God Forbid

Daily Reform, Day 143

Galatians 2:17 & Deuteronomy 9:13-16

From the Reformer

Christ is not the minister of sin, but the Dispenser of righteousness and the Giver of life. Christ is Lord over law, sin and death. All who believe in Him are delivered from law, sin and death.

The Law drives us away from God, but Christ reconciles God unto us, for “He is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.” Now if the sin of the world is taken away, it is taken away from me. If sin is taken away, the wrath of God and His condemnation are also taken away. Let us practice this blessed conviction.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

If keeping the Law could produce righteousness, why would one need Jesus? For example, any observer of the Law may have thrown this up to Peter. Quit eating with Gentiles! That is unclean and you are breaking the Law! Or perhaps worse, the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem who were troubling the Church of Galatia may be understood to have said, Pete! You cannot be serious in your insistence that our Lord would have you eat with such men as these. Since doing so is a sin, that would make Christ a servant of sin.

So Paul brings it right out into the open by asking the question. “Is Christ then a servant of sin?” Then he answers his own question with pretty strong language. The King James does the best work (in my mind) of phrasing his response. “God forbid!” As in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “May your kingdom come,” here Paul states the strong negative, “May it never be.” (NAS) God forbid that Jesus would ever be considered a minister of sin.

The Law shows us that we do sin, and industriously so. Jesus’ need to die for our sin shows us the staggering extent of that sin. We are powerless to produce our own salvation by keeping the law, even in simple acts of circumcision or with whom we eat, let alone in not lying or in loving God with our whole hearts. As soon as we succeed at religion, we fail. Fearing his anger, we turn aside from God, trying to ignore his fury at breaking the Ten Commandments. But the awareness of our sins remains and we end up erecting our own version of a golden calf. Indeed, religion is the golden calf!

Try to be worthy of salvation. Do your level best and more and you will still be a sinner. You need Jesus; all you need is Jesus. God forbid you would add another requirement for salvation than his cross.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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