Saved and Perfected by Grace By George Stroh August 30, 2010
"This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing with Faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:2-3)
Christians are saved by grace through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We didn't do anything to earn our salvation and we didn't deserve God's forgiveness. Nor were any of us seeking for God; "There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God" (Romans 3:11). Even the faith that we have in the Gospel didn't originate with us , it was a free gift from God.
Most Christians understand that our salvation is totally by grace-- God's unilateral, unmerited favor. None of our so called "good works" can contribute anything to His free gift. Yet many Christians think that their new life in Christ and maintaining a good relationship with God now depends upon doing their best. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian church to explain that both our sanctification ("being perfected"), as well as, our salvation is by hearing with faith and not by our self-righteous futile attempts to try to keep the law and do good works; "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." (Romans 7:18).
Jesus was asked "...which is the great commandment in the law?" He responded; "You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:36-37). This is the fulfillment of the law and not ever possible for our sinful flesh in which nothing good dwells. Striving to love God like this in my own strength leads to either pride or discouragement. Pride, like the rich, young ruler (Luke 18:18-27) who thought he had kept the law from his youth or the prideful Pharisees in their self-righteousness. And when a Christian falls short of the law's perfect righteousness, which always happens to fallen sinners, he or she becomes discouraged and frustrated.
All self-righteousness is the result of pride; "But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" (James 4:6). We can only please God when we deny ourselves and submit to Jesus Christ and His finished work both for our salvation and our sanctification. In other words, it is not about us... It is all about Jesus Christ-- His grace, His Mercy, His salvation, and His righteousness; "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20) -- Maranatha!