This morning in my quiet time I was going through Galatians 5. I was so amazed at all the truths that I was getting from the chapter...even though I had heard them many times before.
In verse 4, it says "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."
What is the law? Well, at the time I believe that it was the law referring to circumcision. (But don't quote me on that... I'm not an expert). To practically apply this verse I had always thought about the law being the rules that our society lives by... and if you "break the law" you get a fine or go to jail.
However, in my last post I was talking about freedom from the fear of doing the "wrong thing"...and I think this verse relates. I believe that we can set laws for ourselves that aren't necessarily Biblical. In my case, I had decided, for whatever reason, that if I made a "wrong" choice, I would ruin my happiness. So I kept my personal "laws" and "rules" hoping that if I did the things that I was supposed to I would never get hurt and in essence have a perfect life. My "law" and "rules" suddenly became king.... and they started to rule over me and determine my actions.
No longer was I living by grace... I was a slave to my "law". Paul speaks directly and says "YOU who are trying to be justified by law..." "Who me? Naw... he must be talking about the pharisees or something."... or so my thought processes went for so many years. But I was trying to justify myself by my own "law". I was thinking that if I "do this" I will "be this". What nonsense that I thought I could earn the happiness and joy that is freely given in Christ by following some "rules" that I thought would bring about that happiness.
Below is the rest of a conversation that is, of course, fictional - between God and I, but these thoughts have been running through my head, and I figured that I could express myself better in a literal conversational format. This is simply to illustrate a point... I am by NO means trying to put words in my Lord's mouth:
Him: Emily, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. - Galatians 5:6b
Me: What? That's the only thing that counts? No... it can't be... don't I have to DO something?
Him: Love me with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Me: You mean that I don't have to stress out about "keeping my laws"? That I need to exhibit my faith through love?
Him: Yep... that's pretty much it.
Me: Wow... but that seems so simple!
Him: Exactly. It IS simple. You make things too complicated, and so does the rest of the world. MY laws are the ones that you should be keeping... not the ones that you subject yourself to.
Me: I know... but I just want to make sure that I am serving you in the best way possible.
Him: Do you really?
Him: Or is it really because you want me to give you a "good life" and happiness... so you come to me and beg me to tell you what to do in certain situations... because you're afraid to exercise your judgement. Is it love for me? Or is it fear of doing the "wrong thing"?
Him: You are my child, but you also have my Spirit... I gave you my Spirit so that you may become comfortable listening to my voice... but also doing and being what I created you to do and be. My spirit works and lives in you...and sometimes I think you forget that.
Me: So you mean that you want me to just make my own decision without your guidance?
Him: Not at all.
Me: Well... what do you mean then?
Him: I mean that after you have prayed, sought wise counsel, read my book, and sought ME... rest. Be at peace. Don't always worry about if you are doing the right thing. If you are seeking me... I will have you on the right path. Whether that path causes pain or pleasure is not up to you... your job is to seek, follow, and then rest in the place that I have prepared especially for you. Worry doesn't add a single hour to your life...and I sent my Son to die on a cross so that you would not have to live as a slave to fear.
(I am NOT putting words in the Lords mouth or trying to make Him say things that He didn't say. This conversation is purely metaphorical and is used specifically to understand the Biblical truth of freedom from the law. If anyone is offended by what I have written, please feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like I said before though, I wrote this simply to illustrate a point...nothing more.)