Union with Christ
March 26, 2017
Scripture: Galatians 2:17-21
I. Since you are united with Christ, you have died to the law and to sin.
A. How did Paul’s opponents hear the gospel message of faith alone? “But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin?” (vs. 17). Paul was certainly telling people to stop trying to please God through works of the Law. But what Paul was definitely not saying was that faith in Jesus would somehow make Jesus a servant of sin. By encouraging people to put their faith in Jesus and abandon the Jewish Law, Paul’s opponents thought Paul – and Jesus for that matter – was encouraging people to sin.
B. But the reality Paul says in vs. 18 is much different. Paul says there, “if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.” What had Paul torn down? Living according to the works of the Old Testament Law to please God. If I go back to a life of trying to please God with my good works of keeping God’s Law, then I really do become a sinner. How? When you try to keep all of God’s laws, you discover you can’t do it. You sin. Trying to keep God’s laws will prove clearly to me that I am a sinner.
C. But how can a righteous God accept an unrighteous person like me? God can accept you only through union with Jesus. If you are united with Jesus, then you have the righteousness that Jesus has. The Law came with a curse. Deuteronomy 28:15: “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” But the law’s demand for your death was satisfied in the death of Jesus. Thus, you have died to the law.
II. Since you are united with Christ, you have Christ living in you and through you.
A. We have been united with Jesus not only in His death on the cross. We have also been united with Jesus in His resurrection life. Notice where Paul’s life is found in vs. 20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” He no longer has a life of his own. The only life he has is the life that God puts into him through union with Christ. Paul is no longer living for self. Paul knows now that with Christ he lives to serve and bring glory to God. That is his identity. His identity is found in his union with Christ.
B. Because I am in Christ, Jesus gives me the power to live a truly righteous life. Jesus once gave a picture of what our life in union with Christ would look like in John 15:4-5: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” If we are not connected to Jesus, if we are not united to Jesus, then we also will produce no good fruit in our lives. Jesus did not die for nothing (vs. 21). He died for something. More accurately, He died for someone. “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (vs. 20). Did you notice how personal Paul got here? Jesus loved ME! It’s almost like Paul is saying, “Can you believe it?”
Rejoice in your union with Christ. Rejoice that Jesus wants a relationship with you.
The letter to the Galatians
Commentaries on Galatians by Douglas Moo and Philip Graham Ryken
“Growing in Christ” by J.I. Packer