> Living Letter

01/03/2014 - Do not leave Grace

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5.1-6).

With the fall of Adam, the Lord God created two institutions in order to bless man: the Law and Grace. At first, He gave us the Law, which had ordinances and regulations. The Law worked through obedience. It was good, but at the same time, impossible to be fully accomplished. The person who did not keep up all the Law, tripping in just one point, would be at a uncomfortable position and would not reach the promise: For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2.10).

Of course the Lord did not give something bad to man. At that time, the Law was the best thing that could be given. In fact, it was given to guide us to Christ: So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3.24).

Grace, a better institution – With the coming of the Lord Jesus, a second and better institution came into action – Grace. It is the New Alliance that was accomplished on better promises: But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. (Hebrews 8.6). Contrary to the Law, Grace does not work through obedience; it runs on faith.

As we all know, faith is not a desire for a blessing, which sometimes arouses in people, which do everything that is possible to conquer them. The Bible teaches us what faith really is: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hb11.1). The Lord God gave all people a certain amount of faith: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12.3).

The danger of going back to the Law – Writing to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul, shows much concern with the danger that our brethren from Galatia were going through. This same danger is very present in our days: the trust in the Law, disguised as religious practices.

In those days, people connected to Judaism taught the Galatians that they should practice circumcision and naturally, all other requirements of the Jewish religion. Once he was aware of this fact, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians showing them how absurd these practices were. Paul calls their attention severely to the fact that they started by the Spirit and now they were striving to finish off by the flesh. In his letter to those brethren, in chapter 3, the apostle warns them in very harsh manner, calling them foolish: You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. (Gl 3.1).

In chapter 5 of the same Letter, the sacred author begins warning our brethren to remain firm in freedom: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5.1). It was up to them to remain in freedom. If they started to observe the requirements of the law, they would remain under the yoke of slavery. This message is very up to date. All people that hear the Word of God and believe in It are placed under the grace of God, where faith is the only requisite for the power of God to operate.

However, there are many voices preaching that a certain amount of sacrifice is necessary for us to receive the blessings which have already been freely given to us by our Beloved. This type of preaching is very dangerous because those who begin to practice obedience rituals, not only do they place themselves under the yoke of slavery, but they also miss out on their positions as sons, as they pass on to being servants and become useless in the Christian life: Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.(Galatians 5.2).

The apostles´ zeal for the Galatians grows in such a way that he warns them even more: Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5.3,4). The beloved apostle reveals that the simple fact of obeying a “simple” rule of the Law makes the person obligated to keep all the Law. This obedience is deeper that it looks like. It´s an option that the person makes inadvertently: the person leaves behind the Grace institution and immerses in the Law institution. What´s worse is that because of this “simple” act, the person is separated from Christ. I would do anything to never let myself separate from the Lord.

There is more to the revelation. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul, tells us in verse 6 of this chapter that in Christ Jesus, only faith holds any virtue: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5.6). If he was writing in today’s days, he would certainly write like this: “Because in Jesus Christ, neither religion nor it´s absence has any virtue, but only faith which runs through love”.

Do not leave Grace – On the Law, obedience was what worked; with Grace, what works is faith. It comes to our heart when we hear the Word of God. It affirms that all of God´s blessings have yes, in Christ Jesus. With this faith, we do not need to sacrifice ourselves to have an abundant life brought by the Lord Jesus; but, we have to determine that which we want: And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.(John 14.13). It is up to you to decide if you will live in Grace, using your faith, or if you will turn back to the empire of the Law, to the yoke of slavery, to the sacrifices, the penances and other works of the flesh.

All those who live by faith overcome. All those who live under the Law stumble. Which way will you live? Do all that is necessary not to fall from Grace, because the other institution has proven to be insufficient to justify us before God. As for Grace, the Word of God tells us of it´s importance: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2.8).

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