Links Daily Devotional

Work It Out

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. (Galatians 5:1, NLT)

Anyone who has played golf at a highly competitive level knows what I am talking about when I refer to post-round “work it out” sessions. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about and actually find golf to be relaxing and a fun way to spend a few hours of your day, let me tell you that for many of us golf is really a sadistic game where hitting it bad ruins our entire day and outlook on life! And in this torturous game we claim to love, the only way to at all ease the pain of a bad round is to go to the range and work it out.

You think we are crazy, but I know something about you that is also this way—your acceptance of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Your full acceptance of God’s new covenant and a no-strings-attached gift of grace and love through faith is just too simple and freeing for you.

As it pertains to your right standing with God, you still feel the need to work it out. There’s got to be more!

After all, how will we ever win in this competitive rat race of life? How will we ever make it to the top of God’s leaderboard without having to work it out ourselves? There’s still got to be a measuring stick, a scorecard, something so that others around us can see how good we are doing. Right?

Not anymore. That was the old covenant; it was a temple model that pretty much still applies to all other religions, and it is why you still don’t feel free in your version of Christianity, despite the fact that Christ said that the reason he came was to set you free. This temple model I’m referring to is where the yoke and burden of trying to obey the laws and rules taints the perfectness of the gift of grace. It’s about working it out yourself. Despite the Christian buzzwords you often use, I bet you are all still hanging on to parts of this old model; and it is those parts that you can’t let go of that made Paul so apoplectic toward the church in Galatia.

This church was requiring the Gentile male converts to be circumcised and its members to observe certain Jewish laws and customs that they had carried over into their new hope found in Christ. Paul, “a real Hebrew if there ever was one” (Philippians 3:5), wrote to them in Galatians 5, “If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. For if you are trying to make yourself right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from grace” (NLT). “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (NIV).

You probably can’t believe that a church would require surgery to be a part of it, but then again you’re experiencing some of the same type of requirements in your religious consciences. They too are shaped by some of what Jesus taught, but with a large dose of temple model theology mixed in. Such temple models include additional rules around alcohol, confession, communion, giving, church attendance, worship and so on. Thus, you’re living a theology constructed with one part faith in God’s grace and another part work it out mentality. And to make you feel better about yourself, you force it upon those around you.

Something makes me think I need to say it again, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” If you don’t believe me, read the rest of Galatians 5 for yourself, where Paul wrote, “As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and [castrate] themselves” (NIV)! That’s how much old covenant thinking angered the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit inside him then. I’m sure God still today is more than upset when we lose faith in the complete work of Jesus Christ and insist on having to work it out ourselves!

Josh Nelson
February 24, 2015
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