9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:9-10
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
– Galatians 3:1-3
Friends, nothing you do can improve or diminish your standing before Christ. If you are in him, you are seen in the light of his perfect obedience, his death, and his resurrection. There is no list of special words you can say that will validate your faith. There is no list of incantations that buy you a better place at Father’s table. You are not made righteous or acceptable by your own perfect obedience, and your salvation is not in question if you do not live up to the expectations or demands of man. You will simply never live up to man’s onerous requirements, including your own. And you will certainly never live up to the perfect holiness of Jesus. And yet, by faith not only are you seen by God as dressed in the righteousness and covered in the innocent blood of the risen victorious Jesus, it is by the power of the resurrection and the Holy Spirit living in you, that you are able to ever say no to temptation, no matter how present and deeply engrained in your soul, mind, and body it is. But no aspect of that fight is securing your standing before Christ. No aspect of that fight, even your failures, makes you someone Christ cannot use in the lives of others.
Scripture is clear. Jesus only heals the broken. You do not come to him already presentable. And you should not only be joined in community to his people when you’ve reached a certain level of sanctification. How beautiful the broken bride of Christ is when we allow him to do the sanctifying, as he washes us with the word.
King David – murderer, adulterer, possible war criminal – many of these were done well into his knowledge and love of the Lord – REDEEMED
Moses – murderer, cavalier with his wife’s physical and sexual safety because of self-preservation, prone to rage – REDEEMED
Paul – murder approver, persecutor, likely condescending jerk – REDEEMED
Rahab – hooker – REDEEMED
Ethiopian Eunuch – one can only imagine his testimony, there’s a story there! – REDEEMED
Not one of those people. Not you. Not me. None are made more acceptable to God by any rigorous obedience to man’s strangling and ever-shifting demands. None were used powerfully by God because they had reached “level x” of sanctification. Guilty as hell prison inmates become evangelists. Depraved wretches, and only depraved wretches, become the mouthpieces of God. As nice as you, your small group leader, missionary friend, or pastor is, he or she is a depraved wretch saved only by the grace and mercy of Jesus. The power they have to fight indwelling sin is the very same power you have if you are in Christ, as it is the power that raised Jesus from the death caused by our sin.
Your birthday presents are many when being born into the kingdom. Peace that passes understanding, the joy of forgiveness, kinship with other broken believers, the ability to bear spiritual fruit for the feeding of others, suffering, tribulations, the fight of your life.
I am eating up the Galatians sermon series we are going through at church. The gospel is more of a treasure to me than ever before. For it tells me that while I may battle sin every day for the rest of my life, it is powerless to own me or destroy me or undo my justification in Christ. It tells me that I didn’t save myself and I cannot sanctify myself. While even Christians at times may place demands on me that do not showcase the beauty of God’s grace, and sometimes may even be antithetical to the gospel message, God does not. He calls for a life of humble repentance and faith in Jesus, one that is worked out with fear and trembling, not the pompous pride and self-congratulation toward which my heart is so prone.
Read those verses again and rejoice that your salvation and sanctification are not dependent upon you if you are hidden in Christ.