A friend of mine bought a new computer that is faster than his old one and has more space, memory, and features – all designed to make his work easier. He brought it home, unpacked it in his downstairs office, set it up, and then decided to wait to play with it until the next day. He merely turned it on and went upstairs.
But by mid morning the next day he was agitated and called me. He had trouble figuring out how the slick new programs worked (I suggested the on-line tutorials). He said he had some time sensitive assignments due and could not wait to get them finished.
Finally in complete frustration, he went in search of his old computer. It was still tucked away on a corner desk in the washroom. He lugged it back, unhooked the new machine, and plugged in the old one, right next to it.
It was old, but he hated change. It took up a lot more desk space, but at the same time, he knew the software and what all the buttons did. He eventually completed the work that needed to get done. Yet he could see the newer (and better) machine to his right.
Read Galatians 1:1-10 and 3:26-28.
The first century Christians in Galatia were a lot like my friend in their walk with Jesus. They had learned about salvation by grace through faith (plus nothing) from the apostle Paul. Some of them were slipping back into old ways though. They were feeling a bit nostalgic and were backtracking to their old cumbersome, legalistic ways. They wanted to keep some of the same laws they had before. They were even insisting that a person had to avoid certain foods and/or follow certain traditions to be saved, or right with God.
So Paul attempted to set them straight by writing the Book of Galatians. In no uncertain terms, he said, “You foolish Galatians. You are falling back into your old ways. You are trying to please God by your good works. Stop it. It will not be enough. Nothing you do can earn God’s favor.”
There is a message here for us. Are we guilty of the same approach? Do we fall back into our old patterns of trying to please God by being good? Anyone who accepts the work of Christ on the cross can have their sin condition forgiven. But knowing you are secure in Christ, do you still try to earn God’s favor? Do you still secretly think your good works, high morals, somewhat consistent stewardship, and random acts of kindness are contributing to your salvation? Remember what Paul said to the Galatians in 4:9?
Do you think God has to accept you into heaven because of who you are or what you do? Of which of your good works or spiritual practices are you most proud? Why? Should you be? Have you slipped back into old ways of thinking you can earn God’s salvation?
Salvation is by grace alone. It comes solely through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Doing good works, obeying the Law of God (even with the Holy Spirit’s help), or living sacrificially never saved anyone. Do not slip back into the old, legalistic thinking that it does. Think theologically. Obey God and live out His ways because you love Him.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz