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  • Writer's pictureJames McMaster

Ham, Sausages and Sin

In Galatians 2 the Apostle Paul hit a problem. One day in Antioch he was enjoying a good Irish breakfast when some dear folk from Jerusalem popped in to inform him that he was breaking God’s law.....

To understand this situation it must be appreciated that in the Old Testament- the Scriptures which God gave before the coming of Christ- it was very clearly stated what the Jews could eat and what they couldn’t. You will find a kosher/non-kosher list in Leviticus chapter 11.

Thus, on the face of it, Paul’s opponents were right and Paul was wrong. However, this was a much bigger issue than was bacon on the menu. The real issue here was, did one have to be Jewish and keep all the Jewish laws if one wanted to in a relationship with God? In Galatians 2.16 Paul gives his answer- my comments are in brackets.

Ò We know (or should know) that a man is not justified by the works of the law (what we do to try to earn God’s favour, and this includes what we eat and drink, will never bring us to God!)

Ò but by faith in Jesus Christ (that is simply relying on the works of Jesus done on our behalf),

Ò that we might be justified by faith in Christ (on the basis of Christ’s finished work every single believer is declared ‘not guilty’ and ‘in the right’ with God)

Ò and not by the works of the law (Paul can never say it enough times- our own efforts will never make the grade);

Ò for by the works of the law no flesh (no people) shall be justified (by this point the great apostle is jumping up and down screaming- ‘guys, get it into your heads what I do, and what I don’t do and what I eat, and what I don’t eat, is never going to save me. Nothing will, except God’s mercy in Jesus received through trusting in Jesus. It is faith alone in Christ alone!!!”

Thank you, Paul, for clarifying that- now back to my sausages and beacon......

However this does raise two important issues;

1) Did God change his mind between the Old Testament and the New Testament as to what one was allowed to do and eat? Is the Old Testament now to be binned now that Christ has come?

2) If I am saved ‘by faith alone in Christ alone’ does that mean that I can now live like hell as God is completely indifferent to what I do?

Stay tuned as we will look at these important issues next week!

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