We’ve seen in Galatians the importance of both the substitution of Christ and our union with Christ’s life. You can’t have one with out the other. Paul is developing this important connection very early on. We see it here again in chapter 2 as Paul defends his own apostleship and the gospel itself.
Galatians 2:15-16. We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Here is the gospel in all of its brilliance: Justification comes by faith in Jesus Christ, apart from the Law. No one is justified by works of the Law.
The Old Testament Law of Moses was given to Israel so that by it they might live. Live life to the fullest as God intended in the Garden. But here’s the problem: just like in the Garden, to live by the Law means you have to keep all of it perfectly. So the very thing that was meant to bring life brings death because of our inability to fully obey.
Unlike Christ, the Law works death into our lives, here’s how: first it is a measure, then it becomes an accusation, then it controls you, and then it brings death.
Law as measure.
We are all looking for a standard to follow. “Just tell me what to do.” “How do I measure up?” God’s law has provided this measure for us in a perfect form. But we also are constantly measured by the culture around us- get good grades, be beautiful, make the team, have a clean house, be happy.
Law as accusation.
Because the Law continually places us under these standards and these standards become absolutes (especially God’s), soon, the Law only serves to accuse us. Our “is” never lives up to our “ought.” It’s the perpetual carrot and stick.
Law as control.
So even though we hate the accusation of the Law, we love to be in control of our life. And Law offers us this control. So back to the Law we run over and over again. OR we reject one law for another. Maybe we reject God’s law for our own law, but still you are under the accusing watch of Law.
Law as death.
Because we fail over and over to live up to the measure, and we dread the accusation, we try harder and harder to control our own lives. Our failures condemn us, so we work to self justify. But this controlling of our own lives, serves only to destroy love in our lives. Control and love cannot co-exist (love requires liberty).
And so here we are, far from “to live is Christ,” and far from the righteousness/justification of God. The Law has left us with a glaring problem, but only Christ’s indwelling life can offer a solution. More on that tomorrow.