The online bible study group, She Reads Truth, is always vastly changing my mind about my life with God.
Most recently we’ve been studying Galatians. And the theme is “Faith or Works.” In chapter 3, Paul is discussing how we just need to have faith in Jesus and not rely on our works or actions as previously believed in the Old Testament. And I had several passages make a major difference in my understanding of God.
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)
This verse made me realize that we are Spirit first and human second. It’s like the saying that we are spirit beings having a human experience. So, how could we think that entry into God’s world – heaven – or even into relationship with Him – the Ultimate Spirit – could be achieved solely through the flesh’s works? We have to choose him with our spirit selves, in other words, by our hearts — by faith.
An overarching message that I hear almost every time I read the bible is that God wants us. He wants our hearts. He wants our souls. Neither the heart nor the soul refer to our works.
“So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Galatians 3:11 (NLT)
This teaching makes so much sense to me because if being with God was solely dependent on our human choices and actions, we’d fail over and over again. It would be pitiful!
The only perfect person was Jesus. Thank God we don’t have to rely on our works or being perfect to get to heaven or be in relationship with Him.
The Message version of 3:11-12 states that
“Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself into more rule-keeping . . . . The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”
Heck, what if we get the “rules” wrong? What if we live the “wrong” rules, but still had Jesus in our hearts? I just can’t fathom Jesus Christ, closing himself off to me because I broke a rule and repented but gave him my heart and my soul — meaning I had complete faith in Him.
I’m good at following rules, well, most of the time. I’ve committed a large portion of my life to studying and obtaining degrees so that I can do “good” works. Yet, I’m not convinced that if I help tell others stories or prevent the earth’s waters from being polluted that I get a pass into heaven. No, I think God wants more than that.
God is bigger than rules.
And if all we needed were rules, why did Jesus come and die on the cross? I love this verse.
“He became the curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse.” Galatians 3:13 (MSG)
Amazing! Christ came to be the curse so that we would not be cursed. His very coming and dying on the cross removed the rule-keeping requirement. He redeemed us. We gained grace and the Holy Spirit because of Jesus — not rules.
In other words, He came to give us grace — if we believe in him … if we have FAITH.
The bible has repeatedly shown us how we, as man, fall short of the rules. Jesus wants us to strive to be more like him and have complete faith in him. We must learn to live like Him… Dare I say, live from our hearts . . . it’s not as simple as complying with “rules.”
Maybe the more we have faith and strive to be closer and better in Christ, our works and actions will also change? What an awesome by-product… now that’s a paradigm shift.
Thank you God. I’m learning and listening.
Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,
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