Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 9
Thesis: The real "Deacon of Sin" is the man who rejects Christ's death as the reason that "Law" must not be allowed a place at the table -- for justification or, for that matter, for sanctification either.
Introduction: In the words of Galatians 2:17 Paul raised the chief objection of the legalists to his Gospel. Opposition to "doctrines" always has a basic root cause. When that opposition is against "truth", the root cause is always connected to something the opponent wants but will not be able to obtain if the "truth" is allowed to stand. In our study this evening of Galatians 2:18-19 we are going to look into how Paul addressed the accusation that Christ was a "Deacon of Sin".
August 14, 2011
- I. The "Argument" of the Accusation.
- A. The accusation is rooted in the claim that "salvation" through faith in the faithfulness of Christ apart from fleshly endeavors to do "right" will invariably lead to sinful behavior by the "saved" so that Christ, in effect, makes "sinning" acceptable.
- B. The accusation is also rooted in the fact that those making the accusation are not genuinely interested in the well-being of "sinners"; they are only interested in establishing themselves as worthy of approval (Galatians 6:12).
- C. The accusation is also rooted in the claim that "sinners" have the wherewithal within themselves to do what is "right".
- 1. This, on one hand, allows the accuser to "blame" the sinner for his/her refusal to use his/her "free will" to overcome his/her evil behavior.
- 2. Then, on the other hand, it allows the accuser to exalt himself/herself over those who have failed to do what he/she (accuser) has succeeded in doing.
- II. Paul's Refutation.
- A. First, it is the person who has an inherently contradictory "doctrine" of "how men are enabled to do right" who is the real "deacon of sin".
- 1. Paul's terminology is "If I rebuild what things I formerly destroyed, I establish myself as a transgressor".
- 2. Paul's focus is upon Cephas, but he pulls "himself" into the focus of the accusing finger to lighten the blast against Cephas so that he may repent without having to overcome the intense humiliation.
- 3. At issue is what Paul means by "rebuilding the things formerly destroyed".
- a. There is no doubt that he has Cephas in mind because of the speech he made when Cornelius was saved and his present hypocrisy.
- b. Peter "destroyed" the Jewish insistence upon "outer conformity to legal demands" when he insisted that God had given His Spirit to Cornelius without requiring him to "conform" to the Jewish interpretation of the legal demands.
- 1) This insistence was directly involved with the "I am better than you" mindset of the typical legalist (Acts 10:28).
- 2) This has to mean that God had revealed to Peter that he was not to seek a personal exaltation over others.
- c. However, Paul also had a personal history of a "Saul-to-Paul" reality that makes clear what he had in mind in terms of the "destruction".
- 1) For Saul to become Paul, he had to decisively reject the inner motivation of self-elevation.
- 2) Thus, the "destruction" was fundamentally personal in that it addresses a basic issue of motivation which is always at the heart of all "sinning".
- d. Thus, the root of what is at stake is the evil of self-exaltation over others -- selfishness rather than love.
- 1) The bottom line "doctrine" of this evil is the doctrine of man's "free will".
- 2) It is "free will" that, if believed, always allows one man to put another down when "sin" is involved.
- e. Consequently, "rebuilding" means that Paul sees Cephas' behavior as a return to the root selfishness and a rejection of the love of God.
- 4. Conclusion: the real "deacon of sin" is the person who rejects "grace" in favor of "law".
- a. The inherent inconsistency of legalism is this: on the one hand the legalist says he "believes in" man's ability to use his will to do what is right; but on the other hand he actually "believes" that no man will do what is right unless he is forced against his will by legal consequences [selfishness is never "right"].
- b. Thus, the question is one of "consistency of doctrine": whose teaching is actually consistent?