(Skip to the end and watch the video if you don’t want to read.)
This is going to sound weird, but I’ve been thinking this through and I think it’s true: A lot of people favor religious code over grace because – often subconsciously – they/we just don’t want to admit that they/we actually can’t do it without Jesus.
I think a lot of us want it to be true that if we work hard enough we can do what it takes to make it to heaven.
- “Tell me what I have to do then stand back and watch!”
- “What do you mean by saying everyone has sinned and fallen short?”
- “Just give me a crack at it, I know I can get it done.”
But that’s because we are often wrong about salvation, wrong about heaven, and wrong about sin.
- wrong about salvation,
- wrong about heaven,
- wrong about sin.
Grace is the word…
My Wednesday evening Bible study is reading Galatians. Thus far, halfway through the third chapter, Paul’s essential point has been not only simple but foundational to Christian faith.
It’s not surprising, given the circumstances. Here is the background:
- Saul was raised as a strict follower/practitioner of the Jewish religious code; follow the rules, follow them religiously, the law is our only hope.
- Saul meets Jesus and experiences grace. Grace transforms Saul into Paul. Paul understands that, through Jesus, Grace achieves what the law cannot – reconciliation with God.
- Paul travels through the region of Galatia and introduces people – both Jews and Gentiles, to Jesus.
- Jewish Christians come along behind Paul and tell the new churches Jesus is not enough: they must becomes Jews and follow “Old Testament” law in order to be Christian.
- Paul writes a letter to the Galatians, reminding them that the Gospel is all about Grace and warning them not to fall under the spell of legalism: “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse,” (3:10) he said. And, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (2:21).
Our conversation highlighted this tendency we all have – as human beings – to want to be in control. But Grace is something we have to accept, it’s not something we can earn. Religious law – on the other hand – is a system that is all about our personal efforts.
It doesn’t seem to matter that the law is so thoroughly inadequate. We still choose the law – time and again – because we prefer to be in control. Even if it means practicing what I like to call, “Old Testament Christianity.” One of the hardest things for some people is accepting the Grace we need.
Sin is not doing things we could potentially overcome by trying harder. No, sin is not putting God first; sin is walking away from Grace; sin is acting like we do not need Jesus; sin keeps us separate from God.
Here are a few thoughts that go with today’s blog. Peace – and the Amazing Grace of Jesus – DEREK