Commentary on Galatians 2:17-19

Christ Not the Minister of Sin.

Jesus Christ is "the Holy and Righteous One." Acts 3:14, R.V. "He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." 1 John 3:5. He not only "did no sin" (1 Peter 2:22), but He "knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). Therefore, it is impossible that any sin can come from Him. He does not impart sin. In the stream of life that flows from the heart of Christ, through His wounded side, there is no trace of impurity. It is "a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal." He is not the minister of sin, that is, He does not minister sin to anybody. If in any one who has sought—and not only sought, but found—righteousness through Christ, there is afterwards found sin, it is because the person has dammed up the stream, allowing the water to become stagnant. The Word has not been given free course, so that it could be glorified; and where there is no activity, there is death. No one is to blame for this but the person himself. Let no pro- {82} fessed Christian take counsel of his own imperfections, and say that it is impossible for a Christian to live a sinless life. It is impossible for a true Christian, one who has full faith, to live any other kind of life. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Rom. 6:2. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him; and he can not sin, because he is born of God." 1 John 3:9. Therefore "abide in Him."

What Was Destroyed? 

"If I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor." We ask again, What was destroyed, the building up of which will prove us to be transgressors? Remembering that the apostle is talking of those who have believed in Jesus Christ, that they might be justified by the faith of Christ, we find the answer to the question in Rom. 6:6: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." Also Col. 2:10, 11: "Ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power; in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." That which is destroyed is the body of sin, and it is destroyed only by this personal presence of the life of Christ. It is destroyed in order that we may be freed from its power, and may no longer need to serve it. It is destroyed for everybody, for Christ in His own flesh has abolished "the enmity," the carnal mind; not His own, for He had none, but ours. Our sins, our {83} weaknesses, were upon Him. For every soul the victory has been gained, and the enemy has been disarmed. We have only to accept the victory which Christ has won. The victory over all sin is already a reality; our faith in it makes it real to us. The loss of faith puts us outside the reality, and the old body of sin looms up again. That which is destroyed by faith is built up again by unbelief. Remember that this destruction of the body of sin, although performed by Christ for all, is, nevertheless, a present, personal matter with each individual.

 "Dead to the Law."

Many seem to fancy that "dead to the law" means the same as that the law is dead. Not by any means. The law must be in full force, else no one could be dead by means of it. How does a man become dead to the law?—By receiving its full penalty, which is death. He is dead, but the law which put him to death is still as ready as ever to put to death another criminal. Suppose, now, that the man who was executed for gross crimes should, by some miraculous power, come to life again, would he not still be dead to the law?—Certainly; nothing that he had done could be mentioned to him by the law; but if he should again commit crimes, the law would again execute him, but as another man. We say now that I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. By the body of Christ I am raised from the death which I have suffered by the law because of my sin, and now I walk "in newness of life," a life unto God. Like Saul of old, I am by the Spirit of God "turned into another man." 1 Sam. 10:6. {84} This is the Christian's experience. That this is the case is shown by what follows.

E. J. Waggoner.