For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. – Galatians 3:10-14 (ESV)
As Paul has made abundantly clear, salvation is entirely God’s gift to us. Our membership as full first-class members of God’s family is by grace alone, through faith alone, because it is of Christ alone.
What do we do with this? Three things:
- First, meditating on this passage ought to fill us with gratitude that Jesus has provided everything for our salvation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “The heart of Christian theology is grace and the heart of Christian ethics is gratitude.” Indeed, the Heidelberg Catechism is organized into three sections (1) Guilt; (2) Grace; and (3) Gratitude. If you are struggling with diminished gratitude to God in your own life don’t try to work up being more grateful. Instead, focus on your guilt and the grace of God that took it all away. Focus on Christ bearing every sin that you will ever commit so that He could call you “sister” or “brother” – and the gratitude will come.
- Second, let’s ask the LORD to examine us to see if we are highways for His grace or if we have become roadblocks to His plan to bless the world through the Seed of Abraham. We can subtly, and not so subtly, begin to communicate to our children and others that God loves them and accepts them when they are behaving but not when they are misbehaving. But what is that but to teach that their acceptance before God is dependent upon their performance rather than the finished work of Christ? Let’s pray that the LORD would continue to transform us into the likeness of Christ that we would truly serve as highways for His grace.
- Third, remember to apply the message about God’s all-sufficient grace in Jesus Christ to your own life. We can easily be robbed of the joy of the Christian life by falling into a performance trap that says “You can be happy in Jesus when you know more and obey more fully.” But, if you are in Christ, you are already as loved and accepted by God this very moment as you will be a million years from now in the New Heavens and New Earth. You neither fully know nor fully obey but you are fully known, fully accepted, fully loved in Jesus Christ. Jesus is calling you to lay down your burdens and to trust Him in the present for the cares of this day and for your future as well. Jesus is calling “Come unto Me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light, and you will find rest for your souls.” Come … and find your joy in Him.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 80
Q. 80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.