“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Gal. 3:10)
This is saying that if we try to please God by keeping his commandments that we must keep every single commandment completely and we must do it at all times. In other words, we must be perfect in our behavior. This of course is impossible to do. So if we base our right standing with God on keeping his law we will fail and bring a curse upon our lives.
Paul also said this about our ability to keep God’s law…
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwells no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Rom. 7:17-18)
Paul found that even though he wanted to keep God’s law and tried to do so, he couldn’t do it because of the weakness of his flesh. In fact, when he tried to do good, he would always do just the opposite. Have you ever experienced that problem? Consider if you tell yourself that you are NOT going to eat that last piece of cake. Whew! What a fight THAT can be. That piece of cake will even seem to “talk” to you every time you walk by it! Well, the bible says this... “the strength of sin is the law.” (1Cor. 15:56) It’s not that eating that piece of cake is sin but once you make a law against it, you’ve just strengthened its grip on you to eat it. And that is the way it is with all law. Law actually strengthens the grip that sin has on you. It cannot help you. It will only make matters worse.
But you see; this is why Jesus came. He came to keep the law for us and to please God for us so that in him we could be as pleasing and as acceptable to God as he is. However, in order to enjoy this blessing that Jesus came to bring us, we must exercise our faith. First we must accept Jesus as our savior and after we have done that, as Christians we must believe that what Jesus did was enough to please God for us! That means that if we have accepted Christ as our savior, we must believe that we are always pleasing to God and in right standing with him despite our shortcomings and our sins. We can never base pleasing God on our own lives. This is the only way to have peace and rest in God because in ourselves and in our own trying we can never keep all of the law.
Most Christians understand that in order to gain right standing with God they must do it by faith and so they accept Jesus as their savior. But after that, they live their Christian lives in fear of not being good enough and they try to please God and maintain a good standing with him by keeping his laws. But because it was not our own goodness that earned a right standing with God in the first place, it will not be our own goodness that will be able to maintain it. It just can't be done. It is only our faith in Christ that can do that.
Keeping the law is “Old Testament” obedience and is impossible to do. Believing that we are already good enough through our faith in Christ is “New Testament” obedience and the only way to please God. (Heb. 11:6)
The Old Testament was given to show man what he was required to DO to be right with God. The New Testament was given to show man what he was required to BELIEVE to be right with God. It is the difference between a life of “works” and a life of “faith.” It is a difference between a life of exhausting “trying” and a life of “resting” in the Lord.
And our lives are not to be lives of endlessly and impossibly trying to be good enough to please God. Our lives are to be lives of rest and peace believing that we are already pleasing to God because of Jesus. It took me a long time to learn that. But I finally learned it. I used to get up each morning determined to be the best Christian that I could be. But that was instant failure and was followed by a day filled with anxious trying and a constant struggle with guilt for not always doing “good enough.” But now I get up each morning believing that I’m already the best Christian I need to be. (Jesus made me that way). And I go through my day believing that all the time (despite my shortcomings) and I am at peace and rest with God all the time. That’s a whole lot better way of life believe me. And it works! I have learned that it is my faith that pleases God and not my good works.
If you think about it for a moment, we can conclude that the fastest way to DISPLEASE God is to "try" to please him. That just doesn’t seem right but it is. It is accepting Jesus as our substitute in all things that pleases God! We are called to live by faith, not by works or by trying harder. And thank God for that!
Now this does not mean that it is ok to live any way we want. Sin is always destructive. It can hurt us and it can hurt those around us. Sin brings a sense of guilt and condemnation and sometimes a whole lot of trouble. And that certainly is not God’s will. But we are not called to live righteously in order to be righteous. We are called to live righteously because we are already righteous. It is worth remembering that good works do not produce righteousness. It is righteousness that produces good works. (Rom. 12:1-2, 2Cor. 5:21)
So… if you are a Christian and are trying to please God; JUST STOP IT!
Ha…! I know that doesn’t sound right. But it is. You cannot please God in the flesh. Instead you should be trusting that because of Jesus you are already as pleasing to God as you will ever be! And that means NOW and it means at ALL times. What Jesus did was good enough for now and for all time. Wow! What a great way to live… by faith. It’s a whole lot easier and the only way to be truly at peace with God.
The bible says (in no fewer that FOUR places) that, “The just shall live by faith.” (Hab. 2:4, Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:38) Do you think that God is trying to tell us something?
So if you want life and peace and the blessing of God, living by faith is the ONLY way to do it! It is the “New Testament” way of obedience, not the “Old Testament" way. Old Testament obedience was to DO. New Testament obedience is to BELIEVE (and to rest).
"There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into (God's) rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his." (Heb. 4:9-10 parenthesis mine)
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Rom. 8:28)
Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”
More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www. jbagati.com