How Does the Christian Deal with Sin?  

a study series by Arthur J Licursi

Part 3 of 14 - An Old Issue for Christians

At times there is an obvious disparity between …the Christian’s actual standing or position as being “righteous, holy, blameless in love… in Christ” (Eph 1:3-5) …and that of his sometimes failing in his daily walk. We stand righteous in Christ “by grace through faith, apart from works,” as being counted as holy and blameless “in Christ” (Eph 1:2-3). Many Christian leaders answer for our sometimes “failing state of being” at any given time by trying to bring that Christian back under “the Law.”

This of course is exactly the situation Paul faced in Galatia. Yet, Paul says righteous does not come as result of the law. Galatians 2:21 (NIV) I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

It was the apparent failing of the early Gentile Galatian Christians, who were simply enjoying the liberty they properly have in Christ that bothered the early Jewish Jerusalem followers of Jesus as Messiah. Men “came from James” (James, here is the brother of Jesus) to “spy out their liberty” (Gal 2:4). I say “apparent failing” because those men from James did not realize that the Christian is under grace and not bound to the covenental requirement that God had made with Abraham that required Abraham and his seed to be circumcised. Neither is the Christian bound by the Mosaic Law. Romans 6:14b …for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

These Galatians were early Christian converts and followers of Paul’s message of “the grace of God.” Paul had proclaimed the pure, unadulterated, 100% grace of God, which is the gospel message Paul was given directly by the ascended Lord (Gal 1:12).

These were Judaizing brothers who were sent from James (Gal 2:12), the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Paul says they came to Galatia in order “to spy out their liberty” (Gal 2:4), to put the Galatians back under the bondage of the Law again. They tried to undermine the Galatian’s understanding and faith in the gospel of “the grace of God” that was preached by Paul.  

Religion’s response to the apparent failings of Christians was then, and most often today, is still to offer the Law as the answer to sin and to stifle the proper liberty of the believers.

This situation provoked the Apostle Paul to write to the Galatian believers in no uncertain terms.

“You foolish Galatians! Who had bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. . . . Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3:1, 3 NIV)

Paul had journeyed to Galatia to preach the pure grace of God; these Galatian believers had received his words and had trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for their justification and for their eternal salvation. They had received salvation from the wrath of God. But  simultaneously with that, since the outer commandment of “the law” was taken out of the way, now nailed to Christ’s cross, they also had received literal deposit of the indwelling “spirit of life in Christ Jesus” to govern their lives from within. This innermost governing is what Paul calls “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” They received all this “by grace through faith, not of works” (Eph 2:8-9). This was “the gift of God” that was received wholly apart from any works of the law.

Yet, some of these Galatians had “foolishly” been “bewitched,” deceived by those brothers “sent from James” in Jerusalem. The deceived Galatians returned to the rudimentary Jewish religious external law-principles, that performance-based system (PBS) called “the law,” for the daily “maintenance” of their Christian walk. Paul says they have fallen from grace (Gal 5:4). They had switched back from God’s grace based system (GPS) to Israel’s Law program.

Paul addresses the need for believers to stand on their faith foundation of the pure grace gospel as the basis for their salvation and also for their daily living when he writes to the Colossians. Paul says the Christian daily walk is to be based upon the very same formula as was used for their initial salvation, which was “by grace through faith, not of works.” Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Paul tells us Abraham’s faith was counted for righteous, apart from works. Romans 4:2-3 (AMP) For if Abraham was justified (established as just by acquittal from guilt) by good works [that he did, then] he has grounds for boasting. But not before God! 3 For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed in (trusted in) God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness