13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
It is natural for us to want to ‘earn’ our salvation. We all have a tendency to do good things and then think that we are more deserving of Heaven. Even when we know the truth of the Gospel, it is easy to think that “if I can memorize five verses a day, I will be a better Christian;” or “if I give more than 10%, God will reward me;” or “if I attend church every Sunday, I can call myself a Christian.” But the starting point for our relationship with God is not doing things. The starting point is believing in Him and trusting His grace.
Our righteousness comes by faith.
So, what is the purpose of the law if not to help us become good? Here Paul writes that the law actually brings wrath. By that he means that the law shows us that we are sinners and in need of forgiveness. Paul wrote this to those who see the law and think, “Here is a list of rules that, if followed properly, will make me righteous.” No! Paul is saying that the laws should humble us and point us to the need for a savior.
But that doesn’t mean our actions don’t matter. While our acts can’t save us, they should be a response to the grace we receive. We should be hungry to read the Bible, we should be inspired to give generously and we should crave regular fellowship. But those things are manifestations of our faith rather than acts the qualify us. If we call ourselves believers, but our lives don’t reflect our calling, we should turn back to God and focus on His gift of salvation to transform our lives anew (Charlie).
Thoughts for the day
- Do you feel convicted when you read the Bible? If so, how? If not, why?
- Is your faith built on following rules or your faith in God? When have you fallen into the trap of believing your actions make you good?
- How are you inspired to follow God? In what specific ways does your life reflect your faith?
Pray this prayer today: (from Common Radicals) “May the peace of the Lord Christ go with me: wherever He may send me; may He guide me through the wilderness: protect me through the storm; may He bring me home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown me; may He bring me home rejoicing: once again into my door”