The Galatian false teachers Warn Those who Won’t work for Sanctification

Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I now LIVE TO God. Galatians is not only about justification but also about how we live the Christian life.

Like the Galatian false teachers, those who say “sanctification” is by works are not saying that sin causes people to lose their justification. They are not at all denying imputation. They are simply saying that there’s MORE to the Christian life than justification.

They are merely saying that you need to be sanctified also, and unlike justification, they say, sanctification IS by works. Since both justification and sanctification are the results of “union” with Christ, they remind us, we need also a “righteousness of Christ” which is now found in us.

This of course means that salvation takes time. You can’t be justified at once, because you need to be sanctified to be justified, not of course that sanctification is the basis for justification, but “union with Christ” means that you have both, and for both you need time.

The Holy Spirit giving you righteousness on the inside will depend on your working at it, and for that you need the rest of your life. And since you are not on your death bed, you need to know that your judicial success on the last day depends on your working.

The Galatians parallel is real. Both parties in the dispute are open to the idea that some in the other party are lost, never justified, not even Christians. The “you can be sanctified also (by works)” party is saying sanctification is the evidence of justification. You are not justified by circumcision, but sanctification is by circumcision, and if you won’t get sanctified (more), then that means you were never justified, because both are the results of “real” union with Jesus “the person”.

Paul is the other person in the Galatians controversy. He also thinks some in the other party may not be Christians. If you get yourself circumcised to get a blessing, it doesn’t matter if it’s for justification or sanctification, “Christ will be of no profit to you.”. Don’t do it. I warn you. Don’t attempt to be sanctified by works.

If justification is by grace but sanctification is by works, then Christ died in vain for sanctification? No, that’s not what Galatians 2:21 says. If any part of salvation is by works, then Christ died to NO purpose.

Paul doesn’t seem to be a balanced “perspectives” kind of guy. He doesn’t agree to disagree about how sanctification works. Paul doesn’t say: well, some of us are just more “gospel awake” than others who tend to be a bit “legalistic”. Paul insists: if the extra stuff (sanctification, rewards, punishments) depends on law, then Christ died in vain.

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9 Comments on “The Galatian false teachers Warn Those who Won’t work for Sanctification”

  1. knhurst Says:

    I like this and it has always bothered me that it is so misunderstood.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Some people who profess to be sheep are not sheep. I John–they went with them because they believe. Galatians–if you do what they say, then Christ will be of no profit to you. That being said, sheep like Peter can do things which are not fitting for those who believe the gospel. And I don’t just mean stealing stuff or doing drugs. I mean Peter started not eating with uncircumcised Christians. Does this mean that Peter believed that the gospel was Christ plus circumcision? No, but it does mean that Peter was doing the wrong thing

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Galatians 4:10–You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you…

    Galatians 5:2–if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing…

    Herman Ridderbos, NIC on Galatians, p187: “He puts before his readers this dilemma:circumcision or Christ, everything or nothing. Do the false teachers want to persuade the Galatians that they must seek out the right combination of the two?

    ” Paul denies the possibility. The sufficiency of Christ’s work is being challenged. True, the Galatians have not yet entirely yielded to the opponents, but they seem turned that way. Hence it is necessary now to set the ‘one or the other’ in sharpest focus, and to see through its implications.”

    If Christ’s death was for everybody, but not everybody is saved, then Christ’s death alone is not sufficient to save anybody. But Christ died for the elect alone, and Christ’s death alone saves all the elect.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    one way some folks try to protect justification by merely grace
    is to allow some notion of “merit in sanctification”
    the blessings we get from God are given in Christ
    the blessings are rewards to Christ, but grace to us
    the blessings are not grace to Christ,and the blessings are not “less than strict” rewards to us
    so “rewards of grace” is a contradiction, either way you look it
    whether you are thinking of Christ’s death as supererogation (justice demands rewards)
    or whether you are thinking of our works after “sin is removed from them” so that they “kind of” merit reward
    all grace to us
    all reward to Christ
    OPC Report on Justification—At least two “Federal Vision” proponents [James Jordan, Lusk] have argued that Philippians 2 rules out the notion of merit in regard to Christ’s obedience, because in Philippians 2:9 Paul uses the word echarisato, which etymologically derives from the word for “grace,” charis, to describe God’s giving the name above every name to Christ. This indicates, they claim, that the Father exalted the Son not meritoriously but graciously.
    This argument as it stands fails, however. One reason it fails is its fallacious reasoning that etymological derivation determines the meaning of a word apart from context. The context of Phil 2:5- 11 shows that MERIT CANNOT BE ELIMINATED from Paul’s teaching here. The context is one of “work rendered and value received.”The Father exalted the Son because the Son perfectly fulfilled his course of obedience. The Son obeyed, therefore the Father exalted him.

    • markmcculley Says:

      work rendered and value received—Vos, The Pauline Eschatology, p 275, “The Alleged Legalism in Paul’s Doctrine of justification”, in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, P and R, 1980, p 398

      f you don’t do your homework, and get a zero

      turning in the homework late does not make the zero go away

      it’s too late to turn in the homework

      but what if you could make the zero go away, and still not do the homework?

      Galatians 3: 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written,“Cursed be everyone who does not abide by ALL THINGS written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does THEM (all) shall live by them.”

      Galatians 5:3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the ENTIRE law.

      but you can’t make the zero go away
      your apology will not make the zero go away
      your faith will not make the zero go away
      your promise will not make the zero go away
      your commitment will not make the zero go away

      Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God

      Romans 1: 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed

      Romans 4: 6 David also speaks of the blessing of the of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

      • markmcculley Says:

        Hooker–The righteousness wherewith we shall be clothed in the world to come is both perfect and inherent. That whereby we are justified is perfect, but not inherent. That whereby we are sanctified, inherent, but not perfect.

        we are either set apart by Christ’s death or not

        we are either saints or not

        it’s the holy who are commanded to be holy

        we either believe the truth or not

        we are either sanctified by the Holy Spirit or not

        II Thessalonians 2: 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, in order that they believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Mark Jones, Antinomianism, p75—“Turretin argues that all in glory will be equally happy. However, Jonathan Edwards disagrees. In his sermon on “The Portion of the Righteous”, he argues not only for degrees of glory, but also for different degrees of happiness. Moreover, he claims that the degrees of happiness will be in ‘some proportion to the saints’ eminency in holiness and good works.while on earth”

    Edwards, 2:902—-Every vessel that is cast into this ocean of happiness is full, though there are some vessels larger than others

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Mark Jones We do have to ask ourselves whether we adequately believe the words in Matthew 6:6. Do we really believe, as we should, that God will reward us? Faith is the hand that begs from God: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

    Jones—I don’t know precisely how the Lord will reward us for what we do in secret. But I do know this: The rewards from our Father are of grace: “It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging?” (Matthew Henry)

    And, he has promised to reward his children when they pray in secret, and that motivation alone should be enough to get us into our “prayer closets” where we ask in order to receive.

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