Nullifying the Grace of God
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.
Jesus plus nothing equals everything. That may be the best “math” equation ever. This formula reminds us that Jesus, and His sacrificial death and perfect righteous life, are our hope and peace. He alone is our salvation. He alone holds the hope of eternal life for sinners like us. It is through faith in Him that we become recipients of God’s eternal promises.
Our passage today reminds us of the weight of this truth. Paul is writing to the church in Galatia. They had been swayed by a group called the Judaizers to start adding Jewish laws and customs to their Christian faith. These Gentiles struggled with circumcision, food restrictions, Sabbath customs, and other practices they were told were necessary for them to be truly saved. Paul instructs them, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
This is an unreal sentence. If we are to preach or attempt righteousness through law keeping, we are nullifying the grace of God. To nullify something means to cancel it. Not only do we nullify grace if we can earn righteousness through law keeping, but Jesus died for no purpose. If we had any ability to save ourselves, then Jesus’ death was pointless. That is such a forceful statement. It demonstrates how essential the gospel is for our lives. And it shows you how ineffectual anything outside the gospel is to save us. Jesus plus nothing equals everything.
Why are we tempted to depend on, or look for something, other than Jesus? I believe it is because the gospel feels too free to us. Trusting in Jesus seems too easy, like we’re not earning God’s kindness to us. But that is what the gospel teaches us. God’s kindness is extended to us through the finished work of Jesus. We don’t earn it. We receive it freely, because Jesus already paid the cost.
Reflection & Journal:
- What are the things outside of Jesus people look to today to make them right with God?
- Why does the gospel often not feel like enough for us? Why do we fall for Jesus + anything else?
- How can we guard ourselves from nullifying the grace of God?
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