19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Gal. 2:19-21
If a thug attacks you and you act to defend yourself, the most sensible thing to do – at least in any country that follows the laws of civilization – is to hold the goon in a chokehold until the police arrive. Now, that chokehold is not exactly legal, but it is excusable under the rules of engagement. Once the police arrive, you hand over the sorry thug and the justice system takes over from there. Your chokehold is no longer needed. Given that there are sensible laws in that country, the thug will effectively be consigned to ‘Neverland’. In Africa, he will be dealt with in a manner that will make him either incapable of, unable to or unwilling to ever, ever attack anyone again.
But that was exactly what God brought the law to do – to hold sin in a chokehold till Christ would come to make the ultimate sacrifice for sin and deal with sin. But now Christ has come and He has accomplished that which was needed to defeat sin once and for all. Praise Jesus, we have the victory over sin! For we who have believed on Christ, sin will never show its ugly face in our neighborhood again because its Conquerer, our Lord Jesus Christ, lives there!
Grace was what was revealed at the cross. Mercy and peace upon all men. But, more importantly, the power to defeat sin. The victory over sin is therefore of grace, not law.
The Apostle Paul puts it the best way possible in Galatians 2:19-21:
“19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
The bottom line in what Paul is saying here is that at the cross, when Christ died in the flesh, grace was revealed. Grace, not law. And under that grace, Paul found the power to defeat sin in his life.
The law is of the flesh, and incapable. Even Moses, the man who served God perfectly under the law, was himself unable to enter the Promised Land. But the grace that is found in the cross is more than sufficient to deal with sin in our lives.
The flesh loves the law. Men of the flesh love law. They love putting law on people. But the flesh, sin and the law are all in cahoots. They are all in a conspiracy against the Spirit.
Law blocks spiritual growth. But grace gives men and women the opportunity to grow and mature in the Spirit.
We are therefore not to be men and women of law. We should not love law in our lives, nor should we love to put law on people. The reason we put law on people is because we have not crucified our lives with Christ. Paul said that he did not “frustrate” the grace of God. How could he possibly accomplish this? There could only be one way: it was by crucifying his life on the cross.
There is only one way to becoming a man or woman of grace: it is to crucify your life on the cross. If you do not crucify your life on the cross, you will forever remain a person of law. You will forever be putting law on yourself and on people.
Even more serious is the fact that law will never remove sin in your life. Law will simply cement sin in your life and in the lives of all who are unfortunate enough to come under your ministry.
Choose today: what would you love: to live as a man or woman of law, or to live under grace? The latter has a price tag to it; the former does not. Under law, you live for yourself, defending the flesh. But under grace, you live for Christ, daily giving your life as He did.
Notice what Paul says in verse 21: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
If we choose to live by law, we “frustrate” or deny the grace of God! How can we then expect to face Jesus upon His return to earth?? We have no way out of this other than to face the death of the cross.
The million-dollar question we need to ask ourselves is: did Christ die in vain? Or did He not?
The answer, of course, is that Christ did not die in vain. But the only way we can prove that is by sharing in His sufferings and death.
Unfortunately, today, there is so much law in church. God’s people are suffocating under law. This is a clear sign that those in charge are not willing to lay down their lives. This is the case with many preachers of the gospel today. And the grace of God is being frustrated, and Christ’s death on the cross is being made of no effect.
But, be that as may be, still God’s standard for His church remains:
[Below: A girl in rural Singida]