Galatians 2:16-21; Justified by Faith

“16 Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a law-breaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
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Looking back, even as recent as a few years ago, I see how… naive I was in my faith. Like somehow, my heart remained oblivious to some of the fundamental truths that shape me today. The depth of understanding I had regarding God, and his love; the trinity, the crucifixion of Christ; The Holy Spirit and its fruits, etc, were memorized stories from years of attending Church, and a Catholic School. I never questioned it; I never dug deeper. I accepted these things, placed them high on the shelf, then committed myself to being “good”. And by my efforts, I could make it up there. Or so I thought.
Through God’s grace, time revealed how flawed my thinking was. How untrue, and uneducated my understanding was.
In the above scripture, it states we are not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
What is ‘the Law’? Paul makes reference to it over and over again in the New Testament. I admit, in my early years of being a Christian this “law” thing completely baffled me. We are no longer slaves to the law? Huh?
I googled it, and this is what I found;

” When “the law” is mentioned in the Bible,  it harks back to the days of the Old Testament. There  are hundreds of commands given to the Israelites, but  the phrase “the law” refers specifically to  the compilation of decrees found in the first five books  of the Bible. This whole body of law was given the name  Torah. ”
( For the rest of this article, you can go to : http://www.biblica.com/bibles/faq/17/ )

Why the Law? Paul says in Romans 3:20 :
”  20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Some may find this almost devastating; ‘Has everything I have done been for nothing??’.
Rather it should be humbling, I think. To know that the God of the Universe sent his only Son as the final and Ultimate sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.
As I type all this, the hymn ” How deep the Father’s Love for us” starts playing in my head.
Once again, I am reminded that it is simply not about me. God is who he is; what I do, say or believe won’t change that. Despite my flaws, He loves me and invites me join in His kingdom work. To live by faith.

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Mud and Guilt

It’s a rather vague memory, but it’s there. At a relative’s farm; it was early spring. Mucky, muddy, slushy season. And what kid can resist an adventurous trek through an enticing mud garden?
Rubber boots? Yup. One can almost see the ‘Just Do It’ logo hovering over our heads, as we cautiously at first, then gleefully stomp through the muck.
Ok, so I’m embellishing a little. Truth is, the image in my mind is of my young self – maybe 8?- standing on the grass at the edge of this mud pit, and turning around to find my younger brother a few feet away, his boots half-swallowed by mud. He was stuck real good.
So I did as any good sister would do, and reached out to him, encouraging him to take my hand.
He tried. He reached…
And reached…
And, well…
I’m pretty sure my Aunt put him in the shower with all his clothes still on. Poor lad.
Isn’t that how bad decisions go about sometimes?
We cautiously consider our options, tip toe-ing around the mud pit.
Perhaps it is not a good idea…
Then again… what makes it so bad? Perhaps there isn’t any real harm in it at all… And, just this once…
Funny thing is, we tend to be a moment too late in the realization that, yes, it wasn’t a very wise idea at all.
Not that children would be giving much thought to the choice that led to their muddied selves. Perhaps in this aspect, my analogy is lacking. I mean, kids and mud – it’s just bound to happen, right?
But can we approach everything with this attitude?
“Everyone’s doing it these days…”
“It’s just a phase…”
“Just curious…”
“Just this once…”

Perhaps it is just me, but the moment I realize I am trying to justify something to someone – or more often, myself – the Guilty light flickers on.

The more recent sermons at the church I attend, have put a lot of focus on kingdom-first living. And it’s a challenge. How does one go about that? How do we incorporate our faith into our lives? Or is it, how do we incorporate life into our faith? And in this aspect, my guilt is not so much a matter of what I’m doing, but rather, what I am not.
So, what now?
The question that is never completely satisfied…
But I feel the need to write that God is Always Listening.