Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. — Galatians 5:2-4
Since we have been reading through Galatians rather slowly, it could feel like Paul is overemphasizing the point that good works have no bearing on a man's salvation. But he's not overemphasizing this. He wants the Galatians to see the argument from every possible angle. And in these three verses, he explains that a man who advocates for this position is presented with a real dilemma. And the dilemma is this. The addition of even one good work to the gospel of God's grace would remove the advantage of grace, and it's this advantage that makes the gospel so good because that's what you want. Radical acceptance by God despite your sin. You want grace and need grace. You want it from everybody but especially from God.
Remember, we all come to God broken, sinful, and imperfect. This is what makes the Christian faith so different from every other faith. God accepts us as we are. He receives us as broken, wayward, sinful sons. However, when we even for a second revert to the belief that our moral rightness makes us righteous, what we have done at that moment is reprehensible. For this second in time, we have assumed that a righteous act of our own doing has some bearing on God's acceptance of us. And this is an insidious thought. Because this thought is an attempt to make us righteous. Now, does God want me to live a moral life? You bet he does. But do my moral acts have a bearing on my righteousness — no! Yet, if or when we think that they do, and thus act as if they do, we not only miss out on the advantage of grace, we simultaneously gain a disadvantage. And the disadvantage is this. We are now subject to the whole moral law because we attempt to be saved by our morally good deeds. So hopefully, you see the double dilemma here. A gospel contingent on moral righteousness both removes the advantage of grace and gains the disadvantage of the weight of the burden of good deeds. And that sounds exhausting. And it doesn't work.
So today, we are warned by Paul of two things. First, be cautious of any teaching that suggests adding anything to the gospel of salvation. The only thing we need is faith in Jesus's good work. Second, and on a very personal note, in those moments, you feel good about something moral you've done — watch out! Because this insidious thought could persuade you that your good work makes you righteous or more loved by God, but it doesn't. All it does is lead you away from the advantage of grace toward the disadvantage of moral good works.
ASK THIS: If you felt good about something righteous you did this past week, how do you need to preach back to that feeling the gospel of God's undeserved grace?
DO THIS: Preach grace to your good deeds.
PRAY THIS: God, when I do something good and righteous, help me to see the expanse of your righteousness.
PLAY THIS: I Will Boast In Christ - Hillsong Worship.
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