Waiting for the Hope of Righteousness

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness (Galatians 5:2-5)

 

It would probably serve as a benefit to paraphrase the apostle Paul’s words here in his letter to the Galatians. He is warning Christians that if we begin to accept adherence to certain aspects of the Law (God’s commands, rules and regulations) as a supplement to simple faith in the work of Christ then we are disqualifying ourselves from receiving the grace from God. 

The moment we add any moral effort or religious rule-keeping as a means for justification before God, we have signed ourselves up for the work of justifying ourselves based on our own moral performance. A work that we will discover is impossible and hopeless. 
 
A formula that puts a plus sign next to the work of Christ does not add up to equal justification by God’s grace alone. Faith is not a formula; neither is it part of the formula. 

Faith is trusting the given equation. 

It’s so easy for us to forget that the gospel is not news concerning what we are now to do. The Christian gospel is news concerning what Christ has done for us. Through His perfect life of obedience, His atoning sacrifice of His own life and the confirmation of His work through His resurrection, Christ accomplished what was necessary for us to be justified before a Holy God. His death was a sufficient payment for our sins, and we can be regarded as righteous based on His perfect obedience alone. What part do we play in this? To simply trust just that.

Faith is trusting the given equation. 

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ equals justification for us the sinner. 

Faith is not hoping to be regarded as righteous based on personal performance and moral effort. There is a rest element to true faith in Christ. Faith is eagerly waiting with a confident expectation that we will be, and indeed are, regarded as righteous based on the accomplishment of Christ alone. 

As Christians, let’s live as those who know we have been justified by grace alone through faith alone with freedom from religious rule-keeping, and may we appropriately use our freedom for the glory of God and the love of our neighbor.