‘For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.’ (Galatians 2:19) Notice that it isn’t the law that is dead. The law reflects, in its context, the holy heart and character of God. There was nothing wrong with the law. It isn’t the law that died, but Paul who through faith in Christ died to the law.
How did Paul die to the law? He came to the point where he really understood the law – understanding it in the way Jesus explained it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Paul realized that the law made him guilty not justified before God. The Law cannot justify. It can only condemn, the Bible says, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ (Galatians 3:10)
Paul has now ‘died’ to the law because it has been removed from him as a means of approach and acceptance by God. Paul is no longer seeking to climb a “religious ladder” to get right before God. He is now, by faith in what Jesus Christ did for him on the cross, able to have fellowship with God and enjoy the abundant life that comes along with faith in Jesus. It is this new life in Christ that enables us to live a life that is pleasing to The Father. It is this new life in Christ that motivates us to do the things that are pleasing to the Father out of love, not out of duty or obligation.
The new birth that Jesus spoke about in John 3 is a life of abiding in fellowship with Jesus. John 15:4-5 states this truth as follows: ‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit for without Me you can do nothing.’
Paul’s faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ not only cleared him of his sin debt before God, but it also provided him with a personal relationship with Jesus, by which he could now bring forth true fruit unto God. Paul saw the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as the ultimate proof of God’s love for him. The proof of God’s love for us beloved is the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary whereby He willingly paid the just penalty for our sins, and in so doing, delivers us from the power of darkness and translates us into the kingdom of God.
The faith Paul lived by is not faith in himself, or faith in his faith, or faith in his religion, but faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ ‘who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20)!