Are you ready for some good news?
You are free in Christ! Free from condemnation. Free from the tyranny of legalism. Free from performance-based living.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6 ESV)
Who is God to you? Is He like a judge who is watching and inspecting your every move, ready to deduct points if you mess up? Or is He your Father and your coach, rejoicing over you with every good thing and longing for your every success at every point in your life? Who is your God?
A deeper question underlies your view of God: Are you under law or are you under grace? If you answer that God feels more like a judge who is inspecting you, it probably means that, like most American Christians, your mind still gravitates towards a system of the law. The law is a conformance-based system wherein you believe that if you are a good person you will get into heaven. “If I do more righteous acts then God will look upon me more favorably.”
This kind of worldview is what Paul is addressing in the letter to the Galatians. He calls such an attitude being “under the law.” With tremendous urgency in his voice, Paul contrasts the law with the gospel of grace. The gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be mixed with the law in any way. The very moment when you begin to think that God will love you a little more if you perform better – the moment you see God in that light – you put yourself back up under the law and legalistic thinking. There is such danger to this, and it is the essence of the spiritual battle that we face every day. “For freedom Christ has set us free,” Paul says, “stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
The call for action from Paul is a call to take your rightful stance of freedom against the yoke of slavery to the law. You can resist the allure of legalism by an ever-growing meditation on the goodness and power of grace. And that’s the Gospel!