What Must I Do?
The book of Galatians is a relatively small book, written by the Apostle Paul. While the book may seem small, it packs a punch and hold nuggets of truth that are as valid today as when the letter was first penned.
The impetus of Paul's writing was a group of "Judaizers" - Jews who had come to the Messiah and then taught that in order for a Gentile (non-Jew) to become a Christian he had to become a Jew first. Apparently they were persuading men to become circumcised and teaching them that it was necessary to keep the Law in order to be saved. But if their argument was true, why did Jesus have to atone for our sins? Good question. But before we look at the answer, let's see why these fellows behaved the way they did.
I'm sure pride may have had a role in their actions. Who wouldn't like to keep a tally of their good deeds to show God how they deserve to spend eternity with Him? But I think something even bigger was at work - a fear that has been deeply rooted in the heart of every Jew for two thousand years. "If I give up my Jewishness, what will become of Israel?"
No, one Jew coming to Christ would not spell the end of Israel. But what if millions of Jews came to Christ and flung their Jewishness to the wind? The thought of a world without Israel, while appealing to a small number of fanatics, crushes the hear of a Jew.
So rather than be assimilated into Gentile society, these Judaizers went a little overboard. They also committed blasphemy.
By requiring anything beyond Christ's work at the cross for a person's salvation they were nullifying that very work. They were spitting in the face of God, telling Him that His sacrifice wasn't good enough. And there are those that still do that today.
I'm not speaking solely of Jews who have come to Christ and then teach that a person must still lie under the Law (although there are many who do just that). No, it isn't wrong to worship in a Hebraic style. In fact, it's quite wonderful! But if your reasoning is because it makes you a "better" Christian or because the Law says to do it this or that way, you are on dangerous ground. If you look in any church in America you will find legalism and systems of works - things that we have to do in order to be worthy of Christ's love and salvation. But were we worthy to come to Christ in the first place? Were we worthy of God's love? No! And what did we do in order to secure our salvation?
We did nothing. Jesus did everything. We simply believe in Jesus, the completed work He wrought on the cross, and in the One Who sent Him.
The Law itself was a covenant given to Israel some 400 years after God executed the covenant with Abraham. The Law did not fulfill the Abrahamic covenant, nor did it supersede it. The Law was given for the sole purpose of identifying and magnifying sin in order that we could see just how incapable we are and how desperately we need the atonement Christ gives us. The Law was also only to be in effect until the Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled in Christ.
If we look at the Law of Moses and recognize that we are completely incapable of keeping the totality of the Law (which is what is required in order to be justified by the Law), we've taken a very good first step. Yeshua, the Messiah, is the only person ever to walk the face of this earth who was able to keep the Law. He was the only one who didn't have to suffer the consequences of the Law because of failure to live under the Law successfully. Yet Jesus chose to take our punishment, the punishment each one of us deserves for breaking God's Law, so that we could live under God's grace rather than justice if we choose to accept the work that Jesus did on the cross.
The Law demands justice. Justice requires that punishment be meted out if the Law has been broken. Our punishment for breaking the Law is eternal separation from God.
The Abrahamic covenant provides for God's blessing and grace through the Sacrifice He Himself has provided. Grace allows each one of us, if we have accepted Yeshua's atonement on our behalf, to stand before God's throne and rightfully say that we are no longer bound by the Law. Therefore we are not subject to its penalty.
"Now it is evident that no person is justified (declared righteous and brought into right standing with God) through the Law, for the Scripture says, The man in right standing with God [the just, the righteous] shall live by and out of faith and he who through and by faith is declared righteous and in right standing with God shall live. But the Law does not rest on faith [does not require faith, has nothing to do with faith], for it itself says, He who does them [the things prescribed by the Law] shall live by them [not by faith]. Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified); to the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit." - Galatians 3:11-14 (Amplified)
We have but one way out - through Christ. If we do anything out of religious duty, feeling that if we do or don't do something solely because it will make us a better Christian or further secure our salvation, we are trying to add to the completed work that Jesus did on the cross. We are telling Him that what He did for us isn't good enough. We are spitting in His face.
Ask the Lord to show you the truth of the work He accomplished on the cross, to make it real in your life. Ask that He would lift the self-imposed burdens you may have. Ask that He would fully manifest the freedom He purchased for you in your life. Don't waste another day!