“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” (Galatians 3:1-3 ESV)?
I distinctly remember feeling free when I gave my heart to Jesus. There were plenty of distractions that morning, things that could have easily overtaken my mind and kept me from going forward. I didn’t like the pastor. I had family from out of town visiting. There was a girl I liked there. Then there was the fact that I had grown up in church; what would people think?!?
But that day was a day of destiny for me. The Holy Spirit laid hold of me with a tight, but loving grip. I had heard the words before. I believed what we’re supposed to believe. But that day real faith took hold and led me to the front of that church.
None of the scriptures I had memorized made any difference at that moment. Tears washed off any self-righteous face I may have had before.
I was broken. He healed me and gave me life.
Since that day I have been in contact with many well-meaning believers who felt the need to impose their brand of righteousness on me. It amazes me to this day how anyone could have more do not’s than do’s.
I confess that there were seasons of my life where I walked with them and held the same attitude. “A real Christian would never do that.”
But I received Christ in faith. The Law could never mature that faith.
“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23 ESV).
I mentioned above how I felt free when I received Christ, and His salvation. If we are saved by faith, but perfected by the law, then faith is a facade. it would be like being freed from a prison cell only to be led to the prison yard. You’re free… but not free.
Yes, God desires for us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). But He doesn’t want us striving to obey the Law so that we find our identity in the Law and not Him.
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:3-8 ESV).
Over the next few weekdays I’m going to look a little deeper at what it means to “live by the Spirit”.
Blessings on your day!