Introduction: Let’s review what we have learned so far in our study
of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul has a special gospel message
that he received directly from Jesus. The early church leaders
believed this, but there was a pitched battle in the Galatian
church, and among the early believers, over the message and
requirements of the gospel. This week Paul explains his gospel
message. As we study it, we need to ask if it is still in dispute
among Christians? Is it still in dispute in our own minds? Let’s
dive into our study and examine again the heart of the gospel

    1. Paul’s Gospel Message


      1. Read Galatians 2:15-16. What role does obeying the law
        play in our salvation? (None. “By observing the law no
        one will be justified.”)


        1. Is this the message with which the top leaders of
          the church agreed? (Yes. It might have been hard to
          stay the course (see Peter’s departure when the Jews
          from the home office arrived in Galatia), but that
          is the theology on which the leaders agreed.)


        1. What “law” is Paul writing about? The Ten
          Commandments? The ceremonial law? All of the
          writings of Moses? (It doesn’t matter how the law is
          defined if keeping it does not save us. If salvation
          is a matter of faith alone, then whatever
          requirement you try to add is contrary to the gospel


    1. The Obvious Problem with Paul’s Gospel Message


      1. Read Galatians 2:17. This is the big question that is as
        relevant now as it was then – “Does righteousness by
        faith alone promote sin?” “How can you tell people that
        the law does not matter – they will go wild!” What
        answer does Paul give? (No, people should not go wild.
        The gospel of righteousness by faith alone does not
        promote sin.)


        1. What if the question in verse 17 were applied to
          you, how would you answer it? Is it evident to you
          that while you seek to be justified by faith that
          you are a sinner? (It is evident to me.)


      1. Have you run into Christians who say that they are pretty
        much free from sin?


        1. If so, were they strong righteousness by faith
          advocates? (I recall two people who told me that
          they thought they were doing pretty well on
          obedience to the law. One claimed to have been sin-free for two years. My judgment was that they
          believed obedience was necessary for salvation.)


        1. My observation that those who think that they are
          pretty good also believe in keeping the law to be
          saved is not scientific. But, if you have seen the
          same thing, why do you think that people who believe
          that they are obedient believe their obedience is
          necessary for salvation?


          1. And, if this is true, then it would seem that
            salvation by works promotes obedience, right?


      1. Read Galatians 2:18-19. Why does Paul argue that
        righteousness by faith alone does not promote the
        violation of the law (does not promote sin)? (When Jesus
        died in our place for our sins, we also died to the law.
        Therefore the law no longer condemns us. But, if we
        rebuild the law – by that Paul means that if we believe
        that obedience to the law is necessary for salvation,
        then our sins are held against us and we are violating
        the law.)


        1. Let’s look at this again. Paul says that the charge
          against my theology is that it promotes the
          violation of the law. But, Paul claims the reverse
          is true. Those who say keeping the law is essential
          to salvation are making law breakers out of everyone
          – even the most devout Christians!


          1. Is this just too “slick?” Is Paul’s argument
            like sleight of hand (magic)? If we nullified
            the speed limit, then none of us would be
            speeders. If we impose the speed limit, then
            all of us are speeders. Nullifying the speed
            limit makes us all law abiding citizens!


      1. Read Galatians 2:20-21. If my last question is creating
        trouble in your mind, explain how eliminating the law as
        the source of salvation produces more perfect people?
        (Paul tells us that just as we died with Jesus in His
        death, so we are to live with Jesus in His resurrected
        life. We “live for God” and “Christ lives in me.”)


        1. This seems so abstract. Let’s say that tomorrow I
          “died” to all of the traffic signs and laws. Someone
          who is dead doesn’t know anything. So, I know
          nothing about the traffic laws. How is that going to
          make me a safer, more perfect driver? (Obviously, it
          is not going to do that.)


        1. What if I added the fact that the person who
          designed all of the traffic laws “lives in me.” What
          kind of driver would I be? (If I was infused with
          the Spirit of the person who was the master designer
          of the highway design, the traffic laws and the
          traffic signs, I would have a perfect understanding
          of how to drive. I think that is what Paul is
          teaching us.)


      1. Let’s go back to Galatians 2:19 and examine the phrase
        “die to the law” in more detail. What does it mean to
        “die to the law?” Does it mean that we are insensitive to
        it? That we live as though it does not exist?


          1. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with
            Christ.” Why did Jesus die? (He died to pay the
            penalty for violating the law. This means that
            we, too, died with Jesus (“crucified with
            Christ”) for violating the law.)


            1. In what way did I die to the law? (I died
              to the judgment of the law. I died to the
              penalty for violating the law.)


          1. Does that mean that we no longer pay any
            attention to the law? (No. God wrote the law.
            The law is good. However, it no longer carries
            the threat that if I do not obey it I will die.
            I already died to the law through Jesus.)


      1. Let’s go back to my original traffic question. Recall
        that I asked that if all the traffic laws were nullified,
        would that mean that none of us would violate the speed
        laws? I think Paul is saying something a little
        different: Jesus paid the fines for all of our traffic
        law violations. Therefore, those laws don’t make us law
        abiding. What makes us law abiding is to have the road
        designer and traffic law giver live in our mind!


      1. Read Romans 6:5-7. Paul again refers to us dying with
        Jesus when He died for our sins. However, he adds
        something more than the “fine being paid” for the
        violation of the law. What does he add? (He says that
        our “old self” died “so that the body of sin might be
        done away with.”)


        1. What do you think it means to have our body of sin
          die? (This suggests that our old desire to sin


          1. What Paul writes here seems very clear, what
            makes it unclear is that I know my old desires
            are very much alive. What happened? Or, am I
            just a very poor Christian? (Scan Romans 7:14-24. Paul has the very same experience that I


          1. How can your “old self die” and you still have
            the struggle that Paul describes? (Let’s turn
            to that next.)


    1. Living By the Spirit of God


      1. Read Romans 7:4. If we have died to the law, what is the
        goal of our life? (To “belong” to Jesus to “bear fruit to


      1. Read Romans 7:5-6. The law plus the old nature promotes
        sinful passions. How does the Holy Spirit change that?


      1. Read Romans 6:11-14. How does this suggest that the Holy
        Spirit can help us live? (Offering ourselves to God must
        mean that we tell God, “Here I am, help me to live a life
        pleasing to you!”)


      1. Read Romans 8:5-9. How does this suggest that we should
        live? (Again, Paul tells us that we must make a choice to
        do what the Holy Spirit desires.)


      1. Our discussion seems so abstract. Let’s look at a comment
        by Jesus that might help us out. Read Matthew 5:27-28.
        What would someone who believed in righteousness by works
        do to keep this commandment? (Not have sex outside


        1. In one sense, Jesus makes the commandment much worse
          for law keepers – He says you also have to control
          your thoughts to avoid violating this command,


        1. What would Paul tell us that Jesus is teaching? (If
          you want to walk with God, don’t concentrate on the
          anti-adultery commandment, instead, pay attention to
          the attitude of your mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to
          help you set your mind on what the Spirit of God
          desires for you.)


        1. Is this walking in the Holy Spirit an essential for
          salvation? (Read Romans 5:19. No. Only Jesus perfect
          life makes us righteous. However, living in the
          Spirit is the desire of those who are saved.)


      1. Now you know why Peter said (last week) that Paul is
        difficult to understand in places! Friend, will you
        repent of your sins and determine today to ask the Holy
        Spirit every morning to help you set your mind on living
        according to God’s Spirit, and not set your mind on your
        sinful nature?


  1. Next week: Old Testament Faith.