Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Finished Work of Christ

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain-if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham believe God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. Galatians 3:1-6
The Galatians, which were predominately Gentile were being told by the Judaizer's that they must be circumcised to remain in right standing before God. That their faith in Christ did not justify them before God but their works, and to remain in Christ, they most adhere to the Law of Moses. Paul's letter to the Galatians was to counteract this heresy and further explain the finished work of Christ which was sufficient unto salvation.

I, like the Galatians, am guilty of falling for the temptation to make my justification about what I do instead of what Christ has already done for me. I recognized this within myself when the majority of my focus is about what I'm doing or not doing and in turn base my acceptance before God on my performance instead of rejoicing in His performance for me. I do this when I withdraw from God, as I have once again, yelled at my girls or failed to get up at the crack of dawn for a quiet time. I realize this when I become prideful over my accomplishments and despondent when I fail to perform. I do this when I concentrate on the speck in my friend's eye and yet fail to remove the log from my own eye. I do this when my identity is more based on my performance for Christ than on His covenant which has been cut and established by the shed blood of His Son. What do all of these temptations imply? They imply that I believe my SALVATION IS BY FAITH BUT MY PERFECTION IS IN KEEPING THE LAW. I'm saved initially by faith but I must sustain that which I've already been given by keeping the law. It's believing the lie that Christ's death was enough to get me in but not enough to keep me in. This my friend, is not the gospel. The gospel is all about Him, it has nothing to do with us. If we could obtain perfection by keeping the law, then Christ died needlessly and His death wasn't enough to justify us before God. It would also imply that we could be justified by God apart from Christ's finished work on the cross. In essence, we could work the works of God apart from Christ and his finished work. Does God care how I live?? ABSOLUTELY! But I live for Christ because in Him I am already approved before God NOT because I have to gain God's approval. It's out of my sincere gratitude that I want to die to myself so that I might live for Him. It's His Spirit within me that causes me to walk in His ordinances and leads me into a further appreciation for all He has done. I am justified before God because my sinful record became Christ's, and he suffered the punishment I deserved. Christ did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17
So what was the purpose of the law? The purpose of the law is to lead us to Christ. It shows us our inability to keep perfectly the law and to yearn for the One who would free us from the bondage of sin and the law. It even now redirects us to Christ's finished work on the cross as we become conscience of our inadequacy to keep perfectly every letter of the law. Before Christ, it shows us a holy God and His standard of righteousness. The law focused on the outer man but Christ came to purify the inner man. The law was once written on tablets of stone but has now been placed within our minds and on our hearts as the promised Holy Spirit comes in to take up residency inside our frail and broken bodies. It's to show us that our adequacy before God is based on Christ adequacy for us and not our adequacy in ourselves. 2 Corinthians 3:5, Hebrews 8:10, 2 Corinthians 3:3, Galatians 3:24
But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7

When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. Hebrews 7:13

Our justification before God comes from faith in His Son and not by our works. Romans 3:28

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