Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen from grace.
• Galatians 5:4
I do not believe Paul was referring to being “justified” by animal sacrifices. He was also not referring to a need for us to observe the feast days or accomplish any other requirements of Old Testament Law.
Today we’ve changed our religious rites. We no longer have animal sacrifices but have replaced God’s grace with our sacraments in their place. It is almost as if we are going down the same path riding on a different donkey.
We’ve replaced the sacrifices with church attendance, requisite times in prayer, and ritualistic confessions. Many people have become convinced that God will refuse to move in their lives if they do not cross every “t” or dot every “i.” They essentially eliminated any value of the cross of Christ in their lives.
I believe that one of the most significant revelations needed today relates to what the meaning of the cross is. Jesus paid it all and not just a downpayment expecting us to pay monthly payments through our church attendance, praying, and associated religious rituals.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 65:5)
We owe nothing to God. Jesus satisfied our debt. Anyone who attempts to add to His work with their “goodness” pollutes His redemptive work. Isaiah described our righteousness as “filthy rags.” It is unfortunate to think so many Christians are ignorant of this and believe God requires anything of them outside of faith in Jesus.
You need to understand that Jesus has already completed the work. He went to the cross and endured the penalty for our sin in our place. Anything we attempt to add to what He has already accomplished through “good” works defiles His redemptive work.
I agree that we need to live holy lives and am not saying differently. My point is that this has nothing to do with God’s acceptance of us or His willingness to move in our lives. Living a life separated from sin does not elevate our standing with Him but does enable us to remain sensitive to His workings.
Your relationship with God will never be as deep or intimate as He would like it to be if you base it on your holiness or ability to earn the right to fellowship with Him. Many people mistakenly attempt to add to Christ’s redemptive work without realizing God has already accepted them. Jesus suffered the horrors of the cross. He knew no human could be redeemed based on our efforts!
I believe Galatians 5:4 is one of the most important Scriptures in the Bible. Jesus’ redemptive work is the centerpiece of God’s redemptive plan. Moses was the recipient of the Law, which laid the foundation for Jesus to come, but his accomplishments in God’s service leading Israel were nothing compared to Jesus.
Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection were all part of a turning point in human history. He set aside His divinity and entered the earth as a man solely to serve as our atoning sacrifice. Our entire eternity is dependent on us accepting this or rejecting it. Acceptance opens the door for us to spend eternity in a relationship with our creator and rejection to separation and eternal damnation.
Paul tells us that it is possible to not benefit from Jesus’ works when he wrote that we make Him “of no effect” in our lives. We do this by trying to add our “good” works to what is offered as a result of the cross to earn God’s favor. I know that no one would do this intentionally, but if we are honest with ourselves, we all can find times in our Christian walk where we have been guilty of this.
Many Christians have never experienced the goodness of God manifested in peace, healing, or any other way. They do not realize that these things have all been provided and are available to any who will reach out in faith to receive them. God does not expect anything from us to be willing to bless us with His good things.
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16 – 22)
Many Christians attempt to live their Christian lives like the rich young ruler. He proudly proclaimed his obedience to the ten commandments. Jesus heard this and told Him to sell all of his earthly possessions to follow Him. How many of us have tried to argue with God using arguments based on our church attendance, the service we have given to our church, or how many Bible verses we have memorized?
If you are not experiencing the blessings of God, it is most likely a result of your making the work of Christ “of no effect.” None of us like to accept the responsibility for our failure to receive. I understand this but doing so is key to getting “unstuck” in our journey with God.
The good news is that if you are the one who messed things up, then you are the one who can fix things. Peter tells us that God has already provided for all our needs (1 Peter 1:3). The key to experiencing His provision is for us to put our nose to the proverbial grindstone meditating on the Word of God until it becomes revelation to us.