Our pastor is preaching through Galatians. Last Sunday, he preached through Gal. 3:1-5:
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you know being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith —
In the course of his sermon, he said, “Legalism occurs when we want to add works to grace. A legalist trusts in Christ a lot, but he does not trust in Christ alone.”
That statement got me to thinking of the times in my life that it was obvious that I trusted Christ a lot, but I didn’t trust Christ alone. Like the time refused to wear jewelry and let my piercings close. Or when I threw away all of my secular music collection and forced myself to listen to contemporary Christian music even though I disliked most of it.
I thought doing those kinds of things pleased God and made him more inclined to hear and answer my prayers. I think I trusted in Christ alone for my salvation, but I didn’t know that even His perfection is mine.
I hadn’t a clue about the magnitude of God’s grace in Christ.
I’m reading Brian Hedges’ book, Christ Formed in You. It is SO good, rich with truth. I read this earlier in the week:
The gospel tells us that we have everything we need in Christ. His death is ours; we are therefore freed from sin. His resurrection is ours; we thus walk in newness of life. We don’t need to add anything to what Christ has done for us. We simply need to believe the gospel and apply it more deeply to our lives.
He goes on,
The good news is that God credits Christ’s perfection to all who trust in him. Ultimately, Jesus alone can ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in his holy place. But we stand there with him. His obedience is ours. His perfection counts for us. Christ is our holiness, our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30).
I don’t remember when I first “got” that my efforts to add to Christ were an offense to God. But I do remember the first feeling that came with knowing that God does love me, knowing that Jesus has fulfilled all the requirements for me, knowing that I am free. It was simultaneously devastating and wonderful. Devastating because I am well-aware of the purity of Christ and the vileness of my sin. Wonderful because I could finally lift my head and breathe.