CHRISTIAN LIFE 101 – JUSTIFIED BY FAITH – PART 2
The Galatians Road. A Road Less Traveled. Growing in Grace Ministries, 2023, www.thegalatianroad.com
The MacArthur Study Bible. John MacArthur. Thomas Neilson, Inc., 2006.
10 Signs You Might Be Legalistic. Jennifer Heeren. Crosswalk.com, 2023, https://www.crosswalk.com/slideshows/10-signs-you-might-be-legalistic.html
10 Things You Should Know about Justification by Faith. Kevin W. McFadden. Crossway.org, 2021, https://www.crossway.org/articles/10-things-you-should-know-about-justification-by-faith
The Anatomy of Legalism and the Discipline of Prayer. John Piper. Desiring God, 1987, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-anatomy-of-legalism-and-the-discipline-of-prayer
CHRISTIAN LIFE 101 – JUSTIFIED BY FAITH – PART 2
[Dr. Grace] “Good morning, class. My name is Dr. Grace and welcome to Introduction to the Christian Life. We have been studying the Romans Road, which tells nonbelievers how to be saved, and the Galatians Road, which explains how to live the Christian Life to born-again believers. We started with the Romans Road because in order to live the Christian Life, we must be born again. Think about it. None of our verses in the Galatians Road apply to nonbelievers. They are not justified by faith or crucified with Christ or filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they cannot walk in the Spirit or produce the fruits of the Spirit. Today, we are going to talk about one of the biggest stumbling blocks to living the Christian Life. This stumbling block is in direct opposition to the truth found in our first verse, that we are justified by faith and not by works. After being saved by God’s amazing grace, so many Christians put themselves back under the burden of the Law in one way or another. We call this legalism, which we are going to define using Romans 9:31-32 as ‘pursing the Law, but not by faith.’ Our obedience should be driven by our faith and powered by the Spirit. Legalism, on the other hand, pursues the Law by some other method than faith and some other source than the Spirit. Paul calls this other method ‘works’ and this other source ‘flesh.’ Notice the problem with legalism: it glorifies ourselves (flesh) and makes us believe God owe us (because of our works) whereas obedience from faith glorifies God (who is Spirit) and God’s amazing grace (which is received by faith). Do you see the difference? The Bible says obedience from faith results in us being justified, righteous, and blessed, whereas works of the flesh result in us being not justified, guilty, and cursed.”
[Christian] “Dr. Grace, how do we know whether our obedience is from works of the flesh or by faith through the Spirit?”
[Dr. Grace] “That’s a great question because a legalistic and non-legalistic Christian can look very similar on the outside. The difference lies in their inner motivations and source of strength, which can be difficult to discern. In order to help you diagnose whether you might be mixing law and grace, I have compiled a list. As a recovering legalist, I have some experience in this area… Here are my Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Legalistic Christian: Number one: You believe God loves you more when you obey Him more. Number two: You believe you are morally superior to most people. Number three. You constantly compare yourself to others. And number four: You believe your obedience deserves more of God’s blessings. Number 5: You get jealous or upset when others are blessed and you are not. Number six: You set high moral standards for other people, and generally believe they need to ‘behave before they belong’. Number seven: You pursue tasks more than people and knowledge more than Jesus. Number eight: You often pray or read the Bible as a check mark on a to-do list. Number nine: You constantly assess your performance to the commands in the Bible and your relationship with God to your performance. And number ten: You believe in joy and peace, but don’t experience them often.”
[Christian] “Dr. Grace, how did you overcome legalism?”
[Dr. Grace] “By God’s amazing grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Oh, I was such a mess! I was so tired of performance-based Christianity. I was never good enough, never doing enough. The demands of the Bible seemed impossible to me. I was ready to give up. I told God, ‘I can’t do this! I can’t live the Christian life!’ And then… He spoke to me (not audibly, you see, but in the quietness of my heart). He said, ‘That’s right, you can’t… but I can.’ That’s when the Gospel of Grace started to unfold for me and I realized two life-changing truths: First, there was nothing I could do to be more right with God than I already was. I could never add to the righteousness of God that was already given to me by faith. All of my endless striving came to a halt and for the first time in a long time I trusted and rested in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Second, God never intended for me to live the Christian Life on my own. Jesus said without Me, you can do what? Nothing! Jesus died for me to give His Life to me to live His Life through me. That is the beauty and mystery of the Christian Life: Christ in you, the hope of glory. Jesus takes residence in the hearts of all born-again believers by the power of the Holy Spirit and we simply cannot live the Christian Life without this New Life in us.”
[Dr. Grace] “Now, after this, the Bible came alive to me. I couldn’t get enough of God’s Word. I was making connections that I didn’t see before. You may recall God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations and through His offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed. When the Law was given through Moses, God promised the Nation of Israel that they would be His treasured possession IF they obeyed all of His commands. There were stated blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, which the people agreed to. Now, we know the promise through Moses did not invalidate the promise to Abraham, which is an everlasting covenant. However, it seemed to have blocked its fulfillment. How would God fulfill His promise to Abraham, which includes all the nations, while He is bound to a promise exclusively with the Nation of Israel? The answer is Jesus Christ—the perfect fulfillment of both covenants. As a descendent of Abraham, Jesus is the promised offspring through which all the nations are blessed. He is also the perfect fulfillment of the Old Covenant in every respect. He perfectly obeyed the moral law on our behalf and He is the embodiment of everything the ceremonial law points to. And then… Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died to release us from the very Law He perfectly fulfilled. Just like a marriage covenant, if one partner dies, the other partner is released from all obligations of the covenant and is free the remarry. In the same way, Christ’s death (and our baptism in the likeness of His death) completely releases us from the Law and the covenant associated with it, and ushers in the New Covenant between God and man, where we are made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ. The sign of the covenant is the Holy Spirit, who is given to everyone who believes, those who are descendants of Abraham by faith and heirs to the promise.”
[Dr. Grace] “After God’s promise to Abraham, it’s like we packed our bags and went to the airport. Our final destination is the place where all the nations are blessed. However, while at the airport, we are stopped by security and placed in a holding room, which represents the Old Covenant. The authorities explain to us that we need to stay here until Jesus comes, for He is the only pilot with the credentials to take us to our final destination. Once Jesus arrives, we fly to the place where we are justified by faith and never look back at the holding room of the Law ever again.
The purpose of the law is to point us to Jesus. If we use the Law to lovingly show ourselves that we are all in need of God’s amazing grace, then we have used the Law correctly. If, however, after becoming a Christian, we continue to place ourselves under the burden of the Law, the Bible says, we have ‘cursed ourselves,’ we have ‘fallen from grace,’ we have been ‘severed from Christ.’ ‘No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by works of the Law.’ For ‘if keeping the Law could make us right with God, then Christ died for nothing!’ Once we place our faith in Jesus, the Bible says we are ‘dead to the Law. ‘Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe.’ The Bible could not be more clear on this.”
[Dr. Grace] “We will continue our discussion on justification by faith. Your homework is to read Galatians chapters two and three and come prepared with observations and questions. Class dismissed.”
[Christian] “Hey, Law… wait up!”
[Mr. Law] “Oh, hey, Christian. Uh… Look, I know you wanted to take this class together but it’s not what I expected… I think I’m going to drop it.”
[Christian] “Really? Why? This is my favorite class. Come on… it’s way better than math.”
[Mr. Law] “Okay, look… some of us are actually good at math! I don’t know… there’s something about Grace that just rubs me the wrong way, you know?”
[Christian] “Really? Well, suite yourself but we only have a couple more weeks until the deadline. Why don’t you stay a couple more classes and then decide?”
[Mr. Law] “Yeah, maybe… I don’t know. We’ll see.”
[David Erhart] Thanks for watching this episode of the Christian Life 101. We hope this video series is a blessing to you and inspires believers all over the world to live an abundant Christian Life. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the bell to be notified when we release new videos. If you would like to pray for our ministry or receive periodic updates on our plans and progress, sign up to our email newsletter at ChristianityEngaged.org.
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