17But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Paul continues to argue why it is unthinkable to add works of the law to salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, in order to be saved. Verse 18 – To uphold one is to destroy the other. If Paul, who has preached the Gospel, now begins to promote the Law, he will be building up what he already tore down.
It is the death of Christ that brings us to die to sin. The work of the cross is complete. Our sin was completely dealt with at the cross and to say that we must do something in order to merit salvation is to make the cross insufficient. We live by faith in Christ and nothing else.
Far from causing people to live godless lives, the Gospel of the cross liberates people from their slavery to sin and produces people who long to grow in holiness and who show true grace in repentant living. This needs to be emphasized very greatly. There are some, maybe even many, who say that if we preach salvation in Christ alone by faith alone, and do not mention that good works must follow, that we are going to produce Christians who live unholy lives. This is a denial of the Gospel’s power.
It is quite right to say that conversion must produce holy living. But it also needs to be emphasized that a real reception of Christ by faith will always produce a change. People do not start living holy because they are taught well by us. They start living well because they now belong to Christ. To say that the problem with modern evangelism is lack of follow-up is to believe that someone may be a Christian and not live holy, or it is to believe that people can lose their salvation.
People need to be taught. Christians can be overtaken in some sins. But there is no such thing as a true believer who wants to continue on in his sins, with a ticket to heaven in his back pocket. The Holy Spirit does something far more wonderful than that. Do not claim to be a Christian if your life has not turned around toward Him. That is self deceit and it will kill you – forever.
But to say that your holiness is earning points for eternal life is to deny the Gospel altogether. Today, demonstrate the power of the Gospel of faith alone in Christ alone.