Fallen from grace!
Scripture reading for September 19th: Galatians 5:1-12
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you. Again, I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ: you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:1-4)
Paul’s heart for this church was their freedom from the false doctrine of the legalistic teachers. They were teaching that in order to be saved, people needed to be circumcised and keep certain of the Jewish laws. Paul likened this to slavery. The law was a yoke that the Jews could never keep. But Paul was a Jew and knew the futility of trying to become righteous by keeping that law. He knew the freedom of faith in Christ’s righteousness and for him, going back was no option for him or these Galatians!
Some churches today are much like the Galatians. They have customs or rules that they use to try and determine if you are a Christian or not. Some like to legislate dress codes and hairstyles and make-up. Others say that unless you speak in tongues, you cannot be saved. Others try to say that you must be baptized in a certain way to be saved. Like the Galatians, they were adding some law or customs to salvation by faith in Christ. Paul stated that in doing that, they had fallen from grace. They were no longer living by faith, but trusting in their own human effort.
“But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.” (Galatians 5:5-6) True Christians live by faith, not by trying to keep the law. We are in Christ Jesus and live a life of faith expressed by loving others. When we go back to the law, we no longer trust in Christ. It is about us and our efforts, not about what Christ did for us. Paul warns we can fall from grace! Be sure that you live by faith!