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  • Pastor Jim French

All Jesus

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. (Gal 3:1)

The Apostle Paul was never one to mince words but in his letter to the Galatians he seems particularly forceful – we might even say “beside himself” with frustration – maybe even anger.

Paul was very concerned that the Galatian churches had fallen from the Gospel of grace and reverted back to following the law. Consequently Paul lays out what is one of (if not the most) important messages of the Gospel.

Years ago I overheard a conversation between 2 women at church – the one woman was talking about how she felt uncertain about her salvation. I remember her asking, “I wonder if I have done enough?” That is the question: “Is Jesus enough for us to obtain eternal life or do we have to do something? If so – what?”

The Gospel of Grace vs. the Law

Simply put, the Gospel of Grace (the true Gospel) is reliance on what Jesus did for our eternal salvation instead of our trying to earn salvation by our own goodness or good works. It is the “Good News” (Gospel means “Good News”) that we no longer have to obey every single bit of Old Testament law to have eternal life. It is the “Good News” that we only have to rely on Jesus' perfect fulfillment of the law (he fulfilled/obeyed every single commandment in the law for us. He lived a perfect, sinless life.

Our righteousness (our works, our attempts to make ourselves worthy of a holy God) can never make us acceptable to God. All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) and we can never erase that sin by ourselves. But by relying on Jesus' perfect sinless life, the one that he lived for us, our sins are removed (not just covered as in the Old Testament).

Jesus took our sins, he became our sins and paid the price for our eternal salvation.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21 CENT)

That is incredible! God himself, in the person of Jesus became my sin and yours! The love of God is amazing!

So what did the Galatian churches do that got Paul so lathered up? Let's look at Galatians 6:6-9:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (v 6-7)

Paul is saying that there are people in the Galatian church who are preaching a different Gospel. There is someone teaching a distorted Gospel.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (v 8-9)

This is quite a statement. And Paul repeats it emphatically. Anyone who preaches a Gospel of salvation by anything but God's grace is to be cursed! Paul pulls no punches! This is so important that Paul says let the one who is teaching this false Gospel be cursed! Someone had come into the Galatian churches and was preaching that in order to obtain eternal salvation you must also obey the Old Testament law of Moses – particularly to be circumcised.

But Paul says that circumcision is nothing but a work of the flesh. It cannot give us eternal salvation. It is faith in the finished work of Christ and him alone that gives us eternal life.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Gal 5:6)

To further prove his point he says:

But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. (Galatians 2:3)

Titus, a man who worked closely with Paul did not conform to the tenants of the Old Testament law but rather by grace.

The entire Old Testament law (aka – Mosaic law) was based on performance – on flawlessly keeping all the rules and regulations written in the Old Testament. This is what the Pharisee's believed. In truth, Mosaic law was given to demonstrate our need for a Savior. It was given so we would see that we could not keep the law and instead fall on our knees in before God and ask for his help (grace). And that grace was provided for us through the perfect work of Jesus.

How do we receive eternal life?

By faith in Jesus Christ. By receiving in faith what he accomplished on the cross – for us! We are justified, made right with God by trusting in Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8)

Our salvation is accomplished:

1 – By God's grace (God's part).

2 – By receiving that grace by faith.

God provides the grace and faith is our response to it.

.if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9)

Performance or doing stuff for God (keeping the law) or being good cannot save us.

...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. (Galatians 2:16)

No one can be made right with God (made righteous) through their attempts to keep the law.

What about the Book of James?

In the Book of James we read:

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)

Does this mean that we have to earn our salvation by our works? Not at all – what James is saying is that if you have faith, your faith will be demonstrated by your works. True faith provokes us to action. James is saying that if we truly believe we will act upon that belief.

No one can keep the entire law and if we break even 1 point of the law we have broken the whole law:

Whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10 BSB)

The Galatians were falling into one of satan's greatest lies – that we must add to what Jesus did in order to be saved.

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:21)

If we have to add to what Jesus did, then his perfect work was lacking. Trying to be holy in our own strength or trying to win God's approval (we already have it as his children) by doing for him is trying to “fulfill the law”. We cannot add to Jesus' perfect life and his work on the cross. Paul says that Christ has freed us from the restraints of keeping Old Testament law. He says that the Old Testament law is slavery:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.

(Galatians 5:1-3)

We know that no one can keep every commandment in the law. This shows us the futility of trying to earn our righteousness/salvation by our goodness.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? (Galatians 3:1-2)

Paul is saying that if we rely on our own works for salvation we have been deluded/deceived. He asks the Galatians this critical question – how did you receive the Holy Spirit – by fulfilling/keeping the law or by faith?

Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Paul continues pointing out that the Galatians received the Holy Spirit at salvation and are now trying to add Jesus' already perfect work. If we try to add to Jesus' work for our salvation we are nullifying his work for us. We are make his work null and void in our lives.

He then points out that if you try to earn your way into God's favor (earn your salvation) you have to fulfill everything in the law perfectly - otherwise you have placed yourself back under the curse – and he uses Old Testament law to make his point:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (Galatians 3:10)

Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them. (Deut 27:26a)

For years I lived under the same specter as the woman I described earlier - “Have I really done enough? What if I've missed something?” The short answer is, “No Jim. You haven't done enough – you can't do enough! Jesus did it all for you.”

Wayne Anderson points out that we rely not on our obedience, but on his. We can never be obedient enough!

It's Jesus' obedience that makes us right with God, not ours.

We simply receive what Jesus has done and that makes us righteous (in right standing) with God.

We do what we do not to earn God's favor or win our salvation, but because we are motivated by our love for him. We desire to do good because we love him.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

Sin has consequences and we should not use this freedom to satisfy sin. Repeated sin opens a door to the enemy. When we sin we must repent (turn away from our behavior) and ask forgiveness immediately.

I once heard an illustration of this truth that goes something like this:

A man stands before God at the judgment seat and is asked the question:

“What qualifies you for entrance in Heaven?” The man replies, “Well, I attended church almost every Sunday of my life.”

The Lord replied, “What else?” “I tithed faithfully,” The man replied. The Lord again said, “What else?”

The man hesitates uncomfortably and says, “I gave money to the poor and I was nice to almost everyone I came in contact with.”

The Lord said, “So?”

The man, clearly frustrated answers, “Well, I did a lot more good than bad.”

The Lord looks at him and says, “And....”

The man is very concerned and replies, “Well, what by the grace of God....?”

The Lord answers, “Exactly”.

This story is clearly fiction but it does illustrate the point – we cannot do enough to earn our salvation. Only Jesus did enough to give us salvation. That is why put our faith and trust in him and not on ourselves.


  • Have we done enough to earn eternal life? No. Only Jesus has done enough. We receive eternal life by accepting his perfect work.

  • Paul was beside himself with concern for the Galatians because they were falling away from God's grace relying on their own works.

  • No one can keep the entire law – if we break one commandment we become a law-breaker and we have broken the entire law.

  • It is not our obedience, but his.

  • Trying to earn our salvation is slavery. Walking in the grace of Jesus' perfect life and death is our freedom.

  • We live in holiness not to earn our salvation, but because we love God.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)


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