I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.Galatians 2: 21
This passage always makes me pause. Why? It’s because of how little Peter did to bring it about. I know, as a leader he should have considered the consequences of his choice. However, Paul doesn’t say that Peter said the wrong thing. Paul wasn’t accusing Peter of teaching that the law makes a person more acceptable to God. Peter hadn’t said under his breath something like, “Those backsliding Gentiles, I’m glad you guys got here.” All he did was start to fellowship with the Jewish believers rather than the Gentiles.
Yet, for Paul, that was enough. It was enough to communicate to the Gentile believers that they were somehow second class. It was enough to make some in the crowd wonder if they ought to become Jewish in order to be acceptable to Peter. Just the hint of ‘works’ set Paul off.
What about me? Do I have that sort of passion about all the glory going to Jesus? Do I want my righteousness to be Jesus alone? Oh, I don’t want to go back to the Jewish law, but do I create my own “law” to measure my righteousness? A law like this:
1. I brought my Bible to church.
2. I didn’t beat my kids this week.
3. I read my Bible 5 times this week.
4. I prayed this week.
5. I didn’t use any bad words.
6. I didn’t look at pornography.
7. I put a 20 in the offering plate.
8. I signed up to do VBS (missions team, Sunday School, small groups, etc).
9. I called my mother/father on Mother’s/Father’s Day.
10. I listened to the pastor as he shared the Word.
It’s a new 10 commandments! Are any of these on your list? When we do them, we feel good because we have achieved our standard of righteousness. We think that we are better people because of it.
Yet, are we better people? In the book of Galatians, Paul declares that it is only by grace through faith that a person is made righteous. In fact, he says that when we start living by rules we are going back to God’s ultimate standard: we have to obey EVERY rule in order to be righteous. Can you or I do that? Can we obey EVERY rule ALL the time?
Paul says emphatically, “NO!” Any honest person would have to say the same. So, I don’t want a rule book. I want a person. I want Jesus. I want to depend on Him alone for my righteousness. I want to communicate it clearly. I want to live by Him earnestly. I want to listen to His leading so that He gets all the glory. How about you? Are you ready to put away your list?
Something to think about,