Don’t Give an Inch

Daily Reform, Day 72

Galatians 2:4-5 & Galatians 5:1-6

From the Reformer

Not satisfied with teaching an untrue gospel, the false apostles tried to entangle Paul. “They went about,” says Paul, “to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.”

When Paul saw through their scheme, he attacked the false apostles. He says, “We did not let go of the liberty which we have in Christ Jesus. We routed them by the judgment of the apostles, and we would not give in to them, no, not an inch.”

We too were willing to make all kinds of concessions to the papists. Yes, we are willing to offer them more than we should. But we will not give up the liberty of conscience which we have in Christ Jesus. We refuse to have our conscience bound by any work or law, so that by doing this or that we should be righteous, or leaving this or that undone we should be damned.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

There will always be those churches (if we may call them such) who tell you that you must do “this or that” in order to be saved. “This or that” is when some thing is added to faith. But no thing must be added to faith. Otherwise it would not be God’s grace that saves you. Otherwise it would not be God who saves you. It would be your efforts that save you. It would be you who saves you. When “this or that” is added to faith, you erect yourself as god.

Think for a moment. You understand that your efforts cannot save you. Your efforts must come after your salvation — in thankful response to your salvation. But your good works do not save you or make your salvation secure. Neither does your failure to effect good works condemn you. Only God may condemn you. But see! He has set you free through his Son’s efforts on your behalf.

Do not give an inch to these so-called Christians. Do not let them lure you back into the bondage of a guilty conscience. That is surely where you will go when you unsuccessfully try to save yourself through good works.

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

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