Wednesday, January 4

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’),”  Galatians 3:13

Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to correct misunderstandings and to counter the false teachings that were being spread.  One of the most popular misconceptions among the early Christians seems to be that righteousness was still earned through obedience to the law, that the following of Jewish laws and customs was still necessary for salvation.

It was, and is, not.

That does not mean that the Ten Commandments are completely done away with, or that there is no merit in Jewish laws and customs.  Jesus clearly taught obedience to the Ten Commandments (for example, in Matthew 5, He speaks against both murder and adultery), as did His disciples (for example, in Galatians 5, Paul has a few things to say on the subject).  I am far from an expert on Jewish laws and customs, but I do know that some of the foods that the Levitical laws prohibit are more likely to make you sick, so there is at least some merit in those laws.

But salvation is not gained through obedience to the Ten Commandments, nor through any other set of laws or customs.  Salvation is through Christ, and Christ alone.  It is through Christ’s sacrifice, through His death and resurrection, and our faith in Him, that we are freed from bondage to, and the consequences of, sin.  Eternal life is not something we can earn through works; it is something given to us freely, if we will accept it.

This is as true today as it was back then.  It is not adherence to a certain set of rules, or membership in a certain church in a certain denomination, that determines whether or not we are saved.  Neither can we earn salvation through our works.  Salvation is through Christ, and Christ alone; it is through faith in Him, and acceptance of the gift that He has given us through His sacrifice, that the way to Heaven is open to us:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).

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