“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law because by works of the law no one will be.” Galatians 2:16
In this verse Paul was reminding Peter of some facts about Jesus and works and faith. I know that this verse is one that at times in the past I might have read and just skimmed over because it has so many words I didn’t quite understand. But when you unpack it, it really is not complicated at all. It’s just Paul’s ways of writing.
Peter had been playing both sides of the fence so to speak between the Jews and the Gentiles. When he was with the Gentiles, he wanted to act like a Gentile and when the Jews came around he pulled back from the Gentiles. Paul has rebuked Peter and let him know that he was not acting in step with the “truth of the gospel” (v. 14). Paul is reminding Peter that we are not saved by our works and by the law, but through our faith in Jesus. We are not justified by our works. Our works for Jesus are not what makes us righteous in Him. We are made righteous only because of our faith in Jesus.
In other words all this striving for perfection, and keeping of rules and don’t do this, but do that, will never make us good enough. It doesn’t matter how many bible studies you take, or Sunday school classes you teach, or if you sing in the choir or the praise team or just from your place in the congregation on Sunday morning. The thing that will make you righteous before God is your faith in Jesus. Now don’t think I am saying that those other things are not good things. They are, I love bible study, I love singing praise to Him. But if I am taking a bible study or leading a bible study, I want it to be because I want to know Him more, not so I can be seen taking that study. If I am singing, I want it to point to my faith in Him, not so people can think of me.
There is a verse in Isaiah that goes like this.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6
In other words there is nothing we can DO that would ever be good enough to get into God’s kingdom. Whatever good we do is like a filthy rag to God without the blood of Jesus covering it. For me, that releases me so much. Because when you struggle with the feeling you are not enough but that because of Jesus you are made enough, I can stop striving to BE enough and to just love Him. I pray with every fiber of my being that when I write, when I sing, when I paint, when I just talk to a friend that Jesus can be seen in me. Because without Him, I will never be able to be good enough, I can’t do enough. But with Him, because of my faith in who He is and who I am in Him, I am justified, I am enough!