For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.
—Galatians 5:4 (NLT)
Nothing we do makes us right with God. If we try to make ourselves right with God by keeping the law, Paul writes, we have been cut off from Christ. It is impossible to make ourselves perfect by following each commandment. Only the grace of Jesus makes us right with God.
Christ has no effect in our lives when we try to justify ourselves by what we do. We bury ourselves trying to win God’s approval when the grace of Jesus has already bought His approval. We are justified by our faith in Jesus alone—not by our works. When we make our work more important than Jesus’ work on the Cross, we ridicule what the blood of Jesus purchased. If we measure ourselves by the law, we fail. When we give more importance to “doing” the law instead of “being” in Christ, we fall from His grace and back into the law, believing God only loves and accepts for what we do instead of who we are.
“But we who live by the Spirit,” Paul continued, “eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love" (Galatians 5:5-6, NLT).
The Christians in Galatia couldn't win God's approval by following the requirement to be circumcised. Following the law was of no benefit to them. What is essential, Paul said, was faith in their lives expressing itself in love. We live the Word, not because we have to, but because we love Jesus. He gave us the freedom to joyfully live for Him. What we do is born of faith. We, who live by the Spirit, eagerly live what we have waited so long to receive.
We can't make our hearts pure by doing right. Our hearts are only made right, believing in Jesus by faith. When we know who we are in Christ—when we quit trying to earn what has already been purchased by our Savior, we experience His freedom. There is nothing that separates from a holy God. Because of the grace of Jesus, we have free access into our Father’s presence—no matter what we have done. There we experience Calvary’s love over and over and over. Nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Grace is the love of Jesus. It is His gift—given at no cost to us. The precious blood of Jesus paid the debt of sin that God’s justice demands. There is freedom in Jesus! When we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us through His Word, who we are in Jesus, we experience His freedom. Faith in Jesus changes everything and flows without hesitation. Our work then is freely given—not striving for approval, but flowing without restraint in the Holy Spirit. Our faith is in Jesus alone and NOT in what we do for Him. We know that we can’t earn His grace. We already have it.
© 2019 Lynn Lacher