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Monday, September 9, 2019

Only by Grace

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)

Oh, child of God! What makes you think you must obey the law to receive the Spirit of Christ? Wasn’t the meaning of Christ’s death for you made very clear in the Word—just as clear as if you were there when He died? Answer this question. Did you receive the Spirit by obeying the Ten Commandments? Of course not! You received when you believed the message you heard about Jesus. Faith comes by hearing His message—not from obeying the law. Why do you allow the law to speak death to your faith in Jesus? The law only condemns you. Have you experienced His love for nothing? Was the precious gift of His life in vain?

“We know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ,” Paul wrote, “not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law” (Galatians 2:16, NLT).

You believe in Jesus! You are right with God because of your faith—not because of anything you have done. No one is made right with God by keeping the rules. A person is only made righteous by believing in Jesus. Just believe in His grace that looked beyond your sin and recognized your real need—to be reconciled to God. He opened the door to intimacy with the Father—something you and the work of your hands could never achieve.

“When I tried to keep the law,” Paul wrote, “it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:19-21, NT).

When you focus on fulfilling Old Covenant law, New Covenant grace has little meaning. The law will always condemn you for not being good enough. Paul stopped trying to meet all of its requirements. He focused his whole life on what Jesus had done for Him instead of judging whether what he did for Jesus was good enough. And what did Paul discover? He could live for God without the fear of failure. Because of the grace of Jesus, Paul longed to serve God and share His love. But He knew His worth didn’t depend on that. Jesus loved and accepted him no matter what he did. His old sinful nature was crucified with Christ. Paul no longer lived—only Jesus lived in Him. Paul lived by trusting Jesus, who gave His life for him. The grace of Jesus meant everything to Paul, and he never treated it lightly or made it into something that it wasn’t.

“Christ has truly set us free,” Paul wrote. “Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Galatians 5:1, NLT).

The grace of Jesus is a state of being right with God. It is not a state of doing anything to make yourself right with Him. Christ has truly set you free! When you know you are free in Jesus, you are free to live for Him! You never consider grace as a license to sin but as a gift to live as He has loved you. Don't make faith a work. Don't live for His approval. He already approved you when you believed in Him. Live, knowing you are approved by Jesus.

© 2019 Lynn Lacher

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