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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”—Galatians 5:5–6 (ESV)
Have you ever done something pointless? Back in high school, many of us thought learning things like algebra or the periodic table of elements was pointless. Today I know many people who think it’s pointless to vote in elections.
In today’s verse, the apostle Paul tells us something truly pointless that we as believers often fall into the trap of doing: adding works to our faith so we can obtain God’s favor.
Sadly, we still have ways we get pushed away from worship in favor of works. Instead of concentrating on our relationship with Jesus, we tend toward rules, regulations, and rituals, towards checklists that need to be accomplished, and milestones that need to be met. But everything we need for salvation was ALREADY accomplished at the cross.
And when we think like this, when we elevate our works as if they are essential to our salvation, we are cutting ourselves off from the power of the gospel.
You see, in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. My friends, what you’ve given up, what you’ve cut off, what you haven’t cut off, what you do . . . on its own, none of that counts; it has no value.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Should we be mindful of what we watch, wear, or listen to? Should we prayerfully consider how to spend money, how to vote, or where to stand on social issues? Should we practice prayer, devotion, worship, fasting, and serving? Should we fight injustice, give to the poor, and help people in need? Yes. Absolutely!
But what separates us from the Pharisees and Judaizers is that we don’t DO good works to earn more of God’s favor; instead, we walk in good works that flow out of His good pleasure, as a response of love to the grace of God and the sanctifying work of Christ in us.
And so as He indwells us, works in us, conforms us to His image, and transforms us from the inside out, Hebrews 13:21 (NLT) says He will “equip you with all you need for doing his will.” And not only that, but He will also “produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.”
Today, I pray we would stop trying to work for God’s love and approval, and instead work out of His love and approval as we walk the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do!
DIG: What makes legalism pointless?
DISCOVER: What does Paul mean when he says only faith working in love counts for anything?
DO: Ask the Lord to reveal by His Spirit the good works He has prepared for you to walk in.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.