SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul explains that from the beginning of his ministry he had been preaching to the Gentiles (non-Jews). 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 the formerly-Jewish Christians were insisting Gentiles be circumcised, even though circumcision has nothing to do with salvation through Jesus. Paul confronted church leaders on this issue and they agreed that he was correct. Circumcision is unnecessary.
- Peter was one of those leaders who agreed circumcision was no longer necessary. However, Paul writes about a time he had to confront him because he would only spend time with uncircumcised Gentiles if Jews weren't around. When Peter knew pro-circumcision Jews were around, he wouldn't hang out with the Gentiles. Paul saw this for the hypocrisy it was and called Peter out on it.
- As in chapter 1, Paul is making it clear that we are not saved by observing any rules or laws. Those laws take the focus off of what truly saves us: God's grace. Grace means to get the opposite of what we deserve. We are only saved through accepting God's grace through putting our faith in Jesus.
- 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.
- 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. You do that 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..
- 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 for that. I offer up this simple act as a thank you to You for Your love and mercy."