As a follow up to last week’s post, here is my attempt at a paraphrase of Paul from Galatians 2:15-21.
Though we are Jews and not Gentile sinners (2:15), even we know that justification is not by works of the law but by faith in Christ Jesus (2:16).
But if we seek justification through faith in Christ, does Christ become a servant of sin by justifying us apart from the Law? Of course not (2:17). Actually, I myself am the sinner if I return to the law (2:18).
In fact, it was through the law that I realized I could not fulfill the law’s demands but had to pay its penalty of death and find justification some other way. So, you could say that I died through the law to the law, and the law was intended to teach me this very thing (2:19a; cf. 3:19–25). I had to die to the law in order to live to God (2:19b).
As to how my penalty was paid, I was crucified with Christ (2:20a). The “old me” who was under the power of sin is no longer alive, and who I am now in this body is so fundamentally different that you could say it is Christ who lives in me (2:20b). This kind of life is possible because of my faith in the Son of God, which is compelled by how He lovingly sacrificed Himself for me (2:20c).
Having clarified the role of the law, I do not nullify the grace of God by saying it is not necessary for my justification. If I say that righteousness can be found through obeying the law, then I effectively claim Christ to have died for no purpose (2:21).