It Goes to Motive


Daily Reform, Day 65

Galatians 2:2 & Hebrews 11:1-6

From the Reformer

Paul admits that he conferred with the apostles concerning his Gospel. But he denies that the conference benefited or taught him anything. The fact is he resisted those who wanted to force the practice of the Law upon the Gentiles. They did not overcome him, he overcame them. “Your false apostles lie, when they say that I circumcised Timothy, shaved my head in Cenchrea, and went up to Jerusalem, at the request of the apostles. I went to Jerusalem at the request of God. What is more, I won the indorsement of the apostles. My opponents lost out.”

The matter upon which the apostles deliberated in conference was this: Is the observance of the Law requisite unto justification? Paul answered: “I have preached faith in Christ to the Gentiles, and not the Law. If the Jews want to keep the Law and be circumcised, very well, as long as they do so from a right motive.”

Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Some people want to follow the law because it makes them stand above the pack. If you do that or you don’t do this then I am better than you. Other people keep the law because they think it wins them God’s grace. Or worse, simply everlasting life.

It goes to motive. Why do you want to keep the law or have everlasting life? If the answer is to love and please God, that is a fine motive. If your motive is to please others or to exact something from the Divine, then you are on the wrong track. Either requires faith since it is impossible to please God apart from faith. (Heb 11:6) Works will not please him; only faith pleases God. He is especially pleased when you continue in faith after you have failed him in the works department. When Paul said, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out,” (Rom 7:18) that was ironically the time to please God by persevering in faith.

Some who read this will have hardened hearts, unable to comprehend.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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