Proverbs 3 & Galatians 2

Proverbs 3

    My son, do not forget my teaching,
        but let your heart keep my commandments,
    for length of days and years of life
        and peace they will add to you.
    Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
        bind them around your neck;
        write them on the tablet of your heart.
    So you will find favor and good success
        in the sight of God and man.
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
        and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make straight your paths.
    Be not wise in your own eyes;
        fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
    It will be healing to your flesh
        and refreshment to your bones.
    Honor the LORD with your wealth
        and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
    then your barns will be filled with plenty,
        and your vats will be bursting with wine.
    My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline
        or be weary of his reproof,
    for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
        as a father the son in whom he delights.
        Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
        and the one who gets understanding,
    for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
        and her profit better than gold.
    She is more precious than jewels,
        and nothing you desire can compare with her.
    Long life is in her right hand;
        in her left hand are riches and honor.
    Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
        and all her paths are peace.
    She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
        those who hold her fast are called blessed.
    The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
        by understanding he established the heavens;
    by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
        and the clouds drop down the dew.
    My son, do not lose sight of these—
        keep sound wisdom and discretion,
    and they will be life for your soul
        and adornment for your neck.
    Then you will walk on your way securely,
        and your foot will not stumble.
    If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
        when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
    Do not be afraid of sudden terror
        or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
    for the LORD will be your confidence
        and will keep your foot from being caught.
    Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
        when it is in your power to do it.
    Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
        tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
    Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
        who dwells trustingly beside you.
    Do not contend with a man for no reason,
        when he has done you no harm.
    Do not envy a man of violence
        and do not choose any of his ways,
    for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD,
        but the upright are in his confidence.
    The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked,
        but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
    Toward the scorners he is scornful,
        but to the humble he gives favor.
    The wise will inherit honor,
        but fools get disgrace.

(Proverbs 3 ESV)

Galatians 2

    Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

    But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

    We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 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 justified.

    But 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! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I 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. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

(Galatians 2 ESV)

Galatians 2: Justification is the essence of the gospel and some have labeled it as the Atlas that holds Christianity on it’s shoulders. Justification is not some fancy doctrinal term or theological language made for seminary students. We see it throughout Paul's letters. The word is found and discussed in Romans 3, Romans 4, Romans 5 and even three times in this one sentence here in Galatians. If we're going to understand anything Paul says in the rest of this letter, we have to first understand what he means by being "justified by faith in Christ".

What does it mean to be “justified by faith in Christ”?   

Justification is a legal term. It is a judicial term that is used in a court of law. It is the exact opposite of the word condemnation. According to Scripture, if you stand condemned then you are declared guilty by our Lord who does in fact preside as the ultimate Judge over all His creation. However, if you stand justified then you are declared not guilty by our Lord as our Judge.

Man’s dilemma is actually fairly plain and obvious. God is righteous. We are not. So instead of harmony in our relationship with God, the relationship has been broken because of our unrighteousness. Paul tells us elsewhere that none of us are righteous, none of us truly seek God and none of us are born truly living for God. So is there any more important question in life than “How can we be made righteous before God?” or to put it another way, “How can we who stand condemned already (guilty before God) be justified by God (declared not guilty by God)?" 

This is our great dilemma. This is man’s greatest problem: How could a just God who exercises perfect justice justify guilty sinners and still remain a perfectly just God who exercises perfect justice?

And therein lies the beauty and perfect wisdom behind the truth of the gospel. God’s righteousness is apart of who He is, and He cannot compromise His character in order to save us. The moment God ceases to exercise perfect justice is the moment God would cease to be just and is the moment God would cease to be God. The righteousness of God requires perfect justice to be served and therefore sin to be punished.

However, the good news of true Christianity is that we can be declared not guilty by the graciousness of God who offers us this pronouncement as a free gift and not based on anything we’re able to do. 

How does He do that?

He does this because Jesus Christ took on the punishment that we deserve so that perfect justice would be carried out, sin would be punished, and God’s wrath toward our sin would be satisfied. Our criminal record is accredited to Christ who pays the penalty that it demands, and the spotless record of Christ is then accredited to us who receive it through faith. 

Therefore, the only way we can be justified by God is through faith (complete trust) in what Christ has done for us through His perfect life, His sacrificial death and His powerful resurrection into ultimate authority over the entire universe as Lord.

We are not called to simply change our behavior; we are called to truly believe that this incredible truth of what God has done for us through Christ is in fact true.