Law, grace, legal, illegal, and legalistic: have you ever wrestled with the question what is my relationship to these terms? If you are like me, then I am sure that you have. Sadly, an improper understanding of these terms leads to frustration in the Christian life and nominal effectiveness for the cause of Christ. Those who attempt to grow into Christ likeness through the strength of the flesh and by the works of the law will find their striving to be labors in futility. Those who misunderstand or manipulate a Biblical understanding of the nature of grace will live a life of carnality. Those who are only consumed with what is legal or illegal fail to understand the nature of their liberty in Christ and its relation to loving their neighbor, and the word legalistic is something that is sadly misunderstood by a host of professing Christians. This study from Galatians 2 will not solve all the problems swirling around many believers’ understanding of these concepts; however, I believe that it should provide a refreshing understanding of the Biblical teaching on the believer’s relationship to the law.
It is God’s desire that every believer allow Christ to live His life through that believer. This is why Paul penned Galatians 2:19-21. In this passage, Paul described the believer’s relationship to the law based upon his new identification with Christ so that Christ can live His life through that believer who is now free from the condemnation of the law and is responsible to live the Christian life by faith in Christ and through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. Consider this profound truth: Christ desires to live His life through me, and He has put within me the life that is necessary to do this. This leads us to ask, how. How is Christ able to live His life through me? Here is the answer:
Galatians 2:19-21 “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.”