|This leads to slavery to your own perfection|
"What do you do with the person who says, I’ve asked God to forgive me, but I still feel guilty? A noted writer (RC Sproul I think) was asked once. 'Well, if You still feel guilty, then pray to God again, but this time don’t ask Him to forgive you for the sin that is haunting you. Rather ask Him to forgive you for insulting His integrity by refusing to accept His forgiveness. Who are you to refuse to forgive yourself when God has forgiven you…it is often a very difficult thing to accept the grace of God. Our human arrogance makes us want to atone for our own sins to make it up to God with works of super-righteousness'”. ~Steve Brown
Galatians 3:10-11: "For all who rely on works of the law [rule keeping] are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith."
Why is it so hard to believe this truth of Scripture? Why can't we just live by faith? What does that really mean anyway, "live by faith"? Well let's look at what Paul says regarding this - in Galatians 3:2-3 he asks "how did you become a Christian?" And they as we would answered "by believing in Jesus and His life, death and resurrection and by believing in His forgiving my sins." Then something happens. Paul knows the church at Galatia (and where I pastor and in my heart) is now working to try and become "perfect". They are doing stuff to make God happy with themselves and forcing others to obey by their rules too. They and we are adding to what Christ did. "His forgiveness wasn't enough...let me atone some myself" is what we say. We add, "If you want to be a real Christian and be really really good, then do what I tell you." They were enslaving the church to do works. They were teaching the body of believers that Christ's work wasn't enough.
You see Paul says, "you started out so well...believing and now you're actually trying to be perfect by doing something for God?" Why do we do this to ourselves and to others? Why do we enslave ourselves to "doing something"? Because we don't believe. We don't believe that we've been "credited with Christ's righteousness" for all of life so we "do". And when we "do" it's never ever enough, good enough, consistent enough or often enough so we "try try again" (or when we do it we become arrogant, prideful and judgmental because we have our act together and "they don't"). As Tullian Tchividjian wrote: "Law says, 'I'll love you if you meet my standards.' Gospel says, 'I love you in spite of the fact that you can't meet my standards.'" Jesus met them for us!
|We work because we don't believe|
But Paul tells us something so simple, so powerful yet so hard to grasp: "the righteous [that is the believer...we ARE righteous!!!!] shall live by faith." We are to believe/have faith in our declared state...that we are righteous and so we don't have to be a slave to our good works. We are set free by Christ to love Christ and our neighbors. The curse is gone and the captives are set free. We are no longer a subject of Satan and sin but a child of the living God. A slave set free by the purchase of the blood of Jesus doesn't run wild but : "When I realize God loves me just the same when I'm disobedient as when I'm obedient, it doesn't make me want to obey less...but more" ~Tullian.