Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
There were those who wanted to bring the Galatians back under the law of Moses (Gal. 2:4). Paul had previously shared the gospel that was preached of him (Gal. 1:11,12) to the people of Galatia, and yet it wasn’t far after that when the religious leaders of Israel and other false brethren came to spy out the liberty that they had in Christ and to bring them into bondage.
Even today there are so many people that try to follow the law, because they think it can save them. They think they can get into Heaven by doing their own good works. While under the Dispensation of the Law, faith and works were required, which included ordinances like water baptism and circumcision. But now, under the Dispensation of Grace, only faith is required to be saved. Faith in what? Faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. The only thing to do is to believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins by shedding His own blood on the cross, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Galatians 2:16 explains that we are “not justified (made righteous) by the works of the law.” Instead, it says we are justified “by the faith [or faithfulness] of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.”
What was the purpose of the Law? Well, Romans chapter three explains that the law was given to tell us that we have all “sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23),” and “by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20).” In Galatians chapter three, we also learn that the “law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal. 3:24).”
Galatians 3:23-25 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
The “faith” in these verses are talking about the faith that was revealed unto the Apostle Paul. That same “mutual faith (Rom. 1:12)” that he shared with the Romans was what he revealed/taught the Galatians too. Before that faith came, we were all under the law and therefore, “all under sin (Gal. 3:22).” It was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ and afterwards that faith came, because of what Christ did for us on the cross. We are now no longer “under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14).”
We are now justified (made righteous) by faith, and faith alone! Not by the works of the law. For it says in Colossians 2:14 that the law and all the ordinances were nailed to the cross. You don’t need to be physically circumcised or baptized with water. For you are automatically baptized by the Holy Spirit into one Body (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:5), when you put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You are also spiritually circumcised (Col. 2:11).
Therefore, you should stand fast in the liberty that you now have in Christ. Don’t let anyone rob you of the position that you have in Christ Jesus. Many local churches will try to tell you that you have to be water baptized to show your faith. Don’t listen to them. If you have been baptized into Christ (which is the operation of the Holy Spirit, not a pastor), then you have also put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). For you are justified by faith, and not by the works of the law! Water baptism and circumcision were ordinances under the law (they were works of the law). But now, the whole law has been nailed to cross.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.