What Matters Is Faith Working Through Love
29 June 2017 Year A
Many Christians today, like the believers in Galatia, think that if they do good things that God will let them go to Heaven. However, Paul makes it clear that a person does not become a Christian and enter Heaven because of outward appearances.
Outward appearances don’t benefit a Christian (Galatians 5:2).
3 WAYS PEOPLE TRY TO KEEP OUTWARD APPEARANCES
1. Keeping traditions for tradition’s sake
Just keeping traditions for the sake of keeping traditions don’t benefit a Christian (Galatians 5:2-3). Circumcision was a practice where a Jew showed obedience by mutilating the outward flesh. It was a tradition that God established with Abraham. However, Paul makes it clear that if you keep one tradition, you are bound to all the other traditions and these traditions will alienate you from Christ (Galatians 5:4).
2. Doing good works
Doing good works (which is what Paul meant by “being justified by the law”) doesn’t benefit a Christian (Galatians 5:4) either. Paul makes it clear that if one tries to find salvation by doing good works, it actually alienates one from Jesus Christ. The reason is that Jesus has already done the necessary good work, which is by God’s grace.
3. Not doing something
Paul makes the point that if one has a relationship with Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter if they are circumcised or not. So keeping a certain tradition as an outward appearance doesn’t matter. But the opposite also doesn’t matter to God as well. It doesn’t benefit a Christian to stop keeping a certain tradition.
So if I were of a Baptist tradition, the Baptist traditions don’t save me. It’s an outward religious appearance. But not keeping the Baptist traditions, also don’t save me as well. If I stop keeping Baptist traditions, then that change in outward appearance does not make a difference to Christ as well.
What matters then?
In contrast to all of these outward forms of seeming holy, the Holy Spirit leads a Christian by faith in the present and by hope for the future (Galatians 5:5).
That faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). That means if I am following God by faith and it leads to love, then that is what matters as a Christian. It is by my actions in faith that lead to the love that I reveal my true connection to Jesus Christ.