"But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 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. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," Galatians 2:17-21.
We have been looking at Peter's actions in this chapter, and Paul's rebuke of Peter because of his actions. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear," I Timothy 6:19-20. Since Peter's sin was before all the congregation, his rebuke was also before the congregation. Peter's actions were detrimental to the church, and also to the gospel message. The effect would ripple far and wide if it were not immediately dealt with. In rebuking Peter, Paul was also rebuking all those who withdrew with Peter. Standing on the truth of the gospel means you may have to stand against those who you are closest to. This can also have a ripple effect. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," Jude 1:3. Paul is having to earnestly contend for the faith, but he never thought he would have to do this against Peter, or Barnabas, or any of the other Jews that was in the church at Antioch.
If Paul does not deal with Peter's hypocrisy immediately, confusion and division would spread all through the churches. The message of the gospel would begin to change. Look at verse 17. This would make Christ an attendant, or a servant of sin. This would make Paul, and everyone else who believed like Paul, sinful sinners. All who believed that justification was by the faith of Christ alone would be found to continually err from the divine law. To make this plain, it would be sinful to only trust Christ to save you. This would make Christ the minister of sin because He would cause us to sin by only trusting Him to save us. Paul cries out at the end of verse 17, "God forbid." May it never be! Christ is not the minister of sin! Aren't you thankful that Paul immediately dealt with Peter's actions? Christ is not the minister of sin, and you and I are not in sin because we trust Christ alone to justify us.
"For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor," Galatians 2:18. Paul is saying if he again builds a system of instruction or doctrine which he loosened, then he makes himself a violator of the law. This would mean that sin is once again imputed to all who look to Christ alone for justification. We would be back under the teachings of the religious leaders in Israel. One small compromise and we are headed away from Christ, quickly. Christ would end up just being a helper in justification, the main part of justification would be left to us by being circumcised and keeping the law. Salvation would end up being all about us, and not Christ. We would be glorified, not Christ.
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God," Galatians 2:19. Remember that the law was never given to save anyone, but to show us that we could not save ourselves, therefore, we must look to another. Who do we look to? When we look around all we see are sinful people just like us. The law points to perfection. The only One Who has ever been perfect is Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament they looked for the Perfect One to come, we look to the Perfect One who came. "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith," Galatians 3:24. A schoolmaster is a disciplinarian. The law constantly points us to Jesus Christ. In verse 19 Paul said he was dead to the law. This means to die to or from something, i.e. to renounce, to forsake. "Might live" in this verse means to live in a certain way, to pass one's life in a certain manner. To understand this a little better we can turn to Philippians 3:1-12. Those things that Paul once lived for he now counts as dung. He has renounced that former lifestyle, and now lives to please Christ, not himself. Verse 20 makes this clear.
"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," Galatians 2:20. "Am crucified" in this verse means, figuratively, spoken of the old human nature, which lost its power when Christ was crucified. Turn to Romans 6:1-22. Notice verse 6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." Our old nature died with Christ on the cross. This means that we no longer live for sin. Sin is no longer our master. We even hate those sinful things we used to love to do (verse 21). We are not who we used to be. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new," II Corinthians 5:17. Through the person and power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is actively living in us.
When the Lord saves us, He does not take us out of this world. While we are here on this earth in this mortal body, we live by the faith of the Son of God. "Faith" in this verse means of faith in Christ's death, as the ground of justification before God, saving faith. As a technical term indicative of the means of appropriating what God in Christ has for man, resulting in the transformation of man's character and way of life. Such can be termed gospel faith or Christian faith. Notice the end of verse 20, "Who loved me, and gave himself for me." What Christ did is irrevocable. What can separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing and no one (Romans 8:28-39).
"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," Galatians 2:21. We never hear of Peter having a response to this rebuke by Paul. Peter knew that Christ did not die in vain. I can't help but wonder if Peter had a similar response to this rebuke as he did in Luke 22:62, "And Peter went out, and wept bitterly."
Peter had compromised the gospel message by his actions. By yoking up with false teachers Peter had denied the faith. Others quickly followed Peter. Paul had to quickly step up and rebuke Peter. Those who we yoke up with will either confirm the gospel, or compromise the gospel. If they compromise the gospel, they will lead people away from Christ. This has a snow ball effect. May the Lord help us and protect us. Please send questions and comments to email@example.com. Soli Deo Gloria.