Scripture Focus: Galatians 2.21
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
From John: Over the past few years, grace seems to have been downgraded, not just in soteriology, but as a mode of life. Prideful smugness is preferred. Slights and insults are the valued verbal currency. Self-righteous superiority, bluster, boasting, and striving are qualities our culture chases in our leaders. Yet Christ calls to us with simple grace. Come. Be clean. Come. Be with me. Come. Be healed. Come. Be made righteous.
May we confront our graceless culture with grace.
Reflection: Downgrading Grace
By John Tillman
Grace, once gained, can be forgotten and replaced with a smug and damaging form of self-righteousness. We can forget too easily from what Christ saved us and at what cost. This is a dangerous form of amnesia and Paul will not allow the Galatians or even the prominent leaders of the church to fall into it.
Paul shows us a model for biblical confrontation in Galatians. He is direct. He is personal. He seeks restoration.
Galatians may not seem as stridently corrective as some of the passages from the letters to the Corinthians, but Galatians is the only letter of Paul to contain all correction and no praise. Paul gets straight to the point and does not hesitate. He confronts the Galatians head on telling them that he is amazed they are abandoning the gospel of grace through which they were saved. And he relates his story of boldly opposing Peter to call out this downgrade of grace and cheapening of the gospel.
Paul got personal with the Galatians and with Peter. When confronting them about favoritism, Paul quoted Peter’s testimony from Acts 10.34 saying “God shows no favoritism.” When he confronted Peter, he discussed personal practices and details with Peter, telling him exactly what Paul considered to be wrong about what Peter was doing.
Paul never lost sight, even in a corrective mode, of the unity and grace for all found in Christ. Paul’s often-quoted passage about being “crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me,” demonstrates a shared life in Christ and is a part of his dramatic speech to Peter on his visit to Antioch.
Christ’s sacrifice is at the center of Paul’s argument against any other action being any part of salvation. The sufficiency of faith in Christ cannot be reduced. Paul would not allow the council at Jerusalem or Peter or the Galatians to downgrade grace through faith. When we downgrade grace through faith, we chip away at the cross of Christ, making it an additive to our life rather than the sole source of our life.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4.6
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Numbers 12-13 (Listen 5:53)
Galatians 2 (Listen 3:44)
This Weekend’s Readings
Numbers 14 (Listen 6:15), Galatians 3 (Listen 4:39)
Numbers 15 (Listen 5:09), Galatians 4 (Listen 4:13)
Read more about On Surrender
What things inside stand as barriers between you and God’s complete possession of all that you are?
Read more about Supporting Our Work
Support our ad-free content that brings biblical devotionals to inboxes across the world. Become a one-time or recurring donor today.