Links Daily Devotional

A Tough Lesson

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. (Galatians 2:21-3:1, ESV)

Let me suggest that today’s Scripture contains some of the apostle Paul’s greatest, boldest, most direct statements seen throughout his letters.

Why such boldness? Paul was rebuking a church (it was really a group of churches in the region of Galatia) that he had planted, a church that he loved very much and cared for dearly. However, the church had let in false teachers who were saying that rather than by grace through faith, you are saved by faith plus obeying the law. Paul had founded the church on the Gospel, teaching them that works do not save a person from the wrath of God and that faith and grace are both gifts from God freely given to us (Ephesians 2). However, they started believing other things.

Have you ever had to go through a tough swing change? Very seldom in swing changes do we find “quick fixes.” It is usually a process and something that takes much time, effort, and work. We must buy in to our teacher’s experience and knowledge of the golf swing, even through breaking in our “new” swing” (which may lead to poor shots and rounds for a little while).

During one of my big swing changes back in my competitive golf career, I remember one of the hardest, toughest lessons I had with my instructor. I started to settle for a quick fix type lesson, one that wouldn’t require much work or effort. My teacher got on to me, for he knew he had taught me otherwise. We had many conversations prior to this lesson, and I knew that in order to achieve long-term success (versus short-term, temporary success), I had to gut it out and stick to what he had been teaching me. Hard lessons aren’t fun and are usually accompanied with uncomfortable feelings, embarrassment, and a big humbling.

You see, this is what the churches at Galatia were in desperate need of. They had staggered away from the truth and were putting their eggs into the basket of faith plus works as a saving mechanism. “O foolish Galatians” seems harsh and unloving of Paul. However, it was because of his love for these churches that he was upset. He founded the church on the contrary of what they were starting to believe (and maybe pass on to others!).

Paul knew these were tough words for the Galatians. He knew he was probably going to offend them and make them feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. However, for their benefit, out of love, he knew he had to address them, and with much force and boldness behind his words. This is necessary for us sometimes as well. It is easy to believe and fall into the trap of thinking that somehow our works have some merit in our salvation. The good I do definitely outweighs the bad; therefore, God must save me because of what I have done. Often we do this internally without even knowing it. However, no works can save you from the wrath and penalty of sin. Nothing but Christ! His perfect life on earth, his blood on the cross to atone for our sins, and his resurrection all lead us to salvation. It’s his works for us that save us, not ours!

Rosson Anderson
October 28, 2014
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