What is so appealing about the Law that we naturally gravitate towards it? Even as believers, often times, we seek comfort and solace in its structure and boundaries. Instead we should find hope and peace because of the work of Christ. Know better, do better, right? If it were only that easy. No different than an unbeliever who revels in their sin and returns to it like a dog to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11), many believers fall prey to a heart that strives in itself, instead of trusting only in the work of Christ, alone, for salvation.
This was the Apostle Paul’s struggle with the Church at Galatia. Yes, they had been led astray by false teachers who sought to take them captive, but that was not his only battle. His primary battlefield was on the grounds of their hearts. Somewhere in the proclaimed message of false hope, their hearts chose to believe, and grab hold of a lie, rather than hold fast to what they knew to be true.
Why is the truth, sometimes hard to digest and a lie sweet to the taste and easy to swallow? In this case it is because we wrestle with our desire for control and autonomy (Psalm 2). Salvation through Christ requires submission to His headship. When we place our trust in Him, we not only believe in the perfect work of His life, death, and resurrection for our salvation, but we turn away fully in repentance from the sin that once had us bound, towards the God who gave His life as a ransom to redeem us. This combination of faith and repentance also pertains to our view of the Law. We are no longer dependent upon ourselves to earn a right standing before God by our works. That was accomplished by the work of Christ alone, by faith. The Apostle Paul makes this clear when he reminds the Galatians that a person is not justified by works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16).
Like an unbeliever, the Galatians were struggling with an identity crisis. Having aligned themselves with the Lord when they believed on Him, they had later allowed their gaze to be diverted when they took their eyes off Christ and placed their gaze on circumcision. But Paul wisely reminded them that, as Christians, they were no longer their own (Galatians 3:13). As those who had been bought with the blood of Christ for their redemption, they were His. They were no longer slaves to sin and bound by the Law and its fatal consequences. They were now slaves to righteousness, who had been made free in Christ. The justification that we all richly desire cannot be accomplished by works of the Law, because as Paul mentioned in the remainder of Galatians 2:16, no one will be justified by works of the Law. Instead he makes it clear where he finds his identity as one who believes in Galatians 2:20 when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
As believers it is easy to fall prey to a cycle of self-dependence. The world around us is consumed with boot strap theology and salvation by works. Although we are not saved by works, the Apostle Paul made it clear that the Law is holy and good (Romans 7:12 and 1 Timothy 1:8). Its primary purpose was as a guardian (Galatians 3:24), through which we come to knowledge of our sin (Romans 3:20). When our sin is revealed to us, it should drive us to the cross of Christ and remind us of our need for a Savior. That is where the Gospel displays its power in the hearts of man. As the Law shows us our inability to meet its standards and requirements, the Gospel reminds us of the one who did and how we are justified by faith through Christ alone. Let us, then, be faithful to fix our gaze on the one who accomplished it all.
Perry German II is a humble servant of Christ who is grateful for the Lord’s gift of salvation. A husband and a father to three daughters, he lives in the Spring/Woodlands area just north of Houston, TX. He enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, sports, writing, and reading. But his greatest joy is boasting in Christ by sharing the Gospel.