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If righteousness comes by the law, Christ died in vain

Galatians 2:21 says, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Because the law was about our performance, I believe this verse could also say, “For if righteousness comes through anything I can do, then Christ died in vain.”

Here is what I see as a huge problem in the life of many Christians today. Many of us set aside grace and go back to our own efforts. It may not be intentional, but rather from not knowing any better. Without outright saying it or consciously realizing we are doing it, we have the attitude of, “Ok Jesus, thanks for giving me my ticket to heaven. You’ve done your part. Now step aside because it is up to me now to perform so I don’t lose that ticket.”

We set aside grace and what Jesus has done and put the burden to perform now back on ourselves. That was my life before I truly understood grace, and I know I am not alone. In fact I got an email from a reader when I started this series on the new covenant, and in it he wrote:

Hi Amber, I just read your article in the Bargain Hunter about the series you are planning to write (law and grace). I am looking forward to it. I have been studying and praying about that very thing for a long time and trying to make sense of it. The church I go to teaches that we are saved by grace but also that we need to do our part, like don’t sin, and if you do, repent and confess.

It’s like we have a standard set for ourselves, and if we are performing up to par at the time we die, we will make it to heaven. They never word it this way, but that is the message I’m getting. The problem is we are never sure if we are being good enough. I should say though that there are a few in the ministry that are very burdened by this way of thinking. I am studying the book of Romans right now, looking for answers. I am wondering how works play into our part as a believer in Jesus. I know we will never be saved by our works, but can we be condemned by them if we are a Christian?

I told him I knew exactly what he was talking about because that used to be my life. I thought that Jesus saved me, but then it was up to me to maintain that standing and I could somehow sin it away. This is false thinking. Jesus has already taken care of all our sins and was condemned in our place. I too carried a heavy burden, lived in a world full of self-righteousness when I thought I was doing good and condemnation when I messed up.

Do you know what that kind of thinking does? It takes the emphasis away from Jesus and what he has done for us and puts the burden back on ourselves. It is receiving the new covenant and then going back and living under the old covenant. What a change keeping Jesus and his finished work at the cross as my focus has made in my life.

Colossians 2:6 says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” How did we receive Jesus as our Lord? By doing everything right? By being holy enough? No, it was by grace through faith. He provided us salvation through his grace, and we simply used faith to receive that free gift. That is how we are to walk, continually putting faith in what he has done for us. Verse 7 goes on to say, “Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

Rooted and built up in him, not ourselves and our performance. Does that mean our behavior doesn’t matter, and we can just go live however we want? No, I want people to be drawn to Jesus, and if I go live in sin, not only will it hurt me, but it will not draw people to Jesus; However, when I focus on Jesus and what he has done, it makes me want to live right. It makes me want to help others. I then live out my faith by my actions.

I want to encourage you, dear readers, to keep Jesus and what he has done for you as your focus. Don’t hop back to the old covenant way of trying to please God through your works. Jesus has taken care of that for you forever. Rest in him and his love and watch your life change in ways you never thought possible.

Amber can be reached at amberdeemiller32@gmail.com or through her AmberRiceMiller Facebook page.

Published: July 13, 2016
New Article ID: 2016707139997