From the recording Galatians

 Galatians chapter 2 verses 16 to 21 - The Courtroom and the Cross - Dr J Stewart Gillespie

I want to speak to you about the court room & the cross. 

 If you are going to be a Christian need to have experience of both these   

 Maybe agree with me that if God says something must be important. 

 If God says something twice must be very important 

 This great doctrine were going to think about: doctrine of justification by faith is found repeatedly right the way through the bible. Found in each division of the OT: 

The Law – Abraham (Gen15:6, Gal3:6) 
The Writings – David (Ps32:1-2, Ps143:2, Rom4:7-8) 
The Prophets – Hab2:4, Gal3:11, Rom1:17. 

 Found right the way through the NT: Jo3:16; Rom1:16-17 (Martin Luther’s verses); Rom3:28; Rom5:1; Eph2:8; Titus3:5. 

 Not only repeated through the Bible but repeated 5X in v16, 3X negatively & 2X positively. 

 Justification by Faith the core truth of the Gospel, setting true Biblical Christianity apart from all religions teaching good works:

Islam’s 5 pillars: confession of the faith, prayer, fasting, alms, pilgrimage;

Roman Catholic teaching of the 7 sacraments:  Eucharist, baptism, confirmation, penance, holy orders, matrimony, and last unction

Buddhism’s 8 noble truths: right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation. 

Well might JM Boice state: “The verses that conclude this chapter contain capsule statements of some of the most significant truths of Christianity.” 

 Have read the verses in order but don’t want to think ~ them in order. 

 Want to look at how these verses work. 

v16 – The Subject: Faith and Works – The Setting: The Court Room 

v20 – The Subject: Life and Death – The Setting: The Cross 

 May well find that questions concerning salvation which we still have after verse16 will be answered in verse20.     

The Subject: Faith and Works – The Setting: The Court Room (v16) 

 “justified” – to be declared righteous, a term taken from the court room, “to declare righteous or innocent.” (JM Boice). Note the ‘passive voice’ – ‘to be pronounced righteous’ not the middle voice – ‘to become righteous.’ 

 The picture: a man standing in the dock before The Judge. 

 His deeds & life laid out before The Judge. 

 The man? – You. The Judge – God. Can really upon this Judge seeing all the facts. Hammer comes down. The verdict is reached and your declared innocent, righteous, justified. 

 How can I be declared righteous in such a court, before such a Judge? 

 How indeed? By a perfect life? Impossible! Did this Judge fail to see al my past sin & failure. Did I manage to hide my faults & failings behind my handful of good works? Did I manage to deceive this Judge, as many seem to think they will one day do? Into believing that I’m something I’m not? So many hope to do so! 

 How can He pass this verdict of innocent? Perfect! Does He fail to see our sin? Not really. This righteous Judge knows everything about us! He knows all about our past! He is more aware of sin than we are! 

 It’s not so much our SIN He fails to see. It’s more our SELF He fails to see! The great truth of v16: considered the subject & the setting but now consider our standing: 

 “but through faith in Jesus Christ” – justification comes via our relationship with Christ, “we have believed into Christ” – personal commitment & relationship. The day we put our trust “in Christ” we’re given a new standing, new position, “in Christ” so much so that, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2Co5:17). 

 When God looks upon us in the dock, He doesn’t see us; He sees Christ! 

 That secures the verdict! We stand in the dock but in Christ, & that’s a great place to be! 

 This new standing in Christ is something you can’t earn, can’t work at. Something which can only be received by faith (Acts16:31). 

  “the works of the law” simply wont do. No article in the Gk. thus – “works of law” – any system of works, not just ‘the’ Hebrew OT law as per the context. Any law: religious or our own law! 

The Subject: Life and Death – The Setting: The Cross (v20) 

 May say, that’s fine & well. God looks upon me now I’m saved & doesn’t see me, He sees Christ & He declares me righteous, fit for heaven & fit for His presence, but I’ve still got a big problem. A problem with sin & with the law! I know only too well my history & all the sin that’s gone before & I feel the guilt of it! 

 I have actually done bad things. I am aware of sin, in the past particularly. Sin troubles me. I’m aware of the law. The law condemns me. I’m troubled & guilty & feel it. Burdened with guilt! 

 God hasn’t brought the sin up in His court room but how can it be put away? It’s not put away in the court room, its put away at the cross! 

 Troubled with sin & guilt? If you’ve trusted Christ remember this – you’re a dead man! “I am” – actually a perfect tense – ‘something that once took place & has not lost its power since.’ (Ridderbos) – “I have been crucified…” 

 By union with the death of Christ at Calvary, Paul died. 

‘a crucifixion had taken place within himself as he wholeheartedly believed in the crucified saviour’ (Leon Morris) 

 The moment we trust the Lord Jesus Christ we die! 

 Familiar with the idea that for every one who trusts in Christ, He took our place (1Pet3:18; Matt20:28; Lk22:20; Isa53:5). 

 We see the idea developed a little here. If Christ died for me, in my place, then in a sense when Christ died, I died (2Co5:14-15). 

 Thus, the moment I trusted Christ, I became a dead man (Gal2:20). 

 The old life, old sin & old guilt are all dead! 

 Paul notes a paradox: “nevertheless I live” – by virtue of the indwelling presence of Christ (2Co13:5; Eph3:17-19; Rom8:9-11) 

 Ought to be positive evidence of this Divine life: 

   Desire to get alone with God.; an unnatural desire (Rom3:11) 

   Love for the word of God (Ps119:11,1:2) 

   An interest in & love for others (1Jo3:14,4:7) 

   The experience of Divine communication (1Jo2:20-27;Jo16:13-15) 

   Presence of the fruit of the Spirit in our life (Gal5:22) . 

 Christ is now the dominant influence & factor in my life. 

   He is the dominant FORCE overriding all desires & will (Rom12:1-2) 

   The working out of His life brings His FRUIT (Gal5:22;Eph5:9) 

   As a guiding principle I am now directed & guided by FAITH in Him (Gal2:20). 

 When saved, we’ve a new life in Christ. Don’t be trying to bring the dead man back again! 

“…I through the law am dead to the law that I might live unto God” (v19) 

 This explains v19: the law condemns us (Gal3:10-11; Rom3:19-20; Rom8:2), our failure to keep the law results in the death penalty. 

 I am “dead,” by association with Christ & enjoy life by the power of His resurrection (Eph2:5,6). 

“…is therefore Christ the minister of sin…” (v17) 

 Paul seeks to answer the objection so often raised to the doctrine 

 No Rules! No Religion! No Regulations! Just Faith? – Chaos! You can do what you like? Sin with impunity & you’ll still go to heaven? You’ll just encourage people to sin! 

 The fact that we get the same objection to the gospel we preach today is an incidental confirmation that we preach the same message. 

 “if while we seek to be justified in Christ” – closest possible union. 

 What is the answer to this oft repeated objection? Paul initially simply dismisses it, “God forbid”. The answer comes in v20. Real faith results in a real relationship with the living Christ, & we are indwelt by Christ, the Father & the Spirit of God (2Co5:17).  Thus we are able to do what we never could do before –live a life pleasing to God. 


“…if I build again the things which I destroyed…” (v18)             

 It is the law’s job to reveal & impute sin (Rom5:13) 

 Some at Galatia were trying to reintroduce the law, if they did so they would simply bring in the very thing which would condemn them. 

A bible teaching study, part of our systematic series of ministry expounding Paul's letter to the Galatians chapter by chapter, free to download or listen online,

Yours by God's Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie