When I first became a Christian, I was excited, ecstatic and filled with joy. The life I has been leading was filled with heartache, pain and hopelessness. I had been living in darkness and the futility of my mind. But when I heard the gospel for the first time and discovered that God loved me and provided a path to righteousness, eternal life and joy through His son, I instantly made the leap from being lost to being found. I was changed.
But the first two years, following my conversion, were filled with tremendous confusion. I encountered several fellow Christians who tried to convince me that Jesus was fine, but He wasn’t enough. They explained that there were several things I needed to do in order to prove my faith and salvation. I was told that Jesus died and rose again so that I would be able to keep the Law. So, they immediately wanted to place me back under rules and regulations. Some said I must speak in tongues. Others said I must not speak in tongues. There was a litany of restrictions and obligations placed on me.
The end result is I found myself walking in the flesh, attempting to please God by my works, not my faith.
You may have also experienced the Requirements placed on believers:
- Dress a certain way
- Eat only certain foods
- Don’t eat certain foods.
- Pay 10% of your income to the church (this one has never fully caught on)
- Don't hang around certain people
- Honor specific days, months and seasons
- Reject people who are sinners
- Don't associate with divorced people or allow them to serve in ministry
- Don't drink alcohol.
- Keep Women subservient to men.
- Women must be stay-at-home moms
- You must speak in tongues
- You must not speak in tongues
- You must believe that Spiritual Gifts have ceased
- Read a certain amount of the bible each day
- Worship only on Saturday
- Worship only on Sunday
My salvation seemed to be tied to their rules and not the resurrection of Christ. Thankfully, the Lord led me to read and study the Book of Galatians. In reading Paul’s defense of the gospel, I came to the realization that the gospel is not the man-made traditions or rules established by man. It came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In Acts 15, you can read about the problems within the churches of Galatia. Certain Pharisaical Christians had come from Jerusalem insisting the gentile believers must first become Jews before they could become Christians. They were told they must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. The gospel went from good news to bad news.
While I believe these Pharisaical Christians may have had good intentions, they were creating a gospel invented by man and not God. Had they read Jeremiah 31 they would discover that God was making a New Covenant, not like the Covenant He made with their fathers when He led them out of Egypt. The Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul defended this New Covenant. After going to Jerusalem to investigate the claims of the Pharisaical Christians, Paul met with the apostles and received glorious news. Take a look at what the apostles wrote in a letter to the gentile churches in Acts 15:24:
Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, You must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment…
Brothers and sisters, as followers of Christ we are not under the Law. We are under grace, through faith. We have Christ living within us. The Holy Spirit works through us to love one another. It is the Lord’s power that produces fruit in our lives. When walking in the flesh our deeds become evident and evil. But when we are in the spirit, we become fruit producers. In Galatians 5:22-13 Paul declares:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
We are under a New Covenant now. It doesn’t depend on us. It doesn’t depend on our flesh. It depends totally on what He accomplished on the cross.
There is freedom in Christ. This truly is good news. All you need to do is confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved. It's not what you do, it's what He did. Tell the Pharisees to get lost. Paul declares:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,] and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. [Galatians 5:1 NKJV]
Blessings, in Christ,