The End of Ego

A Study of Galatians 2:17-21

But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. [Gal 2:17-21]

When we seek to be justified by Christ, we have to admit something about ourselves: we have to admit that we need righteousness that is not our own. It is because by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:20) In seeking to be justified by Christ I come as a helpless and hopeless sinner. Did He make me a helpless, hopeless sinner? The answer is clear-God forbid! Here is the truth: if I build again the things that I destroy-if I start trying to justify myself by law-works-they still only show me that I am a sinner. And Christ is still not the minister of sin. My righteousness is Christ and only Christ. Paul later told Timothy further truth about the purpose of the law:

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. [1Ti 1:9-11]

If mankind was good, there would need to be no law. Let us remember that murder, theft, kidnapping, and all the rest is not wrong because it is against the law. It is against the law because it is wrong. The law declares it so. It makes the iniquity a transgression and a trespass. But the Christian is not under law for salvation, for righteousness, or for holiness. We are justified freely, as a gift, by the grace of God through the redemption that is only found is the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. (Rom 3:24) When we put ourselves back under the law as redeemed people, we again make ourselves transgressors of it. Not only so, but we make ourselves disobedient to the scriptures:

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in Him: [Col 2:6]

We received Christ by faith. Our walk is to be by faith. We walk by faith and not by sight. (2Cor 5:7) We also walk by faith, not by law works. The law carries with it a curse:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. [Gal 3:10]

And recall that it is the entire law that must be kept to avoid that curse:

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. [Jas 2:10-11]

But praise God that I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. [Gal 2:19] Christ has set me free by His death:

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, [even] to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. [Rom 7:4]

Any fruit that I bring forth to God is from that condition of dead to the law. I am crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20). The “I” spoke of here is the old man, me as in Adam.

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. [Rom 6:6]

The old man in Adam only serves sin. He is a slave to it, and the way to deal with him is not with laws or self reformation. The old man must be crucified with Christ. The best that religion can do is to try and put a noble face on the old man, but the old man cannot and will not be justified by the law.

Notice who is crucified with Christ in verse 20. It is ἐγώ: egō. If we would like to know a root for why so many seek to be justified, or even those who know and truly believe justification by grace through faith find reasons to go back under law. It has a single root: EGO. The need for something of myself to make me worthy. But I am not worthy, and that is where we begin. Yes, we absolutely are called to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called (Eph 4:1), but that walk is not by law and reformation of Adam. It is living by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Trying to bring the dead and crucified ego back into it frustrates the grace of God, and makes our witness that Christ has died in vain, because we could do it ourselves (Gal 2:21). Let that never be our witness at any time in our walk, and if we go that way, let us repent (this is a proper time to use that word) and remind ourselves that it is all of Christ, and all of grace!

Now the Son of God has given His life for me. He has also given his life to me, and to all who will simply believe God’s witness in His Word that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. The believer who is now in Christ is united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection:

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [Rom 6:3-4]

This newness of life does not come by law keeping or an imposition of rules and religion. It comes from being in Christ. Our being united with Christ also makes us dead to the law:

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, [even] to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. [Rom 7:4]

There is no life in law keeping, only a reminder of the weakness of Adam. There is no righteousness in law keeping, only condemnation and knowledge of sin.The witness of the scripture is clear, and wonderful to this fact:

[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [Rom 8:1-4]

3 thoughts on “The End of Ego

    1. I think that he did from the context as well, at least verse 16. It must have really been a challenge to even the saved Israelites to come to terms with “there is no difference”, and that they had lost their place for the present as the head of all nations.

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