“I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.”
Are there symbols of righteousness or goodness that you seek over the grace of God? It could be any number of things: good attendance at church, regular Bible study, Baptism, doing good deeds, staying away from drugs or alcohol or sex. All of these things are good, but when we seek them rather than the grace of God, we’ve missed the boat-we’ve chosen to subject ourselves once again to God’s law rather than to God’s grace. “Every man who lets himself be circumcised…is obligated to obey the whole law.”
In what ways (large or small) are you trying to justify yourself before God? You might think, “I’m doing well! I go to church twice, or even three times a week!” or “I don’t go drinking, unlike some hypocrites I know!” Watch out! If you are trying to be justified by your church attendance or by abstaining from alcohol, you must also be perfect in every other way, because by subjecting yourself to one point in the law, you must subject yourself to all of the law. And no one can reach that standard. This is what “being burdened again by a yoke of slavery” or “being a slave to sin” means. By subjecting ourselves to one aspect of the law, again, we subject ourselves to the whole of it…and are condemned by it.
Ephesians 2:8,9 tells us that, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Once we are saved, we have accepted the grace of God and must now live in that grace. God’s purpose in saving us by grace is clearly stated, “so that no one can boast.” If you find yourself boasting about your own good deeds, righteousness, or purity (whether to others or to yourself), this is a good sign you are trying to live again under the law of God. It won’t work! No one can measure up! That’s what you realized when you became a Christian.
Remember, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.” Live by grace. By grace, we go about the tasks of life. By grace, we are obedient to what the Lord asks of us. And when we fall, it is by grace that we are restored and can continue on in our relationship with God.