Paul in Galatians three describes how God uses the Jewish law (a works-based relationship with God) to show us our need of Christ. The law was actually a prison that God kept us in till we were set free by Christ. Now that they are free, the Galatian believers no longer need that relationship based on works.
Paul has explained in detail how works cannot save a person, or make them Holy in the eyes of God. Works themselves are worthless when it comes to helping us grow spiritually, their only purpose is to lead us towards Christ. This is why Paul became so frustrated when the Galatians went back to living according to the law.
Turning from the Gospel of Christ and a life based on submission to a life based on human effort that couldn’t help us isn’t just sinful…its foolish because in a way your going from freedom to slavery again.
A ministry the Lord has allowed me to become involved with is prison visitation. Every Wednesday I go with others to have a service for those men who are unable to attend Church with singing, testimonies, Bible reading, and preaching. Over time we develop relationships with these men and learn how the Lord is working in their lives.
One of the greatest joys is for one of our regular attendees to complete their time of incarceration. We always encourage that man to become an active part of society getting himself into a local church. And above all things we challenge him not to return to the prison system. Sadly these men often do return, sometimes as soon a few months later.
Why would men go from freedom to slavery? I can think of a few reasons
- They are accustomed to the life in prison where things are provided for them
- The same friends who got them into prison the first time continue to influence their lives (I personally feel this is the main reason)
- Life outside of the prison is more difficult…you have lots of responsibilities
- And there are challenges for former prisoners in society
Whatever the reason, it is foolish for someone who has been set free to return to slavery.
This problem with the prisoners illustrates a spiritual problem so many of us struggle with. We return to the slavery of our worthless works-based relationship after Christ has set us free:
- because our sin-nature desires independence from God
- because the world is based on independence (doing your own thing)
- because Satan continually tempts us to rely on ourselves instead of God
- because our pride finds identity in our good works
Being surrounded by these temptations means we must daily fight against the desire to do things our own way.
So we must remember how empty and worthless a life based on our own human wisdom is
meditate upon the riches we have in Christ
And refuse to believe the world offers something better than the Gospel can
Occasionally we will find ourselves returning to the prison cell of good works. Thankfully through Christ the door is still unlocked, so we can walk out as free men and women.