Monday, November 23, 2009

The Purpose Driven Death

Paul's letter to the Galatians is possibly my favorite of all the epistles. Not only does this letter show us that the gospel was now available for both Jew and Gentile it also reveals to us the curse that was the law (see chapter 3) of God and that living a life in which we strive to justify ourselves by law keeping, or following the curse, is foolishness. Why though? Why is Paul so adamant in this letter regarding the fact that the people in this church he had helped to plant are now, for lack of a better phrase, legalistic slaves. I find Paul's answer to this question in the 21st verse of chapter 2 of Galatians where he writes:

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness
were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose."

This statement comes after Paul reminded the Galatian church that his life he lives now, although he remains in the flesh, he lives through his faith that Christ Jesus' blood shed on the cross is enough to cover his sins, past and present. Paul, the man who recognized himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), is telling this church and us today that although you find yourself unable to satisfy the burden that is the law of God, have hope. His suggestion is not "try harder." His advise as guided by the Holy Spirit to deliver is not, "do better." No, Paul's advise is to remember that there is ZERO righteousness that comes from working the law. Paul's advise is to remember that we Christians are saved by grace that was poured out on the cross at Calvary.

Paul condemns the Christians of Galatia with, to me, the most disheartening words any lover of Christ could hear. He tells them that because they are seeking to please God through their works of human minds and hands, that Christ's bloody and violent death was for nothing. "...Christ died for no purpose." If it were possible for us to save ourselves, or others for that matter, through being good or even being "Christ-like" (I deplore that term, for who of us can be spotless) then there was no purpose for Christ to have suffered as He did. Paul, in the most resounding and condemning of ways reminds these people that God in human flesh came not to save a people who are just choosing not to listen and act or who have some evil agenda, but rather to save a people who are lost, hopeless, and hell-bound without Him.

As we find ourselves today dwelling in a culture of "purpose driven lives" that are powerlessly staggering to find righteousness and their mission here on Earth let us remember the one and only life that has walked on this soil with any truly righteous purpose. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, are we thankful for the works of our hands or the works of the nail-driven hands? Are we choosing sides based on our own works and wants or are we allowing ourselves to be rinsed of our own helplessness by the blood flowing from Christ's pierced side? Are we seeing our lives as good enough and pointing others to how great we are or are we reminding ourselves and others of our SHARED wretchedness and need for Christ's redemption?

If we are finding ourselves as being like the Galatians or having a life cached with good works we think we can present to God in our own justification, the call to all of us is to repent. To become dependent on our own works, actions, and ideals, or to strive to make others see how to become more loved or pleasing in the eyes of God is idolatry in it's purest form. We need to repent of this and cast all of our hope and care on Christ. The fruits of this will naturally follow. Let us be Christians who don't condemn one another or even the world but rather Christians who help one another in their sinful and lives. Christ died for a purpose. That purpose was to save us, even in our present state today and because no matter how hard we try, we will sin tomorrow. Christ's purpose was to save you and I from sending ourselves to Hell. To think and teach otherwise, as Paul put it, makes Christ's death pointless and with no purpose.

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