Legalism is the most lethal weapon in Satan’s arsenal for destroying the Christian’s relationship with God. I don’t care how well meaning these people are, they are wrong to impose their works based teachings on their fellow Christians. In the book of Galatians Paul pulls no punches when confronting the churches about their drift into legalism. Paul’s frustration with these people is, that having known the grace of God that freely forgives, why on earth would they want to start trying to earn salvation through works? Paul cries out, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” Galatians 3: 1
This is a question that could well be asked in Christian circles to this day. The church needs to pay attention to the great doctrine of grace that permeates the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Paul writes, “We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.” Galatians 2: 15, 16 Paul says, “WE KNOW” it is Jesus who saves us and it is not by any effort on our part.
Paul makes it clear that anyone who thinks they can earn merit with God by their actions is under a spell. They have been bewitched by the evil one. In fact Paul goes even further and writes, “for all who rely on works of the law are under a curse, for it is written, ‘cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law and do them.’” Galatians 3: 10 Paul is saying if you want to try and earn salvation through your obedience based religion then go ahead and try, but since no one is perfect you will fail. And if you fail then you are cursed.
Please don’t get me wrong; I am not throwing out the law. I’m just saying that our attempts to keep the law as a means of salvation are wrong. The law represents the character of God and points out our inability to live in harmony with God through our own efforts. The law points us to Christ where we find grace. When we attempt to work our way into God’s grace we invalidate all that Jesus did upon the cross. We are saying, “what you did on that cross God is not enough, just step aside and let me show you my good deeds.”
Paul goes on in Galatians to say that those people who attempt to earn their salvation through works are under a schoolmaster, they are in bondage, and are slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. He further adds that when we try to earn God’s pleasure we are severed from God and have fallen away from grace. (See Galatians 3: 24; 4: 8; 4: 3 & 9; 5: 5) Obviously Paul takes this attempt by the Galatians to add to the grace of God very seriously, because the grace of God is free to all who accept the gift.
I’m going to be blunt, a great number of people who contact this blog have been beaten up by people and institutions that are more interested in making a point than making a difference in people’s lives and that is wrong. Christianity isn’t about rules and regulations; it is all about grace. Grace that flows out of the nail pierced hands of God and is freely given to all who wish it. Mozart’s famous Requiem has a line, “remember, merciful Jesu, that I am the cause of your journey.” You and I are the reason Jesus hung on that cross and we are the reason he comes running to us even before we call out His name. There is nothing greater than GRACE.