“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!”
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ,
Paul’s antagonists contended that justification by faith eradicates the moral law. If grace does away with law, then people can live as they please. They argued that eliminating the law would mean that a person could do as he or she pleases. Peter and his crowd argued by implication that a person has to work for justification. The cross of Christ is not enough for salvation.
we ourselves also are found sinners,
It was an admission on the part of Jewish Christians that justification by works proves that they are sinners. Their failure in keeping the law forces them to admit their sinful condition. They did not find righteousness in keeping the law.
is Christ therefore a minister of sin?
If God declares a person right in His eyes by faith, does this make Christians lawless? Legalists argued in this way, “If Christ does away with the law for salvation and sanctification, then that would make Christ lawless.” Christ would endorse sin. This conclusion is false because Christ dealt with the sin issue on the cross. To believe that God justifies and sanctifies a person by faith does not imply lawlessness.
Liberty is not liberty from God’s righteous standards. Neither is it lawlessness to fellowship with Gentiles. Going back to the law as a system of salvation and sanctification abandons the grace principle. We imply what Christ did on the cross was not sufficient.
If Peter is right in going back to the Mosaic Law, then he was wrong in eating with the Gentiles. If he is right in eating with the Gentiles, then he was wrong in going back to the Mosaic Law. If he is right in one place, he is wrong in the other. He cannot hold the two at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. If he starts by grace, then goes back to the law, he then abandons grace. He would say in effect that what Christ did on the cross was not enough. Peter’s return to legalism was an attack on grace.
The conclusion that Christ is the minister of sin is the right inference if Peter’s reversion to legalism is right. The thought that Christ is the minister of sin is a revolting thought to Paul. The law cannot add anything to the death of Christ for our sins. If we carefully investigate justification in Christ and find ourselves to be sinners still, that doesn’t make Christ the minister of sin. This is an abhorrent thought. Paul adamantly denied the accusation that Christ promotes sin by offering the principle of grace.
The principle of grace does not endorse licentiousness.
The principle of grace never encourages sinful living. People who believe in Christ no longer do as they please because they are under the lordship of Christ.
When Christians abandon grace and revert to legalism as a way to gain God’s approbation, then they vilify Christ’s work on the cross. They imply that His work is not sufficient for salvation or sanctification. They say in effect that, after they accept Christ as Savior, they are still not sure of salvation.
Christ’s finished work on the cross flies in the face of all that. He is sufficient for salvation and sanctification.
What do you mean by “moral law”? Certainly you not trying to equalizing it with “works of the Law”, otherwise, we better stop right there! I lot a people, mostly prostestants, tend to make such errors. By “Law”,”works of the Law” Paul does mean the Mosaic Code, not necessary fruits of the Christian Faith.
God wants us to keep the moral law such as the Ten Commandments but not as a means to gain God’s approbation.
Hi Grant…your previous comment is loved by sabbaterians ….they would jump up and say see, see, but you changed the sabbath to Sunday and are the beast, have the mark, etc. how do you slay that dragon?
Michael, how are things going?
The command to keep the sabbath is the only command of the ten that is not repeated in the New Testament. Note the exposition beginning in Colossians 2:16 http://versebyversecommentary.com/colossians/colossians-216/ This study deals with sabbaths per se: http://versebyversecommentary.com/colossians/colossians-216c/
The Bible repeats all the 10 commandments in the New Testament–Hebrews 4:10: “Be ceased from your own works AS GOD DID from his.” A heart of Love, loves what God loves. He loves His Sabbath and He loves you–so do I! Revelations says end time saints will “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”. Rev 11:29 John sees the Ark of the Covenant where the 10 are housed and, sure enough, the lightning, etc. still accompany it.
Hebrews 10:6 describes the New Covenant…God will write the Law on our hearts–our hearts will be God’s Throne with the 10 written on it.
Jane, you have not proven the command to keep the Sabbath is found in the New Testament, that is, for the church. Again, I suggest that you study this passage: http://versebyversecommentary.com/colossians/colossians-216/ Keep advancing to the end of the chapter. You may want to start earlier in verse 13, for example.
This is what it looks like to me. The law was a burden to follow. It was a yoke put on the people to go in the way of the law. The gospels come up with a new idea of salvation by faith. But faith without works is dead. So you still have to work at it and there are threats to loosing your salvation. So we exchanged the law for “putting on the Christ personality” a perfect man, a heavier yoke than the law. Furthermore, since you can loose your salvation by going back to sin, then Christs work on the cross was for nothing. Supposedly people are sinners and cannot save themselves. So Christ saves us for his work done on the cross. But when a condition is put on your salvation to do works, then Christ’s work was for nothing and it is once again, up to us to work at salvation. In my mind it’s just an exchange. Following in the footsteps of a perfect man in exchange for the law. Here’s what I think. Here’s my personal idea. Christ died for all of mankind. That goes for retrospect too; all of man in the past as well as the future. Christ payed for and bought them all. They all belong to him now. He freed them from death so that they may have a chance at life. So there’s gotta be a second chance. I am in the process of reading the New Testament to see things for myself. I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness. They believed in a thousand year reign on earth where people would live in perfect conditions. People from the past as well. This would be the ultimate test as to who would stay under Christs kingdom and who would rebel. I don’t know if this is true or not. I’m going to be looking for it as I study. But something like that makes more sense then this wishy washy idea of salvation. You’re either saved by grace without works or you’re saved by grace with the condition of works. They are opposing ideas.
Bonnie, I deeply appreciate your reading Scripture for yourself. The Bible calls that a “noble” exercise (Acts 17:11).
It is important to note that there is order to the idea of faith and works. First, person has to stop working for their salvation to become a Christian because they would depend on themselves rather than the work of Christ. Note my study on stopping works to be saved here: http://versebyversecommentary.com/romans/romans-45/ The argument from Romans chapters 3 to 5 is that a person is justified by faith, not works. Once a person becomes a genuine believer then they will produce works. This is the argument of the book of James–if you have faith it will result in works. Therefore, there is a difference between how a person becomes a Christian and how the believer lives afterward.
Hi. So idk if anyone will reply to this since it has been years since the last comment but, im new in reading the bible and this specific verse is what I have been stuck on, I have re-read it over and over but still am not getting it. How does Peter come to the final thought that Christ could be a minister of sin?
Zeph, note that the statement about Christ is a question, not a statement of fact. Paul answers the question of whether Christ is the minister of sin with “Certainly not.” It would only be true if Peter’s legalism was right, which it was not.
Thank you for sharing the study and subsequent comments from everyone. The book of Galatians is an amazing study in contrast for understanding of Salvation through faith in Christ alone vs. faith in Christ and something in addition (law keeping)… I’m working my way slowly through this epistle so as to be clear and allow God to speak his Truth. Blessings to all.
Wes, I am blessed by your comments.
Good works is the outcome of our relationship with Jesus. Because of His love for us and our love for Him we want to do good works, its the effect (for lack of a better word) of our closeness to Him. Bible say we cant say we know God and not love. If we know God and He lives in us the desire to do good works will come naturally without even trying…we enjoy it!
I kind of see like a kid who gets characteristics from their parents. When we are born again and as we abide in Jesus and He abides in us we start to pickup the characteristics of Him. If serving God and doing good works is a burden then that’s a red flag that your either striving (working/religious check box) for salvation, don’t really know God or you have become disconnected with Jesus and its not a relationship anymore. Our passionate love for Jesus is the fuel that drives everything we do for Him. Bible says everything we do is unto the Lord. And fellowship with the Holy Spirit is very important, He is our helper 🙂
My response was to Bonnie, it seemed she was confused with good works and grace.