We All Need Fresh Encounters With Grace
‘You foolish Galatians,... having begun by the spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh.’ Galatians 3:1-3
The Galatian church, like most Christians, had a tendency to reject the ongoing presence of grace. Grace and a sense of self-righteousness cannot mix. As Christians get stale in our faith, we tend to revert to a works-based religion.
The church in Galatia received a dishonourable mention in the New Testament for reverting to self-righteousness. The book of Galatians was not written only for the church in Galatia; it was written for all of us. God knew that we all would have the same tendency.
Some time ago, I was talking with a young Bible College student who was part of a campus ministry at a local college. She was fervent in her faith but seemed frustrated about her lack of success. She told me about a friend who was becoming aware of their own need for Jesus. Her friend was in a mess but was reluctant to give up drugs, casual sexual relationships and wild parties. The student minister went on to express sadness at her inability to convince her friend to give up these things, so her friend could be saved!
I asked her why she wanted to burden her friend with having to become a good person. After all, if her unsaved friend could have victory over sin before she became born again, why would she need to get saved?
The Bible student tilted her head back and looked long and hard at me. “Do you mean to tell me” she said “that I should tell my friend that she can get saved and just keep on living in sin”.
Of course, that is not what I was saying. But, either we are saved because God has chosen to love us and die for us, or we are saved by being good. It’s one or the other.
The book of Galatians needs to be read and reread by all Christians. It is about the struggle that everyone experiences in breaking free from the feeling that they have to be good to be loved by God.
Galatians 3:3 summarizes what most of us have experienced at some time. Yes, we are saved and forgiven but much of our ongoing Christian experience is a life of works based struggle against sin in the flesh.
‘ are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the flesh? Galatians 3:3
Most of us know that we can only be saved by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but believe that growing up in Christ is based on works. We become burdened with a list of things we have to do to, to please God. Those old feelings of failure and guilt began to take hold of our life. Having been saved by grace, we try and grow up in Christ by our efforts. We become bound by what the Bible calls the ‘Law of sin and death’. Guilt and condemnation enter and as soon as this happens, the sense of grace leaves. Salvation becomes slave-ation: a dry, fleshly struggle to try and beat sin. This is not what God has in mind for us.