Did Christ Die For No Purpose?
Galatians 2:21 (ESV) -- I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Obeying God is a foundation of living a faithful life. We should teach our children the importance of obedience to God’s commands. We ought to make sure it is primary in our own hearts too. But as important as obedience to God is, we must recognize that apart from grace, our obedience to God’s commands earns us nothing. It accomplishes nothing.
The apostle Paul teaches this clearly in our text today. When writing to the church in Galatia, Paul stresses this to the church. That church in particular believed that keeping the law somehow made them Christian. The false teachers that had crept into the church made law-keeping one of the roots of salvation. Paul corrects this by saying, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
What does this mean? Paul says if people were able to attain righteousness before God by keeping the law, then he would nullify the grace of God. It would no longer be grace, which is undeserved favor, it would be earned. Our right standing with God would be merited based on our actions. But if that were the case, then Christ died for nothing. This is a huge argument. Paul shows how central the death of Christ is to our righteousness. Jesus’ sin-atoning death on the cross pays for our sins and gives us right-standing with God. This is grace. If righteousness could be achieved in any other way, it wouldn’t be grace.
Do we grasp this in our own hearts and minds? Apart from Jesus’ sacrifice, we are dead in our sins. And if we are dead in our sins then our righteous deeds count for nothing. The root of salvation comes through faith in Christ. The fruit of our salvation is our desire to obey God’s commands. Never confuse the fruit with the root. Obedience doesn’t bring eternal life. Trust in Jesus’ finished work does. Perish the thought that Christ died for nothing.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why does Paul have to address this issue with the church in Galatia?
- What are the parallels with then and now? Why is it important that we understand the difference between grace and works?
- How does this passage help you treasure Christ’s sacrifice for sins even more?
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