Daily Reform, Day 144
Galatians 2:18 & Romans 8:1-8
From the Reformer
“I have not preached to the end that I build again the things which I destroyed. If I should do so, I would not only be laboring in vain, but I would make myself guilty of a great wrong. By the ministry of the Gospel I have destroyed sin, heaviness of heart, wrath, and death. I have abolished the Law, so that it should not bother your conscience any more. Should I now once again establish the Law, and set up the rule of Moses? This is exactly what I should be doing, if I would urge circumcision and the performance of the Law as necessary unto salvation. Instead of righteousness and life, I would restore sin and death.”
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
The Christian life is meant to be blessed. Though sometimes it begins in this manner, it too often gets derailed. At other times, it does not even begin on the path of blessing.
Many people come to Christ because they are looking for forgiveness and peace of mind. Later, they fall into a lifestyle of law-keeping. They worry that if they do not keep such and such a commandment to the letter, they will be damned. Others begin with the standard of law-keeping, looking to such a false faith as a sort of booster shot that will increase their immunity to sinning. When they discover that, try as they might, they are still sinners, they grow despondent and quit their so-called faith. This should come as no surprise since those who endeavor to live by the flesh instead of by the Spirit cannot please God. (Rom 8:8)
But real faith in Christ is just that: faith in Christ. It is not faith in what you do; that is faith in yourself. It is not a matter of circumcision, or what you eat, or who you eat with, or of giving up some habit that troubles the conscience. These are all things that you do. True faith is trust in what Jesus has done and continues to do for you. He died on the cross to satisfy your debt to the Holy God. In doing so he fulfilled the Law. (Matt 5:17) He did this for you so that you could live in the Spirit where there is life and peace instead of drudgery and despair.
If you began with Christ but have left him for a life of law-keeping, come home to the Prince of Peace. If you started with a religion of law-abiding, turn to the Spirit life immediately. Tell Jesus that you have been trying to do it by yourself — even if you thought you were doing it for him. Thank him for doing it for you. In this alone is the blessing of salvation and thus, life and peace.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers