So, I like to read blogs. I also like people who write blogs, but I have always felt myself unworthy of a blog. I just always thought it would be arrogant of me to assume other people wanted to read what I had to say. And in a sense, it kind of is. And maybe no one wants to read my blog, and if they don’t, thats ok. I decided to make one because 1) its a great way for friends and family to keep up with my life, 2) a couple friends suggested it, 3) I will mainly be talking about what I am learning through my study of Scripture. It won’t be perfect, in fact it will most likely be very messy, but hey, I’m willing to give it a shot. My hope is that something I write here will spark gospel conversations, and also give myself and other believers a love of the Word, and above all, a deep affection for Jesus.
Also, I can’t promise I will be consistent.
So, I’m studying Galatians, and it has really been challenging because legalism is one of my biggest struggles. Paul is rebuking a false doctrine that has infected the church: work-based salvation. He uses very strong language to get the point across to the Galatians that they need to return to the message they first heard. In Chapter one he proves to them that he did not come from man nor through the agency of man, but he was sent by God. The gospel that he proclaimed did not come from him but from God Himself. Then in Chapter two Paul explains his efforts to protect the truth of the gospel, and his calling to preach to the Gentiles. He then uses Peter as an example to explain that there should be no partiality shown between Jews and Gentiles because it is only by faith that we are justified. Meditating on chapter two has renewed my mind in a very powerful way, but here I will just quote the concluding verses:
[Gal 2:16-21 NASB] 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Intellectually I know that God loves me and I have His favor because of the righteousness of Christ. But do I live like that? Do I think like that? Not most of the time. I don’t know about everyone else, but most of the time I think I gain more favor with God by the good things I have done that day. If I studied the Word, prayed fairly consistently, played my role in the ministries I’m committed to, then usually I am under this delusion that God is more pleased. Likewise, when I don’t wake up to my alarms, forget about prayer completely, or “fail” at ministering to others, I condemn myself and think God is less pleased. Try again tomorrow, right? These verses are so precious to me because they spoke directly against this lie I had been believing. Like I said, I can intellectually affirm the truth that Jesus’ righteousness is placed on me, but as far as my patterns of thought on a moment to moment basis, I have been directly contradicting that. I think for believers there is always this tension going on between what we believe and know as truth, and then what we actually think and do. Our whole lives are spent trying to get rid of this tension, so that everything about the way we live represents truth. It is trusting in the Lord and believing He is who He says He is in every circumstance of this life. Here is what hit me square in the face while studying these verses: God always looks on me with favor. Always. No matter what I do, no matter what I think, Jesus has already paid the price. Because of the cross, and because of this great exchange that Jesus accomplished, He looks at me and sees Jesus’ righteousness. I love that the gospel is so simple yet so profound. I can’t gain more approval or lose it. I have the fullness of it in Christ! What a glorious truth! So how do I operate from day to day? Why do I do works for the Lord? Because I’m holy and blameless in God’s sight! When I wake up and preach the gospel to myself the joy of the gospel and the love of Jesus well up within me in such a way that creates Spirit-led obedience. Why do I struggle and make war against my sin? Because I know living in obedience gives me more of Jesus, my highest, my greatest delight. So I am learning and training my mind to operate through the joy of the knowledge of the gospel. It is only through that I will find the unending strength to obey Him and live for Him. We were unable to gain His favor, so He sent Himself to gain the fullness of His own favor for us. In this way He is both Just and Justifier. All my works, everything I do, should just be a natural overflow of this joy inside me. I shouldn’t be blameless, but I am! Its crazy that I am loved by God! But we are! Through Jesus the Father can look at us and say “well done”. The gospel is so good. Thanks for reading.