Stadiums could be filled with believers who struggle with sin patterns that are difficult to break. Have you ever looked in the mirror and said to yourself, “Why do I keep doing that?!” I have.
The life of faith and obedience is lived on one of two foundations. The foundation of human effort and law-keeping, or the foundation of faith and transformation by the Holy Spirit. We’ll respond to our sin in one of two ways:
Make rules, set up boundaries and try harder to obey.
Or pray, ask for God’s help, and lean into the work of the Holy Spirit to transform us.
The first choice is law motivated and effort based. The second is relationship motivated and grace based.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians can be summed up in a sentence: “Why are you foolish Galatians now trying to accomplish by the law and rituals what you received by faith and through becoming children of God by the Spirit?”
Recently, two verses in Galatians have been wooing me deeper into the arms of Jesus and the grace transformation He has promised:
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope (Galatians 5:4,5).
Law-based Christianity alienates us from the relational help we need most. It is the Spirit who will produce in us the righteousness for which we hope.
What does that mean for us?
We learn to bring our whole, vulnerable self into an honest relationship with Jesus.
Our prayers go from ritual to dependent interaction with the One who loves us more deeply than we know.
Motivated from that relationship and our position as His children, we join the Holy Spirit, sensitive to His prodding and ways of escape, and expectant for the growth that lies ahead.
And, as we travel with a few, safe, like-hearted friends in this journey of transformation, we will experience what God promises in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
In His Grip,
U.S. President, The Navigators
I tend to equate these passages in Galatians with salvation more than sanctification, although I’m sure they holds truth for both. But when it comes to sanctification, I have to also consider verses such as 2 Peter 1:5-8 which says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And also Hebrews 12:4, “”n your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” These verses make me think that in many cases, we simply aren’t trying hard enough to obey. Granted, our effort must be rooted in he tools that God has given us in His Word, in prayer, in the Holy Spirit and in Christian fellowship. Together they provide “everything we need for life and godliness.”
Transformation is faith based and goal oriented (Romans 8:28-29). It is intentional and effortful (Luke 9:23; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:1-2; and Hebrews 12:1-4). It involves appropriating God’s grace in practical ways (Galatians 2:21, as well as resting in His grace and love.
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