Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:5)
This Leviticus verse is a typical Old Testament command. Very direct. But doable? Unfortunately, throughout the Old Testament, people’s obedience was too poor to be able to live up to this directive. They would try and fail. Try and fail. Over and over.
But there is one great Old Testament character, Abraham, who shows us a different and better way :
So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:6,9)
This truth started with Abraham 4,000 years ago. Then 2,000 years later, Paul showed how we can get that same credit. We get it through faith in Jesus Christ—if I believe God through Christ, that gives me a turbocharged deposit of righteousness credited to my own account.
That free deposit is the exact opposite of the default mode that I work in: a voice inside me asks whether I am doing “enough” good deeds. How easy it is to drift into the bogus view that being a Christian means that we must do more and more and more and more—- rather than having simple faith. When I get caught up in the “more and more” mentality, sometimes it is so exhausting that I am tempted to say, “Why bother?”
Paul knew how impossible it is to keep the commands on our own. We must die to our futile attempts at law keeping.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God (Galatians 2:19)
If “do more and more and more” Christianity is my law, I must die to that law so that Christ may live in me.
Then, I can discern what it means to live by faith in exactly the body, time, and environment that I have been placed into. I can then walk in the freedom of being set free to do good things because of the faith Christ has given to me and the power of Christ working in me.
What a delightful difference – – – instead of struggling to do “enough” good deeds as a slave to the law, I can now cheerfully do just the good that Christ tells me to.
Living by grace instead of law is a wonderful way to live! Today, dwell on this beautiful paradox: we are simultaneously personally bankrupt and fully empowered to have an abundant life through Christ.