Christ died for nothing

We are great at neutering the Gospel. As people, we think that we can do it. We don’t really need God, nor His way of doing things.

Religions impose sets of rules that show us how we can make God happy and serve Him. Do it this way, or do it that way…and if you do it like that, then you will get to go to heaven.

What we don’t seem to understand though, is that all of the rule-setting and all of the rule-following that we are so great at putting in place is exactly what I started with: a neutering of the Gospel.

Paul wrote to the Galatians that he is a Jew, and as a Jew he lived knowing hoping that following the Law would make him right before God. But then Paul correctly points out that it never did. Following the Law didn’t justify him before God. It didn’t make him right before God. His attempts only made it worse.

So if not following the rules, then what? The work of Christ on the cross, that’s what:

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Galatians 2:19-21

Paul is saying that his adherence to the Law did not give him salvation, so instead, he puts all of that aside for one thing: to let Christ and his work reign within him. It is no longer Paul that is the one who has made him alive before God. It is Christ because it is Christ who continues to live and gives life. The only thing that we have to offer is faith in him. Christ’s death on the cross is the only thing that gives righteousness, which brings life to Paul – and to all of us – and our response is simple: faith in him. That’s it. We have nothing else that can make God happy.

Now, that’s not to say that the way that we live doesn’t change. We have been made new and Christ is now living in us. Therefore, my entire view and outlook on life is changed. I now must live to glorify Christ. It is he that is living within me. My life should reflect back to God the image of God that he has placed within me by making me alive once again in Christ.

But do those actions that I take make me right before God? No, it is only the work of Christ that can do that. My actions are my response.

And yet, as I noted above, our religions mess this up greatly.

Islam says there is another prophet and you have to follow these five pillars and make sure to do more good things then bad things.

Catholocism places all of these saints as idols before us that we must pray to and then follow a bunch of rules to make God happy.

Mormonism, like Islam, says there is another prophet and then several more rules and plans from God.

And these are just three examples. There are many more. But in the end, why all of the additional prophets and rules after Jesus? Because they believe that they can make God happy on their own. It isn’t God’s work that makes them right before Him. It is their own religiousness that they believe will make them right before God, and in doing this, they are directly fulfilling what Paul says here, they work for a righteousness that is gained through a religious law that they themselves have created, and to them, Christ has died for nothing.

May we not live in this way! May we put all of our faith and hope and trust in Christ, and only him.

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