ODJ: rules and grace

August 31, 2015 

READ: Romans 9:30-33 

The people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded (v.31).

Firefighters recently chose not to take action as a man was drowning in the San Francisco Bay. According to the interim fire chief overseeing the responding team, one of the things that prevented them from taking action was a regulation that prevents firefighters from entering into the water. The rescue workers were frustrated because they desperately wanted to take action, but they were prevented from doing so by policy. This preoccupation with rules is a form of legalism, something we find far too often in the church today.

Legalism was a concern in Jesus’ and Paul’s day as well. It fed the belief that one’s salvation depends on total obedience to the letter of the law. This was unfortunate, for it presented a fatal misunderstanding of the purpose of the Old Testament law (Romans 9:31-32). It was never designed to make people right with God, but to lead people to see their sin and need for Him (Romans 3:20). When people rigidly tried to keep the requirements of the law, they lacked love (Matthew 23:23), developed spiritual pride (Luke 18:11-12), created man-made rules (Mark 7:7-8) and fell into hypocrisy. The only answer for legalism was the grace of Jesus.

People are all saved the same way—through “the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11). Salvation is God’s doing, and He alone brings us into a place of undeserved privilege. He’s shown us the way to be right with Him—something far different from striving to keep the requirements of the law.

—Marvin Williams

365-day-plan: John 12:37-50

Read Philippians 3:8-9 and see why Paul saw legalism as something contrary to the gospel. 
What are you depending on to save you? Have you placed your faith in the undeserved grace of Jesus Christ for salvation? Why is God’s grace such a radical idea for people to embrace?