Today we come to a typical question that arises when people consider that we are saved by faith in Christ, not as a result of our works. The question that Paul lists here in verse 17 is similar to other ones that he writes about in Romans (See Romans 3:5-8 or 6:1-2, for example).
The question here is that if we are justified by Christ, made right with God through Him, and yet are sinners, is Christ a minister of sin – and Paul exclaims, No!
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
The law was given not to make us righteous (v.21), for it cannot do so, but to make us aware our sin (as we break the law) and our need for Christ as our Savior from those sins.
But once we receive Christ by faith, see verse 20 – we are crucified with Christ, and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. The life that we then live is by faith in Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us. After we have been justified through Christ, made right with Him, through His death and resurrection, we are in Christ, and He is in us. This is the power we are given in Christ to live a life of obedience, not of sin, so sin does not continue to have the same power over us. Christ would never be a minister of sin or promoting sin!
As our pastor pointed out Sunday as we studied Romans 3:5-8, Christianity is the only faith that asks these kinds of questions. Anything else tells you that you have to be good and do good works to earn something – so you would never ask these kinds of questions because you are of course working hard to attain something (you think).
But when faith is given to us as a free gift of God’s grace and mercy, this incredible gospel we are studying about in Galatians, the natural question is, “Wait, but if it’s free, do we just continue to sin and that’s okay?” or ones similar to this.
As we come to understand that God’s gift of salvation frees us to not sin, to serve Him, to love Him, to live in joyful obedience, by the power of Christ in us, we begin to understand the gospel, and it truly causes us to stand in awe of our God. Jesus, who loved us and gave His life for us, then gives us everything we need for godly living – His strength, His power, His Spirit – Praise God!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us the law to see our need for you. We are powerless and desperate without you. Praise you, Jesus, for your death and resurrection, taking our sins on the cross, that we might be crucified with you and be raised to life in you so that we have power through you over sin in our lives. Please cause us to live in this freedom today that you have accomplished for us. You do it all! Praise you! Free us from sin that entangles us and help us to fix our eyes on you, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.