"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."Galatians 2:21(NASB)
The Law was not given to tell sinners what to do to gain righteousness. The Law was given to show fallen men that godly righteousness is impossible to achieve through keeping the Law, because we are all sinners by nature, and we have all fallen short of God's perfection. The Law was the means God used to help sinful men see that we are all in need of a Saviour. Because God is righteous, He must punish sin.
God in His grace and mercy formulated a plan of salvation to save us. He gave His only begotten Son to be born into the human race so that He could become our Kinsman-Redeemer, sacrificing HIS perfect, righteous life in place of US. Shedding HIS sinless blood to pay the price for OUR sin. God in His grace sent Jesus to be our Saviour, and HIS death was the single payment God required to pay the price for the sin of the whole world, such that whosoever believes on HIM would not perish but have everlasting life.
In Galatians chapter 2, we read of an incident where Paul found it necessary to reprove the apostle Peter. Peter had started keeping some particular aspects of the Law of Moses to appease certain Jews who could not accept that Christ had fulfilled the Law on our behalf (through living a sinless life and dying a sacrificial death on behalf of Jews and Gentiles who would believe on Christ's atoning work on the Cross). Although he started his Christian life by grace through faith in Christ's finished work on the Cross, Peter reintroduced certain aspects of the Law into his Christian walk.
The very essence of the gospel of salvation is that we are saved by God's grace. We are saved because God in His grace gave His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and all we have to do is to believe this to be declared righteous by God and brought into His family. And having been saved by grace, through faith, we are to live by grace through faith, and not try to mix bits of the Law and human merit into our daily living.
In this chapter, Paul makes it clear that trying to live under the Law would invalidate the supreme sacrifice of Christ, and salvation would no longer be a free gift, but a meritorious work. Paul knew that if ANYTHING is added to our salvation, then Christ's work on the Cross was in vain. Paul's grave challenge to Peter's behaviour was that he was acting as a hypocrite and that Peter's behavior declared Christ's sacrificial offering of Himself as null and void! "I do not nullify the grace of God," Paul cried, "for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." If we can add ANYTHING to Christ's finished work then there was no need for Christ to die. If ANYTHING is added to God's grace in order to make our salvation sufficient, then it is no longer grace.
We who are saved by grace through faith, should take this issue of trying to become righteous by the Law very seriously. If any aspect of our initial salvation or our ongoing walk with the Lord as a believer can be gained through what we do then Christ's work on the Cross would not be necessary to make us acceptable to God. Indeed, the entire book of Galatians is written to warn the believer that we are both justified AND sanctified by God's grace.
Christ prayed if there was any other way to accomplish our great salvation, but the answer was 'no' and He was required to drain His cup of suffering on our account. Christ died for us, not as an example of what we should do, but as a demonstration of God's unconditional love for us. There is no other way to gain salvation but through faith in Christ. We must never forget that our whole salvation - body, soul, and spirit - our justification, sanctification, and glorification ALL rely on Christ's finished work.
Praise God that when we receive His grace, we acknowledge His love and our lives are transformed. We are free from the burden of having to constantly strive for perfection because we are already accepted and beloved of God. There is NO condemnation to those that are IN Christ Jesus. We are reminded that we do not have to live in fear of not being good enough. We can trust in the gift of grace that God has given us and accept the love He offers us.
Praise God that we can live in hope and joy, knowing that our righteousness comes not from meritorious works we do, or works of the Law we keep, but from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May this verse encourage us all to remember that it is only through God's grace that we are given the freedom to live in righteousness, and may we be filled with peace and joy as we accept this gift of grace that God offers us.
Heavenly Father, I come to You in humble gratitude and praise for Your unconditional love. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus to pay the price for my sin, and for granting me the gift of grace. Thank You for delivering me from the burden of having to constantly strive for perfection, and for reminding me that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I pray that You will fill me with Your peace and joy as I accept this gift of grace. Thank You for Your mercy, Your kindness, Your goodness, Your grace, and for loving me unconditionally. In Jesus' name, AMEN.