Adding and Subtracting

Galatians 3:1-6 ESV

“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 now 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— just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’?”

What is Faith?

Now, what was the situation here? Under the Old Covenant God’s people had to obey a litany of liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, purification, and dietary laws and restrictions. But when Jesus Christ was crucified on that cross, and he was buried, and he rose from the grave, and he ascended back to heaven, and he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers, he did away with the Old Covenant, and now believers in Christ live under the New Covenant.

So, as followers of Christ, we do not have to obey all those Old Covenant laws and restrictions. They add nothing to our salvation. Now we are under grace, and we are saved by grace through God-given faith. But this faith is authored and perfected by Jesus Christ, and it is gifted to us by God, and it is not of our own doing, and we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 12:1-2; John 6:44).

And the word “faith” means to be persuaded. And since God is the author of that faith, and it is not of our own doing, but it is gifted to us by God, then God is the one persuading us. And he persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to repent of (turn away from, die to) our sins and to follow him in obedience. So, our faith in Christ is according to the will of God and according to his holiness and righteousness, and we don’t get to decide what that faith looks like.

Faith in Action

Now Jesus Christ said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of the name of Jesus we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, then we have eternal life in him (Luke 9:23-26; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 6:1-23; Romans 8:1-14).

And we read in Titus 2:11-14 that God’s grace, which is bringing us salvation, instructs (teaches, trains) us to renounce (say “No” to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. For Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (cf. Ephesians 2:10).

And Jesus Christ said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father in heaven. For many who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Lord will stand before the Lord one day claiming all the things they did in his name, and he is going to say to many of them, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness,” because they did not obey Christ (Matthew 7:21-23).

And then James said this: “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:20-23 ESV).

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Adding and Subtracting

So, the Galatians were adding back on works of the law onto their salvation, because they were being convinced by the Judaizers that this was required of them. And this was speaking of circumcision and some of the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, and dietary laws and restrictions. They added nothing to their salvation, so all this was of man and of the flesh and not of God, and so they were being strongly encouraged that faith in Jesus Christ was enough, it was all that was required of them.

And that is when we look at what that faith means, because it does not mean we are to be lawless, and it doesn’t mean that no works are required of us, which is clear by some of the referenced and quoted passages above, and it will be more clear when you read the noted Scriptures below. And if you read Hebrews 11, which is considered by many to be the faith chapter of the Bible, it is clear that faith resulted in action and in obedience. And our Lord made it clear in Hebrews 3 and 4 and in 1 Corinthians 10 that faith = obedience, and that disobedience = unbelief.

So, yes, do not add on to your faith a bunch of man-made rules and regulations which God does not require of you. But also do not assume that faith means you are obligated to obey no law. All throughout the New Testament we are commanded to obey our Lord and his commands (New Covenant), and that if we do not obey his commands that we do not know him, we are not in fellowship with him, and we do not have eternal life in him. So not being under the Old Covenant does not equal lawlessness.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Seek the Lord

An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

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