Daily Thoughts : February 17th
Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Paul had been seeking to combat the legalism that he found in the church in Galatia. This legalism still required Christians to DO things as part of their salvation. Yes, James was later to show that faith and works go hand in hand, but there is a lot of difference between faith that is revealed in activity and activity that is being performed out of feelings of guilt.
For instance, there were Jews who became Christians but insisted that Jewish believers should still be circumcised and even Gentiles who became Christian believers should be circumcised. Now this wasn't a faith thing, in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but a legalistic thing that linked them to the Old Testament Law and required that they follow Old Testament practices to come in line with God's requirements.
The only problem was that God wasn't saying that. New Testament faith, following Jesus, was based simply on believing, and believing in Him brought about a relationship with the Lord whereby the believer no longer needed to keep an eye on the Law, because God's Holy Spirit was within him or her and would guide him or her. Constantly looking to the Law brought about a frequent awareness of failure, and Christ came to release us from this.
Today everything flows out of relationship with him. Put most simply, if 'church' for us is all about keeping to rules or following long established traditions, we are back under the Law and we will, if we can be honest, find we are being self-centred, focusing on how well 'I' am achieving and how much 'I' am impressing God. God isn't impressed by legalistic religion but by simple, loving lives given over to Him.
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