SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul explains that from the very beginning of his ministry he had been preaching to the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish community. A problem arose because Jews believe in the tradition of circumcision. Circumcision is how Jews show they are in relationship with God. The problem was that they were insisting Gentiles be circumcised, even though it had nothing to do with their heritage and it had nothing to do with salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul confronted church leaders on this issue and they agreed that he was correct. Circumcision is unnecessary. It was simply a rule that was making them slaves to the real freedom we should have in Christ.
- Peter was one of those leaders that agreed circumcision was no longer necessary. However, Paul writes about a time he had to confront him because he was hanging out with uncircumcised Gentiles as long as strict Jews weren't around. But, if he knew pro-circumcision Jews were around, he would refuse to hang out without the Gentiles. Paul saw this for the hypocrisy it was.
- Once again, like chapter 1, Paul is making it clear that we are not saved by observing any rules or laws. These laws only set aside God's grace. We are only saved through faith in Christ. If the law was really the way to God then Jesus died for nothing!
- Paul ends this chapter by explaining that he considers himself dead to the law (trying to earn his way into good standing with God) and now lives for Jesus alone. In fact, he says that he no longer lives, but it's now Jesus living His life through Paul.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- What do you think you need to do to earn God's approval? The correct answer is: Nothing. You can't. But God gives you His approval as a free gift if you just believe in Jesus. Jesus earned God's approval for you. Everything we do for God is a way of thanking Him and of living in His love, not a way to make ourselves good enough for Him.
- Instead of struggling to continue living your life, you can choose to have Jesus live His life through you. By making that decision to invite Jesus to live through you, and then connecting with Jesus daily through focusing your mind on Him, praying, reading the Bible, etc., Jesus will live through you.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Starting today, whenever you do something good (you say no to temptation, you say yes to serving, etc.) make a conscious mental decision to tell God something like, "God, I am so glad I don't need to do this to earn your favor, because I could never be good enough to do that. I offer up this simple act as a thank you to You for Your love and mercy."