This is a short series about the importance of making a proper distinction between Law & Gospel.
At the time of their conversion, a person necessarily embraces the Gospel. To embrace the Gospel means that the person gives up trying to come into right standing with God on their own merits. Instead, he/she comes into right standing with God on the merits of CHRIST; specifically, His death on the cross.
Unfortunately, a lot of Christians, following their joyful embrace of the Gospel, GO BACK TO LAW. This means they go back to striving to please God through their own efforts.
The apostle Paul warned about this in Galatians 3. He said:
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Do you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
You’ll notice Paul asked, “Who bewitched you?” The question implies the Galatians were being ENCOURAGED to go back to Law.
Often, it’s the church itself that does this bewitching. How so? By week-after-week preaching nothing but Law: “Do this! Avoid that! Work harder! Apply these principles!
There’s always a few who respond well to this. They tend to be persons who are highly motivated & strong-willed/disciplined. Their “success,” however, makes them vulnerable to pride as they compare themselves to others and/or achieve standards THEY have set.
The majority of Christians have a different response. Their response is one of discouragement & despair, as they continuously fail to meet the requirements of the Law. They begin to see God as a harsh taskmaster who’s never satisfied. They may even become resentful, as was the case with the older son in the Parable of the Prodigal God.
The Law is good, and having saved us, God has every right to call us to obedience. But, we must realize that having started with Gospel, we must continue with Gospel. Our standing with God is NEVER on our own merits, but ALWAYS on the merits of Christ.
To Him be the glory!