaiow]. It means to put right with, to cause someone to be in a right relationship with someone else; it has a very legal connotation because it was often used in the court room to refer to technical, legal procedures. That is the background for much of what God says about salvation: this legal relationship between man and God. The noun is dikaiosune [dikaiosunh], which has two meanings: righteousness and justice. These are two closely connected terms. We will just translate it as a legal term "to be declared righteous." That is the best way to understand justification. It is a legal concept, not an experiential concept. This is important because at salvation we don't lose the sin nature; we are still sinners. Every sin an unbeliever can commit, the believer can still do. The difference is that because the believer has trusted in Christ as his saviour he has been freed from the bondage to the sin nature. Romans chapter six says that as an unbeliever we were enslaved to the sin nature, but now we are no longer slaves to unrighteousness, we are to be slaves to righteousness. As an unbeliever all one can do is unrighteousness, no matter how good it is, how altruistic or helpful or beneficial, because it does not flow from the power of God the Holy Spirit. So we will translate this: "Nevertheless because we know a man is not declared righteous by the works of the Law." In the Greek that phrase is important because it is anarthrous, i.e. it lacks a definite article. The lack of the definite article here is emphasising the quality of the noun. So "the works of the Law" is literally "works of Law." The point is that this can still be translated with the definite article but the Greek emphasises the quality of these works. Paul by a very subtle point, by removing the article, it emphasising that it doesn't matter how good our works are, no matter how much quality we may think they possess, they are nothing in God's eyes.

Principle: Man is not declared righteous on the basis of good deeds or the works of the Law "but through faith in Christ Jesus." Once we have that phrase we saw in Romans, dia plus the genitive which means "through." Faith is always the channel by which we appropriate salvation. Then we have an objective genitive, which is an unusual construction, focusing on the object of faith which is Jesus Christ: "through faith in Christ Jesus." Then there is a shift in tone here: "even we [you and me, Peter] have believed in Christ Jesus," i.e. because we knew this principle we did something: we believed, we trusted. Belief means to trust. It doesn't mean to commit your life to Christ; it doesn't mean inviting Jesus into your life or heart; it means to trust Christ as your saviour. It is faith alone, to rely exclusively on something.

Next: "and not by the works of the Law." Three times Paul makes this point. God the Holy Spirit does not want us to miss out on this. Repetition, repetition; get the point: it is not by the works of the Law; morality doesn't do anything for us. The spiritual life is beyond morality; morality is for unbelievers. Morality is wonderful and it provides stability in a nation, but morality has no spiritual value. The spiritual life is a life that is produced exclusively by means of the power of God the Holy Spirit. Hence: "by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified."

Corrected and expanded translation: "Because we [as Jews] we know [a principle of doctrine] that a person is not declared righteous from the source of his good deeds but through the means of faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, and we [you and me, Peter] believe in Christ Jesus in order that we might be declared righteous from the source of faith in Christ and not by the good deeds we do; because [we know a principle] no human being will be declared righteous from the source of good deeds."

How does justification take place? What are the mechanics of justification by faith? What has to happen for God to declare us to be righteous? When we understand that it increases our appreciation as believers for everything that God has done for us in salvation. Secondly, it increases our understanding of why it is that we have eternal security. We can do nothing to lose it because we did absolutely nothing to gain it. Like everything related to the gospel in Scripture our starting point must be God, it never starts with man. We always start with God for two reasons. First, we can't start with man because man is finite; he is limited. He has limited knowledge, and all of the accumulated knowledge of man in proportion to God's omniscience is like one grain of sand com pared to all the grains of sand on all the beaches throughout the world. Second, we can't start with man because due to him being a sinner his knowledge is warped. It is always distorted by the human viewpoint frame of reference that he brings to the facts. Sometimes we can't convince an unbeliever of certain things because their interpretation is so wrapped up with the past itself that they can't see one thing from another, there is no objectivity there whatsoever. This is because of sin. Inherent sin warps our perception of reality. The only solution is the grace of God.

When we look at the essence of God there are three characteristics we want to isolate to understand the whole doctrine of justification by faith alone. These are righteousness, justice and love. Together they comprise the integrity of God. Integrity is a little more up-to-date than the old word "holiness." When we look at the attributes of God we have to realise that all of them comprise the wholeness of God. Just as we have many different attributes and characteristics in our life that characterise us they are not evident all the time. In one situation your honesty may be evident. In another situation the fact that you are a hard worker and are reliable may be evidenced, and honesty is not an issue and not even apparent in that situation. So when God deals with us, no matter what the situation may be, different attributes apply at different times but they never operate apart from all of the other attributes. There is an internal consistency between all of the attributes. When we talk about the righteousness, justice and love of God, God's love does not operate apart from His righteousness. In fact, His righteousness provides a standard for the function and motivation of His love.