Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
— (Galatians 3:1-4, NLT).
It wasn’t just the Galatians who had this problem of striving to be good enough. That is the mentality we have today. If I do this, Jesus will love me. If I do that, my life will be more acceptable to God. “So it is clear,” Paul said, “that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life’” (Galatians 3:11, NLT). Jesus didn’t save me to earn His love. His saved me so that I might receive the righteousness He earned for me on Calvary.
“This way of faith,” Paul continued, “is very different from the way of law, which says, ‘It is through obeying the law that a person has life.’ But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing” (Galatians 3:12-13, NLT). Jesus Christ has cancelled the rigors of the performance-based law which says I must earn His grace. Oh no! Grace is His gift which I don’t deserve, and I receive it by believing what Jesus accomplished for me. The old covenant law promotes death, but the new covenant grace of Jesus promises life.
Oh, we are so foolish. Did we receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law? Did just striving to keep the law save us from our own unrighteousness? No! Yet, we live that way—constantly striving to receive what He already has given to us by faith. Why do we keep trying to be perfect by our own efforts? Instead of seeking to know this new creature we are in Him, we live as if we are still the old. Grace sets us free to live the righteousness that He has won for us. That grace wasn’t free. It cost Him everything. Yet, when we don’t live the freedom He earned on Calvary from the rigor-based performance trap of not being good enough, we make His grace cheap. We say that it wasn’t quite good enough. We don’t live as if that veil was torn. We strive to meet the condemnation of the law.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus,” Paul wrote, “and because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4, NLT).
When will we get this? When will we understand that the Holy Spirit loves us with conviction and not buries us with condemnation? When we truly “get it”—that the new covenant has cancelled the judgment of the old covenant, we shall live in the freedom that was won for us on the cross. His unconditional love will change our attitudes, our hearts, and our minds. Our spirits and minds will be renewed by His Spirit. We will see through the eyes of grace instead of the judgment of the old covenant. We will know that “this is not a covenant of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 4:6, NLT).
© 2018 Lynn Lacher